National News

Rise in Forex reserves

MUMBAI: Some positive news on the forex side. After consecutive weeks of fall. RBI’s data showed that ,in the week to November 2 India’s foreign exchange reserves went up by $1.054 billion to $393.132 billion. This change was driven by a jump in foreign currency assets and gold holdings, as can be interpreted from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data. Foreign currency assets increased by $487.7 million to $368.138 billion. The apex bank said that, India’s reserve position with the IMF went up by $192.2 million to $2.639 billion. One slip though was with the special drawing rights that slipped from $200,000 to $1.465 billion.

India Soon to Export Sugar to China

Early next year India will start exporting raw sugar to China. The Indian Sugar Mills Association and the COFCO a public sector company in China have signed an contract for exporting 50,000 tonnes of raw sugar . Thanks to the initiative taken by the Ministry of Commerce and many rounds of meetings held by officials of the two neighbouring countries that the import of raw sugar contract has been agreed. The country is planning to export 2 MT of raw sugar to China beginning from early next year. Raw sugar is the second product after non-basmati rice that China will import from India. It is a move to reduce the USD 60 billion trade deficit that China has with India. India’s export to China in 2017-18 amounted to USD 33 billion while imports from China stood at USD 76.2 billion. In 2018, India has been the largest producer of sugar in the world with 32 MMT production. India produces sugar of all three grades- raw, refined and white. Thanks to the less time taken from cut to crush, Indian sugar is of high quality and is Dextran free .

Soybean may be exported to China

NEW DELHI: According to senior Government officials, China may import soyabean from India following the import of non-basmati rice and raw sugar to address the worsening trade imbalance between the two countries. While speaking on the matter an official here said that, “With China no longer willing to purchase soyabean from the US due to the on-going trade discord between the two, there is a big opportunity for Indian soyabean in the Chinese market. Senior trade officials from both countries discussed the steps to start imports from India during a recent meeting in Shanghai”. Soyabean is one of the items on which China imposed retaliatory duties of 25 per cent against the US in response to similar levies imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese products. China had already cut import tariffs on soyabean and soyabean meals from Bangladesh, India, Laos, South Korea and Sri Lanka in July to prepare for more imports from these countries following its reduced purchases from the US. The official further said that, “Earlier, Beijing had quality issues with Indian soyabean but several steps have been taken in India to ensure compliance with globally accepted norms. Hopefully, quality won’t be an issue now”. Quality inspectors from China are soon expected to visit India to inspect facilities.

Malawi Mangoes Soon To Be Available in India

PUNE: Very soon Indian consumers can avail mangoes even during the October-December period!! Yes that’s right traders here have confirmed that Malawi mangoes, that taste almost like the Alphonso mangoes, will be imported from the African Country starting this week to be sold here. Sources at Malwai mangoes said that the variety of mangoes that will be imported will be 99% similar in taste to Indian Alphonso mangoes. Malawi Mangoes is a company promoted by African and British nationals and involved in the production and processing of bananas, pineapple and mangoes.

Rise in Coal imports from April-October

NEW DELHI: There has been a 7.9 percent year-on-year increase in India’s coal imports. As per m-junction services the increase has been in the tune of 134.46 million tonnes in the first seven months of the ongoing financial year.
India imported 124.57 million tonnes of coal in corresponding period of the previous financial year. There was, however, a 6.8 percent drop in coal and coke imports in October compared to 19.77 million tonnes imported a year ago. Mr. Vinaya Varma, Chief Executive Officer of mjunction—a joint venture e-commerce platform of Tata Steel Ltd. and Steel Authority of India Ltd. said, “India’s thermal coal demand remained buoyant due to the coal shortage in the power sector. However, there was an expectation of further corrections in spot coal prices, which might have delayed some procurement plans. In the met coal segment, a healthy growth in the steel industry and expectation of a price rise led to higher volumes.’ Coal and coke imports during October through 31 Major and Non-Major Ports are estimated to have increased 3.55 percent over September. The Government earlier said during 2017-18, coal imports increased to 208.27 million tonnes due to an increase in demand by consuming sectors.

April -October period shows a rise of cargo traffic for major Ports

NEW DELHI: As per the Indian Ports Association (IPA) data there has been a 5.31 per cent rise in cargo traffic for 12 major Indian ports.The 12 major ports witnessed a 5.31 per cent rise in cargo traffic at 403.39 million tonnes (MT) during April-October of the current fiscal. During the corresponding seven-month period of the blast fiscal,these top ports had handled 383.05 MT cargo. The growth in the cargo traffic was mainly attributed to increase in handling of coal, mainly coking coal, containers and petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL). Among the 12 Major Ports, the highest was recorded by Kamarajar Port (erstwhile Ennore) with an increase of 20.42 per cent, followed by Cochin Port 13 per cent, Paradip Port 11.22 per cent, Kolkata Port (including Haldia) 8.65 per cent and Deendayal Port (erstwhile Kandla Port) 8.46 per cent. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) recorded 6.93 per cent growth, Visakhapatnam Port recorded a 5.58 per cent rise in cargo traffic, New Mangalore 3.56 per cent and Chennai 3.11 per cent.However, during the same period, VO Chidambaranar, and Mormugao have shown negative growth. In terms of maximum cargo volume, Deendayal Port handled 68.47 MT cargo, followed by Paradip’s 62.03 MT and JNPT Port at 40.54 MT.

