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NEW DELHI: India’s trade deficit touched a 56-month high in January, driven by a sharp rise in imports of petroleum, chemicals, silver, pearls and machine tools, even as exports expanded for the third consecutive month. A 9% rise in exports at $24.3 billion was outweighed by a 26% increase in imports at $40.6 billion, leaving a trade gap of $16.3 billion, the highest since May 2013.

 

Petroleum and crude oil imports continued to inflate India’s import bill, rising 42.64% from last year to $11.65 billion, Government data showed.

 

Imports of pearls and precious and semi-precious stones jumped 55.71% to $2.4 billion. However, gold imports declined 22% to $1.59 billion last month. “The trade deficit is alarming. At this rate, trade deficit will touch $150 billion this year,” Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Director-General

 

Ajay Sahai said. In the April-January period, trade balance was $103.7 billion. “Imports of finished goods are being encouraged because the incidence of tax borne earlier is no longer there. This is a cause of worry,” Sahai added.

 

Five sectors — coal, chemicals, precious metals, petroleum and machinery — showed at least $500 million of increase in imports from a year earlier.

 

“With the merchandise trade deficit for January 2018 being sharply higher than expected, we have revised our forecast for the FY2018 current account deficit to $47-50 billion or nearly 2% of GDP, from the earlier expectation of $42-44 billion,” said Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist at ICRA.

 

On exports side, outward shipments increased in 20 out of 30 sectors, but declined in traditional sectors like yarn and readymade garments whose competitive edge could have been blunted by an appreciating rupee.

 

Exports of readymade garments fell 8.4% to $1.39 billion, while cotton yarn and fabric shipment declined 9.6% to $0.84 billion. “We are losing our competitiveness. There is a major skilling issue here,” Sahai said.

 

Major commodity groups which showed growth in exports were engineering goods (15.77%), petroleum products (39.5%), gems & jewellery (0.89%), organic & inorganic chemicals (33.6%) and drugs & pharmaceuticals (8.6%), according to data released by the Commerce Ministry.

 

Source:- Delhi Times

The bilateral trade between Canada and India which is currently at 10 billion Canadian dollars (US $7.97 billion) is set to grow in the coming years as there is a "lot of potential" for it, a Canadian Minister said here on Monda

 

According to Amarjeet Sohi, Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the North American country offers opportunities to Indian companies to work with Canadian firms and invest in Canada.

 

"The bilateral trade has increased significantly...

 

We see lot of potential to grow bilateral trade," said Sohi.

 

There are close to 1,000 Canadian companies doing business in India while more than 200 firms of Indian origin are doing business in Canada, he told reporters at an interactive session on India-Canada trade relations organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here.

 

"We will be investing close to 180 billion Canadian dollars over the next 10 years for creating new infrastructure in public transportation system, trade and transportation corridors, airports, ports, oil and gas, mining and natural resources and many others and this will provide a huge opportunity for Canadian and Indian companies. Canada is open to business," Sohi said.

 

Close to 10 billion Canadian dollars were invested by Canadian pension funds in the infrastructure sector in India, he said.

 

"We will make sure more Canadian companies are able to invest in India and Indian companies too can invest in Canada," Sohi said, adding that there is a huge potential for improving bilateral cooperation in the agriculture sector.

 

The number of Indian students in Canada has been increasing over the last two years and more than 150,000 students of Indian origin are currently studying in Canada, he said.

 

Sohi said India is the greatest source of immigrants for Canada and close to 1.5 million people of Indian origin have made Canada their home.

 

Source:- Business Standard

In a rare interview to the media, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will not judge his own performance in his term at office so far, saying he would prefer it if the people judged him. 

 

In an interview to Times Now, Modi said he was happy the world considered India a bright spot and about the economic development the country has seen. 

 

Modi said the nation would know of the change that his government had brought about, if there was a proper comparison of the 10 years of UPA rule against the three-and-a-half years of the current government. 

 

The Prime Minister said he was happy his government was living up to their pledge of not being involved in scams and that there was a continued effort to make the lives of people better. 

 

"Some people do talk and criticise us, but that is their job. In 2013 India was known as 'fragile five', but in three years we have managed to get out of that and show the world what we are capable of. Also, if someone is unwell, we run tests and then know what is wrong. its the same case with a government," the Prime Minister said. 

 

Speaking of the economic growth, Modi said that his government had brought inflation down to an average of 3% in his term, as opposed to approximately 10% during the UPA reign.

 

Modi also said that his government has succeeded in bringing Foreign Direct Investment, with the FDI going up to $62 billion from $30 billion when the current government took over. 

 

Prime Minister Modi added: "We are progressing at the right pace and people have faith that we are striving hard to fulfil the expectations and aspirations of the common man. And that is the biggest satisfaction." 

 

He rejected criticism of providing a jobless growth, saying "lies" were being spread about employment generation. 

 

The next Budget may not be populist, he hinted. 

 

The judiciary has a very bright past and has very capable people; they will sit together and find solution to problems, he said. Government, political parties must stay out of judicial crisis. 

 

Modi said even the Congress needed to become free of the Congress. He said the inherent culture within the Congress Party needed to be shed for a stronger party, and he said he would want that to happen, because a strong Congress Party would only strengthen the Indian democracy,. 

 

He said it hurt him that the Congress's political vendetta meant that they had disrupted the progress of necessary bills such as the Triple Talaq Bill. He urged the Congress to put politics aside to pass important legislations on important issues such as the rights for Muslim women. 

 

Other Highlights from PM's interview:

 

"Seven million new EPF accounts have been opened - doesn't this show new employment? " 

 

"The rate of building rail tracks in a day has doubled. Wouldn't that be creating employment? Electrification is also double of what happened earlier. Wouldn't that be creating employment? The work on ports has gathered pace. Would that have increased without creating employment? How would all this have happened?" 

