National News

RBI: Forex trading platform for retail participants from August 5th

Mumbai: On June 20, the RBI said that the foreign exchange trading platform (FX-Retail) for retail participants will be ready for rollout by the Clearing Corporation of India Ltd (CCIL) on August 05.The RBI said no transaction charges will be levied by the CCIL on transactions of customers if the transactions do not exceed USD50,000 per day.The FX-Retail platform can be accessed by any customer of a bank (through the website https://www.fxretail.co.in) who has a need to purchase or sell US Dollar against the Rupee for delivery on cash basis (same day), tom basis (next day) or spot basis (two days after date of transaction).There will be no upper limit to the number of transactions per customer during a day. But the total number of transactions by a customer will be subject to the limit assigned by his bank. Further, the size of a single transaction is not allowed to exceed USD5 mn.The RBI said, “A transaction charge of 0.0004 per cent shall be charged by the CCIL for transactions in excess of USD50,000 per day.”

Exports of textiles and apparel grow 5% in May

NEW DELHI: The textile and apparel (T&A) exports for May, led predominantly by the apparel sector, grew 5.25% to USD3.152 bn as compared to USD2.995 bn in the same period last year. As reported by the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI), for the first two months of the current financial year, T&A exports grew 2.26% to USD6.065 bn as against USD5.931 bn in the same two months of the previous fiscal.This May saw a decline in textile exports by 1.94% to USD1.624 bn as against USD1.656 bn in May 2018. For the first two months of the current fiscal, textile exports declined 3.55% to USD3.128 bn as compared to USD3.243 bn in the April-May period of 2018. Exports of apparel, however, grew 14.15% in May to USD1.528 bn as compared to USD1.338 bn in May 2018. As per an analysis by CITI, they grew 9.27% to USD2.937 bn in the first two months of the current fiscal as against USD2.688 bn in April and May 2018. A decline was seen in the largest segment under the textiles category: cotton yarn/fabs/made-ups, handloom products. The decline was by 5.94% in May 2019 to USD885 mn, from USD941 mn in May 2018. For the first two months of the current financial year, it declined by 5.89% to USD1.729 bn (from USD1.837 bn in the same period last year). In May, a growth was seen in other segments in the textile category such as jute manufacturing, carpet, handicrafts, of 7.86%, 1.54% and 23.87%, respectively.Imports of textile yarn fabric, made-ups in May grew 9% to USD175.79 mn as compared to USD161.17 mn in May 2018, analysis by CITI showed. In the months of April and May, the imports of these items grew 11.72% to USD320.78 mn as against USD287.13 mn.

Commerce Ministry data: US pips China to become India’s largest trade partner

NEW DELHI: According to a report, the latest Commerce Ministry data shows that the US has pipped China to become India’s top goods trade partner in FY19.The data also shows that India’s trade deficit with China dropped to USD53 bn in the fiscal under review, down from USD63 bn the prior year. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Republic of Korea and Indonesia, are among the other top ten trading partners on the list.India recently increased tariffs on 28 items exported from the US in retaliation to America’s withdrawal of preferential access for Indian products from June 5, 2019. The report also said that the US is already engrossed in a trade war with China over the past few months.

Commerce Minister says India will engage with US on trade matters

NEW DELHI: India has indicated that while it will continue to engage with the US on trade issues, it won’t budge on matters of national interest.Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal aid in the Rajya Sabha, “Some of the demands that were raised were such that India could not yield. I think national sovereignty and national interest is paramount.”
Mr. Goyal said that issues related to dairy products and medical devices were part of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) review instituted by the US, which led to the failure of talks as the demands couldn’t be met. On June 5, the Trump regime withdrew the GSP concessions, offering duty free access to exports of over 3,000 items from India to the US.Mr. Goyal said that when the world was seeing trade wars across nations and across continents, it was natural for India to come in the crossfire.He added, “But then it’s a cross fire which we can handle.”Exports of steel products from India to the USA, on which the USA unilaterally imposed additional import tariffs of 25 per cent last year on the ground of national security concerns, declined by 35 per cent in 2018-19 compared to 2017-18.The same period saw an increase by 14 per cent in aluminium exports in the affected lines, where additional import tariffs of 10 per cent were imposed.

Retaliatory tariffs

Mr. Goyal said that India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products with effect from June 16, as the US did not accede to India’s request for withdrawal of these duties. The decision was taken just two weeks after the US announced the withdrawal of the GSP scheme for India.The Indian industry was competitive in its export products, Mr. Goyal pointed out, and the Country did not foresee significant impact on its foreign trade because of withdrawal of the GSP programme.

Goods worth USD6.3 bn exported by India in 2018 under export incentive of US

NEW DELHI: The Parliament was informed on June 21 that India exported goods worth USD6.3 bn to the US in 2018 under their export incentive programme. From June 5, the USA has rolled back incentives under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said, “The total duty concessions accruing on account of the GSP were USD240 mn in 2018 which was about 3.8 per cent of the value of India’s exports to the US availing GSP benefits in 2018.”The impact of the withdrawal of the incentives will vary across products, he added.
Some developed countries, including the European Union (EU), provide unilateral tariff preferences on exports from developing Countries/least developing Country under their GSP Scheme, Mr. Goyal said in a separate reply.India is a beneficiary of the GSP provided by Armenia, Australia, the European Union, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey.Mr. Goyal said, “The USA has terminated preferential tariff benefits being granted to India under its GSP.”Mr. Goyal, in another reply, said that the US did not accede to India’s request for withdrawal of duties imposed on certain steel and aluminium products.

FSSAI plans to increase notified entry points for food imports

NEW DELHI:As part of its efforts to facilitate ease of doing business while ensuring the safety of food products imported into India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) plans to increase the number of notified entry points for food imports in the country.A notice outlining the proposal said, “In order to put in place a robust food regulatory framework at the point of entries to prevent entry of unsafe or sub-standard food into the Country, it is proposed to notify 132 Points of Entries…..covering seaport, airports, ICD (Inland Container Depot), LCS (Land Customs Stations) and SEZs as food import entry points.”These entry points are spread across the Country. Currently, FSSAI has notified Authorised Officers at 416 locations to regulate import of food items. While 20 of these locations are supervised by FSSAI officials, 396 locations are manned by Customs officials.The food safety authority said it is making efforts to expand the notified entry points to ensure the coverage of various regions from which major food imports are done. It added that the 132 locations had been identified, “based on the food imports data of past years received from DGCI&S and CBIC.” FSSAI has now sought stakeholder comments for the proposal.

Shipping Ministry says fertiliser movement through coastal shipping now eligible for subsidy

NEW DELHI: Approval has been given to a policy for reimbursement of freight subsidy for transportation of fertilisers through the coastal shipping route. This move by the Department of Fertilizers would result in an about 40 per cent reduction in freight. This financial support was available earlier only for fertiliser movement via railways.The policy stated, “Only movement of subsidised indigenous fertilisers — urea and phosphatic and potassium (P&K) fertilisers — through coastal shipping/inland waterways will be eligible for the payment of freight subsidy at this stage.”With single mode or multi-modal transportation of fertilisers (which includes Coastal Shipping), the freight subsidy will be restricted to the railway charges or to the actual freight incurred, whichever is less.The Ministry of Shipping suggested the proposal for including coastal shipping/inland waterways as modes for fertiliser transportation, and that of the related subsidy. According to experts, the move will significantly reduce the time and cost of transportation, and is environment-friendly.Industry figures reveal that about 24.2 mn tonnes (mt) of urea and 25 mt of other fertilisers (phosphatic and potassium) were transported in the country in 2017-18. The movement of about 9-10 mn tonnes of fertiliser through coastal and inland waterways a year by 2025 is estimated by the Shipping Ministry. This could save around Rs 900-1,000 crore per annum in freight cost.
This decision would promote transportation of fertilisers through Coastal Shipping under the Ministry’s flagship Sagarmala programme.
India imports 28 mt of finished fertilisers and raw materials currently. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha are the biggest clusters. About 2 per cent of the total cargo handled at the ports in India consists of soil nutrients.Coastal Shipping and inland waterways currently form around 7 per cent of the total modal mix in India, compared to 10-20 per cent for other emerging markets.Fertiliser corporations with multiple plant locations across the Country seem to have the highest potential to leverage Coastal Shipping (example Iffco and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam).

