National News

Forex reserves touch new high of $427.67 BN

Mumbai: RBI data showed a rise in India’s foreign exchange reserves by $ 1.262 BN in the week to June 28, to reach a fresh high of $ 427.678 BN, boosted by higher foreign portfolio investments and a stable rupee.
The reserves nearing $ 428 BN can take care of imports for almost 10 months, according to market experts.Foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, increased by $ 1.252 BN to $ 399.902 BN during the week.

Steel Minister says India imported 7.83 MT finished steel in FY19

NEW DELHI:The Parliament was informed that India’s finished steel imports rose 4.7 per cent to 7.83 MN tons (MT) in 2018-19. India had imported 7.48 MT of finished steel in 2017-18.Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at the Lok Sabha that finished steel imports stood at 7.83 MT in 2018-19, an increase of 4.7 per cent in comparison to 2017-18.Mr. Pradhan stated that the major steel categories being imported from other countries are stainless steel, flat products such as hot-rolled and cold-rolled coils, galvanised plain- or galvanised corrugated-coated and electrical sheets.He said, “Among the grades that are imported, there are some that are not manufactured in adequate quantity in the Country viz. CRGO, CR sheets with zero bends, API grade steel sheets/coils, special alloy steels of some grades used in automobile components etc.“Some of the reasons for these grades not being manufactured in India vary from lack of availability of technology, not enough demand to justify a separate production line.”

IFTRT: Road freight charges up by 2-2.5%

CHENNAI:According to the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training, a transport tracking body, truck rentals for a full truck load have gone up by up to 2-2.5 per cent; this is to neutralise the additional impact of increase in diesel price by Rs. 2.50 a litre from the mid-night of July 5. This has occurred after the imposition of Re 1 a litre road cess and over Re 1 hike in sales tax on diesel price in the Budget.Open market load truckers and transporters have suffered the most in the last three quarters – with a drop in truck utilisation – and truck rentals have dropped by around 14-15 per cent between November 2018 and June 2019. The trucking business is passing through its most difficult phase for the last three quarters akin the situation in 2008-09 at the time of global financial meltdown.

Telangana Export Strategy being finalized by Telangana & FIEO

HYDERABAD:An exports strategy is being created for Telangana to help the State break into the top five in the country over the next five years.Regarding the initiative involving the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), a senior official from the State Government said, “We are in the middle of finalising our exports strategy.”.
Telangana aims to become a leading merchandise exporting State too, something for which the exports strategy in the making would recommend measures.At a seminar on export opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises organised by industry body CII, Industries and IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan said, “Telangana is right now in top five exporting States, but if you exclude services exports our ranking falls. If we only look at merchandise export we are in top 10.” District-level discussions with industry bodies, entrepreneurs, especially exporters, to identify the strengths and weaknesses were underway since the project was formally kick-started in mid-February, said sources familiar with the upcoming export strategy. The overall aim of the strategy is to facilitate exporters in the State through measures related to policy, infrastructure, common facility, Ease of Doing Business, logistics facilitation, skill development and promotion.Telangana’s export basket is dominated by organic chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The export strategy would look at and target key sectors, address Central level concerns, suggest steps to facilitate trade enabling infrastructure including logistics, market diversification, and EODB measures. The export strategy will aim to highlight policies pursued by different States and adapt the best from them. Expected to be ready by August, it would look at various other aspects and that include enhancing role of trade related organisations, trade related infrastructure and connectivity.

India-US trade talks to restart today; compromise on tariffs likely

NEW DELHI:Trade negotiators from India and US will meet today, with few signs of a compromise on a series of protectionist measures taken by the two Governments in recent months that have strained ties between the strategic partners.Once again, saying this week on Twitter that India’s high tariffs were “unacceptable”, US President Donald Trump has been putting pressure on India to do more to open its markets.A delegation led by Assistant US Trade Representative (AUSTR) for South and Central Asia, Christopher Wilson, will meet Indian officials to try and re-start negotiations on tit-for-tat tariffs that were put on hold because of India’s election.A USTR spokesperson said, “Since India’s election period has now passed, USTR officials are visiting India for relationship-building with Indian Government counterparts.”The delegation is likely to meet Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal along with key trade officials, and also top officials at the IT Ministry.According to an Indian Government official, at today’s meeting, New Delhi expects U.S. officials to push against India’s efforts to mandate foreign firms to store more of their data locally.”The meeting with USTR was meant to set the tone for further talks after a positive G20 discussion. But Trump’s tweet has shown their intention is to continue with a tough stance,” another official said.One concern among Indian policymakers is that the Trump administration may push for a free trade agreement with India that could dent India’s competitiveness, lead to a flurry of imports & hurt “Make in India” plan. Trade between and India and US was worth $142.1 BN in 2018, with India having a surplus of $24.2 BN.

CONCOR, BHEL ink pact to set up Rail-based Logistics Terminal in Uttarakhand

NEW DELHI:Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) have entered into an agreement to set up rail-based logistics terminal in Haridwar, Uttarakhand.This would be BHEL’s strategic entry into a new growth area, CONCOR said and added that this terminal would soon be developed into a Multi-Modal Logistics facility.
“CONCOR and BHEL have signed MoU (Memorandum of Undertaking) and are moving ahead for jointly setting up rail-based Logistic Terminal at Haridwar to leverage upon BHEL’s strategic location and CONCOR’s expertise in logistics,” it said in a statement. Besides meeting BHEL’s own requirements, the terminal would cater to the large number of industries as well as other nearby industrial clusters. These industries would benefit as the cost of rail transportation is significantly cheaper than transportation by road.Moreover, the Haridwar plant is in close proximity to both the upcoming Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors and advantageously placed to take benefit of these in future, it said.The facility would work as a Private Freight Terminal (PFT) which will facilitate the handling of Railway Wagons also. This terminal would meet the long awaited rail based facility in Haridwar area.BHELCON a Joint Working Group (JWG) entity is formed and a JWG agreement has been signed with equal financial participation by CONCOR and BHEL.

Garment industry flag concern over rising imports from Bangladesh

TIRUPUR:A huge jump in duty-free garment imports from Bangladesh under the free trade agreement has put the domestic industry in a fix. This comes amidst slowing domestic demand and banks curtailing credit to 80 per cent of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in the sector.Import of garments from Bangladesh was up 82 per cent to $365 MN last fiscal. Ironically, export of garments from India to Bangladesh attract a duty of 125 per cent, said Rahul Mehta, President, and Clothing Manufacturers Association of India.The Government should ensure that Bangladesh sources a part of its fabrics requirement from India as putting a cap on their export looks difficult, he said.Premal Udani, former Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council, said Bangladesh’s garment export was at $3 BN in 2005 and India’s was at $5 BN, but today their exports have touched $36 BN while India is struggling at $16.5 BN.Vietnam, which was not even counted among the top exporters then, has recorded garment export of $24 BN last year, he said.Instead of announcing piece-meal policy measures, he said the Government should come out with stated policy for the next five years to boost exports. This will help manufacturers plan their expansion and achieve scale, he said.For the first time ever, garment exports had fallen by four per cent to $16.1 BN last fiscal, against $16.7 BN logged in 2017-18, Udani said. However, exports have revived partially in the last two months with the Government’s export incentive schemes.

Maharashtra Government changes Port Policy Lowers Port and Wharfage charges

MUMBAI:The Maharashtra Government has paved the way for sops to private port operators. The Cabinet has cleared changes to the Maharashtra Port Policy – 2016.A CM Office statement said, “Earlier wharfage fee, which was three times, will be reduced to 1.5 times.For Greenfield port or multi-purpose jetty, the concession agreement period has been increased from 35 years to 50 years. For this, the developer has to have 100 per cent capital investment for a period of 35 years and achieve target of 50 per cent cargo handling.” Permission has also been given for import and export of cargo from multi-purpose jetties and cargo handling within the Country from captive jetties.The changes were made based on the representation made by the Indian National Shipowners Association, Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India (AMTOI) and other stakeholders last month, officials said.It was earlier reported that several concessions were in the offing for around 500 private and public ports across the State, including an assurance from the Government to recommend to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council a cut in levy to 5% from the existing 12% for Multimodal Transport Operators in Maharashtra.The Cabinet also cleared the use of the jetties of the Maharashtra Maritime Board for a proposed Ro-Ro service, tourism and other training purposes. The Cabinet approved new measurement rates for the foreshore land — a land string that margins a water body — for which development charges have to be paid upfront as per the ready reckoner rates.Senior officials said the 5% GST levy on road transport operators is far less than that imposed on Multimodal Operators, who have to pay 12%. AMTOI had requested the Government to ensure a reduction in this duty. The Government has promised to take up the issue with the Centre once AMTOI provides the relevant data to back its claims. The new Cabinet changes will also reduce the current rebate given on inter- and intra-State movement in ports and jetties, officials said.
Concerns around the security of the State’s ports will also be addressed by the amendments. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had, along with the Indian Navy, had recently declared 20 ports in Raigad alone — of the 591 ports in Maharashtra — as “sensitive”, and made the information public in the Legislative Assembly.