Chabahar Port to commence operations soon

NEW DELHI: Good news from the decks for India as it can start operating the Chabahar Port in Iran by the end of November. This development is after the US granted exemptions to the port from the sanctions it had imposed on the Persian Gulf nation. For the first 18 months, till a full-time manage, operate and maintain (MOM) contractor is finalised by India Ports Global Pvt Ltd , India has selected Bandar Abbas-based Kaveh Port and Marine Services company to run the port on a temporary basis. Commercial operations at Chabahar has been delayed because of difficulties in paying Kaveh Port and Marine for the services due to banking issues on transfer of funds. An official said that, “To overcome this hurdle, Iran had agreed to accept payment in rupees. But, with this changed scenario, whether they will insist on taking payment in Euros, we’ll have to see and discuss that with Iran and sort it out. Making payment in Euros should not be a problem now since Chabahar has been exempted from the sanctions; so banking transactions should not be an issue’. “The waiver granted by the US will allow us to ask Kaveh to start operations; this is the first step,” the official said. The fine print of the US waiver terms will also help India decide whether to dilute the tender conditions for selecting a full-time Indian MOM contractor to run Chabahar. Chabahar will offer India new connectivity to enhance trade with land locked Afghanistan and Central Asian nations.

Eight Hundred Kilometre Stretch of DFC to be opened up by the Railways

NEW DELHI: Officials in the Railway Ministry said recently that close to 800 km of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) is all set to open by the end of December. Adding light on the matter a senior Railway Ministry official said, ‘The railways is all set to open the 200 km Khurja-Bhadan section of the Eastern DFC, both in Uttar Pradesh, by the end of November, while the 300-km stretch of the Western DFC between Rewari (Haryana)-Madar (Rajasthan) would be completed by the end of December’.He said the 143-km section of Bhadan-Bhaupur, both in Uttar Pradesh on the Eastern DFC, would be completed by January 2019 and the 128-km section of Madar-Marwar, both in Rajasthan on the Western DFC, would be commissioned by February 2019. The official further said that the Bhaupur-Mughalsarai section of the Eastern DFC would be completed by August 2019 and the Sonenagar (Bihar)-Mughalsarai (Uttar Pradesh) section of the same stretch would be completed by October 2019. The DFC, once completed, is expected to complement the future of the Indian economy with an increased number of freight trains in eastern and western sectors of the Country.

South Asia Needs to Invest on Few Areas to boost trade

NEW DELHI: As per a trade expert a few measures have to be taken by the South Asian region to promote trade and investment. The measures include improve transport connectivity, reduce non-tariff barriers and address logistics and regulatory roadblocks.On the same matter, President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr.Vikramjit Singh Sahney opined that Intra-regional trade in South Asia continues to linger between 5-6 per cent of their total trade despite huge market opportunities for businesses. He also outlined that the estimated average cost of trade within the region was 20 per cent which was higher than that with other regions. “Limited transport connectivity, growing non-tariff barriers, onerous logistics and regulatory impediments costs more to trade within South Asia than inter-regionally,” he said here at the regional connectivity conference organised by think tank CUTS international.
Mr.Sahney, further said that as per the estimates the average cost of trade within South Asia is 20 per cent — higher than other regions. “Besides, the region also suffers from a trust deficit as a whole which serves as a detriment to regional cooperation and integration,” he added the region is home to over 1.5 billion population which provides a huge market. He said that connectivity not only enhances trade but also increases productivity, innovation and boosts tourism.

INSA refutes claims made on easing cabotage

NEW DELHI: Union Shipping Secretary Mr. Gopal Krishna claims that the Government’s move to relax cabotage had led to reduction in coastal shipping rates has been disputed by The Indian National Shipowners’ Association (INSA) . Earlier in May this year the Shipping Ministry, had relaxed cabotage for foreign-registered vessels to bring down logistics costs. In statement INSA said, “As per information obtained from Directorate General of Shipping, Foreign Container Companies (FCCs) have moved 55,420 empty containers during this period free of cost, which has translated into gains of millions of dollars for foreign companies” . The association further added that, “But ironically, FCCs have not passed even a part of the profit to Indian consumers. Therefore, Indian businesses have not seen even $1 as reduction in freight. Instead, FCCs have reportedly increased the peak season surcharge on Export-Import cargo about eight times in the five-month period from May to September 2018, thereby directly impacting the freight payable by Indian businesses”. INSA further elaborated that foreign vessels, unlike Indian ships, do not pay GST for transport of empty or laden containers, which is a direct loss to the Indian exchequer. They further asserted ,“Data shows that relaxing licensing norms for foreign container companies has eventually led to no reduction in coastal shipping rates till date”. Another claim which the Indian shipowners’ body has countered is that Indian Ports like Krishnapatnam and Visakhapatnam had started attracting a share of cargo, which was previously transhipped at Singapore or Colombo. The association said that,“As per available information this may not be the case. For example, cargo from India being transhipped over Colombo has in fact increased by around 10% Y-o-Y in FY18. From May 2018 to August 2018 also, Indian cargo volumes in Colombo have increased by 9%, which translates to 36% on an annualised basis”. Mr. Anil Devli, CEO, INSA, said that ,“Till date, similar benefits have never been offered to Indian flagships operating coastal services. Hence, the lack of decline in transshipment despite seemingly desperate measures of the Government point to serious fallacies in current policy revisions,” INSA said. “The competence of Indian flagships are at par with the best in the world. On a level-playing field, Indian ships are our best bet to protect India’s strategic and business interest in international waters’.

All ICES locations get Paperless processing of export documents

NEW DELHI: In a measure to improve Ease of Doing Business and promote paperless processing the Revenue Department has decided to extend the facility of uploading digitally signed documents for all types of exports under Indian Customs EDI System (ICES) .The ICES is operational at 134 major customs locations handling nearly 98 per cent of India’s international trade in terms of import and export consignments.Earlier, on pilot basis on e-SANCHIT in exports at air cargo complex, New Delhi and Chennai Customs House, the Customs Department had introduced paperless processing under Single Window Interface for Facilitation of Trade. In a circular released by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) it was mentioned that, “On successful implementation of the pilot, it has been decided to extend this facility to all ICES locations on pan India basis for all types of exports under ICES”.

