Leading French firm set to develop engine for military platform in India

Source: Economic Times, 18 January 2022

A leading French defence major is set to produce an engine for a military platform in India as part of a joint venture with an Indian company under the strategic partnership model, a move aimed at further ramping up defence cooperation between the two countries. In an address at an industry chamber on Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh referred to the move that was agreed to in his wide-ranging talks with his French counterpart, Florence Parly.

Though the defence minister did not specify about the engine and its use, people familiar with the development said the project will be focussed on the requirement for military helicopters that India plans to roll out in the next few years.Source: The Portugal News

Singh held talks with Parly on Friday with a focus on further boosting co-development and co-production of various platforms.

“It was a matter of manufacturing of an engine. I am happy to say that the French government has agreed that a major French company will come to India and produce the engine here under the strategic partnership with an Indian company,” he said, referring to his talks with Parly.

The defence minister made the remarks to emphasise that India has clearly been sending out a message to the United States, Russia, France and many of its partner countries that military platforms and equipment required by the Indian armed forces will have to be manufactured in India.

The people cited above said India and France have been in talks for the engine project.

In 2017, India unveiled the ambitious strategic partnership (SP) model to facilitate joint ventures between select private Indian firms and foreign defence majors to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in the country.

The model aims to create a vibrant defence manufacturing ecosystem in the country through joint ventures between Indian corporates and global defence majors.

India has already spent Rs 2,035 crore for the development of a fighter jet engine to power indigenously-built aircraft. However, the Kaveri engine project is yet to be completed.

The engine project was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1989 and was primarily rolled out for India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme.

After the talks between Singh and Parly, the defence ministry said they discussed defence industrial cooperation with a focus on future collaborations and co-production of equipment.

“The ministers acknowledged their convergences on a number of strategic and defence issues. They expressed commitment to work together to enhance cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral forums,” it said in a statement.

Reliance New Energy acquires 100% stake in sodium-ion battery firm Faradion

Source: Economic Times, 31 December 2021

Reliance industries’ solar arm will buy sodium ion battery technology provider Faradion for 100 million pounds including debt.

“Reliance New Energy Solar Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, has entered into an agreement with Faradion (Faradion) and its shareholders for acquiring 100% of the equity shares of Faradion through secondary transactions for a total value of GBP 94.42 million based on an enterprise value of GBP 100 million,” the company said in a filing.

Faradion, which is based in the UK, is one of world’s leading battery technology companies. It boasts of an extensive IP portfolio covering many aspects of sodium-ion technology. Reliance will use Faradion’s state-of-the-art technology at its proposed fully integrated energy storage giga-factory as part of the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex project at Jamnagar.

“Faradion will further strengthen and build upon our ambition to create one of the most advanced and integrated New Energy ecosystem and put India at the forefront of leading battery technologies. The sodium-ion technology developed by Faradion provides a globally leading energy storage and battery solution which is safe, sustainable, provides high energy density and is significantly cost competitive. In addition, it has wide use applications from mobility to grid scale storage and back-up power,” Mukesh Ambani said on the stake buy.

India, Taiwan holding talks on free-trade agreement, looking at setting up semiconductor hub

Source: Economic Times, 19 December 2021

India and Taiwan have started negotiations for a free-trade agreement and the setting up of a semiconductor manufacturing facility by a Taiwanese firm in India, in a significant step signalling their resolve to broad-base the overall bilateral economic engagement. If the move to set up the semiconductor manufacturing plant succeeds, then it will be the second such facility to be set up by a Taiwanese company in a foreign country after a similar hub in the United States, people familiar with the development said.

The Indian government has already proposed a number of sites for the facility and one of Taiwan’s leading semiconductor producers, including the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and the United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), may implement the mega project, they said.

The move to set up the facility comes amid increasing demands for chips in India by automakers and technology companies, among others, when there is a global shortage of chips.

The people said the proposal to set up the semiconductor hub is largely driven by the strategic significance of the ties between India and Taiwan, rather than the commercial aspect of it.

“The semiconductor plant in the US was set up in the reflection of the close strategic ties between the two sides. It will be the same in India’s case as well,” said one of the people cited above.