Commerce Minister Highlight measures to boost Agro Exports

NEW DELHI :Agricultural exports have to be promoted on an ongoing basis. To boost the agricultural exports, the Government has introduced a comprehensive Agriculture Export Policy with the following vision: “To Harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India a global power in agriculture, and raise farmers’ income.”
Inter-alia, the objectives of the Agriculture Export policy are as under:
1.To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value & value added agricultural exports, including focus on perishables.
2. To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
3.To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
4. To strive to double India’s share in world agri exports by integrating with global value chains.
5. To enable farmers to get benefit of export opportunities in overseas market.
The Government has also brought out a new Central Sector Scheme – ‘Transport and Marketing Assistance for Specified Agriculture Products’ – for providing assistance for the international component of freight, to mitigate the freight disadvantage for the export of agriculture products, and marketing of agricultural products.Several schemes to promote exports are offered by the Department of Commerce, including exports of agricultural products, viz. Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES), Market Access Initiatives (MAI) Scheme, and Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) etc. In addition, assistance to the exporters of agricultural products is also available under the Export Promotion Schemes of Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Tobacco Board, Tea Board, Coffee Board, Rubber Board and Spices Board.The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, offered this information in the Lok Sabha.

Erring exporters denied benefits for misusing export promotion schemes: Piyush Goyal

NEW DELHI :Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal recently said that the Government had put 1,865 persons under the “Denied Entity List” for misusing export promotion schemes in the last three years, and penalties had been imposed in 1,374 cases,.Exporters in the “Denied Entity List” were refused further benefits under the export promotion schemes. The denials and penalties were imposed in the April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019 period.Piyush Gyal said at the Lok Sabha, “In addition to the above, action on defaulters is also taken by the Department of Revenue. During the last three years, Department of Revenue has identified and imposed penalties in over 400 cases.”Certain export promotion schemes exist in India’s Foreign Trade Policy, which exempt customs duty on import of capital goods for promotion of exports and also on raw materials, components and consumables for manufacturing goods for exports. Export sops also provide compensation for neutralizing the disadvantages suffered on the goods and services exported.Mr. Goyal said, “All these schemes have inbuilt obligations/terms and conditions which are required to be complied by the persons availing such schemes.”The Government monitors these obligations and takes action against defaulters for non-compliance.

Piyush Goyal: Industry not convinced RCEP will create win-win for all

NEW DELHI :During an informal consultation on the ongoing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal stressed the need for a mechanism to address “persistent and wide imbalances in trade” to assuage stakeholders. According to him, India’s industry, which remains apprehensive about the impact of previous Free Trade Agreements, is yet to be convinced about the benefits of RCEP.An official release following Mr. Goyal’s participation in the India-ASEAN Troika Trade Ministers’ meeting stated, “Market access issues with China for Indian goods have been particularly problematic. Indian industry is not convinced that RCEP will create a win-win situation for all by ensuring balanced outcomes in and across the key pillars, particularly goods and services.”Piyush Goyal said that there was apprehension and pessimism in Indian industry about the impact of previous Free Trade Agreements. India made asymmetrical sacrifice in goods, giving much more than it received.The release said, “The promise of commensurate offers in services subsequently by ASEAN countries did not fructify.” According to the release there has been a lack of “full cooperation” in investigating and addressing breaches of the Rules of Origin provisions in trade with India, leading to a “surge” in goods imports into the Country.CCCI: 6 per cent decline in Cochin Port’s export volume Data from the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) showed that the export and import of various commodities through Cochin Port declined year over year in fiscal 2019.12.18 lakh tonnes of commodities were exported in fiscal 2019, compared to 12.92 lakh tonnes in fiscal 2018, which shows a decline of 73,295 tonnes or nearly 6%.Commodities showing a decline in the quantity exported were cashew kernels, coir products (other than mats and mattings), frozen fish and prawns, china clay, plywood, pepper, and provisions. Whereas, products like coir mats & mattings, coir yarn, spices and tea registered a growth in export volume.R K Bhoodes, Chairman, Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI), when contacted, said that the decline in exports through the Cochin Port was part of the overall trend.Mr. Bhoodes said, “Compared to the previous fiscal, cashew kernel exports came down by 30% and the decline is due to the shutting of the 700 factories in Kerala. The nut processing has moved out of Kerala.”CEO of coir products exporter Travancore Cocotuft Pvt Ltd, P. Mahadevan, said that export demand was up in FY19 mainly in the US and UK.He added, “Also, the business with South American countries grew, as exporters have started catering those untapped markets.”CEO of coir products exporter Travancore Cocotuft Pvt Ltd, P. Mahadevan, said that export demand was up in FY19 mainly in the US and UK. He added, “Also, the business with South American countries grew, as exporters have started catering those untapped markets.”

3.59 per cent decline in India-China bilateral trade in first 5 months of this year

NEW DELHI: The India-China bilateral trade showed a decline by 3.59% year on year, totalling $36.87 BN in the first five months of this year, denting optimism that the total trade volume may cross $100 BN mark in 2019.
Bilateral trade between India and China last year touched a historic high of $95.54 BN, creating the expectation that the trade this year could cross the historic $100 BN mark.According to Chinese official data, the trade deficit in 2018 climbed to $57.86 BN from $51.72 BN in 2017.According to the latest data released by Chinese customs, bilateral trade in the first five months of 2019 has declined by 3.59% year on year amounting to $36.87 BN. In the same period, India’s exports to China declined by 1.62%, touching $7.70 BN, whereas Chinese exports to India decelerated by 4.10% to total $29.17 BN.Bilateral trade declined by a significant 5.04% in May this year, totalling $8.18 BN year on year.India’s exports to China stood at $1.52 BN in May 2019, showing a decrease by 7.15 per cent, while Chinese exports, standing at $6.66 BN, showed a decrease by 4.54 per cent. After the bilateral trade crossed $95 BN last year which was a historic high, officials in recent months expressed optimism that the bilateral trade for the first time may cross $100 BN. But the trend of decline may make it difficult unless the trade volumes picks up later in the year.Official data showed that in the period of January-May 2019, major growth commodities of India’s export basket were organic chemicals at 23.56%, cotton 50.73%, plastics 25.48%, fish and crustaceans 394.97%, electrical machinery 33.54%, Iron and steel 39.12% and coffee, tea, mate and spices 654.22%. There was a decline in export of commodities such as natural earls, precious stones, copper, mineral fuel by 29.65%, 89.21, 39.38% respectively from January-May period.

India raises concern about widening trade deficit with Indonesia

NEW DELHI: Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, in his meeting here with Indonesian Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita, stated that India had raised concerns about widening trade deficit with Indonesia and had called for diversifying the export basket for sustainable trade.The Commerce Ministry said in a statement, “Goyal raised concerns about India’s trade deficit with Indonesia which stood at $ 10.57 BN in India’s trade deficit with Indonesia during 2018-19.”Mr Goyal said that the balance of trade was heavily in favour of Indonesia, and both countries needed to work towards establishing sustainable trade by diversifying the export basket.He added, “There is considerable potential for expanding trade in agricultural, automobiles, engineering products, IT, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and healthcare sectors.”Indonesia, with a bilateral trade of $ 21.13 BN in 2018-19, has emerged as the second-largest trading partner of India in the ASEAN region after Singapore.

Indo-Bangladesh stakeholders’ meet in Guwahati for greater trade ties: Commerce Ministry, Assam Government

GUWAHATI: The Government of Assam and the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, eyeing greater trade ties with Bangladesh, will hold an Indo-Bangladesh stakeholders meet on July 19 and 20 in Guwahati.
Participation will be seen by representatives from the Ministry of Shipping, Surface Transport, regulatory bodies like Customs, Port Authorities, business bodies, and transporters to discuss finer details, and to resume the actual physical movement of goods in these routes, and also to highlight the administrative interventions required from both sides – India and Bangladesh.Chandra Mohan Patwary, Assam’s Industry Minister, said that the Government firmly believed that the future growth of Assam and the entire North-East lay in its re-integration with this region, as both have much in common in terms of the DNA, food, social and cultural fabric.Mr. Patwary said, “The geo-strategic location of North-East and Assam should be leveraged in this region to catapult India’s presence in the ASEAN and BBN regions.”
As part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision on Act East, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is taking a number of path breaking initiatives to implement the Act East Policy, Mr. Patwary added.

Economic Survey 2018-19: Government says port capacity augmentation to get top priority

NEW DELHI: The Economic Survey 2018-19 said that the Government had accorded the topmost priority for capacity augmentation of the sector of port development, very crucial for the economy, through initiatives like Sagarmala. Around 90 per cent of Export-Import Cargo by volume and 70 per cent by value is handled by ports.The Economic Survey, tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament, said, “Port sector development is very crucial for the development of any economy…In order to meet the ever increasing trade requirements, expansion of Port Capacity has been accorded the highest priority with implementation of well-conceived infrastructure development projects like sagarmala, project Unnati etc.”The survey said that the Port Performance Benchmarking & Performance Index published by Logistics Data Bank for February 2019 showed that Gateway Terminals India is in the top performing category. The International Container Transhipment Terminal, Kochi, is in the low performing category.To facilitate Ease of Doing Business, said the survey, the Shipping Ministry has identified various parameters for reducing dwell time and transaction costs at the Major Ports, which include elimination of manual forms, accommodation for laboratories to Participating Government Agencies, Direct Port Delivery, installation of container scanners, e-delivery orders, radio frequency identification-based gate-automation System, etc.The survey said that these initiatives were already implemented at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and were being taken up at other Major Ports.The survey stressed that “shipping plays a pivotal role in India’s trade dynamics”.The survey said, “As on January 31, 2019, India had a fleet strength of 1,405 ships with dead weight tonnage (DWT) of 19.22 MN (12.74 MN GT) including Indian controlled tonnage, with Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) having the largest share of around 30.52 per cent. Of this, around 458 ships of 17.58 MN DWT (11.26 MN GT) cater to India’s overseas trade and the rest to coastal trade”.In 2018 India had a fleet strength of 1,400 vessels with gross registered tonnage (GRT) of 12.68 MN in 2018, as compared to a fleet strength of 1,371 vessels with 12.35 MN GRT at the end of December 2017.