MEA to pick O&M operator for Rs 2,904-cr KMTTP project in Myanmar

NEW DELHI:The MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) will pick an O&M (operation and maintenance) contractor through a tender for commercial utilisation of port and inland water transport facilities developed under the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP).The KMTTP (costing Rs.2,904.04-crore) aims to create an alternative access route to the North-Eastern region by developing a Multi-Modal mode of transport for shipment of cargo from the Eastern ports of India to Myanmar as well as to the North-Eastern part of India through Myanmar.The KMTTP, linking Sittwe Port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border, is predicted to contribute to the economic development of the North-Eastern States by opening up the sea route for products. It will also reduce the pressure on the Siliguri corridor by providing a strategic link to the North-East.

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to scrap minimum educational qualification requirement for transport vehicle drivers

NEW DELHI:The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has decided to remove the requirement of minimum educational qualification for driving a transport vehicle, with the intention of benefitting skilled persons from economically underprivileged sections of the society.Under Rule 8 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, a transport vehicle driver needs to have passed class 8. However, there are many unemployed persons, especially in rural areas of the Country, who are literate and skilled, though they may not have had a formal education.The Haryana Government had requested for waiver of the educational qualification condition for drivers at a recent meeting in the Transport Ministry. It said that that many people in the region possessed the required skill but not the required educational qualification, and were finding it difficult to obtain a driving license.The Ministry’s decision will help overcome the shortage of nearly 22 lakh drivers in the transport and logistics sector, which is hindering the growth of the sector. The Ministry, however, has strongly emphasized upon training and skill testing of drivers to ensure road safety.

CRISIL: Gem and Jewellery exports will be the most impacted by US withdrawal of trade benefits.

NEW DELHI:According to a report, the decision by the US Government to withdraw trade benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is likely to impact most severely the gems and jewellery sector. The rating agency CRISIL said that India topped the list of exporters to the USA in this category, with greater than a 15 per cent share. The gems and jewellery sector is already under pressure on account of stringent lending rules and working-capital crunch. CRISIL Research Director Hetal Gandhi said, “The withdrawal of GSP will affect exporters of gems and jewellery the most because around 15 per cent of such exports availed of its benefits in calendar 2018. Now, there will be an additional duty of around 7 per cent on exports of precious metal-based and imitation jewellery, which will reduce competitiveness of domestic exporters and put pressure on margins.”

Water shortage may impact food exports from India: Union Minister

NEW DELHI: The Minister of Water Resources recently warned that water shortage could cut food exports from India, an emergent leading supplier of a number of food products to the world. In a statement, Mr. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, “From being a food-deficit Country, India has achieved the distinction of being a top exporter of food, but to retain that edge it needs to revive its reservoirs, lakes and other traditional water bodies.” He added, “Judicious use of water can save India from future calamities.” In 2012, India emerged as the world’s biggest rice exporter, selling nearly 12 mn tonnes (mt) rice annually on the world market, including 4 mt of the aromatic basmati variety. However, rice is a water-intensive crop. Indian farmers need 4,500 to 5,000 litres of water to grow one kg of rice, say Government research bodies and experts.According to data compiled by the Indian Meteorological Department, this year, the monsoon has delivered 38 per cent lower-than normal or average rainfall since the start of the season on June 1.

India plans to offer incentives to companies moving out of China amid trade war

NEW DELHI:A highly reliable source has revealed that India is weighing offering incentives to attract companies moving out of China amid its trade war with the USA.The source mentioned that financial incentives such as preferential tax rates and the tax holiday provided by Vietnam to lure companies are among the measures being considered. As per a Commerce Ministry document seen by the said source, industries identified for incentives include electronics, consumer appliances, electric vehicles, footwear and toys.Economies such as Vietnam and Malaysia have benefited from businesses trying to sidestep tariffs, while India has largely missed out on any investment gains. The approval of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is required for the Commerce Ministry’s effort, which is part of a larger plan to cut reliance on imports while boosting exports.According to the Ministry document circulated to stakeholders, other measures include setting up affordable industrial zones across India’s coastline and giving preference to local manufacturers in Government procurement as an incentive to win over companies looking for an alternative production base.India’s anufacturing base will grow with the aid of the plan, and also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative, which aims to boost manufacturing to 25% of the economy by 2020. This will help India narrow its huge trade deficit with China, its largest commercial partner.The Industry Department, which oversees the foreign direct investment policy, conducted a sector-wise analysis, which showed that investments by Chinese companies could flow into smartphones and components manufacturing, consumer appliances, electric vehicles and parts, and daily use items like bed linen and kitchenware, 95% of which are currently imported from China.Efforts are being taken to increase exports in sectors vacated by the US due to the trade standoff. The Government has identified more than 150 items where exporters could increase business with China. Some of these are prepared or preserved potatoes, synthetic staple fibres of polyesters and t-shirts, hydraulic power engines, and superchargers for motors.

Mumbai office of DGFT sets up Call Centre to answer questions by exporters and importers

MUMBAI:The Mumbai office of the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has set up a call centre to address doubts / queries / questions of exporters and importers. The centre will also give general information about foreign trade policy and international trade. The call centre will employ a specially trained dedicated staff.The public may reach the call centre through 022-20820961, 022-20820962, 022-20820963 and 022-20820927 between 10:00 am and 5:30 pm on all working days.A review of the work was carried out by Mr. Alok Vardhan Chaturvedi, DGFT, who visited the office of the Additional DGFT in Mumbai recently. Mr. Chaturvedi chaired a meeting with Regional Chairmen and directors of several Export Promotion Councils (EPC’s) where various issues faced by the exporters-importers were discussed.Opinions were expressed by Mr. K L Dhingra, Regional Chairman of Engineering Export Promotion Council, Mr. Ajay Kadakia of Chemicals Export Promotion Council and Mr. Paresh Mehta of Federation of Indian Export Organization, who attended the meeting.The meeting also sought inputs from the industry for resolving their issues related to export – import.

Growth in exports amid challenges

New Delhi : In the recent years, developments arising from the global financial crisis of 2008-09, which accentuated after 2013-14, when the world economy experienced a major trade slowdown, have resulted in a very challenging period for exports.After recovering from the initial shock, exports came under immense pressure again in the post-2013-14 period due to accentuation of the global economic and financial crisis in the second phase which adversely affected countries like China.
However, after this period, since 2016-17, exports have been growing on a secular basis for almost three years; for the first time, the total exports reached a new peak of more than half a trillion dollars.The government has taken the following key measures for promotion of exports, as revealed in an official communiqué,:

  • A new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20: launched on April 1, 2015. The policy, inter alia, rationalised the earlier export promotion schemes and introduced two new schemes, namely, Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for improving export of goods and Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) for increasing exports of services. Duty credit scrips issued under these schemes were made fully transferable.
  • The mid-term review of the FTP 2015-20: undertaken on December 5, 2017. Incentive rates for labour-intensive / MSME sectors were increased by 2 per cent with a financial implication of Rs 8,450 crore per year.
  • A new Logistics Division: created in the Department of Commerce to coordinate integrated development of the logistics sector. India’s rank in World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index moved up from 54 in 2014 to 44 in 2018., as revealed by an official
  • Interest Equalisation Scheme on pre- and post- shipment rupee export credit: introduced from 1.4.2015, providing interest equalisation at 3 per cent for labour-intensive MSME sectors. The rate was increased to 5 per cent for MSME sectors with effect from 2.11.2018 and merchant exporters were covered under the scheme with effect from 2.1.2019.
  • Various measures for improving ease of doing business: India’s rank in World Bank ‘Ease of doing business’ ranking improved from 142 in 2014 to 77 in 2018 with the rank in ‘trading across borders’ moving up from 122 to 80.
  • A new scheme called Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES): launched with effect from April 1, 2017 to address the export infrastructure gaps in the country.
  • A comprehensive Agriculture Export Policy: launched on December 6, 2018 with an aim to double farmers’ income by 2022 and provide impetus to agricultural exports.
  • A new scheme called Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) scheme: launched for mitigating disadvantage of higher cost of transportation for export of specified agriculture products.
  • A new scheme called Scheme for Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL), covering export of garments and made-ups: notified on 7.3.2019 providing refund of duties/taxes at higher rates.