The government on Wednesday unveiled a plan to provide incentives worth Rs 76,000 crore to encourage the setting up of semiconductor design, manufacturing and display fabrication (fab) units with a larger goal of making India a global electronics production hub.

In sync with their keenness to expand economic engagement, India and Taiwan have already held two rounds of talks for firming up a free-trade agreement as well as a bilateral investment agreement to boost trade ties, the people said.

India has been promoting its ties with Taiwan in the areas of trade, investment, tourism, culture, education and people-to-people exchanges.

The cooperation in the areas of trade, investment and industry between the two countries has been on an upswing in the last few years.

The volume of bilateral trade has grown nearly six-fold from USD 1.19 billion in 2001 to almost USD 7.05 billion in 2018 and India ranks as Taiwan’s 14th largest export destination and 18th largest source of imports, according to official data.

By the end of 2018, around 106 Taiwanese companies were operating in India, with the total investment amounting to USD 1.5 billion in the fields of information and communication technology, medical devices, automobile components, machinery, steel, electronics, construction, engineering and financial services.

The two sides have also set up teams for further expansion of ties in education as well as skill development training.

At present, an estimated 2,800 Indian students are studying in Taiwan.

India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but both sides have trade and people-to-people ties.

In 1995, New Delhi set up the India-Taipei Association (ITA) in Taipei to promote interactions between the two sides and facilitate business, tourism and cultural exchanges.

The ITA has also been authorised to provide all consular and passport services.

In the same year, Taiwan too established the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in Delhi.

Anupam Rasayan inks Rs 135-crore long-term supply contract with Japanese firm

Source: Economic Times, 15 December 2021

Chemicals maker Anupam Rasayan on Wednesday said it has signed a long-term binding contract worth Rs 135 crore with a Japanese multinational customer for supplying an existing life science-related speciality chemical. The company earlier signed a letter of intent (LoI) for this product with the same customer and now have entered into a long-term contract for the next four years, the company said in a statement.

Speaking about the order, Anupam Rasayan Managing Director Anand Desai said, “This conversion of LoI into a long-term contract reinforces the capability of our company to be a preferred partner with some of the world’s most marquee companies. We continue to work on expanding our chemistries and enhance the wallet share with our customers.”

The company manufactures products for over 66 domestic and international customers, including 23 multinational companies. The company has been manufacturing products for select customers for over a decade.

L&T, Kemroc ink pact for distribution of cutting-edge products in India

Source: Economic Times, 03 December 2021

Larsen & Toubro (L&T) on Friday said it has entered into a pact with Kemroc, a global manufacturer of attachments for excavators and backhoe loaders, to distribute the latter’s cutting-edge products in India. The agreement covers Kemroc-developed special attachments, including its patented EK series of chain cutters. These chain cutters are a game-changer in rock trenching and are well accepted across the world, including India.

“Larsen & Toubro…and Kemroc, a global manufacturer of attachments for excavators and backhoe loaders, have entered into a distribution agreement that will facilitate Kemroc products to be distributed and promoted in the Indian market by L&T,” the company said in a statement.

Kemroc was originally founded in 2012 in Germany by Klaus Ertmer, who in 2017 introduced a new series of efficient chain cutters, drum cutters, cutter wheels, pile cutters, trenchers, patch planners and drilling augurs with applications covering trench excavation, among others.

This strategic partnership will enable L&T to expand its product offerings and provide comprehensive solutions to customers in the construction industry in India.

L&T already offers special attachments such as crusher buckets, rock breakers, quick couplers, demolition tools and piling solutions with tie-ups from international brands such as Komatsu, Sandvik and Movax.

Olectra Greentech to set up India’s biggest electric bus factory with 10000 units capacity

Source: Economic Times, 10 December 2021

Olectra Greentech, India’s largest manufacturer of electric buses, is setting up the country’s biggest electric bus factory with a capacity of 10,000 units on the outskirts of Hyderabad, as it plans to grab a larger share of cleaner mobility incentivised by the government.