Budget a road map for New India based on inclusive growth: FIEO

NEW DELHI: Mr Sharad Kumar Saraf, President, FIEO, commenting on the Union Budget, said that budget announcements are aimed at transforming India to usher in a US$ 5 trillion economy and make India the best place for ease of living and ease of business.Mr Saraf pointed out that the budget addresses some of the basic challenges faced by manufacturing as well as exports including flow of credit, infrastructure bottlenecks, labour laws, skilling, etc.The export credit declined by 22% as on 31st December 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. The flow of credit will be eased through the Rs.70, 000 crore allocated to PSU banks.
The interest subvention of 2% given to MSME as well as payment platform for bill filing for MSME will help in flow of credit at competitive cost.The investment of Rs.100 lakh crore in infrastructure in next 5 years through Bharatmala, Sagarmala, Jal Marg Vikas Project will help in improving logistics, reducing transportation cost and increasing competitiveness. The PMMSY for the robust fisheries management framework will give a push to marine exports from the Country in which India has emerged as the largest exporter though huge untapped potential still exists.The support given to GI products and artisans to showcase in global markets will provide much needed exposure to them paving the way for further exports. Focus on clusters in Bamboo, Honey and Khadi will not only create huge employment opportunity but will also give a push to their exports.The identification of 17 iconic tourism sites will give a push to tourism exports in the Country.The FIEO President said that the emphasis on digitalization and faceless assessment will go a long way in ensuring objectivity, transparency and speed.Mr. Saraf also said that the Government may look into extending reduction in Corporate Tax to all companies irrespective of turnover so as to attract overseas investment waiting on the fringes both in US and China though enjoying much lower Corporate Tax in their respective Countries.

PM lauds the Union Budget 2019-2020 Budget will boost India’s development in 21st century: PM

NEW DELHI: Shri Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, lauded the Union Budget 2019-2020 as the budget for building New India.After the Finance Minister presented the Annual Budget 2019-2020 in the Parliament, the Prime Minister asserted that budget would strengthen the poor and create a better future for the youth of the Country.The Prime Minister highlighted the potential benefits of the budget, saying that the budget promises to accelerate the pace of development in the Country and would greatly benefit the middle class.PM Modi said, “The budget will simplify the tax process and help in modernizing the infrastructure in the Country.”According to the Prime Minister, the budget will strengthen the enterprises as well as the entrepreneurs, and will further increase the participation of women in the development of the Country. The budget has a roadmap to transform the agriculture sector of India, said Mr. Modi.The Annual Budget 2019-2020 is a budget full of hope, and it will boost India’s development in the 21st century, added the Prime Minister. He said that the Union Government had taken all-round steps for the empowerment of farmers, scheduled castes, the poor and the oppressed, and the underprivileged sections of the society.Mr. Modi said that this empowerment would make them the powerhouse of the Country in the coming five years; the Country will get the energy to fulfil the dream of a five trillion dollar economy from these empowered sections.

Piyush Goyal talks on Government schemes for Cold Storage & Warehousing Infra in Maharashtra

NEW DELHI: At the Lok Sabha, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, gave information about the various schemes created by the Government to strengthen cold storage and warehousing infrastructure facilities in the Country, including those in Maharashtra.The Scheme for Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure is being implemented by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, as one of the components of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, with the objective of arresting post-harvest losses of horticulture & non-horticulture produce and providing remunerative price to farmers for their produce.67 projects have been sanctioned for Maharashtra under the above scheme, out of which, 33 have been completed, and 34 are under implementation. Rs.481.64 crore have been sanctioned for these projects, out of which Rs.277.11 cores have been released.The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation, & Farmers Welfare is implementing the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture’ (MIDH) for the development of Horticulture in the Country, under which financial assistance is available, inter-alia, for setting up of Post-Harvest management (PHM) infrastructure (including cold storage).Since the implementation of MIDH, an amount of Rs.2123.50 lakh has been approved for 21 cold storages in Maharashtra (2014 -15).

Finance Minister says over 90 % refund claims disposed by CBIC

NEW DELHI: During the second refund fortnight, Rs. 6,087 crore IGST refunds and Rs. 1, 548 crore ITC refunds were sanctioned by CBIC, said Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minster of Finance and Corporate Affairs.
Nirmala Sitharaman said, when presenting the Union Budget 2019-20 in Parliament, that in case of IGST refunds for goods exported out of India, the percentage of amount of refund claims disposed by CBIC is already more than 90%.She mentioned that merchant exporters have to pay a nominal GST of 0.1 percent for procuring goods from domestic suppliers for export. The intention was to provide a big thrust to the growth of the export sector, and to resolve their working capital issues. The e-Wallet scheme, the permanent solution to cash blockage, is proposed to be launched with effect from 01.04.2020.Ms. Sitharaman stated that e-way bill system for inter-State movement of goods had been implemented from 01.04.2018. The e-way bill system for intra-State movement was brought into force in a staggered manner by 16.06.2018. Till 31.05.2019 around 66.45 crore e-waybills have been generated, including 37.11 crore e-way bills for intra-State movement.

Logistics industry commends FM for focusing on Logistics infra : FFFAI Chairman

MUMBAI: The Budget 2019-20 announced by Finance Minister Ms Nirmala Sitaraman on July 5 can be seen as an on-going task reiterating the commitments that the NDA Government has set in its Vision Document, says Mr S Ramakrishna, Chairman, Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI.It is commendable the new Finance Minister presented a pragmatic Budget aiming to reach the US$ 5 trillion economy in the next few years, with much-needed emphasis and focus on infrastructure, multimodal connectivity, and logistics operation.It is to be noted that the Government has decided to create and promote Inland Waterways and allied infrastructure to reduce logistics cost. It is heartening to note that after recently launched Multimodal Terminal at Varanasi, more similar terminals will be completed at Sahibganj and Haldia and a navigational lock will be created at Farakka by 2019-20 FY.Mr. Ramakrishna said, “We will be expecting more such terminals in North East India as well, like strengthening the existing terminal in Pandu (Guwahati) and new one in Jogighopa, in Goalpara Assam, which is very strategic region from foreign trade’s perspective utilizing effective multimodal connectivity with special thrust on waterways. It would be very crucial to expedite international cargo movement to Bangladesh and beyond. Also, it is commendable the Finance Minister emphasized on resolving all litigations on first track basis to facilitate trade and commerce.”
He lauded the Finance Minister’s announcements to boost the MSME sector. Ms. Sitaraman announced that for ease of access to credit for MSMEs, the Government has introduced providing of loans up to 1 crore for MSMEs within 59 minutes through a dedicated online portal. Under the Interest Subvention Scheme for MSMEs, Rs. 350 crore has been allocated for FY 2019-20 for 2% interest subvention for all GST registered MSMEs, on fresh or incremental loans.

Centre to pay exporters’ ITC refund of State GST

NEW DELHI :Exporters are relieved to hear that the Centre will now pay the input tax credit (ITC) refunds of State taxes, thereby reducing transaction time and costs, and manual interface in claim processing.
There is a huge difference in the amount claimed depending on the industry, State goods and services tax (SGST) sanction the amount received from the Central Tax Authority and the amount actually disbursed.According to the 2019-20 budget, “the Central Government has been authorised to pay the amount of refund towards State Taxes to the taxpayers”Currently, the taxpayers file refund claims with the Central Tax Officer, who clears half the claims, and the rest are cleared by the State Tax Authorities, leading to higher time taken in claim processing and refund sanctioning.ITC refund is partly electronic and partly manual, say exporters. The exporter files a refund application at the portal, takes a printout along with acknowledgement, and carries it to GST authorities in hard copy along with required documents. The documents also vary from authority to authority. The physical interface adds to the transaction time and cost.Mr. Ajay Sahai, Director General at Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said, “The States and Centre did their own respective approval of ITC refund but now only one will approve both. This is a relief for exporters as it would reduce transaction time and costs.”This element of relief comes just when exporters are dealing with tight credit norms amid slowing global trade growth. Total disbursement of export credit was Rs 7.38 lakh crore in December 2018, a decline of 20% on year. Share of PSU banks in total disbursement of export credit declined from 65% in FY16 to 45% in FY18.Exporters have said the number of refund applications filed on the portal are higher than those received in the State Tax Office.Mr. Bipin Sapra, Partner at EY, said, “The ability for Centre to give the refund for both the CGST and SGST will ease the problems being faced currently specially by the exporters and remove the delay in getting the entire cash post the sanction of refunds.”

DGTR investigates alleged dumping of flat rolled stainless steel from 15 Nations

NEW DELHI :A probe has been initiated by India into alleged dumping of flat rolled products of stainless steel from 15 countries including China, the US and Japan following complaints by domestic players.
The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR), the investigation arm of the Commerce Ministry, has begun the investigation after finding evidence of dumping of the products from China, Korea, the European Union, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, the US, Thailand, South Africa, the UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Vietnam and Malaysia.In a notification, the DGTR said, “The authority accordingly initiates an investigation into the alleged dumping, and consequent injury to the domestic industry.”