Increased tariff on US apples discourages importers, Italy eyes slot

MUMBAI:With the increase in the tariff on US apples from 50% to 70%, importers are selling off consignments in transit and cancelling orders. An importer said he sold a consignment worth Rs 6 crore at Singapore port. There has been at least a 15% hike in prices in the retail market recently for apples remaining on shop shelves.India imported a record 7.8 mn 40-pound boxes in 2017 and a lesser quantity in 2018.As of June 15, Washington State (the largest apple exporter in the US) has shipped about 2.6 mn boxes to India.Taking advantage of the situation, Italy is trying to export more apples to India. The Italian ‘red delicious’ variety of apple has received an encouraging response in India, and importers are prompted to look upon it as a replacement.A US official remarked, “The Washington apple industry ships to more than 60 Countries and the market disruption (due to this duty hike) may cause some exporters to look for alternative markets. However, India is a very important market, and we hope normal trade will resume soon.”

Immediate hike in import duties sought by Steel Ministry to deter Chinese imports

NEW DELHI:The Steel Ministry has sought an immediate increase in import duties on finished steel products to 15% from a range of 7.5% to 12.5%, citing a threat from Chinese imports and excess global capacity.
The Ministry has proposed the higher duties as part of its recommendations to the Finance Ministry for the upcoming 2019/20 budget that is due out on July 5.The Steel Ministry said, “The U.S.-China trade war is threatening Indian markets as China looks for alternative markets for its steel exports.”It commented on the vulnerability of local mills, saying that the nation’s steel sector needed “protection from unfairly traded cheap steel imports” as well as lower input costs.The Ministry added that existing anti-dumping and countervailing duties had been rendered ineffective by the volatility in steel prices.The Steel Ministry said Government revenues could increase by 13.66 bn rupees (USD196.1 mn) if the import duties were implemented, although the final decision belonged to the Finance Ministry.

Government help sought by Textile Industry facing roadblocks in apparel exports

COIMBATORE :The Indian Textile Industry has hit roadblocks on exports despite Government support by way of special package and incentives. The reasons for this issue may be the industry’s focus on select markets/zones (where it has been unable to compete on the price front with FTA countries), rising manufacturing cost, inability to compete with low-cost destinations, or limited exposure to blended apparels.The Indian Texpreneurs’ Federation (ITF) listed 13 possible reasons. It requested its members to list three major reasons for the stagnant growth, based on experience and exposure. The ITF survey also revealed that the textile and apparel sector has found it difficult to compete with Vietnam and China, as manmade fibre is expensive here, and the industry is ill-equipped to shift to blends and still relies on cotton.Industry insiders say that a shift in the textile manufacturing ecosystem is the need of the hour.Ms. Prabha Dhamodharan, Convener, and the ITF said, “Growth in the apparel sector’s exports will solve India’s twin challenges of job creation and greater participation of women in the textile industry. To meet this, the industry will require investment of Rs. 500 crore. This will help create 40,000 jobs, and an additional USD1 bn in exports will create another 1.5 lakh new jobs.”

Piyush Goyal: Govt to reduce bank lending rate for exporters

NEW DELHI:Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal recently said that the Government was working with the Reserve Bank of India and private banks to reduce lending rates for exporters. Mr. Goyal said that India saw a “USD50-bn” opportunity for exporters, due to ongoing global trade wars. He added that the Ministry was in dialogue with banks to see ways to extend foreign currency loans to exporters.Mr. Goyal said in his address to members of the CII here, that the problem of inadequate and expensive credit could be resolved without putting a significant stress to the exchequer. Providing subsidies was not a solution to any trade-related issues, he added.He said, “I would like to articulate a possible alternate scenario to all to consider and see whether that is better. If instead of that (subsidies and interest subvention), we will work on foreign currency loans and I already have dialogues with bankers to see how we can expand foreign currency loans.”The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) could play a role of credit enhancement agency for exporters, Mr. Goyal added.He has asked ECGC to come up with a robust policy on guarantee or insurance for traders and that would help bankers lend exporters at affordable rates.Mr. Goyal said that this could assure bankers that they would be comfortably compensated in case a problem arose. He added, “We are trying to convert the ECGC policy to a credit-enhancing instrument that gives comfort to bankers (in lending to exporters).”

Govt to verify exporters’ claims before sanctioning IGST refund

NEW DELHI:The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has asked Customs and GST Officers to closely verify claims before sanctioning them. This step is being taken because the Government detected fraudulent refund claims by exporters Additionally, the CBIC has requested the Director-General, Systems, to identify a list of “risky exporters” and share it with Customs and GST Officers, so that an alert can be generated for 100 per cent examination of their export consignments.As of now, Integrated GST (IGST) refunds are being issued to exporters automatically, based on shipping bills filed with customs and GST returns filed with central tax authorities. The refunds are issued within a fortnight of filing of returns without any manual intervention.According to tax experts, the step of verifying the refund claims would delay the process of issuing refunds to exporters.
The CBIC said, in a letter to field offices, that it has observed instances of availment of IGST refund using fraudulent input tax credit (ITC) claims by some exporters.The CBIC said, “Exporters have availed ITC on the basis of ineligible documents or fraudulently and utilised that credit for payment of IGST on goods exported out of India. It has also been observed in several cases that there is huge variation between the FOB (freight on board) value declared in the Shipping Bill and the taxable value declared in GST return apparently to effect higher IGST pay out leading to encashment of credit,” adding, “It has been decided to verify the IGST payments through the respective GST field formations.” The CBIC further added that the GST policy wing will devise a standard operating procedure (SoP) for GST officers to verify the IGST refund claims. In 30 days the GST officers will report to the Chief Commissioner of Central Tax specifying whether the amount of IGST paid and claimed/sanctioned as refund was in accordance with the law or not.The Chief Commissioner of Central Tax will then, within 5 working days, share the report with the customs port.In cases where no malpractices are detected and the ITC availed by the exporter is in accordance with the GST law, the Customs Officer at the port of export will proceed to process the IGST refund.The CBIC said DG (systems) shall work out the suitable criteria to identify risky exporters at the national level and forward the list of said risky exporters to the Risk Management Centre for Customs (RMCC) and respective Chief Commissioners of Central.

Private equity funds pump in USD1.1 bn in Logistics, Warehousing sector

MUMBAI:Between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2019, private equity (PE) funds have pumped in excess of USD1.1 bn in the logistics and warehousing sectors, as against zero investment in 2015 and 2016 combined.Infrastructure status, the Multi-Modal Logistics Park policy, and implementation of the GST had all led to PE firms’ greater interest in the logistics and warehousing sectors.Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad saw maximum interest by investors, followed by Mumbai and Pune, said Mr. Shobhit Agarwal, Managing Director and Chief Executive of ANAROCK Capital.Mr. Agarwal said, “The logistics sector had a massive jump-start in the first quarter of 2019, when PE players pumped in nearly USD200 mn into cities like Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune.”
He added that there was immense opportunity backed by the growing demand from e-commerce businesses in the last two years; the logistics and warehousing sectors were consequently upgrading to higher levels. Various small Grade B and C warehouses were converting into large Grade A warehouses equipped with modern facilities. This transformation has been noticed by PE entities in the US, Canada and Singapore, to pump in funds, Mr. Agarwal said.Government policies, strong economic fundamentals, and the growth in organised retail and e-commerce are the key factors driving PE players’ interest in logistics and warehousing. The rapid increase in e-commerce activity has caused a corresponding rise in demand logistics and warehousing, in both Tier-I and II markets.Mr. Agarwal spoke on interest subsidy, saying that under this, the Government was maintaining a large amount of records and from its pool of money, hundreds and thousands of businesses all across the Country were getting subsidies. The Minister also said the Ministry was actively looking at refund of state levies for exporters.He said, “The Commerce Department has assessed USD50 bn worth of opportunities for exports from the current geo-political situation around the world.”

China News

4.3% rise in China’s container volumes during May

BEIJING: China’s commercial ports handled 22.40 mn TEUs of containers in total in May, up 4.3% from the same month last year, according to statistics compiled by the nation’s Ministry of Transport (MOT). Box throughput rose 5.2% from a year earlier to 104.67 mn TEUs in the first five months.Coastal ports were responsible for 92.87 mn TEUs, up 4.4%, in breakdown, while the remaining 11.80 mn TEUs were moved to and from inland river ports, up 12.8%.Up 3.9% from the same month in 2018, Shanghai port processed 3.76 mn TEUs in May 2019. For the five months of the year, the world’s busiest container port handled 17.78 mn TEUs, representing a year-on-year increase of 5.2%.