To be set up with an investment of more than Rs 600 crore, the new facility is spread over 150 acres. Apart from buses, Olectra Greentech will also produce electric three-wheelers and trucks — the new segments the company is diversifying into, said a top executive. The company will be eligible for incentives under the central government’s production-linked incentive scheme, the management said.

A part of Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, Olectra Greentech has developed its buses with technical support from China’s largest electric vehicle maker, BYD. The company is currently sitting on orders for 2,000 electric buses worth Rs 3,000-3,500 crore, which it plans to deliver in the coming 12-18 months.

Olectra chairman KV Pradeep said the company has submitted bids for tenders released for 6,000 more buses, and that he is hopeful of grabbing the orders for a large share of these.

“It is not the same game it was two years back,” Pradeep told ET. Soaring diesel price over this period has resulted in more and more public transport bodies considering e-buses over diesel vehicles for their fleets. “As components and batteries get more affordable with localisation, the price economics will further tilt in the favour of EVs,” he said.

Olectra is the market leader with a share of 35-40% in the nascent yet growing electric bus market. It hopes the dedicated factory and new products will help it retain the lead and thwart challenges from legacy players Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland, which also offer electric buses.

In a joint venture with Etrio, another EV player, Olectra has won an order for 5,600 electric three-wheelers through state-run Convergence Energy Services Ltd Pradeep said. Olectra will be supplying about 3,500 of these vehicles, which it has developed in-house, he added.

The Hyderabad-based company has also tied up with a truck maker to develop electric trucks, which it plans to start producing next fiscal year. It did not name the truck maker.

It has so far delivered around 450 buses to various state transport authorities under the Centre’s flagship electric vehicle promotion scheme, FAME-2. The buses were manufactured in technology collaboration with China’s BYD. Other companies in the space include Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland’s Switch and Mahindra & Mahindra.

Pradeep insisted that the company does not rely on BYD for technology anymore and has all the capabilities in-house with a 50-strong R&D department.

With plans of electric three-wheelers and trucks afoot and a substantial order book for e-buses, the company wants to migrate operations to the new manufacturing facility.

The stock of Olectra Greentech has delivered superior returns over the past one year, gaining over 700%. The stock closed at Rs 775.50 on the BSE Friday, down 0.85%.

Australia opens centre of excellence for critical technology in India

Source: Economic Times, 17 November 2021

Australia is strengthening technology partnership with India through the establishment of a new consulate-general in Bengaluru and a Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy, also to be based in India, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday on the eve of PM Narendra Modi’s participation at the Sydney Dialogue. Morrison, who launched the maiden edition of the Sydney Dialogue on Wednesday, also unveiled Australia’s plans during a virtual address to the Bengaluru Tech Summit, noting that technology is at the forefront of the comprehensive strategic partnership he signed with the Indian PM in 2020.

“I’m pleased to let you know that Australia is also seeking to establish a new consulate-general in Bengaluru. Bengaluru is the world’s fastest growing technology hub – of course we want to be part of it. It is home to a third of India’s unicorn companies. Australia’s new mission in Bengaluru would expand our diplomatic presence in India to five posts,” said Morrison. “Australia will deepen our ties to India’s innovators, to your technologists and entrepreneurs – as well as India’s governments at all levels. We want to partner with India on ‘technology and talent’.” Later, Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said in a statement, “The new consulate-general will focus on deepening Australia’s ties to India’s vibrant innovators, technologists and entrepreneurs.

It will support Australian businesses in one of the world’s most important commercial centres.” Payne further said, “The consulate-general will expand our diplomatic presence in India to five diplomatic posts, further to our high commission in New Delhi and consulates-general in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, deepening our engagement with Indian governments at all levels. This will promote engagement with India’s southern states and our outreach to Australia’s diaspora and alumni communities.” Payne said that through the comprehensive strategic partnership, India and Australia are at the forefront of “determining the design, development and use of emerging technologies”.

“Our existing cyber and critical technology partnership and its bilateral grants programme were a significant first step in strengthening these ties,” she said. The Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy will bring together Australian and Indian technologists, policy practitioners, academics, researchers and thought leaders. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative that will help guide the responsible development and use of critical technologies,” the Minister said, adding, “It will promote stronger investment opportunities and cutting-edge innovation in cyber, critical and emerging technologies. It will amplify Australia’s and India’s policy impact globally, while visiting fellows from around the Indo-Pacific will broaden the Centre’s influence.”

