WASHINGTON:India could be removed from US’ currency monitoring list of major trading partners, the Treasury Department has said, citing certain developments and steps being taken by New Delhi which address some of its major concerns. India for the first time was placed by the US in its currency monitoring list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies in April along with five other countries – China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland. The Department of Treasury maintained the same monitoring list in its latest report released on Wednesday but said if India continued with the same practices as in the last six months, it would be removed from its next bi-annual report.
“India’s circumstances have shifted markedly, as the central bank’s net sales of foreign exchange over the first six months of 2018 led net purchases over the four quarters through June 2018 to fall to $4 billion, or 0.2 per cent of the GDP,” the Treasury said in its latest semi-annual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the US.
This represented a notable change from 2017, when purchases over the first three quarters of the year pushed net purchases of foreign exchange above two per cent of the GDP, it said.
Recent sales have come amidst a turnaround in foreign portfolio flows, as foreign investors pulled portfolio capital out of India (and many other emerging markets) over the first half of the year, it said.
The rupee depreciated by around seven per cent against the dollar and by more than four per cent on a real effective basis in the first half of 2018, the report said.
India has a significant bilateral goods trade surplus with the US, totalling $23 billion over the four quarters through June 2018, but its current account is in deficit at 1.9 per cent of the GDP.
“As a result, India now only meets one of the three criteria from the 2015 Act. If this remains the case at the time of its next report, Treasury would remove India from the monitoring list,” the Treasury said.
Observing that India’s current account deficit widened in the four quarters through June 2018 to 1.9 per cent of the GDP, following several years of narrowing from its 2012 peak, the Treasury said the current account deficit has been driven by a large and persistent goods trade deficit, which has in turn resulted from substantial gold and petroleum imports.
The goods trade deficit has widened out in the first half to 6.4 per cent of the GDP as oil prices have risen.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects the current account deficit to be around 2.5 per cent of the GDP over the medium term as domestic demand strengthens further and favourable growth prospects support investment.
India’s goods trade surplus with the US was $23 billion for the four quarters through June 2018, it said, adding that India also had a small surplus in services trade with the US of $4 billion over the same period.
“India’s exports to the US are concentrated in sectors that reflect India’s global specialisation (notably pharmaceuticals and IT services), while US exports to India are dominated by key service trade categories, particularly travel and higher education,” the report said.
The Treasury praised India for being “exemplary” in publishing its foreign exchange market intervention.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has noted that the value of the rupee is broadly market-determined, with intervention used only during “episodes of undue volatility,” it said.
India can’t achieve 9-10 per cent GDP growth without agri-revolution: Kant
New Delhi: India cannot achieve 9-10 per cent GDP growth without revolution in the farm sector, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.
Addressing Mahindra Samriddhi Agri awards, he said there is a need to boost investment in the agriculture sector as well as to introduce new technology and market reforms.
Kant also stressed on scrapping Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee and some old laws like Essential Commodites Act, which restrict movement of farm produces.
However, he said agriculture is a state subject and the central government has limited role in it.
“In India 50 per cent of our population is dependent on agriculture. If India’s GDP has to grow at 9-10 per cent for the next 30 years, then it cannot be without bringing revolution in the agri sector,” Kant said.
He also emphasised on eliminating middlemen in marketing of farm produces to boost farmers’ income.
Kant expressed confidence that farmer income will be doubled by 2022.
He said there is a need to spread good agriculture practice and success stories of farmers across the country.
“The second revolution in agriculture will come from technology and marketing,” Kant said.
Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd,, said: “The contribution made by our farming community is a manifestation of this new age of farming which we celebrate through our annual awards”.
As part of Mahindra Agri Village (MAV) programme, he said the company has worked closely with more than 50 villages.
“Our Prerna initative has empowered nearly 2,000 women farmers over 40 villages, through the introduction of gender-neutral farm tools for reducing farm drudgery, and dissemination of knowledge and essential capabilities,” Goenka said.
Mahindra Samriddhi Krishi Shiromani Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2019 was conferred upon E A Siddiq for his immense contribution to Indian agriculture. The award was handed over to recognise his contribution of enhancing productivity of paddy (Both Basmati & Non Basmati).
The group gave awards in total 11 categories.
Mukesh Ambani bails out Anil in Ericsson payout case day before SC deadline
Mumbai: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani stepped in to bail out younger brother Anil Ambani by helping him repay Reliance Communications’ (RCom’s) dues to Ericsson. The last-minute rescue spares the younger Ambani a three-month jail term for contempt of court.
RCom cleared the entire dues to Ericsson India to purge the contempt of a Supreme Court order. The debt-ridden company had already paid Rs 118 crore of the Rs 550-crore dues. In addition, the company had paid around Rs 3 crore in penalties to Ericsson.
“My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my respected elder brother, Mukesh, and Nita for standing by me during these trying times and demonstrating the importance of staying true to our strong family values by extending this timely support,” said Anil Ambani in a media statement. RCom had time until Tuesday to make the payment, failing which Anil Ambani, its chairman, would have had to serve a three-month jail term, according to the court’s order.
Probing Amazon, Flipkart for alleged violation of foreign exchange law: ED
New Delhi : Investigation has been initiated against e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart for alleged violation of foreign exchange law, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Monday informed the Delhi High Court.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani noted the submissions of the ED that a case has been registered under provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) against the two companies and disposed of a PIL which has alleged that the e-commerce giants were violating foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.
The court had earlier sought response of the central government, Amazon and Flipkart to the plea which has sought a probe into the alleged FDI violations.
The ED, in its reply filed through central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, has said the “department has already registered and initiated investigation under the provisions of FEMA against the two companies to ascertain whether they have been contravening any provisions of FEMA or contravening any rule, regulations, notification, direction or order issued in exercise of the powers under FEMA….”
The agency also sought dismissal of the petition.
The petition by an NGO, Telecom Watchdog, also asked for initiation of legal proceedings against the two e-commerce companies under the FEMA for alleged violation and circumvention of FDI norms.
The plea, filed through advocate Pranav Sachdeva, has claimed that Amazon and Flipkart have created multiple entities to circumvent the FDI norms and route the hot-selling stock at cheaper rates.
The petition has contended that according to Press Note 3 of 2016, which regulates FDI in e-commerce, entities like Amazon and Flipkart are not to exercise ownership over stock, nor directly or indirectly influence price of goods and services sold on their marketplace.
It claimed that by creating name lending companies, Amazon and Flipkart buy branded goods in bulk at discounts from manufacturers and render small sellers uncompetitive by a wide margin, thus influencing the prices in violation of the FDI norms.
“As a consequence of this FDI norms violation, smaller sellers are unable to participate in the fast growing e-commerce sector,” the plea has contended, adding that due to subsidised prices on such platforms, small sellers are unable to sell in the brick-n-mortar world too.
Besides, the plea has also claimed that the two e-commerce firms have created several other group companies in the chain to divide discounts and losses.
“Exchange offers, EMI costs and bank offers are funded completely or substantially by Amazon and Flipkart and constitute a clear influence on price in violation of FDI norms,” it has alleged.
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