Revival of trade talks considered by the U.S., China

In an effort to revive stalled trade talks, top American and Chinese negotiators will have a discussion this week, as discord over prior commitments and political considerations threaten to bog down discussions.At the Group of 20 leading economies meeting in Osaka, Japan in June, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to formally resume talks. But still the issues that snagged talks two months ago remain, say people following the process.One of the sore spots is that the: U.S. demands that China buy more American agricultural and industrial products and enforce protection of intellectual property; another sore spot is China’s insistence that the U.S. remove tariffs on $250 BN in Chinese goods.Mr. Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, who has consulted with the U.S. administration, said, “One side or the other can always cave and talks can wrap very quickly, but, barring that, Osaka was conflict limitation, not conflict resolution.”A US official said that senior officials from each side, including U.S. trade representative Mr. Robert Lighthizer, are set to have telephonic talks this week. If these are successful, face-to-face talks could follow, possibly in Beijing, said people following the talks. The last round of face-to-face meetings that took place in Washington in May ended in an impasse.Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “Our hope is that both sides will come to the table in earnest as soon as practically possible. But each side has to consider its own political environment, and there are obstacles to a swift deal being done.”Mr. Trump said, at the summit on June 29, that he would put aside plans for additional tariffs on about $300 BN in Chinese imports. He said he would ease the U.S. blacklist of China’s Huawei Technologies Co. by allowing U.S. companies to sell some components to Huawei provided the exports aren’t seen as a security risk. U.S. regulators have yet to offer specifics on how that will be accomplished.Mr. Trump, in his press conference in Osaka, also promised relief for U.S. farmers, who have been caught in the middle of the conflict, as China slowed its purchases of U.S. soybeans, corn and other products.The US President said, “China is going to be buying a tremendous amount of food and agricultural product, and they’re going to start that very soon, almost immediately.”A person with information on the event said that Mr. Xi made no promise of purchasing more U.S. agricultural products during his meeting with Mr. Trump. China has made no official mention of such a commitment.White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Beijing did make commitments. On Thursday, Mr. Navarro said to Fox Business Network, “The Chinese side promised to make immediate and significant purchase of our agricultural products. Let’s see if they keep that promise.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture data said that shortly before the presidents’ meeting two weeks ago, China purchased 544,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans, the largest Chinese purchase since March.Last week, USA Rice, a trade group of rice producers, announced the first -ever large-scale sale of rice to China.A spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry sidestepped a question about whether Beijing committed to making future farm purchases. Spokesman Mr. Gao Feng said at a briefing last week, “There’s huge room for cooperation.”
Mr. Go Feng said China did not wish to see agricultural trade affected by the dispute; hence the two governments ought to discuss the issue.
Another person with knowledge of the matter said, “China is willing to commit to purchases of U.S. goods as part of an overall trade deal, but that deal needs to be balanced with both sides making concessions.”Mr. Zhang Yansheng, Chief Researcher, China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said, “We know the two leaders would have reached a principles-based agreement, but how Chinese buying will proceed would be left to subsequent detailed negotiations.” Regarding buying agricultural goods, Mr. Zhang Yansheng said, “China has a very good willingness, but that’s based on having an end to the trade fight.”U.S. demands for Chinese purchases of U.S. goods should be reasonable, Beijing has said. That is, say Chinese officials, they must be based on domestic Chinese demand, rather than requiring China to divert purchases it now makes from other countries.Mr. Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, says that Mr. Trump is under pressure to produce a deal that offers structural changes in China’s economy that Beijing appears to be increasingly resisting.

China to optimize business environment in ports

BEIJING:China will further optimize the business environment in ports to spur cross-border trade, said officials from the General Administration of Customs.During a news briefing, Deputy Director of the Administration Mr. Hu Wei said that continuous efforts to shorten the clearance process have yielded fruitful results. He said that the number of documents needed under the import and export regulations had been cut from 86 to 46, out of which 42 could be verified online.Mr. Hu Wei said, “By the end of this year, apart from certain confidential documents, all the documents required for imports and exports will be applied and processed online a year ahead of the schedule proposed by the State Council.”According to him, improvements in the port business environment had boosted the volume of foreign trade, with steady growth seen in January to May, amid an optimizing trade structure.In the first five months of 2019, the total trade in goods amounted to 12.1 trillion yuan ($1.76 trillion), up 4.1 percent year-on-year, according to GAC data.Mr. Hu Wei added that ports in Tianjin, Hainan and Shandong clocked trade volume growth far ahead of the national average.

Reuters poll forecasts: China’s June exports likely falling, adding to fears of global slowdown

BEIJING:As shown by a Reuters poll, China’s exports likely fell in June as weakening global demand and a sharp hike in U.S. tariffs took a heavier toll on the world’s largest trading nation. Imports are expected to have fallen for a second straight month, pointing to continued weakness in domestic demand and highlighting the need for Beijing to roll out more economic support measures.In the situation that the recent trade data are in line with or worse than the downbeat forecasts, concerns could be sparked about a sharper-than-expected slowdown in China and the risk of a global recession.The median estimate of 34 economists in a Reuters poll shows an expected 2 per cent decline in China’s June exports from a year earlier, compared with a 1.1% gain in May.June marked the first full month of higher U.S. tariffs on $200 BN of Chinese goods, which were implemented weeks earlier.
The poll has also estimated an expected contraction in June imports, though not as much as in May. According to Nomura analysts, a low base last year could have provided some support to the headline figure.
Analysts forecast imports fell 4.5% from a year earlier, recovering from a 8.5% contraction the previous month, Analysts forecast China’s second-quarter economic growth slowed to 6.2% – the lowest in at least 27 years – from 6.4% in the first quarter.

Reduction in China’s number of MNaires with cooling economy

SHANGHAI—According to a consulting firm report, China’s cooling economy shrank the ranks of the country’s millionaires last year, weighing on the total value of assets held by the rich globally.According to Paris-based Capgemini SE, the number of Chinese individuals with more than $1 MN in financial assets slid 5% to 1.2 MN during 2018 on the back of a $500 BN drop in the value of the assets they held.China’s tug was a big contributor to a 2.9%, $2 trillion loss in wealth among the richest world-wide, research shows.Mr. Bill Sullivan, a Capgemini vice president involved in producing the firm’s annual World Wealth Report, said, “We’ve seen seven years of pretty solid growth around the world, and China during that period was the largest driver,” adding, “This year we saw the impact of slowdown.”Challenges at the top are another unwelcome sign for China, of how the slowest growth in a quarter-century is a brake on the trends that made it the world’s No. 2 economy. According to Bain & Co., the nations wealthy have a particular impact on international purveyors of luxury automobiles, fashion and food brands, and accounting for one-third of such spending world-wide.The value of assets held by high-net-worth individuals In North America slid 1.1%, less than the world average. In the USA, the number of millionaires crept marginally higher in the year.The only region to climb in wealth and number of millionaires was the Middle East. Wealth slid in Latin America.According to Capgemini, assets of Europe’s rich posted a decline similar to China’s—about $500 BN—but its number of wealthy fell 0.5%. The company said that anxiety about Britain’s decision to leave the European Union helped weaken U.K. asset values by 6%.The biggest factor for rich Chinese last year was a nearly 25% plunge in stock indexes during 2018, which reflected slower economic growth, stagnation in the property market and trade tension with the U.S., as well as a weakening of the yuan, according to Capgemini. It said that similar factors also tripped up Hong Kong’s richest.China has less than one fourth of the millionaires as the U.S.A. The category of millionaires, people with $1 MN in investible assets, is a sliver of the country’s population.
The Capgemini Vice President says that the fortunes of rich people around the world, in particular those with assets worth over $30 MN, tend to be a leading economic indicator. Capgemini says that around 75% of the global drop in wealth was at the uppermost slice of the rich.
In a sign of this group’s caution, the company said, they held slightly more of their wealth in cash than equities at the end of March.
Likewise, other recent reports predict gathering clouds over the wealthiest in China.Boston Consulting Group, in findings published last month, said that growth in household assets Asia-wide slid last year to about 7.1% from 11.5% the year before, primarily because of rising exposure to the stock market by China’s wealthy.A broad pullback in China art dealings was tallied by UBS analysts in 2018. They found that sales slid 3% year on year to $12.9 BN; the value of works sold at auctions fell 9%. They found that artwork up for auction didn’t sell 57% of the time.China’s middle class—those earning $2,600 to $3,900 a month—would expand 28% annually through 2025 and reach 350 MN people, McKinsey & Co. predicted his year.Accordeing to Shanghai wealth chronicler Hurun Report, the ailing stock market cost a record 456 people a spot on its annual China Rich List of about 2,000 when it was published in October. Mr. Rupert Hoogewerf, founder, Hurun Report, mentioned that 219 newcomers qualified, with the technology industry creating new fortunes.