The Centre of Excellence is among the flagship initiatives of Australia’s new ‘action plan for critical technologies’, and an important part of delivering on Australia’s strategy for protecting and promoting technologies, the blueprint for critical technologies, said Payne. “It is aimed at providing a practical platform for Australia and India to work together to shape technology governance that aligns with our values and supports an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific,” she said.

The Australian government will invest $70 million over the next decade in a quantum commercialisation hub, designed to commercialise Australia’s quantum research and forge links with global markets and supply chains, according to an Australian government statement.

The hub will be designed to attract private co-investment and to partner with equivalent bodies among like-minded nations.

A new Quad? India, Israel, US and UAE agree to establish joint economic forum

Source: Economic Times, 20 October 2021

In what could mark the emergence of a new Quad, India-USA-Israel-UAE in the first ever meeting of their foreign ministers have explored possibilities for joint infrastructure projects in the fields of transportation, technology, maritime security, economics and trade, as well as for additional joint projects.

The ministers decided to establish an international forum for economic cooperation to take forward their maiden dialogue, officials told ET. Informed sources said the grouping’s key focus is on joint economic projects.

Maritime security cooperation in the Western and Southern Indian Ocean Region amid China’s growing maritime ambitions and threats from piracy as well as sea-bound terrorism, measures to boost trade and create businesses through synergies among four nations in post pandemic world, climate change, renewable and non-renewable energy, besides steps to combat Covid-19 dominated the meet held in hybrid mode on Monday night coinciding with the visit of Foreign Minister S Jaishankar to Israel.

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, who initiated the meeting during his visit to Washington, said, “Around this virtual table – there is a unique set of capabilities, knowledge, and experience that can be used to create the network that we all want to see created.”

“I think the word we’re looking for here is synergy, because this is what we’re going to try and create starting with this meeting. Synergy that will help us work together on infrastructure, digital infrastructure, transport, maritime security and other things that preoccupy us all,” he said, adding, “The key to success is how quickly can we move from ‘government-to-government’ to ‘business-to-business’? How quickly can we turn this into a working process that will put boots on the ground, changing infrastructure around the world.”

Jaishankar said, “The three of you are among the closest relationships we have, if not the closest.” Jaishankar cited the fight against Covid-19 at a difficult time as an example of the benefits of such cooperative mechanisms where bilateral ties tend to fail.

“I think it is very clear that on the big issues of our times we all think very similarly and what would be helpful would be if we could agree on some practical things to work upon,” Jaishankar said.

It was decided that each minister will appoint senior-level professionals to a joint working group that will formulate options for cooperation in the areas of transportation, technology, maritime security, and economics and trade, officials informed.

The four countries plan to hold an in-person meeting of the ministers in the coming months at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Jaishankar, was accompanied by Lapid, during the quadrilateral-level meeting on Monday, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan participated virtually.

In his remarks, Blinken described Israel, the UAE and India as three of “our most strategic partners.” He said by “bringing friends together in new ways, we are making these partnerships even greater than the sum of their parts.”

“I think that is what this gathering is about. Sitting here in Washington, I can say very simply that with Israel, the UAE and India we have three of our most strategic partners. And given so many overlapping interests – energy, climate, trade, regional security – this seems like a really interesting and good idea to try and use this new format and very complementary capabilities in very many areas to just see many more things get done. That’s the idea,” Blinken said.

UAE’s Al Nahyan thanked Blinken and Lapid for “proposing the idea” of creating this kind of a forum to boost cooperation.

Referring to India, the UAE minister said, “Minister Jaishankar is an old friend, I could say, but also India and UAE have such a strong and diverse relationship.” Al Nahyan suggested businesses should be surprised by opportunities and then it should be observed how the trading community responds, in terms of putting a robust plan forward.

India to start talks for three more free trade agreements: Piyush Goyal

Source: Financial Express, 15 October 2021

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said two more countries and a bloc of nations have evinced interest in forging trade pacts with India, which reflects growing interests among key economies in bolstering their trade engagement with New Delhi in a post-Covid world.

