US moves to bridge $24-billion trade deficit with India

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Apr 25, 2017

New Delhi: After the IT industry, it is now the turn of the manufacturing sector to brace itself for a possible jolt from the Donald Trump regime in the US. Washington DC has officially sounded out to New Delhi that it would soon take steps to bridge the $24-billion bilateral trade gap, which is in India’s favour.

Assistant US Trade Representative Mark Linscott, who met senior officials from the Commerce Ministry last week, said his government would identify the barriers to trade impeding American exports through trade policy dialogue so that steps could be taken to redress the problem, a government official told BusinessLine.

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India likely to host key RCEP meeting in July

index.jpgSource: The Economic Times, Dec 27, 2016

NEW DELHI: India is expected to host in July next year the negotiations for mega trade deal RCEP which aims at liberalising norms for trade in goods and services and boost investment among 16-member countries.

“This will be a crucial meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),” an official said.

Currently the member countries are deliberating upon the single-tier system of duty relaxation under the proposed pact.

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Government working to give services trade a reforms push

index.jpgSource: The Economic Times, Sept 27, 2016

NEW DELHI: Worried by the shrinking trade surplus in services, the government is working on a bouquet of reforms to play to the country’s core strengths of technology, leisure travel and medical tourism.

The commerce department has circulated a cabinet note on domestic reforms to enhance earnings from services exports, detailing measures that can be implemented after due deliberations. “It is work in progress. There are services like IT, tourism, medical tourism, legal and education, which are not our jurisdiction…We can apply our mind but it is up to the line ministries,”said an official, requesting anonymity. The services trade surplus narrowed 9% to $5.36 billion in July from $5.88 billion a year ago.

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Seafood exports increase by 7 per cent

Source: The Economic Times, Sept 27, 2016

KOCHI: In a sign of strong recovery, seafood exports in first five months of the current fiscal rose 7 per cent from a year ago to touch 333,832 tonnes, according to data from Marine Products Export Development Authority (Mpeda). In value terms, the year-on-year increase was 17 per cent to Rs 13,426 crore, Mpeda’s provisional data for the five months to August showed.

“The good performance has come in the lean season, which augurs well for the coming months,” Mpeda chairman A Jayathilak said.

In 2015-16, marine exports dipped 9 per cent from the previous year to Rs 30,421 crore as the unit value realisation of frozen shrimp, which constitutes over 70 per cent of total exports, fell by $2 to $8.28 per kg. Jayathilak said the loss of the previous year has been made good in the first few months of the current year. He said seafood exports are expected to touch the targeted $5.6 billion in the current year.

As per Mpeda data, production of aquaculture shrimp, which is driving exports, touched an alltime high of 550,000 tonnes in 2015-16.

Govt cuts import duty on wheat, potato & palm oils

Source: Business Standard, Sept 23, 2016

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday cut import duty on wheat and potato to 10 per cent while reducing it by 5 per cent on crude as well as refined palm oils, to boost supplies and check prices during the upcoming festival season.

In a notification, the Central Board of Excise and Customs said import duty on potatoes has been reduced from 30 per cent to 10 per cent till October 2016.The import duty on wheat has been reduced from 25 per cent to 10 per cent till February 2017.

The government reduced import duty on palm oil from 12.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent for crude palm oil of edible grade, and from 20 per cent to 15 per cent for refined palm oil of edible grade.

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Restrictions ended for marble import but duty raised

Source: Business Standard, Sept 19, 2016

New Delhi: The government has removed all quantitative restrictions on import of marble, beside a lower Minimum Import Price (MIP), while raising the duty. It takes effect from October 1.

The earlier policy, notified in 2014-15, allowed  total annual import of 800,000 tonnes, with an MIP of $325 a tonne, for rough marble and travertine, a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs. The MIP for these two would be $200 a tonne, on import of marble slabs would be $40 a sq metre. For granite slabs, the MIP has been reduced to $50 a sq metre.

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Marine exporters see fortunes improving

Source: Business Standard, Sept 15, 2016

Bhubneshwar: After a plunge in sea food exports in 2015-16, exporters are seeing good times with low production of shrimps in producing economies and an upbeat ‘new year buying’ season.The reduction in anti-dumping duty by US government on import of frozen shrimps from India, the major export item, is bringing a respite to the farmers.

“Reduction in anti-dumping duty will have a positive impact on Indian exports subject to US demand.The international prices being steady and the increasing farm-gate prices have been cutting into the wafer thin margins of exporters.This reduction in anti-dumping duty will give some respite. With demand looking steady profits for exporters will increase only, when the international prices go up and this would mainly depend on the global shrimp production,” said Ramakanth V Akula, chief exceutive, Waterbase limited.

The exports from India had dipped by more than 9% value wise ( in rupee terms) in 2015-16 with the slowdown in global economies and better supply from competing countries like Thailand and Vietnam. In dollar terms the percentage of plunge in exports was about 15% in 2015-16 compared to $5511.12 million exports registered in 2014-15.

The final average duty determined in US for shrimp imports from India for 2014-15 is now fixed at 2.20% from earlier duty 4.98%.The ‘new year buying’ season has been good but for the farmed shrimp production, which took a beating in the major state like Andhra Pradesh. Outbreak of diseases like Whitespot, white feces and EHP impacted shrimp production in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu pushing up the farm-gate prices. Farmed shrimp production seems to be higher in Odisha, West Bengal and Gujarat when compared to previous year, Akula added.

Demand in the US and EU being more or less the same, exports to Asian countries seem to be picking up. Exports to China and Vietnam are increasing owing the lower shrimp production in their countries. Exports to Japan are on the rise with the strengthening of Yen, Akula said.

 With shortage of production in other countries the prices are surging up by 15-20% during the new year buying period, which stretches between September and October every year, compared to the last season.

“There are shortage of supply of material in world for which prices have increased.There is supply only from India and not from other countries worldwide like Vietnam, South American countries, Thailand and Indonesia. It is boost to the new year buying and the prices are hovering above around 20% compared to last year, said Ajay Dash, president, Seafood Exporters’ Association of India (SEAI) Odisha region.

The average prices are up by 15-20%. However, the shrimp prices are volatile, said an expert.