Full Speed Set Ahead for Cleaner Ships by Maritime Operators

The shipping industry is taking concrete steps to clean up its act after being excluded from the Paris climate agreement

Heavy oil, the world’s dirtiest propulsion fuel, since they switched from coal in the early 20th century, has been burnt. Since then oceangoing vessels and operators have sailed around unclear rules over who enforces climate protection. Generally operating in international waters beyond the reach of close regulation, ships often also have flags which are different from the nationality of their owners, leaving oversight and enforcement murky unless vessels foul the environment directly around ports.The 2015 Paris Agreement exclude the industry from among the countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions because of this sense that ships effectively have no true home. Instead shipowners offered vague promises that they would work to cut toxic fumes from ship stacks, in line with slow-moving regulations set by the United Nations’ shipping regulator – The International Maritime Organization.Now, the Paris signatory countries are falling behind schedule on cutting emissions, a move toward cleaner ships has picked up speed over the past three years, affecting everything from the way new vessels are built and what kind of fuel they use to who gets loans to buy them, while the U.N. and environmentalists are sounding alarms.“Better late than never,” said Lars Robert Pedersen, deputy secretary-general of Bimco, an industry trade body. “Shipping is cleaning up its act, despite sometimes loud opposition from some parties with a big say in the industry, and there is no turning back.”Starting on Jan. 1, 2020, while many are preparing to switch to new low-sulphur fuel mixes or blends the energy industry is still developing, some 60,000 ships will be obliged to reduce sharply their sulphur emissions a move industry executives say will add some $50 BN in new fuel costs over the next three to four years.Fears that enough new fuel will not be ready in time and that new formulations may not work well in ship engines calls from some quarters as well as the financial burden, have prompted for a delay in implementing the low-sulphur rules.Shipowners have been especially vocal, from big seafaring nations such as Greece, which runs roughly 20% of the world’s oceangoing commercial fleet, and even the White House has raised concerns over the impact the rule will have on oil prices as crude is diverted to maritime businesses.But the IMO has stood its ground.

Tariff’s Ripple Impact; Ford Downshifts; Car Carriers’ Collusion Course

The shipping industry is taking concrete steps to clean up its act after being excluded from the Paris climate agreement

The next round of tariffs on Chinese imports could hurt domestic production warns a swath of U.S. businesses. The WSJ’s Mr. Josh Zumbrun reports, manufacturers, retailers and port operators have told U.S. trade officials that the planned 25% duties on $300 BN of Chinese goods would ripple through U.S. supply chains, and create incentives to move production abroad. The unintended impact of tariff-driven trade policies that operators say will affect goods including cranes used at container ports and machinery at apparel plants, which could raise U.S. manufacturing costs, highlight the comments. The U.S. market is too small to supply domestic alternatives says New Balance Athletics Inc., while Element Electronics says levies on Chinese components could shift its assembly of televisions from South Carolina to Mexico. Even an exemption meant to facilitate easier parcel shipping could end up helping Chinese companies that sell directly to U.S. consumers, say tariff supporters.Amid sluggish auto demand, Ford Motor Co. is downshifting in Europe. As part of a broader pivot toward research on new technologies and attempts to bolstering profits, the WSJ’s Mr. William Boston and Mr. Mike Colias write, that the U.S. car maker is the latest to shrink its factory footprint there, and will slash 12,000 jobs in Europe. Ford plans to focus more on imported passenger cars and locally built, higher-margin commercial vehicles and close a quarter of its European plants by the end of 2020 in the bargain. The moves will reshape automotive supply chains in a region where high labour costs and strict emissions rules have challenged auto makers. General Motors Co. left Europe in 2017, and Ford remains No. 6 by sales there. Ford’s overhaul is focused more on profit margins than lifting sales, with European car sales expected to fall next year when tougher limits take effect.
More scrutiny is being drawn to pricing in international vehicle shipping. Two former Höegh Autoliners A/S executives with participating in a sprawling price-fixing conspiracy in ocean transport of so-called roll-on, roll-off cargo like cars and industrial equipment were charged by the U.S. Justice Department. The years long investigation reveals “endemic and rampant” collusion between ro-ro operators handling automobiles to and from the U.S., antitrust prosecutors were saying, the WSJ Logistics Report’s Costas Paris writes. In a series of probes by regulators around the world into alleged price collusion among car carriers the charges are the latest. In this case so far five companies including Höegh have pleaded guilty and 13 shipping executives have been charged.In the race to build the world’s fastest supercomputer Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s technology-sharing deals are helping China. The WSJ’s Ms. Kate O’Keeffe and Mr. Brian Spegele write, partnerships with a state-backed military supplier and a Chinese supercomputer developer helped revive the American chip maker’s fortunes through lucrative licensing deals that gave China “the keys to the kingdom.” Based on AMD’s processor technology the joint ventures allowed China to build new chips. An 85% stake in two of its semiconductor factories in China and Malaysia to an entity controlled by a state-backed financier were also sold by AMD. U.S. officials were alarmed by the deals, and new export restrictions on companies tied to the AMD deal were imposed lastly by the Commerce Department.

Africa News

Lives of MNs in the continent impacted by African Development Fund

A rapid rollout of development projects that continue to transform and sustain lives to provide a concessional buffer to needy economies on the continent is being facilitated by the African Development Fund (ADF).

The Fund is creating linkages to promote regional integration, commercial exchanges and enhance food security by investing in power projects, roads and bridges, and other critical industrial and livelihood buildouts in 38 of the continent’s neediest countries.
Transformative projectsCelebrated for providing clean and renewable electricity to nearly a MN people – Zambia’s Tezhi Hydro Power project The Fund has not only helped farmers to get their crops to market centres but also saved lives of pregnant women and the sick by facilitating their timely arrival at health centres, according to beneficiaries of a 107km road financed in South West Madagascar.Since its inception, the ADF would have provided, about US$47.6bn to strengthen fragile societies, in addition to building resilience and giving hope to the vulnerable, by the end of its current cycle.The African Development Bank (AfDB) has developed a strong developmental impact in ADF countries over the past three ADF cycles (2011 to 2018)· New generation capacity installed of 395MW, including 170MW of renewable capacity, giving 10.9mn people better access to electricity· More than 90mn people have benefited from the ADF’s agriculture projects. Around 66.6mn people have better access to transport facilitating market access and international connection· 2,307 kilometres of cross-border roads built or rehabilitated and 4.1mn people provided with better access to education and 35.8mn people with access to water and sanitation The Fund is administered by the AfDB, and comprises 32 contributing states and benefits 38 countries.

Study says Chinese construction firms in Africa bring prosperity to local workers

Perceptions concerning unfair labour practices of Chinese construction firms in Africa has challenged by a new study.
The findings by studies conducted by the SOAS University of London, showed the proportion of national (Ethiopian and Angolan) workers in the labour force is substantially higher than normally assumed in the press. In Ethiopia these rates were 90percent of all workers (and 100 per cent for low-skilled workers) and in Angola, where rates are usually much lower due to skill shortages, estimated rates were 74 per cent.Dr Carlos Oyam, who led the project, said, “One of the common perceptions of Chinese firms working in Africa is that they do not employ locals, the working conditions are exploitative and that they don’t contribute to skills development. However our findings after four years of research have drawn up a very different picture. In Angola, for example, the firms employ some of the poorest where accommodation and food is provided, which in many ways can be seen as a route to actively help with poverty reduction in the region.”Localisation had grown significantly in the previous 10 years as Chinese firms settled in that market context in Angola, as found during the project. Given that the road construction market in Ethiopia and Angola, have been dominated by Chinese contractors who have been the main contributors to job creation in absolute terms in this sector, especially in recent years. Chinese firms have also led job creation in the Ethiopian manufacturing sector during the same period.
Comparison of WagesIn sampled Chinese firms wages were found to be broadly similar to other top firms in the same sectors. In Angola many Chinese firms adopted a migrant dormitory labour regime by employing relatively poorer workers from the south of the country, where employment opportunities are scarce as found additionally. Therefore, especially in Luanda, these workers also obtained food and accommodation and managed to save more from their wages than workers employed in other firms, where living costs are high, and this may actively result in poverty reduction.Sampled Chinese firms in Ethiopia contribute at least as much as other firms in the same sector to training and skill development, and in the manufacturing sector, training is widespread and considered as much more necessary by firms. All firms in Angola, have to provide different forms of informal on-the-job training given the severe skill shortages in the country especially for workers lacking relevant experience and education, but national firms and some foreign firms tend to have some more formal types of initial induction training.

Moody’s: Ethiopia’s political risks intensify but economy is growing

Ethiopia’s underlying political tensions risks derailing economic activity, according to Moody’s Investors Service, though the economy and wealth levels have been growing strongly at nine per cent per annum on average for the past five years.
At the same time, volatile export earnings have intensified pressures on its external position.
A number of investor questions on these trends and their likely impact, if any, on the sovereign credit profile were addressed in Moody’s Investors Service report.Reform efforts have been focused on increasing private-sector involvement in the economy, improving infrastructure, increasing efficiencies in goods and services markets and easing the burden on the government balance sheet, the report said while commenting on the areas of reforms.“At this stage, it will take time for benefits to be realized and they carry a plethora of implementation risks. Much of the reform’s success will depend on the buy-in of the Ethiopian People Revolution Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, of which some members appear sceptical about the prime minister’s market-oriented focus,” according to the report.As the government’s reform agenda risk exacerbating ethnic tensions in some parts of the country, regarding the risks that are present in Ethiopia’s political environment, it noted that risks are unlikely to dissipate in the run-up to elections scheduled for 2020. Given that some sectors of the Ethiopian economy are heavily dependent on foreign direct investment (FDI), in Ethiopia, these persistent political challenges are likely to be felt most prominently via any impact on investor perceptions.Although the government’s gross borrowing requirements are moderate at around five per cent of GDP, this conceals a high level of external payments relative to foreign exchange reserves. Moody’s estimated public external debt amortisation of US$1.7bn in fiscal 2020, which is equivalent to half of our estimated level of reserves for end fiscal 2019.Ethiopia is implementing a wide-ranging reform agenda to increase the private sector’s involvement in the economy; improve critical infrastructure; generate efficiencies in the market for goods and services and ease the burden on the government balance sheet. These reform and privatisation agenda is mainly focused on the energy, telecoms, logistics and airlines sectors but there are some meaningful reforms taking place in agriculture and banking as well.