While Goyal didn’t name these economies, he said talks with them will be over and above India’s current negotiations with Australia, the UK, the UAE and the EU for free trade agreements (FTAs). The interest was shown in bilateral meetings at the recently-concluded G20 ministerial in Sorrento, Italy. Goyal held about 15 meetings with the trade ministers of various countries, including South Korea, South Africa, the US, Brazil, China and the EU.

The negotiations are a part of New Delhi’s broader strategy to forge “fair and balanced” FTAs with key economies and revamp existing pacts to boost trade. The move gained traction after India pulled out of the China-dominated RCEP talks in November 2019.

Addressing reporters, Goyal also asserted that the National Master Plan for ‘multi-modal connectivity’, or PM GatiShakti, will fast-track infrastructure projects and cut delays as well as cost over-runs through a holistic and well-coordinated approach. This will help boost economic growth, spur employment and draw large-scale investments into the country. The programme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

The new initiative is a GIS-based platform with as many as 600 layers, capturing all utilities and network linkages in various economic clusters. Ambitious targets have been set under the plan for capacity addition in various infrastructure sectors for 2024-25.

The new plan will complement the Rs 111-lakh-crore National Infrastructure Pipeline and multiple efforts to generate resources for it, including the National Monetisation Pipeline and the development finance institution (DFI) that are being operationalised.

Goyal indicated that the programme is aimed at breaking inter-ministerial silos. Instead of separate planning and designing by relevant departments, projects will be designed and executed with a common vision. Minimising disruptions and ensuring quick completion of work with cost efficiency are the guiding principles for development of infrastructure as per the National Master Plan.

GatiShakti will enhance India’s competitiveness through next generation infrastructure and seamless multi-modal connectivity. It will ensure the smooth movement of goods and people and enhance the ease of living as well as doing business.

The idea is to lend more power and speed to projects by connecting all relevant departments on one platform. High logistics cost in India at 13% of GDP was eroding competitiveness in exports, he had said.

As for trade agreements, India and Australia are eyeing are planning to hammer out an early-harvest deal by the Christmas this year and a broader FTA by the end of 2022. Similarly, New Delhi and Abu Dhabi aim to wrap up negotiations by as early as December 2021 and sign the deal by March 2022 after the completion of necessary ratification processes. If all goes as planned, it would be the first FTA to be signed by India in just over a decade.

Balanced FTAs are expected to also enable the country to achieve sustained growth rates in exports in the coming years. Already, India has set an ambitious merchandise export target of $400 billion for FY22, against $291 billion in FY21.

India offers spectrum of opportunities: FM Nirmala Sitharaman tells CEOs

Source: Financial Express, 14 October 2021

India offers a spectrum of opportunities to investors and business firms, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told executives of top American companies, as she met and apprised them of various flagship programmes of the Indian government under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat. Sitharaman, 62, is currently in the American capital to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

On the sidelines of these events, she has been meeting a host of top American CEOs with footprints in India and who have shown interest in seizing the investment opportunities in the country.

In her meeting with Amway CEO, Milind Pant, the focus of discussion ranged in the areas of research and development, manufacturing automation, innovation and nutrition segment, the ministry said.

Initiatives like National Monetisation Pipeline recently launched the National Infrastructure Master Plan and a spectrum of opportunities at GIFT City in Gujarat was mentioned by the finance minister during her meeting. The minister underlined the presence and performance of the company in India since 1998 and its keenness to invest in the coming years.

During her meeting with B Marc Allen, Chief Strategy Officer of Boeing, the discussion was broadly in the areas of skilling, research and development, manufacturing automation, innovation and the aerospace sector.

She underlined Boeing’s collaboration in Make In India and Atma Nirbhar Bharat initiatives and the interest of the company to invest in the future.

During her meeting with Stanley Erck, CEO of Novavax, Sitharaman discussed important Indian initiatives towards healthcare reforms like research and development in medical science, health and well-being and the growing opportunities at GIFT City in Gujarat. She underlined the company’s interest to invest in India in the coming years.