Commerce Ministry extends deadline for 14 Sea Ports to install Radiation monitors

NEW DELHI: Yet again for the third time,the Commerce Ministry, extended the deadline till March next year for fourteen sea ports to install radiation monitors and container scanner. The 14 ports include JNPT, DPT, Mumbai, Tuticorin and Visakhapatnam. Further, it also said that the ports which fail to meet the deadline will be derecognised with effect from April 1 next year, for the purpose of import of un-shredded metallic scrap. Earlier these 14 ports were directed by the Ministry to install and operationalize these equipment by October. In March 2017, the Ministry had asked for the installation till March this year. In a statement, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade has said that ,”The period of installation and operationalization of radiation portal monitors and container scanner in the designated ports is extended up to March 31, 2019″.

Pulses Rise but Rice exports dip for April-September

MUMBAI: In a minor setback, India’s rice exports decreased by 9.6 percent to 5.8 million tonnes between April and September from the previous year. This decline is being attributed to the fact that one of the leading buyers Bangladesh, has reduced purchases due to bumper local harvest. However thanks to a robust demand from the US ,Guar gum exports rose 5 percent to 265,195 tonnes. India is the world’s biggest exporter of guar gum and rice. APEADA said recently that the Country’s exports of pulses more than doubled during the period to 171,656 tonnes, while dairy exports surged 39.3 percent to 66,462 tonnes.

Bids for SEZ of 296 acres to be soon called by JNPT

MUMBAI: Fresh bids on electronic platform will soon be called by the JNPT Port, Mumbai, to develop a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on 296 acres of industrial area developed near the port. The advertisements for this will be out soon.In the last two months this would be the second bidding process of JNPT management. Last time around, the highest bid to buy an acre of land was about Rs. 12 crore.

Good News on Plastic exports up by 31% in first half of the fiscal

MUMBAI: In a positive move the Country’s plastics exports grew 31.6% on year at $4.59 billion in the first half of the fiscal compared with $3.48 billion a year ago. As per Plastics Export Promotion Council the growth in India’s plastics export has been primarily boosted by higher shipment of plastic raw materials, plastic sheet, film, plates, and packaging materials. India is currently ranked among the top five consumers of polymers in the world and has 30,000 plus plastic processing units employing over four million people across. Moreover , exports to China, Vietnam and Mexico too witnessed high growth rates that ranged between 70-140% in the April-September period. Mr.Ravish B Kamath, Chairman, and Plastics Export Promotion Council said that, “China, United States and United Arab Emirates continue to be top-3 destinations for India’s plastics products. These three countries accounted for 27.5% of India’s plastics product exports, by value in the first half”. French Guiana, Guam, Kiribati Republic, Lesotho, Marshall Island, Mayotte, Monaco, Nauru Republic and United States Virgin Islands are some of the countries where plastic is exported.

GooJNPT planning to host edible oil refinery to maximise revenue and ensure captive cargo

MUMBAI: A top port official here said recently that,the India’s largest Container Port JNPT is planning to host an edible oil refinery to maximise revenue and ensure captive cargo. The port already has a liquid cargo terminal in addition to the four container terminals off the city’s East Coast.Speaking on the matter, Chairman JNPT Mr. Neeraj Bansal, IRS, said recently.”We have received an expression of interest from edible oil players for setting up a refinery on our land. It is a good way to earn revenue by giving out our land for the same”. He also added that the land will be leased out on a long-term basis and it will also be beneficial for the port as it will give it captive cargo.
Mr. Bansal further said that, the raw material will be imported from overseas for the refinery and a major chunk of the finished products will be sent out through the sea. Port sources said a six-acre plot has already been identified for the refinery project. Mr. Bansal said the port is also investing Rs 310 crore for extending the liquid cargo tank farm which will increase its capacity to 4.5 mtpa.

RFID seals supplied by European manufacturer fails to meet the security requirements set by the Government

MUMBAI: The RFID seals supplied by an European manufacturer fails to meet the security requirements set by the Government and is causing distress to exporters.Self-sealing of cargo containers by exporters with tamper proof electronic seal to check pilferage and other fraudulent practices was made mandatory from October 2017, by the Government . Government has made it mandatory for exporters to use electronic seals to lock a container for shipment, replacing the earlier system of locking it with a bottle seal. Such e-seals are imported. As per the Revenue Department, certain European manufacturer of electronic seal are supplying the seals which can be scanned from a distance without being in a locked condition. The Customs Department acknowledged that the RFID seals supplied by Italy’s Leghorn Group are not complying with the security requirements. The Italian firm – the biggest supplier of e-seals to India – has supplied the electronic seal to three vendors – IB Track Solutions Pvt Ltd, Great Eastern ID Tech Pvt Ltd and Perfect RFID Technologies Ltd – who in turn sold them to exporters. As per a public notice issued by one of the Customs Commissionerate, “Exporters are advised to refrain from using the electronic seals procured from the above three e-seal vendors until further orders” . As per specifications set by the Government, the electronic seal should be a RFID tamper proof one-time bolt seal, bearing a unique serial number, which has to be procured by the exporters at their own cost for use in self-sealing. The incident comes at a time when the Government is implementing many trade-friendly measures to improve India’s ranking in the ease of doing business. Exporters say that the purpose of e-seal is to create a safe passage for cargo without the risk of tampering. According to a trade source, some companies, have got into this business by importing/supplying cheaper e-seals, which, without getting locked enable reading. “This is a very serious matter in which some Customs people are also allegedly involved, promoting a firm which is supplying the e-seals which are not tamper proof. It’s a national security risk. What can happen is somebody can put any cargo, scan it without even sealing it and then give some wrong information to the Customs.,” he said.