Countries urged to join Africa50 by AfDB for a more prosperous Africa

At Africa50’s general shareholders’ meeting in Kigali, African governments need to explore innovative technologies to drive transformation on the continent, board members opined.
The Prime Minister of Rwanda Edouard Ngirente made the call at the opening of the shareholders meeting.Africa50 is a fund for developing and financing African infrastructure, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), African governments and private and institutional investors.AfDB president Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, who is board chair of Africa50, in his opening speech urged more African countries to join the institution, which he described as ‘the continent’s main investment vehicle.’“Africa 50 is on track to launch a private sector third party fund to leverage US$1bn from private sector institutional investors. I encourage countries that have not yet joined Africa50 to do so. Join us as we move towards a future of great promise for Africa. Join us as we lay the foundations for a more prosperous Africa,” Mr. Adesina urged.The organisation had made significant progress over the years and built an effective partnership with several African countries noted Mr. Alain Ebobissé, CEO at Africa 50.Membership of Africa50 currently stands at 28 African countries and the firm is set to launch a private sector third party fund that will be used to leverage US$1bn into infrastructure from private sector institutional investors.“A game changer in the infrastructure space in Africa will occur when enough decision makers acknowledge that the opportunity cost of delayed projects implementation is very high. Doing nothing or slowing down projects costs money and deprives citizens of services and economic opportunity,” Mr. Ebobissé added.
An appeal to investors was made by Adesina to attend the Bank’s 2019 Africa Investment Forum, stressing that Africa is ready for massive investments and offers an attractive investment destination. The Forum’s lead partners include Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), African Export-Import Bank (AfreximBank), Trade and Development Bank (TDB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Africa50, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), and European Investment Bank (EIB).“Africa is ready for massive investments and the environment is getting more attractive for investors,” Adesina said.“One such investment is the construction of the bridge that will connect the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, a US$550mn transaction being led by Africa50 in partnership with the AfDB.”The African Continental Free Trade Area has opened possibilities for the world’s largest free trade area and an integrated single market for Africa, the attendees agreed in addition to this.The continent needed to be connected through roads, rail, ports, airports, ICT backbones and energy corridors to enjoy the full benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Adesina said. “This will be crucial for spurring future economic growth in Africa,” Adesina stressed.

Two South Africans nominated on Konecranes’ global emergency team

Two members on a top global emergency team including Mr. Marius Naude as global technical support specialist and Ms. Niekie Erasmus as senior service technician have been nominated by Konecranes, South Africa.
It is Konecranes’ responsibility to provide 24/7global technical support international support for Konecranes technicians and regional specialists all over the world as well as troubleshooting and special crane commissioning services. When serious problems that could cause costly delays in the production process are encountered, customers often call directly for support.The person is nominated either by someone from global technical support, technical training group or the country/regional support specialist to become a part of the Konecranes global specialist team.To ensure that the candidate has the necessary skills level to participate in this elite group, an assessment by the specialist trainer will follow. Every year, 10 candidates are accepted and since the start of this programme the total candidates trained comes to 110, by the current group.Mr. Naude said, “Over time, some countries were added when other members were not available or were restricted to travel there. These countries include Panama, Turkey and Iraq.”Due to the expanding Konecranes footprint on the African continent, the workload has further increased. “We, therefore, decided to nominate a second country specialist. Ms. Niekie Erasmus from our Amanzimtoti Branch was nominated and assessed by the current global technical support team at the end of 2018. He was successful with the assessment and started his specialist training in March 2019. This should be completed by the end of October 2019,” said Mr. Naude.

Envoy Says Sudan Rivals Agree to Share Power

Timetable for transition to civilian rule supported by ruling military council and pro-democracy movement
A truce to share power was reached by Sudan’s military junta and protest leaders, for the first time in three decades marking a tentative end to months of protests and violent crackdowns and setting out a blueprint for democratic rule.The country has been paralyzed by a standoff between opposition leaders since youth-led protests pushed Sudan’s military to oust longtime strongman President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April, calling for a transition to democracy and the Transitional Military Council ruling Sudan. Protests ended in bloodshed which repeatedly, called for civilian rule.After weeks of false starts and mediation attempts by U.S., Ethiopian and African Union officials, early Friday, Mr. Mohamed Hassan Lebatt, a mediator for the African Union said the military and protest leaders agreed to form a sovereign council comprising military and civilian officials to govern the country for just over three years.The junta will be in charge of the 11-member council the first 21 months of the transition, for all crucial matters, countering protesters’ demand for immediate civilian rule. A civilian will take the helm and prepare for elections in 2022 only after that.Weeks of uncertainty during which the capital Khartoum was overtaken by thousands of heavily armed troops in an attempt to quiet protesters could end if the deal is successful. Soldiers, police and members of the Rapid Support Forces—a military unit with roots in the so-called janjaweed militia responsible for brutality in the Darfur region—camped at many street corners next to camouflage-painted Toyota pickups with machine guns mounted in the back and bundles of rocket-propelled grenades.The RSF instalments, , imposed a tense calm on the city following a violent June 3 crackdown on protesters In some cases they were manned by soldiers who appeared to be in their teens, taking selfies with machine guns and catcalling at women in the street.
The calm broke when thousands returned to the streets demanding civilian rule, on June 30.For the people of a vast nation that spent nearly three decades under Mr. Bashir’s iron grip, elections would mark a long-awaited return to democracy after weathering the secession of South Sudan, meddling by foreign power players vying for regional influence and years of Western sanctions.Forming a nexus for global trade via the Gulf of Aden and a Western ally in managing migration toward Europe and combatting terrorism in neighboring Libya Saudi Arabia, Iran, the U.S. and the European Union have all sought influence over Sudan. Each group helped to strengthen Mr. Bashir’s rule at different points.
An independent investigation into last month’s brutal raid on a civilian sit-in camp in Khartoum and other opposition sites by soldiers and the RSF was also promised by negotiators and mediators. Nearly 140 civilians died that day and in the month that followed, with many more injured by bullets, raped and beaten protest leaders say. The government puts almost 80 feared dead.“This is a great step in the right direction and both sides have committed to agreement,” said Mr. Amsaku Hate, a counselor at the Ethiopian Embassy in Khartoum.
The protesters were a mix of traditional opposition groups and young people and professionals who first took to the streets in a December over the soaring price of bread and lack of opportunities and how the deal would be received wasn’t clear. As it became clear that the military wasn’t ready to give up power an agreement on a three-year transition reached in May quickly collapsed.One of the groups spearheading the protests, The Association of Sudanese Professionals, welcomed the deal in a statement on its Facebook page. “May the sun of freedom shine without clouds that block its light and grow crops throughout the country,” it said.Internet access was restricted by the military council for several weeks, and it remained suspended across Sudan on Friday. Its citizens were left to join together details of the agreement from state television, Arab news channels and word-of-mouth.Witnesses said thousands of people poured into the streets of Khartoum, waving Sudanese flags and banners hours after the announcement, to celebrate the deal. Television footage showed youths marching through the streets of the capital with drums, singing and chanting.Whether the military, whose leaders also control various militias and much of the local economy, was really willing to share power, was questioned by some analysts. “A lot is still needed for this deal to stand,” said Mr. Alan Boswell a Sudan analyst with International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization aimed at preventing and resolving conflict. The makeup of a transitional legislature and the personalities that will join the sovereign council, were included in the open issues
Protesters have blamed Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council and head of the RSF, a crucial player, for much of the bloodshed in recent weeks. An official involved in that fight said, in the waning days of Mr. Bashir’s rule, Gen. Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, won an internal battle to keep his forces separate from the army.Since then, to guard key military installations around the country, RSF detachments have been deployed giving them a measure of control over the army that has increased Mr. Dagalo’s power. The general has also secured allegiance and funding from a key regional power by deploying a large force to fight alongside the United Arab Emirates in Yemen.There is also no clear strategy on how this oil- and gold-rich nation will deal with multiple rebel groups that have been fighting guerrilla wars with Khartoum for decades in the regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains.“Uncertainty surrounding the entrenched dispute between the army and the protesters raises the risk of civil war,” said Andrews Atta-Asamoah a research fellow with South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies.

Digital banks and social banking solution in Africa launched by Standard Chartered

As part of its digital transformation strategy in Africa Standard Chartered, a multinational banking and financial services company, has announced the launch of its digital bank in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Launches in Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya in the first quarter of 2019 and last year in Côte d’Ivoire have preceded the next wave of digital-only banks.Mr. Sunil Kaushal, regional CEO, Africa and the Middle East, said, “This is a significant achievement for the bank having now launched digital banks in eight markets in 15 months of our initial launch in Côte d’Ivoire.”“The growing population of Africa is demanding faster and more convenient banking and it has been very rewarding to witness increased acceptance and growing demand for our digital products across the continent. We have an exciting pipeline of product launches on this platform which will position us as the premier digital bank in our markets of choice,” he added.While the digital bank has seen an eight-fold increase in Uganda it has exceeded initial expectations in Côte d’Ivoire with 18,000 new account openings. The bank has signed up more new customers in Tanzania than in the whole of 2018 since its launch in March this year.With another launch planned for Nigeria in September, the bank is expected to continue its digital expansion in African markets.SC Keyboard, which allows customers to access a variety of financial services from any social or messaging platform without having to open the banking app has also been launched by Standard Chartered.Initially launched in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, and Tanzania the solution is a first for the bank in Africa and will be rolled out throughout the rest of the year to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.Clients are allowed to transfer money in real-time, pay utility bills, and instantly check balances from any social or messaging platform using the keyboard-based banking solution.