Increase exports to China from Kenya

The cabinet secretary of trade and cooperatives, Peter Munya, announced on Wednesday in Nairobi that Kenya will participate in the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Forum to be held this month in China.The city of Changsha in Hunan province wil the forum scheduled to run from 27 to 29th. In the theme – “Win-Win Cooperation for Closer China-Africa Economic Partnership” – trade and investment promotion, agriculture, energy and power, industrial park development, infrastructure and financing cooperation will be the focus.Mr. Munya wants to anchor Kenya’s exportable products in the Chinese market and he will lead a trade delegation in signing various memorandums of understanding (MoU).An MoU will be signed with Funfree International Trade Co Ltd by the Kenya Flower Council to expand flower exports to China.The entry of Kenyan flowers into Changsha, also known as the flower city, following the recent launch of direct flights linking the Hunan capital to Nairobi by China Southern Airlines will be a game changer. According to Xinhua News Agency, a total of 2,760 fresh-cut roses were received and samples taken for testing this week to ensure safety of the flowers. Prior to this, Kenyan flowers took at least three days to arrive in Changsha.
Other MoUs expected to be signed include one by the Export Promotion Council, a government agency, with China-Africa E-Commerce Co Ltd for an online country exhibition center to promote Kenyan goods and services in China. Another one will be with Shanghai Green Chain Information Science and Technology Ltd to strengthen links with China’s retail market.The CS announced that Kenya was participating in the ongoing International Horticulture Expo in Beijing where it is promoting agriculture trade and investment, tourism, sports and culture.Between Sept 2-6 when Kenya is expected to host the Kenya Day, a trade, tourism and investment forum will be held to enhance the partnership between Kenya exporters, Chinese and world buyers.110 countries will be participating in the Beijing expo and expects 16 mn buyers to visit the expo within six months. “Kenya hopes to bag the most exports as well as investment deals,” Mr. Munya said.

Russian commodities expected to come into China to increase

HARBIN:A Russian trade representative said more Russian commodities are expected to come into the Chinese market.With the joint efforts of related departments, manufacturers and exporters in Russia, more farm produce and food from Russia will be seen at the Chinese market Russia’s trade representative in China, Mr. Sergey Inyushin said. China has a big demand for soybeans, corn, beef and mutton, he said, adding that cooperation in agriculture is becoming a new point of growth in the economic and trade cooperation between Russia and China.Trade volume between the two countries exceeded USD100 bn, in 2018, and bilateral economic and trade cooperation is continuing to expand.”Last year, Russia and China enhanced cooperation in the imports and exports of dairy products and frozen poultry meat,” he said, adding Russia’s exports of agricultural products and food to China increased 51.4 % year-on-year.
The two countries have also inked a memorandum of understanding at the Sixth China-Russia Expo, which concluded Wednesday in Harbin, capital of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province and are expanding cooperation in cross-border e-commerce,Chinese customers these days, can purchase many Russian commodities online by, he said. “In the future, Russia will continue to bring more Russian agricultural products and food to China via e-commerce.”Trade volume via cross-border e-commerce between the two countries reached USD3.7 bn, up 23 % year-on-year From January to September 2018,.

No more than 3% rise in CPI in 2019: China Official

BEIJING:It is expected that China’s consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, will rise no more than 3 % year-on-year in 2019, an official said Thursday. Between 2 % to 4 % y-o-y growth is expected the index in 2019. These remarks were made Mr. Lu Yanchun, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, when addressing a conference on the coal industry.According to Lu, there is little chance for the CPI growth to exceed 3 % this year.China’s consumer prices rose to the highest level in 15 months in May, with the CPI climbing 2.7 % from a year ago, exceeding 2 % for three consecutive months.
Last month saw significant increases in food prices, with those of fruits and pork surging 26.7 % and 18.2 % year-on-year, respectively.
Thanks to an expected bumper harvest, after a recent hike, Lu predicted that prices will remain stable for summer crops while prices of vegetables and fruits will fall thanks to increasing supplies in the market.Due to the African swine fever, hog prices will continue high for a period of time Lu said, adding that price hikes of hogs will not lead to significant increases in the retail prices of pork according to past experience.The CPI is expected to peak in May or June and then fall in the next few months, followed by a possible small rebound at the end of the year, he said.

Multimodal transport terminal Xiamen begins operation

According to local media reports, the first multimodal transport terminal in Xiamen, eastern Fujian province, started operating at Haicang port area on June 19.
The Xiamen terminal links the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with one side connecting the global shipping network, and the other side connecting the railway network that covers the entire country and connects Europe. “In the past, we needed to use trailers to transport containers between the port and railway stations, which caused high transport costs and took up road space,” said a staff member of the terminal.The new terminal will greatly improve the efficiency of collection and distribution and reduce logistics costs the staff member.The annual handling capacity of the terminal will exceed 50,000 TEUs, and it will be able to serve multiple docks in the Haicang port area, it is estimated.Multimodal transportation is being promoted in China in recent years. The 14th largest container port in the world, Xiamen is an international comprehensive transportation hub. The city is well-suited for developing multimodal transportation.
The China-Europe freight trains of Xiamen had delivered more than 200,000 tons of cargo, till May this year, which generated total revenue of more than 200 mn yuan (USD29.15 mn). Xiamen’s sea-railway combined transportation completed 15,000 TEUs, an increase of 101.18 % year on year.

Growth stabilisation measures on the agenda.

With the aim to stimulate domestic demand in the second half of this year and counteract the negative impact from trade tensions, further adjustments to China’s macroeconomic policies can be expected, including consumption stimulus and more flexible monetary policy, according to some policy researchers from the National Development and Reform Commission.The upcoming measures will be more flexible and comprehensive, compared with the macroeconomic policies conducted in the first half of 2019 An NDRC senior research fellow, who declined to be named, told China Daily on Thursday that a series of proposals have been made to the country’s top policymakers, focusing on strengthening domestic investment and consumption, to stabilize economic growth and market sentiment.Every year in July, high-level policymakers usually gather to discuss the current economic situation and set the policy tone for the second half, based on the first-half economic performance.”Investment will remain the key force to support growth, but in some new areas, focusing especially on 5G infrastructure and innovative manufacturing,” said the researcher.”Monetary policy will be much more flexible as we expect,” the insider said. After the world’s major central banks shifted to a dovish stance, and the room for interest rate cuts has been enlarged, it could be “a potential option”, especially when the US Federal Reserve sent additional monetary easing signals on Thursday. The Standing Lending Facility and the Medium-term Lending Facility are some other tools included.Mr. Chen Dongqi, chief researcher at the China Academy of Macroeconomy Research, a think tank under the NDRC said, expanding domestic consumption could be another crucial task “for the next step”.The policies, will further attract global capital, advanced technology and international talents which will especially boost consumption demand among low and middle-income groups.Mr. Chen said that as the domestic economic downside risks are increasing, countercyclical policies will be more flexible, to further expand efficient demand at the right time and mitigate cyclical conflicts.Following a phone conversation On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping had with US President Donald Trump, they have decided to meet on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Leaders’ Summit in Osaka, Japan, to discuss in-depth bilateral ties and issues of common concern, Xinhua News Agency reported.The phone call was seen as a positive signal by economists and the market which may allow the Sino-US trade talks to get moving again. More policies are expected to be issued after the G20 summit, based on the results of discussions between the two countries’ leaders.”Cutting interest rates could be a choice for the Chinese central bank, and there is opportunity to cut interest rates this year, coordinating with the fiscal policy which focuses on tax and fee reduction,” Mr. Shen Jianguang, chief economist at JD Digits, a Chinese fintech group, told China Daily. Mr. Shen said that China is still facing economic downside risks, as indicated by the recent figures on electric energy production and industrial output.5G and the internet of things will remarkably enlarge the domestic market for goods and services, Mr. Zang Yueru, director of the Institute of Market and Price Research under the NDRC, told China Daily on Thursday.”As we forecast, in 2025, the size of China’s major consumption market for automobiles, traffic services, housing rental, homes appliances, and other urban services, will increase to around 40 trillion yuan, and it may become the world’s largest.”