Ship turn times and container dwell times at JNPT shorter than a year ago

NAVI MUMBAI:Country’s Largest Container Port JNPT witnessed strong productivity gains in October as steady volume growth and ocean carriers’ push for greater economies of scale increased competitive pressure on port leaders and other stakeholders. As per a new JOC analysis ship turn times and container dwell times are considerably shorter than a year ago. As compared to a year earlier, JNPT’s average turn time for a container ship during October decreased to 30.24 hours from 34.56 hours. The average for the first seven fiscal months (April-October) also improved – down to 33.36 hours, from 36.72 hours during April-October 2017. Moreover, there has been a significant improvement in the overall dwell times at the port — averaging 65.24 hours in October versus 74.23 hours a year earlier. Dwell time is the time taken for exports inside terminal gates to be loaded onto a ship and imports onto a truck or train.
Apart from this the pace of railed cargo clearance has improved substantially.Earlier delays for these have long been a major concern. That October number for cargo handled by train decreased to 88.73 hours from 137.02 hours previously. Furthermore, dwell times for truck cargo — which involves up to 85 percent of JNPT’s cargo — have also decreased, to 53.81 hours, from 59.28 hours in October 2017, the analysis shows. Also, with quicker intermodal operations, JNPT’s rail handling prospects appear to have brightened. That share during the past three months has been slightly more than 15 percent, after months of slowing growth, despite vigorous proactive efforts; that inadequate growth forced authorities to rework free storage times in line with those for truck freight. What’s more, year-to-date statistics, from April to October, also reflect significant improvements regarding other quayside metrics. Average gross berth productivity has risen to 80.88 moves per hour, from 78.81 moves per hour a year earlier, whereas average gross crane rates increased to 35.91 moves per hour, from 32.69 moves per hour during April-October 2017. In addition, inter-terminal truck movement — which is a critical aspect for greater gate productivity — has also modestly increased, reaching 102,639 truck trips during April-October, up 1.5 percent year over year. Under the program, truckers can drop off laden export containers at one terminal and pick up import units from the other neighbouring facility, involving a single gate transaction. Another notable productivity highlight is the sustained progress JNPT has made toward generating more import discharges via its direct port delivery (DPD) program. New statistics show DPD handling represented 42.5 percent of the port’s total laden imports by road during October, or 60,026 TEU out of 141,272 TEU. In the April-to-October period, that share was 40.6 percent, or 398,582 TEU and 982,444 TEU, respectively.

Eradicate Corruption – Build a New India’ themed Vigilance Awareness Week at Mumbai Port Trust

“Eradicate Corruption – Build a New India’ themed Vigilance Awareness Week – 2018 from October 29 to November 3, 2018 week commenced at Mumbai Port Trust. The event started with employees taking the Integrity Pledge. As per a release MbPT conducted various activities such as walkathon, street play, workshop, meetings, elocution, as well as drawing/caricature/poster/rangoli competitions for employees and their family members with the aim of spreading awareness on the vigilance theme. The elocution competition was organised amongst the students of two schools and three colleges to sensitise the youth on corruption and its ill effects. On November 1, Mr Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, gave a talk on the subject, which was presided over by MbPT Chairman, Mr Sanjay Bhatia, IAS, and also graced by Deputy Chairman, Mr Yashodhan Wanage, IRS, among others. The main attraction of this year’s Vigilance Awareness Week was the lighting up of the Gateway of India on October 31 by MbPT with messages on eradicating corruption and building a new India, informed a release.

India’s first Multi-Modal Terminal on Inland Waterways inaugurated by the PM

VARANASI:India’s first Multi-Modal Terminal on the Ganga River was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi . He received the Country’s first Container cargo transported on Inland Waterways from Kolkata. In the last week of October, the first consignment containing food and beverage had set sail from Kolkata . Mr.Modi was accompanied by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mr. Yogi Adityanath, Union Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP State President Mahendra Nath Pandey, who is also the MP of the neighbouring Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency. This is the first of the four Multi-Modal Terminals being constructed on the National Waterway-1 (River Ganga) as part of the World Bank-aided ‘Jal Marg Vikas Project’ of the Inland Waterways Authority of India. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,369.18 crore, which will be equally shared between the Government of India and the World Bank. Earlier, upon his arrival here, the Prime Minister was given a detailed presentation of the waterways and watched a short film on the viability of the waterways between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haldia in West Bengal. As per an official statement, the Centre’s Jal Marg Vikas Project aims at developing the stretch of the river between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1,500 tonnes to 2,000 tonnes. Its objective is to promote inland waterways as a cheap and an environment-friendly means of transportation, especially for cargo movement. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the project implementing agency.

GST News

Online system of IGST refund preferred by Exporters

NEW DELHI:As per experts exporters under the goods and services tax (GST) regime are in favour of the completely online system of refund of integrated GST. This is preferred over the traditional method of claiming refunds of accumulated input tax credit (ITC), as the former is expedited and involves little cost despite the requirement for upfront payment of integrated GST, which can cause cash flow issues, especially for smaller exporters. At the start of GST regime, the split between exporters using IGST route to ITC mechanism was 15% and 85% (in terms of volume).
At the end of October this has shifted to 35% and 65% at the end of October, as per Dr. Ajay Sahai, statement. Dr. Sahai is the DG & CEO of Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO). He further commented that refund of IGST was largely smooth with the absence of manual intervention of tax officials, similarly the FIEO has petitioned the Government to ensure the ITC refund mechanism is brought online entirely. Although, the original GST architecture had envisaged processing of all refund to be online, delay in the operationalisation of the refund module on the GST Network portal meant that manual processing of refunds was allowed for ITC refunds. If an exporter pays IGST on export, there is no requirement to even file an application form. The shipping bill related to exports is considered sufficient. Once the information with the Customs Department matches that of GSTR-1 return, the refund is processed and the amount is electronically deposited in the exporter’s account. Speaking on the matter Mr.Rajat Mohan, Partner at AMRG & Associates, said, “Many exporters are switching over to refund of IGST payment as the process is efficient, given refunds are credited within 15 days at the most without any cost. The trend is likely to continue with more exporters opting for this option of ITC refunds”. He added that in the service and excise tax regime, refund of ITC was more common as exporters were wary of paying upfront and then applying for refund. Refund of upfront payment was often fraught with legal issues, which meant that applicants seldom received the full amount. In case of ITC refunds under the GST, an exporter is required to manually submit the application form along with a host of documents to jurisdictional official. However, this process has turned out to be problematic for exporters as they have reported that a large number of applications are being halted for lack of proper documents.
Additionally, jurisdictional officials have often called applicants for additional clarifications leading to delay in refund and cash flow crunch. The manual link in GST refunds has caused hardships to exporters, forcing the indirect tax department to organise dedicated refund fortnights to expedite the refund process. At the end of July, the department said it had refunded Rs 54, 378 crore cumulatively at the end of the third such fortnight.