 

"All our policies have an in-built mechanism to promote employment"

 

"Today when people enter any airport and place their Indian passport at the immigration counter, there is a sense of pride" 

 

Let the country decide whether what a person says in a foreign country is more revealing about that person's identity or about the country's identity. The world knows the country's identity - PM Modi on political leaders speaking about India's problems in foreign countries 

 

If they (Congress) insult us regarding GST it's still fine. When it comes to a poor Muslim woman at stake - I'm sure they feel bad from inside but politics and thirst for power maybe makes them do this 

 

Even the strongest people were moved to tears by the condition of those women who were affected by triple talaq. They needed to be saved; this was not a political move or a move to corner anybody. It was a move to let everyone live with dignity 

 

The Congress party or any party that indulges in vote bank politics must get out of this regressive mindset and think from the point of view of women empowerment and respect for women 

 

Our country's judiciary has a very bright past, they are very capable people; they will sit together and find the solution to their problems. I have faith in our justice system, they will definitely figure out a solution 

 

If you think India's foreign policy is centred around Pakistan, that is a grave injustice to India. Our foreign policy is not about isolating any single nation 

 

The world is grappling with the scourge of terrorism and whoever is sympathetic towards terrorists, the world is uniting against them. Innocents are being killed, terrorism needs to end in the world. 

 

As far as Pakistan is concerned, I believe, and I have always said that India and Pakistan have fought a lot, we should come together and fight poverty, come together and fight diseases 

 

The fight against terrorism is about saving humanity 

 

Source:The Economic Times

The country's crude steel production rose nearly 6 per cent to hit an all-time high of 101.28 million tonnes (MT) last year, according to official data.

 

During April-December of the fiscal 2017-18, the output stood at 75.50 MT as against 72.20 MT during the same period a year ago, an expansion of 4.6 per cent, the Joint Plant Committee (JPC) -- which is empowered by the steel ministry to collect data on the Indian iron and steel industry -- said in its latest report.

 

"For the first time..., India's crude steel production crossed the 100 million tonnes mark in 2017, reaching 101.227 MT, a growth of 5.87 per cent over 2016," it said.

 

In December alone, the country produced 8.65 MT as against 8.38 MT in the same month a year ago.

 

SAIL, RINL, TSL, Essar, JSWL and JSPL together produced 43.39 MT during April-December 2017, which was a growth of 6.5 per cent over the same period of the preceding year, it said.

 

The rest 32.10 MT came from other producers, which was a growth of 2.1 per cent over the same period a year earlier, the report said.

 

Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh also expressed satisfaction over the production numbers.

 

"Glad to share that India's crude steel production crossed the 100 million tonnes (MT) mark in 2017. This reflects the industry's commitment towards strengthening the Indian steel sector," he said in a Tweet.

 

India is the third largest producer of crude steel in the world after China and Japan. The country is now aiming to grab the second spot.

 

The government is taking various measures to promote the domestic steel sector and raise capacity.

 

On May 3, the Cabinet gave nod to a new policy that aims to achieve steel making capacity of 300 million tonnes by 2030 with an additional investment of Rs 10 lakh crore.

 

The same day, the government approved a policy for providing preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products in procurement by the government and its agencies.

 

Source:-Money Control

New Delhi: The government is weighing proposals to cut taxes on electric cars and amend the electricity act to allow entities other than power distributors set up charging points for the cars, in a bid to popularise them and cut down on pollution.

 

The GST Council will be asked to consider lowering the taxes on electric and hybrid cars. States will be urged to either waive or lower the road tax for electric cars.

 

Car makers have already sought a lower tax rate of 12 per cent on electric vehicles, while states such as Goa have waived the road tax on them. At the same time, the power ministry is considering amending the electricity Act to allow private entities purchase power from distributors and set up charging points near fuel outlets.

 

Officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally given a signal to the industry and government to move towards electric or alternative energy-powered vehicles from the petrol or diesel ones.

 

Tata Motors, Mahindra, Tesla, BMW, Nissan and Hyundai are planning launches over the next two years. Sources say that Nissan is working on making a car for Rs 7 lakh.

 

The Mahindras are expected to showcase two electric vehicles at an upcoming auto-expo including a coupe and a micro SUV, while the Tatas will roll out the Tigor to be backed by a chain of charging stations set up by Tata Power.

 

The government is studying a draft paper by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) that lays out a road map to shift to electric vehicles by 2047, with the conversion of 40 per cent of cars and all buses by 2030.

 

However, both SIAM and the analysts said the government needed to do more beyond lowering the taxes on electric or hybrid vehicles to 12 per cent.

 

There should be subsidies to set up electric charging points, tax exemptions for loans to buy the cars besides minor assistance such as waiving parking fees and road tolls.

 

Existing plans

 

The government in 2014 came up with a plan to give subsidies up to Rs 150,000 to electric cars and Rs 30,000 to electric two wheelers, provided at least 30 per cent value addition was done in India.

 

Auto giants have pointed out it is impossible to start localisation from the very beginning. Besides, hybrids will remain more popular in the medium term and should also qualify for the incentives. These issues are under discussion with the government, industry officials said

 

Already a number of companies have announced plans to invest in India's electric vehicle programme expecting sops.

 

JSW Energy has signed an MoU with the Gujarat government to set up an electric vehicle plant at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore, which will have capacity to produce 2 lakh units daily.

 

Electric car maker Tesla had also announced plans for the country but sources said these have been delayed because of local difficulties.

 

Hero Motors plans to tie up with a Bangalore-based specialised company to build its own vehicles.

 

Source:-The Telegraph