Leasing portfolio expanded by Dongjiang free trade zone

The world’s second-largest airplane leasing market following Ireland, Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone of Tianjin, completed its first automobile exports via financial leasing late May.”The move is part of the zone’s efforts to enrich its business portfolio in the leasing sector, which has seen a number of pioneering projects in China,” the free trade zone said in a news release.Up to 80 % of the country’s airplanes, vessels and offshore engineering facilities’ leasing businesses were inked in Dongjiang.The first batch of 35 tractors manufactured by Sinotruk Qingdao Heavy Industries Co Ltd was exported to Mongolia via financial leasing by Jiahe International Financial Leasing (Tianjin) Co Ltd, which is a freight forwarding company headquartered in Dongjiang.In the online automobile export license registration system under the Ministry of Commerce, there was no option for “international leasing” when the company began to register the business this January.”There was no way for the operator to ‘click’ on the computer,” when the company tried to register the business in a bid to get the nod from the ministry, said a business applicant who did not want to be named.”After coordination among multiple levels of authorities, the new option was added in the system, and the ministry issued the permit to the company,” he said.He said Bbased on the State Council’s instruction to boost the development of Tianjin Free Trade Zone area, the coordinated efforts among authorities include the proposal to accelerate Dongjiang’s cross-border financial leasing sector, building it into a model innovation zone for business in the country.From 2009 to date, statistics show that the zone has innovated 40 methods of leasing and has taken the lead in the country in financial leasing.According to Mr. Shen Lei, director of the administrative committee of the zone, Dongjiang has seen leasing business prosper since 2009. The aircraft and heavy industry leasing sector in the zone is expected to see total assets top 1 trillion yuan (USD144.9 bn) in 2019.The zone had seen 3,249 leasing companies registered as of March, with a combined registered capital of up to 544.7 bn yuan. It had leased 1,463 airplanes, 110 engines, 158 vessels and 15 oil drilling platforms.Located in the zone, Dongjiang has accumulated a number of innovation experiences that could be learned by other free trade zones, Liu Enzhuan, executive director of the research institute of the Tianjin Free Trade Pilot Zone said.”Dongjiang’s innovative leasing businesses could significantly slash the costs for domestic companies and help break foreign monopoly,” Liu said.

Name change of national rail operator completed The China State Railway Group’s new moniker part of marketing vision

China’s national railway operator’s restructuring and name change was finalized on Tuesday, in an effort to make it more market-oriented.According to a statement from the company on Tuesday, the China Railway Corporation has been renamed China State Railway Group Co Ltd, a wholly State-owned enterprise with registered capital of over 1.73 trillion yuan (USD251 bn).It is part of the country’s corporate reform with a goal to foster a modern railway enterprise and to separate government functions from business operation.Established in 2013 after the former Railway Ministry was dissolved, China Railway Corporation since 2017- has carried out institutional reforms, including streamlining its administrative organs and restructuring regional railway bureaus. Media reports had previously quoted insiders saying that restructuring the corporation would be the last move of a three-step corporate reform of the national railway system.According to the statement, the company is run by the central government, and the Ministry of Finance exercises the responsibilities of the investor on behalf of the State Council. The group corporation with a board of directors is an authorized investment entity and can establish subsidiaries, branch companies and representative offices in line with business development needs.The company will be responsible for the national railway system’s operation, construction and safety, as well as non-profit transport jobs, according to the statement.Establishment of China State Railway Group will help optimize railway resources and turn a bigger profit, and it will enhance risk-prevention and the market competitiveness of railway enterprises, an unnamed person in charge of the company said in the statement.The company will also run in a more market-oriented fashion and upgrade its quality of passenger and cargo transportation services to meet the growing needs of the public, he said.The restructuring has offered the new group more power to diversify its business in the area of domestic passenger and freight train transportation, and also has allowed it to expand its business scope to areas such as train maintenance and railway express service said Ms. Zhou Lisha, a researcher at the research institute of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council,. Furthermore, it also provides the opportunity to conduct more international freight and even passenger train services in partner economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, she said.”In addition to the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Co Ltd, which is preparing to go public at some point, more capable subsidiaries within the group could also have the chance to be listed in the stock markets, as the new company has become more commercialized,” she added.

Big order for beleaguered 737 Max taken US aircraft maker Boeing

Aircraft maker Boeing has sold its first 737 Max planes since deadly crashes appeared to shake the confidence of the world’s airlines.At the Paris Air Show on Tuesday the United States giant said that International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways and several other carriers, intends to buy 200 of its 737 Max aircraft.When the fleet was grounded because of the crashes and orders dried up Boeing had built 393 of the aircraft as of March 2019 and was understood to have orders on its books for around 4,000 more.A letter of intent for aircraft that should be delivered between 2023 and 2027 was signed by Boeing, the US’ largest exporter by dollar value, and International Airlines Group, an Anglo-Spanish multinational company with its headquarters in London.The deal is a vote of confidence in the company, said the US broadcaster CBS News, which is trying to win back trust following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max in March and the loss of a 737 Max last year in Indonesia that together claimed 346 lives. While an investigation is being carried out, the entire fleet of 737 Max aircraft is grounded.

IAG expects regulators to soon allow all 737 Max aircraft back into the air it said in a statement.

At the Paris Air Show, IAG’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, told reporters he has “every confidence” in Boeing and expects the Max to “make a successful return to service in the coming months” after a “rigorous review by the regulators”. “It is a brand that I trust and I will continue to do that,” he said.Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister said the company was “truly honoured and humbled by the leadership at International Airlines Group for placing their trust and confidence in the 737 Max”.At normal prices the order would be worth USD24 bn dollars CBC said, but noted that International Airlines Group, which is also known as IAG, might have struck a preferential deal.
On Tuesday Boeing also announced orders for other jets in its range, including one with Korean Air and another with Air Lease Corporation for a combined 35 long-range 787 jets. And it inked a deal with Amazon Air that will see the freight arm of the ecommerce giant lease 15 Boeing 737-800 cargo planes.IAG’s order ends a drought for Boeing, which is expected to submit a software fix to US aviation regulators to deal with any problems in the 737 Max’s flight-control software, which is thought to have contributed to the fatal crashes, the Financial Times said.
The shares in Boeing rose by more than 2.8 % on the back of the announcement BBC reported.

Protesters Gather Outside Government’s Central Offices in Hong Kong.

As protesters keep up pressure on the city’s leader after mass rallies over extradition proposal Government offices were shut HONG KONG—As several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the complex, renewing protests over the government’s handling of an unpopular extradition proposal and earlier demonstrations, Hong Kong’s government closed its central offices on Friday. Causing traffic downtown to tail back in both directions, hundreds of mostly young protesters clad in black blocked a highway outside the government’s central office complex by 11 a.m. Friday. Prior to that, they had sat in the sweltering sun outside the government complex, shielding themselves from the heat with umbrellas, talking, reading and studying. They let cars trickle through about 20 minutes later, as many marched over to the neighbouring police headquarters, chanting for police to rescind the designation of an earlier protest as a riot.Senior police superintendent Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan said, the police were sending negotiators to ask the protesters to leave peacefully, but it wasn’t a clearance mission. The rally called for by University-student groups to voice their discontent that the proposed law wasn’t fully withdrawn by the city’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Anger was expressed at how police used force during a protest on June 12. The proposed law would allow for the extradition of suspects to the mainland. circulating on digital fliers Telegram and Facebook groups dedicated to opposing the extradition bill, have been encouraging people to also stage other acts of civil disobedience separately.Earlier through the day University student leaders had huddled and discussed plans for several acts of civil disobedience.Many were present there to support their efforts.“Carrie said she’d listen to the voices of young people but she hasn’t acted on that,” said a 20-year-old university student surnamed Leung, who was studying a biology textbook. “I will stay until she delivers on this promise.”Ms. Leung said her primary demand was for police to remove the designation of June 12 protests being a “riot,” which carries more serious legal threats for those present than classifying it as unlawful assembly.Hong Kong has been roiled this month by the government’s effort to steamroll opposition to the contentious law. After a series of massive street demonstrations this month, Mrs. Lam indefinitely suspended the legislation and indicated the government was unlikely to proceed, but she has stopped short of officially scrapping it. That led two mn people to take to the streets again on Sunday, organizers said, prompting a second apology from the leader on Tuesday.While the climbdown placated some groups, others wanted to push for the bill’s withdrawal and many protesters remain angered over the police’s use of tear gas and rubber bullets on June 12.Many of the callers, originate from various groups, and protestors on Friday have demanded the government rescind its designation of last week’s events as a “riot” and drop charges against all involved. Deeming it a riot could attract prison sentences of up to 10 years under a colonial-era law.