Updates on GST Refund

NEW DELHI:As per a statement issued by the Finance Ministry the Ministry said. worth GST refund is still pending with the Government and that is being “expeditiously processed”. The Ministry said, “As on October 31, 2018, total GST refunds to the tune of Rs 82,775 crore have been disposed by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and the State Authorities out of the total refund claims of Rs 88,175 crore received so far”. It added that, the disposal rate of Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds is 93.8 per cent as on October 31. Giving the refunds’ break-up, the Ministry further said that Rs 42,935 crore of IGST refunds have been disposed of as on October 31, which is 93.27 per cent of the total such claims. As much as Rs 3,096 crore worth of IGST refund claims are held up on account of “various deficiencies” which have been communicated to exporters for remedial action. With regard to refund of input tax credit claims, the Ministry said of the total claims of Rs 42,145 crore, the pendency as on October 31 stood at Rs 2,305 crore. “Provisional/final order has been issued in case of refunds amounting to Rs 34,602 crore. In claims amounting to Rs 5,239 crore, deficiency memos have been issued by respective GST authorities,” the statement said. The Ministry said there are concerns that there is a growing pendency of GST refunds and sought to assure the exporters that there is no let up in the sanction of GST refunds. “The pending GST refund claims amounting to Rs 5,400 crore are being expeditiously processed so as to provide relief to eligible exporters. Refund claims without any deficiency are being cleared expeditiously,” It said. Efforts are being made continuously to clear all the pending refund claims, where ever requisite information is provided and found eligible, it said. “Co-operation of the exporter community is solicited to ensure that they respond to the deficiency memos and errors communicated by Centre and State GST as well as Customs Authorities and also exercise due diligence while filing GSTR 1 and GSTR 3B returns as well as Shipping Bills,” the statement added.

Report by KPMG Says GST, Infrastructure Status increases warehousing growth

MUMBAI:Structural shifts in the Indian warehousing segment are being noticed after the implementation of the Goods & Services Tax (GST). The change being that smaller and fragmented warehouses are getting consolidated into centralized warehousing hubs and an increasing focus on supply chain efficiencies. A KPMG India report showed that in the period 2014 and 2016, warehousing supply witnessed compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15%. Now after the implementation of GST, it has now increased to an expected CAGR of 21% for Grade a warehouse stock projections between 2017 and 2021 in the top eight cities of India. Apart from GST, Make in India program, growth of organized retail, availability of large warehouses and infrastructure status to the logistics sector including warehousing have improved private equity investments in this sector. In the last four years institutional investors have pumped in over $3 billion in warehousing and this accounted for around 26% of the total private equity funding in the sector during this period, the KPMG report added. Transaction volumes of warehousing spaces increased 85 per cent in 2017 to 25 million sq ft across India’s top cities including Mumbai, National Capital Region, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

International News

Commerce Secretary asserts for having a balanced India-China Trade

BEIJING: India’s Commerce Secretary, Dr. Anup Wadhawan, recently met Mr. Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister of China’s Commerce Minister in Shanghai. The objective of this meeting was bilateral trade talks. A team of senior officials had accompanied the Commerce Secretary from Department of Commerce, Department of Food and Public Distribution and officials from Embassy of India in Beijing and Consulate in Shanghai. The Indian delegation on this visit included Chairman APEDA, MD NAFED, DG FIEO, DG Pharmexcil. While the Commerce Secretary expressed concern regarding the large trade deficit, he also acknowledged Chinese Government’s efforts in clearing some of the market access issues such as for rice and rapeseed meal. He also expressed satisfaction over progress of certain issues like soya bean meal and pomegranate. The two Commerce Ministers also discussed the encouraging response to the business promotion events organized by the Indian Embassy and Consulates covering products like sugar, rice, tea and oil meals. The Commerce Secretary asserted India’s proven strengths at areas like agriculture products, pharmaceuticals, information technology services and tourism across the globe he also stated that in China though India has a minuscule presence. Dr. Wadhawan asked for guidance, facilitation, support and assistance to the relevant stakeholders for creating a suitable environment for India’s exports in these sectors to China. MOFCOM thanked India for accepting its invitation to participate in the 1st CIIE. MOFCOM also assured all support for increasing India’s exports to China. On 4th November the Commerce Secretary attended the banquet hosted by China’s President Xi Jinping on the eve of opening of the CIIE and on 5th November he attended the inaugural ceremony of the expo.

C$200 million fund Set Up by Chinese Bank for investing in Indian MSMEs

BEIJING: Officials here have said that in a positive move the Indian unit of China’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has set up $200 million fund for investing in the promising Indian micro, small and medium enterprises and ventures. Recently Mr. Zheng Bin, CEO of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) India gave an overview of Indian startup ecosystem and how to invest in them at the 2nd ‘Start-up India’ Investment Seminar organised by the Indian Embassy here. “He also informed that the ICBC India has established a $200 million fund for investing in the promising Indian micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and ventures,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement. The ICBC, a top state-run Chinese bank which is the country’s largest lender by market value, has opened its branch in Mumbai in 2011.