AfCFTA consultative dialogue framework to be launch by Civil Society Forum

In Niamey, Niger, the Civil Society Forum will meet during the AU Extraordinary Summit that is taking place to celebrate the coming into force of the AfCFTA agreement and to launch the operational phase of AfCFTA Market, which includes launching the AfCFTA consultative dialogue frameworkDr Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said, “We are entering the most critical phase of creating the AfCFTA – implementation. This space for civil society to be engaged in the shaping of the AfCFTA implementation process is vital for the AfCFTA to deliver for the people it is supposed to, the average men and women on the street.”From African Civil Society Organisations, Civil Society umbrella organisations dealing with trade issues and members of the AU ECOSOC the Civil Society Forum is set to attract 70 participants. Trade priorities of African countries will be the focus and participants will consider central themes including the equitable geographical representation of the African Union, women and youth.The knowledge and expertise of all stakeholders on priority trade issues related to the AfCFTA will be developed by the Forum; which will also improve regular information flow on trade issues to major stakeholders and suggest a framework for the establishment of the AfCFTA National Committees; improve coordination among relevant government ministries and agencies including through clear mandates and assigning of responsibilities; improve the participation opportunities for stakeholders in the work Programme of the AfCFTA and strengthen the culture of dialogue and inclusiveness.A good representation of African Stakeholders took part and committed to engage Member States in taking action for ratification and implementation of the AfCFTA at the first annual AfCFTA Stakeholders Forum in Dakar in November 2018 organized by the AUC Department of Trade and Industry. Through a number of smaller meetings hosted by civil society organisations or the DTI itself prior to that, the Department took the opportunity to dialogue with the African Civil Society. All these dialogues have proved useful in obtaining feedback and views of a diverse range of civil society organisations.The African continental free trade area aims to cover around 1.2bn people and more than US$3 trillion in GDP once all 55 countries have joined.

Next what? For the continental agreement

The ability to actually change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to economic development in Africa will largely measure AfCFTA’s success argues the ninth edition of the flagship Assessing Regional Integration in Africa report (ARIA IX).In Niamey, Niger during the African Business Forum, the report was launched on 6 July 2019.Traditional investment treaties predominate on the continent, with major repercussions for the policy and regulatory space available to policymakers notes ARIA IX. An unparalleled opportunity is presented for AU member states to revamp the investment policy landscape, however, in the AfCFTA investment protocol, it holds.Ratification of the AfCFTA, which went into force on 30 May 2019, must be followed by effective implementation according to the report, and if national AfCFTA committees are created by country trade ministries, that implementation will be more effective.In a digitising Africa, looking ahead, the report considers e-commerce and integration, and how the digital economy can interact with the AfCFTA and trade in Africa.

$44.8bn to by provided by EU to accelerate Africa’s investment

Proposed US$44.8bn support to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) extended by the European Union (EU) Commission has to attract investments that are set to create around 10mn jobs in Africa
In an opening address to a two-day Horn of Africa AfCFTA forum Ranieri Sabatucci, EU ambassador to the African Union (AU), has announced this, focusing on the pharmaceutical industry.Economic partnership agreements including the deep and comprehensive free trade areas and others in North African countries and other trade issues with the EU should be exploited to the greatest extent to prepare for this, as building blocks to the benefit of the AfCFTA.Through flexible rules of origin. The ambition is to further increase African exports and to attract investment in manufacturing and processing sectors and to encourage the creation of regional value chains.“The US$44.8bn of grants under the new Africa-European Alliance for Jobs and Growth is proposed as from 2021-2027 and is predicted to be US$64bn in the next 10 years, creating over 16mn jobs in the process,” he commented.Ms. Vera Songwe, executive secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said, “The AfCFTA is an economic development programme anchored around creating regional and continental champions, accelerating infrastructure development, energy and harmonizing Africa’s integration platforms. We must now move with speed to implement the AfCFTA and reap the benefits of the agreement.’’
Organised by the ECA, the theme of the forum, which was the Government of Ethiopia, the African Union Commission (AUC) and EU is “AfCFTA Implementation: Breaking Down Geographical, Logistical and Regulatory Barriers to Trade and Investment in the Horn to Boost Industrialisation: A Focus on the Pharmaceutical Industry.”

New EMEA president appointed by Doosan Bobact

For Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Doosan Bobcat has appointed a new president
Previously served as vice president of Compact & Telehandlers, Doosan Bobcat EMEA, Mr. Gustavo Otero, will be taking on the senior leadership role, based out of Doosan Bobcat’s EMEA headquarters in Dobříš, Czech Republic.Speaking on his recent appointment, Otero said, “I look forward to working with our global function teams, leaders and dealer network to further position us for long term growth and bring enhanced collaboration and innovations. I believe that the expanded global organisational structure will assist us in reaching new levels of success in EMEA and reinforce our position as the global leader in compact equipment to bring the best value to our customers.”
Other new presidents that have been announced across the group include:

  • Mike Ballweber, vice president for Doosan Bobcat North America
  • Alvaro Pacini, senior vice president of Global Procurement, Doosan Bobcat
  • Troy Kraft, senior vice president, Global Engineering, Doosan Bobcat
  • Youngmin Kwon, senior vice president, Global Strategy and Operational Excellence/Total Quality Management

All the executives named above will report directly to Doosan Bobcat CEO, Scott Park.”As a global company, we are taking these steps to become even more collaborative by sharing the best ideas and innovations around the world,” said Park. “I have great confidence in each of these leaders as they take on new and expanded roles and look forward to working with them to ensure our continued growth in the global marketplace.”As the company works across all regions to fully integrate and leverage the strength and scale of the business around the world, the changes have been announced while maintaining the focus on customer centric solutions.

Tremendous success for EG Ronda Licensing Rounds in China

In China the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons held a successful investment drive with Chinese investors in an event organized by the Africa Energy Chamber in Beijing, China
Presentations on the current EG Ronda Licensing Rounds 2019 for oil and gas and mining and minerals were delivered by the Ministry officials to a prestigious audience of Chinese investors and stakeholders.More than 100 participants from the biggest Chinese energy companies, notably including CMEC, CPP, CNOOC, PowerChina, Sinochem, Sinopec, Zhenhua Oil and China Minmetals responded to Equatorial Guinea’s invitation to come and invest in the country.
Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the minister of mines and hydrocarbon, said, “The EG Ronda Roadshow in China is a tremendous success. We have met with very serious investors who believe in the immense hydrocarbons and mining potential of Equatorial Guinea and are ready to invest, we will announce agreements very soon.”“This will ensure additional investment into our oil & gas sector, and more importantly help develop our mining and minerals industry and create jobs,” he added.27 oil and gas blocks on offer under the EG Ronda Oil & Gas Licensing Round 2019, including EG-27 (former Block R) and EG-23 were showcased by Equatorial Guinea for appraisal and development. Worldwide to apply for exploration rights in the Rio Muni area, which is highly prospective in minerals such as gold, diamonds, base metals, iron ore and bauxite also get an opportunity for exploration and mining companies.27 September 2019. Has been set as the bidding deadline for the EG Ronda Licensing Round. On 27 November 2019 winners will be announced at the much-anticipated Gas Exporting Countries Forum’s fifth Gas Summit in Malabo.

Temenos selected for digital transformation strategy by Bank of Kigali Plc

To power its digital transformation initiatives to support regional growth plans and materialise financial inclusion objectives Bank of Kigali Plc has been selected by Temenos, the banking software company
Bank of Kigali Plc is expected to gain business agility and dramatically lower the cost of deployment with Temenos packaged and upgradeable banking software. It will enable the bank to deliver innovative products and services specifically to underserved segments of the economy and major population demographics like the youth and the unbanked.Using Temenos T24 Transact, the next generation core banking software product, Bank of Kigali Plc, plan to grow the number of customers to one MN by 2021 transform its legacy IT systems including the advanced analytics, reporting, and risk and compliance modules.The bank will leverage Temenos’ banking software experience and commitment to invest 20 per cent of revenues into research and development every year, which is the highest in the industry.Dr Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali Plc, said, “Temenos’ cloud-native and cloud-agnostic banking software will help reduce deployment costs and drive simplicity and efficiency of operations. The new open digital banking platform will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs and allow us to provide the best-in-class customer experience.”Bank of Kigali Plc aims to reduce time to market and cost with Temenos’ packaged functionality and advanced cloud technology. The bank will be able to expand its digital customer base and promote financial inclusion both in Rwanda and throughout the region at the same time.

World News

India dragged to WTO by US over customs duty hike on 28 American goods

WASHINGTON:Alleging that New Delhi’s decision to increase customs duties on 28 American goods is inconsistent with the global trade norms, the US has recently dragged India to the WTO by filing a complaint against the move.According to a communication of the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO), the US said that the additional duties imposed by India “appears to nullify or impair the benefits accruing to the US directly or indirectly” under the GATT 1994.The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), being a WTO pact, signed by all member countries of the multi-lateral body, aims to promote trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers like customs duties. The US has alleged Imposition of the duties by India appears to be inconsistent with two norms of GATT. The US has also stated that India does not impose these duties on similar products from any other WTO member nation. “India also appears to be applying rates of duty to US imports greater than the rates of duty set out in India’s schedule of concessions,” the communication said quoting the US application.