Africa News

Ghana port expnsion’s second contract won by CHEC

The second phase of the Tema Port Expansion Project will be implemented by Meridian Port Services Ltd (MPS) for which it has signed an agreement with China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC).

A private consortium financing the port expcansion projet, MPS says that this deal involves the construction of the fourth, the last berth of the new port, after which 400m get added to the 1000m berth already under construction. The total 1.4 km full capacity berth will be capable of handling vessels up to the 16-m draft.MPS CEO Mr. Mohamed Samara, said, “This contract and the further works to be done to prepare this area to add a total value of more than US$110mn to the project and further investment in operating equipment will increase these amounts by another US$100mn when throughput volumes increase. The additional berth is envisaged to be completed by the end of 2020, two years ahead of its original schedule.”Commented Project Director for the Tema Port Expansion Project, Mr. Mark Nolet, “We have stuck with CHEC because of their track record as we have experienced in the first phase of this project. They have demonstrated that they are indeed remarkable port builders and we are happy to partner them in this second phase. We are almost ready to deliver the first phase of this gigantic and important infrastructure for Ghana.”CHEC Project Manager Mr. Leo Wang stated, “We are happy to be selected to construct the second phase of this massive project. We (CHEC) assure you that we will not compromise on the integrity over the last years and thus this project would be completed within the scheduled time along with great attention to detail.”

Afreximbank: 2018 sees 3.4% increase in Africa’s output

A report by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) stated that despite a global recession Africa’s output grew by 3.4% between 2017 and 2018.Launched in Moscow during the 26th Afreximbank Annual Meetings, the African Trade Report 2019: African Trade in a Digital World pegged Africa’s total merchandise trade in 2018 at USD 997.9bn. It ranked Africa as one of the fastest growing regions in the world.Estimaes of the World Trade Organisation show global merchandise trade growth of 3% in 2018, lower than that of 4.6% in 2017.These numbers demonstrate Africa’s resilience to global upheavals during a period of rising uncertainty, escalating trade wars and tariffs between the USA, China and others. It reflects the diversity of Africa’s trading partners in the context of South-South trade, growing fixed investment and public and private consumption, boosted by expanding urban populations and softening inflation. It is these factors that reduce Africa’s exposure to the business cycles associated with specific nations and regions. Even if the European Union is Africa’s main continental trading partner in 2018, with a share of 29.8% – the last decade has seen significant growth in African trade with the South with a share in 2018 of more than 35%. China and India consolidated their positions as number one and number two trading partners of Africa, with a combined share of 21% of the trade in 2018. Trade within Africa also increased steadily in 2018 by 17% to reach US$159bn.Other observations in the report are that Africa has the potential to do more, is what the report highlights. Its contribution to global trade up from a mere 5% in 1980 is only a marginal 2.6 per cent having risen from 2.4% in 2017. Within Africa too the trade at 16% in 2018 – even though having risen from 5% in 1980, is low compared to intraEurope and intra-Asia trade.It states that ongoing digitalisation is roping in a new African economy, with e-commerce platforms and internet penetration, expedited transactions, cost reductions leading to a new generation of transnational digital consumer.It draws attention to the opportunity associated with digitization and urges African governments to capitalize on it, by firming regulations and developing a supporting environment and a digital ecosystem.The report states that it is deigitalization that can unlock Africa’s potential for economic development and the integration of African countries into the world economy. It can take the burden off raw commodities and natural resources on which the African econonmies depend by diversifying into value-added products that can enhance extra-and intra-African trade.Afreximbank President Benedict Oramah said, “It is vital that Africa grasps the economic growth opportunities flowing from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, growing domestic demand and population and our ever-closer investment and trading links with emerging partners in the South. We must exert concerted action to ensure that we develop, industrialise and diversify our industries and supporting infrastructure to foster regional integration and participate fully in regional and global value chains.”

‘Political risks likely to affect African supply chain’

Dr Robert Besseling, CEO of EXX Africa has brought to light some of the major economic trends that are driving change across the continent from South Africa to Algeria.
Many parts of Africa are under polictical turbulence such as riots in Zimbabwean; unrest in Congo; terrorist attacks in Nairobi; Islamist insurgencies in Mozambique; election violence in Nigeria; terrorism in Mali and the Sahel region; revolution in Algeria and Sudan; elections in South Africa and the like. These impact the economy, cost the exchequer, disrupt commercial operations and create uncertainties over trade flows.Besseling says that these political risks lead African countries to face economic risks affecting investment, debt sustainability, foreign exchange shortage, inflation, sovereign default, industry action, taxation and many more.

Growing outlook for Nigeria

With the countries growing oil sector, the risk outlook in Nigeria is improving. Crude oil and related products made for USD 50 bn worth of exports from Nigeria to countries like India, The Netherlands and the other parts of Europe, as well as South Africa and other Asian countries. The exports are on the rise by these countries. With an increase in both output and price Nigeria is able to meet its tentative and gradual economic recovery. Inflation has stabilised and the country is moving to borrow more from Eurobond as well as commercial markets to boost its spending on developing regional infrastructure.More action is expected from the Nigerian government on economic and political policies. Hinting that he may move towards privatization of the oil sector or other currency exchange programmes President Buhari is set to boost Nigeria’s outlook.
Descending outlook for South Africa
South Afrcia’s economy has shrunk by 3.2% in Q12019 and may dip to a recession in Q2 thanks to violence over the past years such as the threat of protracted labour action in mining companies and public utilities, instances of suspected ‘economic sabotage’ and more frequent political unrest and backlash against political investigation.
Even the last forecast by IMF for South Africa showing the economy grow at 1.2% annually is very likely to be revised downwards. Most analysts expect 0.7 or 0.5 per cent growth this year. Political instability driven by a lack of settlement following elections in South Africa is esentially responsible for this.
Falling outlook for Algeria
Algeria’s economic forecas have taken a beating too. Inflation is on the rise as the government borrows more and more to fill its budget deficit and to match the falling foreign exchange reserves. This year Algeria was supposed to mark a tentative economic recovery however the IMF has lowered the expected growth forecast of 2.3 per cent. It may continue to downgrade further to be among the slowest economies in Africa – in the face of uncertainties – giving tiself the same status as Zimbabwe or Sudan which have seen similar political transitions, Besseling said.
Positive outlook for Mozambique
Currently hosting the US-Africa Business Forum, Mozambique has just signed a final investment decision of US$20bn for an LNG facility. The country is building Africa’s most complex supply chain for LNG as well as associated mega projects.Currently EXX Africa Besseling confirmed is doing a lot of work to support risk mitigation efforts in Mozambique. Also there has been excitement over some infrastructure development and other mega projects that come on the backwaters.
For the last two years, insurgency in north Mozambique has been increasing steadily, on the border with Tanzania, where counter measures have been futile and have aggravated the problem causing mounting local community grievances.At the start of 2019, attacks on the convoy of Anadarko’s oil and gas workers, there have been more such attacks affecting natural gas workers. Besseling says that the perception of risk may in fact drive some of the investment away and cause further commercial disruption. This comes at a time when Mozambique is recovering from a dire economic crisis, desperately needing FDI of upto US$50-60bn over the next 10 years.Inflation and growth forecast have stabilised. Most importantly, Mozambique is now moving towards an agreement to restructure some of the debts with its bondholders.
Cost of political and security risk to African supply chain
Strikes, riots and other types of civil unrest continue to affect about 70 per cent of sub-Saharan and sabotage and terrorism affect around 25 per cent, according to the insurance broker AON.Agility’s Emerging Markets Logistics Index 2018 the top supply chain risks in sub-Saharan Africa are related to political and economic concerns. Terrorism (43.8%) and government instablity (19.9%) in North Africa, together account for almost two-thirds of the primary concerns. Other major risks cited by industry professionals are corruption (23%), government instability (18.3%), terrorism (9%) and piracy (4.1%).Willis Towers Watson’s Transportation Risk Index shows that logistics across the continent are driven by geopolitical instability and regulatory uncertainties in people’s decision-making process.Every country has a different political risk outlook based on the size and growth of the economy among other factors Besseling explained. Nigeria’s economy will touch USD 0.5 trillion by the year end, while countries like São Tomé and Príncipe may barely reach a GDP of USD 0.5 billion.The other important factor is the growth of the economy. While deals can be done across all of Africa including countries like South Sudan, Libya and Somalia but it has been bserved that only the fastest growing economies attract the most trade and investment. So countries like Ghana and Rwanda which have relatively benign political risk outlook and growing at a fast rate are preferred as more stable locations for investments over others.
Meeting Africa’s infrastructure needs
The African Development Bank (AfDB) pegs Africa’s needs for infrastructure development at US$150bn annually. The current funding defecit is between U$30bn and US$40bn a year.AfDB feels a growing need for more diversified sources of funding, from the home-grown pension find industry (South Africa and Nigeria) to international insurance firms, to join MFIs, DFIs, government agencies and private-sector firms.
Mitigating political and security risks
Africa could according to Besseling, use some of these risk mitigation strategies:

  • Supply chain control measures: Audits of stock and processes; inspection of ports; surveying services etc.
  • Corporate security elements: To improve the resilience and continued survival of a coporation.
  • Political risk insurance (PRI): Coverage is issued by public agencies and private insurance companies
  • Due diligence and KYC processes: Understanding the business partner and how this affects the supply chain.
  • Local intelligence and strategic risk forecasting

Small hydropower plant in Burundi bets water supply from Voith

Voith, the global technology company, has bagged an order to design, manufacture and supply the complete electromechanical equipment for the small hydropower plant Kabu 16 in Burundi. Work on this small hydropower plant Kabu 16, a project of national importance, since it will support the economic and social development for the local population in East Africa, started in March 2019. The company will also supervise the installation and commissioning of the plant. Scope of Voith includes two vertical Francis turbines with a capacity of 10MW each, valves, generators, the governor and automation system as well as the mechanical and electrical balance of plant systems.Angelique International Limited placed an order for a small hydropower plant on behalf of the Ministry of Hydraulics, Energy and Mines of the Republic of Burundi and Voith in February 2019. Construction of the new plant is underway from March this year and will finish in autumn 2020. The project is of high national importance, as it will provide significant benefits to the people in Burundi in terms of improved power supply, employment generation and infrastructure improvement.“The small hydropower plant Kabu 16 in Burundi will definitely contribute to the economic and social development of the region,” said Saurabh Sharma, Vice President and Business Head Small Hydro of Voith Hydro India.

Significant small hydropower potential in Africa

Africa’s energy mix has a significant contrbution from small hydropower plants. But only a small percentage of the small hydropower potential on the continent has been exploited yet. The potential in Central Africa where elecrification is low is ample.The expansion of small-scale hydropower can help bridge this gap. Thousands of people get electricity from small hydropower plants sspecially in remote and mountainous regions. Small hydropower porjects, well interlinked can benefit rural societies running small-scale industries. This kind of power generation can accelerate the development of local economies and decrease greenhouse emissions at the same time.

International News

Barclays: France & Germany could benefit from the US-China trade war

HAMBURG : Barclays economists have predicted that France and Germany could be the biggest beneficiaries in an escalation in trade tariffs between the U.S. and China. Recently, Mr. Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Commerce Secretary, said that President Donald Trump was “perfectly happy” to slap tariffs on the remaining USD300 bn of Chinese imports if the world’s two largest economies failed to agree a trade deal. However, in an analyst note, the Head of Economic Research at Barclays, Mr. Christian Keller, suggested that trade substitution resulting from additional tariffs, and other non-tariff related barriers, open opportunities for core euro area economies to gain export market share.Mr. Keller’s note said, “Our comparison of China’s import structure across its main trading partners reveals that France, Germany and the U.K. are the closest ‘U.S. proxies’ in terms of relative sectoral decomposition of their exports to China.”

US apple industry impacted by hike in customs duty by India

WASHINGTON : After India hiked duties on apples, the export-dependent Washington State apple industry has been worried, saying it is “very hard” to sell products to other markets when “you lose a reliable and established market.”In response to higher tariffs imposed by Washington on Indian products such as steel and aluminium, India announced a hike in customs duties on as many as 28 US products, including almond, apple, pulses and walnuts.
Imports down
Yakima Herald reported that India imported a record 7.8 mn 40-pound boxes of the fine quality 2017 Washington state apple crop as of mid-June last year. It said that India would ultimately pass Canada as Washington’s No. 2 export market, reaching eight mn boxes by the season’s end.Mexico is currently the No. 1 export market. However, India had imported far fewer boxes of the 2018 crop. As of June 15, Washington State had shipped about 2.6 mn boxes to India.As per the report, it is expected to slow down even more, with India slapping a 20 per cent retaliatory tariff on apples, bringing the total duty to 70 per cent.

TT Club announces excellent financial results for 2018

LONDON : Commenting on the excellent results, Mr. Ulrich Kranich, Chairman, TT Club, said, “It has been a good year for the Club, although 2018 was another difficult year for the insurance industry. The global broker Aon has assessed the 2017 and 2018 years as the costliest back to back years for insured losses. Such levels of losses have not had the expected positive impact on pricing. This, coupled with the continued availability of capital, has impacted the pricing of risk, the ability of insurers to recover their outgoings and balance their books to the required level of profitability.“Major hurricane-related industry loss events in 2017, did not significantly impact the Club and I am pleased to say this was repeated in 2018. The Club was involved with two large events ‘Maersk Honam’ and Hurricane Michael. The gross cost of Hurricane Michael to the Club is just over USD 5 mn, which should be extremely reassuring to Members as an insight into the Club’s management of its exposures.“In spite of the premium environment being on the whole challenging, the Club’s premium income grew in 2018. The volumes declared by members were higher than in recent years, new business was good and retention remained high. Notably, premium growth was achieved without the addition of single large accounts and the balanced growth targeted and achieved in recent years has continued.”

Experts say that Asia-Europe carriers impacted, but Transpacific could see new front-loading boost

LONDON : To fill their ships, Asia-North Europe carriers continue to discount rates, suggesting that the usual pre-peak season recovery will be late, if it happens at all this year.From June 16, CMA CGM has slashed by USD 200 its headhaul FAK rate on the tradelane, to USD1,700 per 40 ft, as spot rates continue to slide.This week there was a further decline by 4.4% of the North Europe component of the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) to USD745 per TEU; spot rates on the route have slumped by 25% since the beginning of the year. They are 13.6 % lower compared with the same week a year ago.Recently, one UK-based 3PL said that “this week carriers were beating down my door” to offer discounts, although he said they were all relatively short-term deals.He said, “At this stage we are holding off, as carriers have a habit of making you pay for jumping ship when space gets tight,” adding, “But if the market doesn’t tighten in the next couple of weeks, we might review our position.”Spot rates recorded by the SCFI for Mediterranean ports, however, were stable this week at USD741 per TEU. They are around 19% below the level of a year ago, however, with no indication that the route will see an early improvement.On the transpacific, the SCFI recorded a drop of 1.6% on the week for Asia to the US West Coast, to USD1,416 per 40ft, while rates to US East Coast ports edged down 1.5% to USD2,464 per 40ft.Rates are some 11% higher for the US West Coast and 10% for US East Coast ports on a year ago, and still to work out the tariff-beating front-loading cargo spurt from the back end of last year, as well as being stabilised by carrier capacity discipline and blank sailings.Prices are also being shored up by a potential new round of front-loading, according to digital booking platform Freightos.It revealed, “Advance ordering resumed in May, following President Trump’s threat to slap a tariff on all untaxed imports, and many of them are now close to being shipment-ready.”The US President expressed the wish to meet China’s President Xi during the 28-29 June G20 summit in Osaka; he said he will decide based on the success of the talks whether to extend the scope of the 25% tariffs to take in virtually all of China’s exports to the USA.As a response to the tough line of the Trump administration, some 660 US companies, including Walmart and Target, have been prompted to put their signatures to a letter addressed to the White House, under the banner of Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, urging the President to resolve the trade dispute.Analysts, in the meanwhile, have reported that attempts by carriers to introduce low-sulphur fuel charges in Q4, ahead of the 1 January implementation of the IMO’s 0.5% sulphur cap on shipping, have so far “fallen on deaf ears”.Mr. George Griffiths, Editor Global Container Freight Market at S&P Global Platts, opines that the volatility in bunker prices is “only expected to be made worse” by the serious attacks yesterday on an oil tanker and product carrier transiting the Gulf of Oman.