Updates from the Asean Breakfast Summit

SINGAPORE: Recently,during an India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Breakfast Summit here Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed India’s cooperation in the maritime domain Under New Delhi’s Act East Policy, India has been increasing its engagements with the Asean regional bloc.The Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Mr.Raveesh Kumar tweeted following the meeting. “Reaffirmed cooperation in maritime domain and centrality of trade and investment towards prosperity of Indo-Pacific,” . In January 2018, India had hosted the Asean-India Commemorative Summit to celebrate 25 years of dialogue partnership, 15 years of summit-level interaction and five years of strategic partnership.

Highlights of Survey & Study Conducted by Navis and BPI

SINGAPORE: As per a new benchmark survey and study developed by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network in partnership with Navis, the global maritime industry is cautiously optimistic about the global business environment for world trade. Despite the optimism they are also concerned about the potential impact of trade tensions, cyber security, fuel costs and other headwinds to industry recovery. Amongst the participants around eighty-two percent anticipate either improved profitability over the next 12 months or continued stabilization and reduced losses, as per the report. Growth is expected to come from all regions of the world, with particularly robust activity in Asia and the Middle East/Africa. The inaugural survey of the Navis Business Bellwether report was conducted in September and October of 2018 and includes responses from more than 175 industry professionals and executives. The survey is intended to be an ongoing benchmark survey of the shipping industry to monitor sentiment and priorities across a variety of economic, business and operational issues. Select industry leaders too have commented on the survey. Head of thought leadership for the BPI Network, Mr. Dave Murray, said, “A return to industry growth and improvements in shipping supply and demand have resulted in increased optimism among maritime industry executives and professionals.At same time, the industry appears to be very focused on raising operational performance and profitability through improvements in process quality and efficiency and increased investments in technology.” While just 12 percent of respondents are “very optimistic” about the global business environment, another 46 percent express cautious optimism. Some 41 percent say they are either somewhat or very concerned. CIO of International Container Terminal Services, , Mr. Brian Hibbert, said he does not expect rapid improvement in the industry’s business performance. “I would not expect a significant change in profitability in the next 12 months. I expect more activity when it comes to mergers and acquisitions in the terminal operating space as companies try to optimize their portfolios to achieve a profitable position”.

Concern on Trade Wars Tops the list

Amongst the top items in the list of industry concerns is the rise in trade protectionism and new tariffs. About One third of all survey respondents said they were “extremely concerned” about trade tensions, another 36 percent saying they were concerned. Cyber security was also high on the list, with 29 percent indicating extreme concern and another 37 percent expressing concern. Only 11 percent of respondents were extremely concerned about an economic slowdown. However, when assessing potential risks to the industry, economic growth ranked high and just below trade protectionism. Other top risks include rising fuel costs, a lack of process efficiency, continued industry consolidation, and labor disruption.

World’s largest deep-sea market, is currently the most unpredictable container trade

LONDON: As per the latest report by shipping consultancy Drewry service withdrawals and new tariffs sent Asia to West Coast North America container spot freight rates into hyper-drive from the end of July, but there could be a sting in the tail. The world’s largest deep-sea market, the transpacific trade is currently the most unpredictable container trade which is once again a money printing factory for carriers. By the end of July, following earlier service suspensions ships were full, cargo was being rolled and carriers’ coffers were quickly filling up again. Drewry explained that the sudden cargo rush was because of US President Donald Trump’s imposition of new tariffs on a whole range of Chinese goods, which came into effect on September 24 and spurred American importers to bring forward supplies. “Unlike earlier rounds of trade tariffs from Washington, the list this time has a more visible impact on the US-China container trade as it includes more containerized consumer goods. Nonetheless, the rush to beat the September 24 deadline appears to have been slower than earlier anecdotal reports initially suggested.” From Asia to the US container ships increased in 3Q18 by 5% y-o-y to all coasts, but nothing like at the rate seen in 1Q18 ahead of the first tariff lists when annual growth was about 13%. For Asia to US West Coast specifically, volumes increased at a much slower rate than seen on both the East and Gulf coasts, rising by 2.5% year-on-year in 3Q18. “Reasons for the smaller than expected peak season spike could be that importers were already in possession of more stock following the earlier cargo stampede, and/or were less fearful of the impact the new tariffs would have due to a devaluation of the Chinese currency that almost matched the 10% hike in duties.” With US tariffs expected to be increased to 25% on January 1, 2019 “there is clearly scope for yet another artificially stimulated shipping season in November and early December.” However, Drewry said that there won’t be much left in the system for the early months of next year when carriers will depend on having a strong market to support negotiations for annual contracts, generally to be signed for May 1. “The extraordinary situation that the tariffs have created means that it is very difficult to pin down the underlying demand that exists in the Transpacific. Our rolling 12-month average suggests that it is fairly weak even with the stimulus provided by President Trump’s foreign policy.”“It would seem that carriers are banking on a prolonged cargo boom in the Transpacific,” Drewry said, adding that Maersk Line is reportedly about to phase two ships of 17,800 TEU into the 2M TP6/Pearl service serving Los Angeles exclusively that presently deploys 6 x 13,000 TEU units. “How long those ships, and indeed other smaller units, remain in the trade is an open question and will largely be decided by geo-politics over the coming months.”

Chabbar Route will see ships with flags of Afghanistan too

KABUL:In a statement released here, the Afghanistan Ministry of Transportation said that the shipping sector would soon be formed and the ships could operate commercial activities with the flag of Afghanistan in free waters. As per a report, following the inclusion of Afghanistan in the list of countries exempted from the US sanctions against the Iranian people, the Country’s authorities are seeking to resolve their economic problems by establishing a Shipping Line from Chabahar to India. Officials from the Afghanistan Ministry of Transportation say that the plan for the establishment of a Shipping Line has been shared with neighbours such as Iran, India and other countries in the region, and Iran is supposed to help Afghanistan by investing in this sector, although based on earlier plans the purchase of the ships will be carried out by the Afghan private sector. Mr. Imam Muhammad Varimach, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Transportation, said that the ships were bought by Afghan businessmen and were entering the international waters by using Afghanistan flag, and the main beneficiary of the project would be the private sector of the Country.