Envoy: Chabahar Port commitments being complied with by India

TEHRAN:India will fulfil all its commitments in Iran’s Chabahar Port despite the economic hurdles said Indian Ambassador to Tehran Mr.Gaddam Dharmendra.Recently during a meeting on exploring investment potentials and opportunities in Chabahar Port the official made the remarks. The importance of the Iranian port for the Indian Government adding that more negotiations are required to be made about the commitments of India in this port was highlighted by Mr. Dharmendra.“Considering the growth in trade between Iran and India, Indian ports as well as Chabahar are very important ports and we will definitely do what we have pledged,” Dharmendra said.The official noted that the two sides should consider the credit lines of the short-term and the long-term contracts in the form of a single package while mentioning the port’s development deal,.Noting that “there are still some banking challenges.”, he also referred to the efforts made by the Indian and Afghan Governments to exclude Chabahar Port from the U.S. sanctions, “I agree that we have lost time and 180 days have passed since the work began,” the official said.“Chabahar is of great importance to us, given the strategic position of the Indian Ocean and the willingness of Indian state and private sectors for presence in the region,” he added.The envoy, further underlined the growth in the two countries trade in the recent years, saying “during the past few years, Iran and India’s trade has grown 30 percent reaching $17 BN per year.”“A banking channel has been specified in India to trade with Iran for easing commodity exchange,” he added.

Port Integrity Campaign in Indian Ports launched by MACN and supported by Ministry of Shipping

COPENHAGEN:The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN)—a global business network of over 110 companies working together to tackle corruption in the maritime industry, with the support of the Government of India,— has announced the launch of a ground-breaking Port Integrity Campaign in India.The campaign, a collective action of MACN, the Government of India, international organizations, and local industry stakeholders, aims to reduce and (in the long term) eliminate integrity issues and bottlenecks to trade during operations in Indian ports,. The pilot of the campaign will take place in Mumbai Ports (MbPT and JNPT) and will run until October this year.Implementation of integrity training for port officials and the establishment of clear escalation and reporting processes are the key activities included in the campaign. MACN aims to expand the program to other Indian ports after the pilot.Ms.Cecilia Müller Torbrand, Executive Director, MACN, says: “MACN’s experiences in locations including Nigeria, the Suez Canal, & Argentina show us that real change is possible when all parties are engaged. That’s why we are delighted to have the support of so many key stakeholders for this Campaign to improve the operating environment in Indian ports.”Strong commitment from the Indian Government to work with the private sector and to address integrity issues in Indian ports has made this Port Integrity Campaign possible. The Ministry of Shipping, India, stated: “We are committed to ensuring that vessels calling port in India do not face unnecessary obstacles or illicit demands. Tackling these issues is good for the shipping industry, for port workers, and for India as a trade destination. We are pleased to be joining forces with MACN and other stakeholders to implement concrete actions with the potential for real impact.”Also supporting the MACN Port Integrity Campaign is: the United Nations Global Compact Network India (UNGCNI), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Indian Customs and Central Excise, the Directorate General of Shipping India, the Indian Ports Association (IPA), the Indian Private Ports and Terminals Association (IPPTA), the Maritime Association of Nationwide Shipping Agencies India (MANSA), the Indian Shipowners Association (INSA), the Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA), the Federation Of Indian Logistics Associations (FILA), the Danish Embassy, and the Norwegian Consulate General.

Exports to South Korea Curbed by Japan, Hitting Global Chip Makers

Permission to ship some materials used in semiconductors and smartphones will have to be applied for by Japanese exporters

In an unexpected blow to the global technology supply chain that also marks a new low point in relations between the two U.S. allies, Japan tightened controls on exports to South Korea.South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics Co. could find it harder to make semiconductors and other components that get packed into electronics such as smartphones used around the world by restricting access to Japanese materials after, Tokyo’s crackdown. The move follows frequent clashes between the governments of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Moon Jae-in over World War II history.By hitting a perceived rival nation not just with political or diplomatic actions but also with economic punishment against the rival’s core industry, Mr. Abe took a page from President Trump’s playbook. The export of U.S. technology to China’s Huawei Technologies Co. has been restricted by the U.S., seeking to counter what it sees as national-security risks from China, although Mr. Trump said over the weekend, that as part of a broader U.S.-China trade cease-fire, he would roll back the restrictions.“We have no choice but to say that the relationship of trust between Japan and South Korea has been strikingly damaged,” said Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.The move quickly denounced by South Korea as a violation of global trade rules.
“This is economic retaliation based on the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Mr. Sung Yun-mo, South Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy.Mr. Sung also said the export restrictions go against the principles of the World Trade Organization and that the South Korean government will respond under domestic and international law, which can include filing a suit to the WTO.The Supreme Court in South Korea ruled In October, that Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp. must compensate South Koreans for forced labour during the war. Any claims arising from the forced labour were resolved in 1965 when the two countries restored diplomatic ties says Japan.“Japan’s action is banned in principle by the World Trade Organization,” said Park Tae-sung, Seoul’s deputy minister for trade and investment. “We’re closely cooperating with the industry and looking to respond under domestic and international law.”Some analysts said Japan could be inviting trouble as its companies could lose business in South Korea. Also, any disruption in the supply chain could boomerang back on Japanese companies that use Korean semiconductors or displays in their products.“The sanction does no good for Japanese companies because the Japanese and South Korean manufacturing sectors are so tied to each other. The only winner from this would be China,” said Mr. Atsushi Osanai, a professor at Waseda Business School in Tokyo.Japan and South Korea have often had a testy relationship because of tensions over Japan’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, though they are both U.S. military allies and both threatened by North Korea’s development of missiles and nuclear weapons.Ties between the two countries have worsened in the past year. two countries In December 2015 an accord had been reached over so-called comfort women from Korea who were made to serve Japanese troops sexually during World War II. But by dissolving a foundation that was supposed to provide about $9 MN in compensation to the women, Mr. Moon’s government effectively nullified the agreement last year.
Over the weekend, Mr. Moon was in Osaka, Japan for the summit of the Group of 20 economic powers, but unlike most of the leaders there, he had no discussions with Mr. Abe.The export restrictions to South Korea weren’t direct retaliation for the court ruling, a Japanese trade ministry official said but the breakdown in dialogue had made it impossible for Japan to resolve security concerns about exports of the materials, including whether they might be re-exported to a third country. he also said Exports of fluorinated polyimide, used in flexible smartphone displays, and photoresist as well as high-purity hydrogen fluoride, which are used to etch circuits onto slivers of silicon wafers to form semiconductors, are neing restricted by Japan the trade ministry said. Japanese exporters will need to apply for export permission each time they want to ship these materials and related technologies to South Korea, starting Thursday, a process that takes about 90 days. South Korea’s recently acquired preferential status, speeds up exports of technologies and chemicals that could be used in weapons. Japan was also looking to halt similar preferential treatment for a wider range of exports to South Korea, the ministry said. Among the South Korean companies that could be affected by the tightened controls are Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix Inc. and LG Display Co.The world’s largest maker of memory chips, Samsung said it was looking into the matter and declined to comment further a spokeswoman for the company said. LG Display doesn’t foresee any direct impact from the export control measures as the company doesn’t use fluorinated polyimide for mass production of its displays, found in smartphones and televisions. SK Hynix declined to comment.
Mr. Kwon Sung-ryul, an analyst at DB Financial Investment Co. said production yields for chips and displays are easily affected by changes in the materials. “Materials like these can’t be easily switched,” he said. Japanese firms make up 90% of the photoresist materials market, and 70% each of the fluorinated polyimide and high-purity hydrogen fluoride materials markets Mr. Kwon estimated.An emergency meeting to discuss countermeasures was held Monday afternoon by South Korea’s trade ministry with local companies and trade groups in the semiconductor and display industries, including Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and LG Display,.Reaction in Tokyo’s market was muted. While shares of a few suppliers of semiconductor materials with heavy exposure to South Korea fell around 2%, several rose in response to the U.S.-China trade truce.

Baltic index propelled to 5-1/2 year high due to strong demand for iron ore

LONDON:The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index rose to its highest in more than five and a half years on 10th July, driven by demand for capesize vessels shipping iron ore.

  • Since January 2014 the Baltic index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities, rose 1%, or 18 points, to 1,777, its highest.
  • Mainly driven by strong demand for vessels that ship iron ore from Brazil the index rose 28% last week to post its best week in nearly five years.
  • The capesize index rose 18 points, or 0.5%, to 3,361 points.
  • “The dry index has mostly been influenced by the capesize index as it has been on a very aggressive rally,” said Thomas Chasapis, analyst with Allied Shipbroking.
  • “Also, the panamax is in an impressive rally. The main index has gained more than 1,000 points within a few months and that is a reflection of a volatile capesize index.”
  • Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000 tonne-180,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, rose $36 to $26,403.
  • On Tuesday amid strong demand and lingering concerns about supply Iron ore futures in China surged.
  • Since early 2017 due to reduced shipments from top exporters as well as robust demand, Australia and Brazil Iron ore prices have more than doubled this year as port stocks across China shrank to their lowest.