IMO rule to boost fuel costs by up to 50 %, says We4Sea

NETHERLANDS: The International Maritime Organization’s sulphur cap would be implemented in less than 200 days, bringing with it a surge of up to 50% in fuel costs, says Dutch ship-monitoring company We4Sea.
We4Sea said that 90 % of all trade worldwide was carried by ships that used vast amounts of fuel, up to 100,000 litres per day. The new regulations will lead to additional annual costs of several mns of dollars per ship, starting on January 1st, 2020, it added.Noon data, reported once a day, is still used by almost all shipping companies and charterers as their main source of management information, “while most of them agree it is a lagging indicator, characterized by high potential for human error due to manually observed and reported average values.”The Dutch ship monitoring company has released a new update of their online software platform, replacing noon-reports as the main source of management information with real-time Digital Twin based fuel consumption monitoring. The technology allows that any ship can be monitored on fuel consumption and emissions, and does not require any on-board monitoring equipment.We4Sea explained that the software solution supports full transparency in fuel consumption of ships, and can be used to optimize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, We4Sea explained.

Symposium on piracy in Gulf of Guinea stresses the need for urgent action

London : A high-level symposium on piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea focussed and stressed on the need for urgent action to ensure the safety and security of seafarers transiting the region. The symposium was held at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) head office in London.The shipping community, Flag States, seafarer groups and maritime agencies, including the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) attended the meeting. Throughout the animated discussions, participants were in consensus as to the outcome: to identify actions that will reduce the risks posed to seafarers and shipping, and to make crew kidnappings ‘history’. This was made clear in a joint statement released after the meeting.The high level of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea was not acceptable, said Dr Grahaeme Henderson, Chair of the UK Shipping Defence Advisory Committee and Vice-President of Shell Shipping & Maritime.Dr Henderson said, “Yet it is happening every day, and this is not business as usual. We need to take urgent action now.”Mr Jakob Larsen, Head of Security for BIMCO, agreed with Dr. Henderson, saying that regional states needed to play their part as well.He said, “Nigerian piracy mainly affects a small geographical area of around 150 x 150 nautical miles. The problem can be solved easily and quickly, especially if Nigeria partners with international navies. Nigeria holds the key to solving this problem.” Dr Dakuku Peterside, Director-General and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Authority and Safety Agency (NIMASA), acknowledged the maritime security risks present in the Gulf of Guinea in his keynote address. As per a release, he said that new initiatives underway to improve the joint capacity of Nigerian law enforcement and navy capabilities could make seafarer kidnappings “history” within a matter of months.

Tankers face much higher war risk insurance premia in Persian Gulf

Dubai : following the latest attacks on vessels, oil tanker owners face surging insurance costs to load cargoes from the world’s largest crude-export region, the Persian Gulf.It is learnt that war risk insurance premiums that owners pay each time their vessels go to the region have now gone up to at least USD185,000 for supertankers. Incidentally, after the attacks a month ago, they had risen to USD50,000.According to reports, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks last week, both owners and the companies that charter their ships paused bookings, as they re-evaluated risks to shipping crude from the Middle East in the wake of attacks on two more tankers just a month after similar incidents. The attacks occurred just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital corridor for crude oil exports.

Knight Frank: USD 6.8 bn funds since 2014 attracted by warehousing sector

NEW DELHI: Since 2014, amid rising demand for logistic spaces from manufacturing and e-commerce players post implementation of GST, the warehousing sector has attracted around USD 6.8 bn (approximately Rs 47,385 crore) funds from institutional investors and developers, according to Knight Frank.The property consultant in its India Warehousing Market 2019 report said leasing of warehousing spaces went up by 77 per cent last calendar year to 46.2 mn sq ft.”The warehousing industry has witnessed massive participation from institutional investors, as well as developers, who have collectively invested over USD 6.8 bn since 2014, with an average investment per deal of USD 282 mn,” Knight Frank said.Knight Frank India CMD Shishir Baijal said the growth of the manufacturing sector would have the most prominent impact on the Indian Warehousing industry. This sector’s storage requirement, expected to reach 86 mn sq mt by 2024, instantly puts the spotlight on scope and growth for developers and investors in the warehousing market, he added.
According to the report, total warehousing space demand is currently estimated at 68 mn sq mt (739 mn sq ft) for the manufacturing sector, and this is projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5 per cent in the next five years to 86 mn sq mt (922 mn sq ft) by 2024.Baijal said the warehousing segment is in the midst of an evolutionary leap spurred by the new GST regime, technological enhancements and the increasing adoption of third-party logistics providers.The report highlighted that logistics cost in India accounts for 13-14 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) which is substantially higher than the (8-10 per cent) logistics cost to GDP ratio in other developed countries.The primary reason for this is the skewed Multi-Modal mix and the fact that 60 per cent of freight movement in India happens via roadways, it added.

CBIC clarification issued on misleading news reports

NEW DELHI: Perceived set-back to the automated process of refunds for exporters under GST on account of the introduction of manual checks to curb large scale frauds in IGST refunds have recently been highlighted by some newspapers. a misleading impression that genuine exporters would suffer on account of the newly introduced verification process regrettably are being created by these news items.The Customs and GST formations have recently been instructed by CBIC to verify the correct availment of input tax credit (ITC) by few exporters who are perceived as “risky” on the basis of pre-defined risk parameters. Against about 1.42 lakh total exporters only 5,106 risky exporters have been identified so far.Thus only 3.5% of the total exporters are the risky exporters. Further, on 17.06.2019 and 18.06.2019 only 1,436 shipping bills filed by total 925 exporters have been interdicted. The intervention is negligible considering that on a daily basis about 20,000 shipping bills are filed by roughly 9,000 exporters. Immediate exports are allowed even for these risky exporters. The refund, however, would be released after verification of ITC within a maximum of 30 days. The aim of thr new verification exercise is preventing unscrupulous exporters from defrauding the exchequer and bringing a bad name to the larger exporting community. All genuine exporters are assured by CBIC that they would continue to get their IGST refunds in a timely manner in a fully automated environment.

Navis 360 Managed Services launched by Navis

SINGAPORE:Launch of Navis 360 Managed Services has been announced by Navis. Navis’ extensive expertise at container terminals globally are being tapped into offering subscription-based services around key areas of TOS success, including monitoring, upgrades, application management and operational review. These new services are designed to enhance customers’ experience and long-term success with N4 and related Navis products.Navis 360 Managed Services was launched by Navis with the goal of helping customers make the most of their terminal investments. Navis 360 Managed Services provide valuable support for N4 TOS implementations, terminal IT Infrastructure management and business intelligence and analytics by providing a suite of offsite services at attractive and predictable pricing,. Customers can freeing up limited onsite resources to focus on the business of running their terminals by leveraging Navis’ global expertise and technology resources.

International Shipping’s CO2 reduction to incentivize by ICS.

LONDON: Concrete steps to support further CO2 reduction by international shipping members of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) are planned to be taken.Last week representatives of the world’s national shipowners associations met in the Faroe Islands to review the priorities of the global shipowners association, the ICS. which agreed to a suite of actions in support of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) strategy to decarbonize shipping.“It is imperative that IMO Member States adopt a new global regulation to mandate further short term CO2 reduction measures at the next session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in 2020. This should deliver further CO2 reductions by 2023 to help us meet the IMO target set for 2030. We will work with a broad coalition of Govt to produce a comprehensive proposal that can be submitted to IMO in September this year,” Mr. Esben Poulsson, ICS Chairman, said.The core of the proposal would be the Super SEEMP concept, according to Poulsson, where shipping companies around the world via flag state audits enforced are required to demonstrate their actions towards reducing fuel consumption.