Japan initiates WTO dispute complaint against Korean support for shipbuilders

Geneva/Tokyo:A release here said that Japan has requested WTO dispute consultations with Korea concerning alleged subsidies provided by the Korean government to its shipbuilding industry. On November 13, 2018, Japan’s request was circulated to WTO members. Japan claims that the challenged measures, which include funds, loans, guarantees, insurance and other financing, are inconsistent with the WTO’s Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994.

Africa News

Highlights of the Afreximbank Structured Trade Finance Seminar

Recently the Afreximbank Structured Trade Finance Seminar on 7 November 2018 was held in Casablanca, Morocco.Over 200 participants and experts attended the seminar from across the globe, including executives of banks, law firms and other financial institutions, senior government officials and financial regulators as well as corporates. The seminar saw an active engagement in the promotion and financing of African trade and trade-related projects. Mr. Kamel and Ms Faouzia Zaaboul, director of the Treasury and External Finance Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Morocco, led this opening. While addressing the opening of the Fundamentals of Structured Trade Finance Seminar and Workshops, Kamel expressed regret. He said that Africa still suffered from a deficit of expertise in structured finance even though it was widely acknowledged as a highly effective trade financing tool. He added that Afreximbank remained committed to equipping African financiers with the knowledge required to structure bankable trade and trade-related project finance transactions. “This 18th Structured Trade Finance Seminar progresses Afreximbank’s goal of strengthening the capacity of its partners and clients in understanding trade and trade-related project financing issues as they affect Africa and is driven by the widening trade financing gap and the challenge of increasing the continent’s share of global trade,” Kamel said further.He asserted that, “Many years of modernizing and expanding its infrastructure has successfully transformed Morocco into a commercial crossroads between Africa and the West.” Ms. Zaaboul thanked Afreximbank on behalf of the government of Morocco, for having chosen Morocco to host the seminar which represents a platform for learning and exchange on an important theme relating to structured trade finance. She further stressed the role that intra-African trade can play in structuring development, especially as a vector of regional integration

Despite Challenges Africa stands strong

Domestic policy adjustments and improved global economic activity have helped the US$2 trillion-plus sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) economy, home to a growing urban middle-class population and vast untapped markets continues to strengthen from low point in 2016. Growth is projected to increase from 2.7 per cent in 2017 to 3.1 per cent in 2018 (IMF data), exceeding growth outcomes in the Middle East but lower than in emerging Asia. There remains a noticeable disparity in growth performances across sub-regions, with consistent solid growth attained in east Africa, which attracts significant investor interest.Energy-exporters have experienced a growth revival, however these are below levels of pre-2014/15 oil price slumps. In Nigeria, the non-oil industrial sector is constrained by sluggish private demand, while recent reforms in Angola bode well for non-oil activity. However, the positive effects of high oil prices were offset by lower crude output in both countries due to capacity constraints. In contrast, growth during 2018 was buoyant among non-resource rich countries led by Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya, due to better agricultural conditions, increased consumer spending and public investment coupled with abating inflation. Contractions in agriculture, mining and construction as well as uncertainties over 2019 national elections and lower government spending are stalling sustained robust growth In South Africa. This is having an effect on high levels of joblessness and critical investments, notably in the energy sector and social housing. Two biggest markets of Nigeria and SA too have continuous sluggish activity and is impacting neighboring countries through remittances, import demand and financial sector. As per the IMF, spillovers to Benin and Niger’s growth from non-oil activity in Nigeria are estimated at 0.5 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively. Similarly, workers’ remittances to Lesotho and Swaziland depend heavily on SA. Nonetheless, the rest of SSA has grown at 5.3 per cent on average in 2010-17 (IMF data), but with wider heterogeneity across countries. Hence, there are plenty opportunities for dedicated investors in frontier markets. The regional business climate is improving, with 40 African countries implementing a total of 107 reforms in the past year, up 24 on previous year, according to World Bank 2019 ‘Doing Business’ report. SSA is home to five of 2018’s top 10 improvers – Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda and Togo. Strengthening governance, fighting corruption and tackling obstacles such as inadequate electricity and financial services will support further business growth. Overall, growth prospects for the SSA region are favourable, although greater economic diversification would strengthen resilence to commodity price shocks. As per the Mckinsey Global Institute In 2019, 18 out of 45 SSA countries (two-fifths) are predicted by the IMF to grow briskly at 6 per cent or higher compared to 10 in 2016 – well above the global trend. Large SSA cities remain ‘consumer hubs’ where per capita consumption is more than double the national average.

Africa Investment Forum A Big Success

The Africa Investment Forum has ended on a high note with 45 deals worth more than US$32bn secured investment interest Participants from Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), institutional investors, sovereign wealth, equity and private sector CEOs from across the continent gathered in South Africa to participate in the continent’s first transaction-based forum.61 transactions worth US$40.4bn were put up for discussion in this forum. President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr. Akinwumi Adesina described the outcome of US$32bn worth of transactions highly successful. Speaking on the matter he said, “I could not be happier but we don’t want to congratulate ourselves. The responsibility that lies on our shoulders is so huge. This is just the beginning,”. The presence of seven African heads of state and heads of governments also sent a strong signal to global investors that Africa’s leadership is committed to creating a conducive business environment for investment to land on a smooth runway.Energy, infrastructure, food and agribusiness opportunities and transactions attracted high-level attention from global and African investors, positioning the Forum as the next big investment frontier, and on Global and African investors’ radars. Africa-to-Africa investment emerged as a key take away from the Forum. Gauteng Premier David Makhura highlighted US$6bn worth of South African deals signed, and the US$2.6bn MOU signing with Ghana for a Skytrain project in Accra. “We are very proud that South African companies are investing in other African countries. This is very fulfilling,” Makhura concluded.

Cleaner and Greener solar-powered solutions for Nigeria’s Unity Bank

Unity Bank is opting for cleaner and greener solutions and is planning to work with Daystar Power in moving the power supply of Unity Bank’s branches across Nigeria from diesel generation to solar-powered solutions. This vision is driven by the objective of being the preferred bank for all Nigerians, and the shift to a cleaner power supply will further enhance the banking experience of retail customers. Unity Bank is one of Nigeria’s retail banks with 240 branches across the country and the eighth largest bank in Nigeria by business locations. The supplier of this solution, Daystar Power belongs to the venture capital company Sunray Ventures of the German founders Christian Wessels and Jasper Graf von Hardenberg. Daystar Power will provide Unity Bank with a combination of hybrid battery backed-up solar power solution.

New Initiative by Temenos

The banking software company Temenos, has announced the launch of its South African “Bank of the Future” Think-Tank, a venture, that will bring together some of the brightest minds in South African banking. This will be a quarterly event that will aim to address domestic and global challenges and opportunities for financial institutions in the country. The inaugural think-tank gathering is taking place at the Equinox Leadership and Innovation Centre in Johannesburg on 22 November. The session will begin the series by discussing the concept of banks becoming digital to the core. Mr. John Schlesinger, chief enterprise architect for Temenos will facilitate the discussion on the day.Over 60 experts from 30 banks and financial institutions are expected to take part in this initiative over the coming year, promoting knowledge creation and sharing as well as actively responding to the complex opportunities and challenges of today’s banking environment. By the end of 2019, the think tank also plans to release a series of short videos that will include insights and conclusions derived from the series of events and proprietary data from Temenos to give a deeper insight into banking in South Africa today, tomorrow and far into the future. Mr.Jean-Paul Mergeai, managing director of the Middle East and Africa at Temenos, commented, “An important part of what we do at Temenos is to create and foster a community within the banking and fintech ecosystem. Our clients, partners and our MarketPlace technology providers form the most dynamic banking technology community.” He further added that , “Our industry is facing structural changes right now in terms of customer expectations, regulatory requirements, new entrants as well as a genuine technological revolution. Through this think-tank, we are creating a forum where leading bankers from South Africa can come together to share knowledge and address the challenges and opportunities they face on a day-to-day basis” . “With some of the world’s most innovative and technologically advanced financial institutions coming from South Africa, this seemed like the perfect country to lead this conversation on what the Bank of the Future will look like,” Mr. Mergeai concluded.

First ShelterTech accelerator programme launched in Kenya

About 61 per cent of Kenyans live in a temporary shelter or extremely low-quality housing, affecting the overall well-being of households.Access to adequate housing for low-income households is a critical development problem in many countries around the world. Kenya, where housing is recognised in the constitution as a basic human right, is no exception. On this background Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Centre for Innovation in Shelter,has launched its first ShelterTech Accelerator Kenya programme. Habitat for Humanity is an organisation that is solving the technology challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness, This programme aims to better tailor housing markets to the needs of low-income households and to identify, promote and accelerate Kenyan start-ups and high-growth companies that offer low-income housing products and services. It will bring together entrepreneurs, government, corporations and development partners to identify and present innovation to improve access to shelter. The programme runs from November 2018 to May 2019.

Loan of US$ 151mn granted to Coils Lamiere Nastri Spa (CLN)

A loan of US$151mn was announced for Coils Lamiere Nastri Spa (CLN), Italian automotive parts manufacturer by World Bank Group member IFC and Italy’s national promotional institution Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).This loan is to support CLN’s international expansion to South Africa.
The financing package, which includes US$95mn from IFC and US$56mn from CDP, will primarily support CLN’s plans to modernise and expand local production of advanced automotive components for leading car manufacturers in South Africa. The project will boost South Africa’s automotive industry by increasing value addition through increased localisation, introducing new production processes, and training local workers to participate in the international automobile value chain. IFC’s financing will consist of a US$54mn from IFC’s own account and another US$40mn loan through the IFC managed co-lending portfolio programme, a new syndications platform, which enables institutional investors to passively participate in IFC’s future senior loan portfolio. This is a positive move for the South African economy that struggles with high unemployment. Automotive production represents the largest manufacturing sector in South Africa and can play a central role in creating jobs and transferring knowledge and technology in the economy. As per IFC’s estimate increasing the amount of locally produced content to 45 per cent, up from the current 35 per cent, could generate an economic value of an additional US$4bn and support 80,000 more jobs.

HospiCash, low-cost micro-insurance product for Azuri solar power customers

HospiCash, a low-cost micro-insurance product for Azuri solar power customers across Kenya was launched by Azuri Technologies, pay-as-you-go solar power provider, and APA Insurance, Kenya’s insurer. This move will benefit Azuri customers who will benefit from the certainty of income security when they are hospitalised, as well as funeral expenses. Azuri HospiCash customers who are unable to work due to hospitalisation can claim up to US$9.7 per day. The policy also covers funeral expenses up to US$97.3. At the official launch of the HospiCash at APA headquarters in Nairobi, Azuri CEO Mr. Simon Bransfield-Garth, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with APA to further Azuri’s vision of providing consumers across Africa with products and services that have the power to truly change and improve lives.” He further added that, “Many off-grid consumers find it difficult to access modern financial products and so combining Azuri’s reach and APA’s affordable insurance allows customers to concentrate on making a full recovery rather than worrying about the loss of income from being hospitalised,” . Azuri’s HospiCash cover is being rolled out nationwide and will be available to all Azuri Quad and Azuri solar TV customers.