Although suggested earlier this year, China is projected to overtake India as the largest gold importer by almost 50 tonnes, according to a statement from the World Gold Council (GGC). An Economic Times report from early February said India had a seven per cent fall to 933.4 tonnes in 2011, while demand from China increased by 20 per cent to 769.8 tonnes in the same period. A report this month shows demand in gold picking up in India due to festivities (Diwali/Dhanteras) and late weddings while China sees rising demand due to stronger economic activity in Q4.
According to press reporting, the Indian Army will train 600 Afghan Army officer as well as 200 Afghan cadets every year. This training (announced on 08NOV12) grew out of the strategic partnership agreement signed on 04OCT11 between the two countries, taking just over a year to work out.
In addition, NDTV reports “a company level (100-strong) contingents of ANA will be trained for four weeks at the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) located at Vairangte in Mizoram.” (Prior reporting had also suggested stints at the High Altitude Warfare School in Sonmarg, Kashmir)
The agreement was reported by the Indian press as a way to help build further avenues for India’s mining companies. (Back in 2011, Steel Authority of India Ltd led a consortium of top Indian firms in obtaining the rights for $1-trillion Hajigak iron ore mine in Afghanistan).
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre released a brief at the end of October providing worldwide piracy statistics for the year. The report showed substantive decreases in Somali piracy as international efforts–including those from India among other nations–helped curb maritime attacks.
The report comes on top of a recent talk with US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Andrew Shapiro. His remarks at the Atlantic Council suggest that India may be at greater risk due to the Pirates’ increased use of motherships, something the press has been reporting for some time.
There’s been much speculation around PM Singh’s visit to Japan between 15-18NOV12. The Times of India on 05NOV12 mirrored a piece from the Asahi Shimbun speaking of a closer security alliance between the two indicating that Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy will hold joint exercises in the Indian Ocean as well as around Japan. (India and Japan only recently conducted their first bilateral naval exercise in June 2012.) This outcome will reportedly be part of a new bilateral forum on security matters to be announced during the visit.
According to the AS piece, the aim as we’ve often heard before is to counter China’s rising military capabilities in the region. Although that may be so, this move wasn’t hard to foresee as the US recently concluded the trilateral forum between India and Japan during a time when the issues over the Senkakus have been brought into the spotlight.
Like many have speculated, the US may be helping push Japan and India closer together in the hopes India and the US will develop a better relationship despite (what India may see as) diverging national interests.
James Brown on the Lowy Institute’s blog posted visiting PLA Lieutenant-General Ren Haiquin’s speech to the Australian Chief of Army’s annual conference at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Lieutenant General Ren warned against Cold War notions of Containment having this to say:
Due to historical as well as realistic reasons, current security situation in Asia is not very satisfying and there are still factors destabilizing and uncertain…Asia is now in a transition towards a new type of security order, and external countries involvement complicate the process. Some countries pursue strategies such as “rebalance the Asia-Pacific” and “Looking East” and are increasing their strategic investment.
Iran’s Khabar Online reports on 06NOV12 that the Islamic Republic and Afghanistan have agreed to build a pipeline in order to facilitate the exports of Iran’s oil products to meet the country’s needs. Ali Reza Zeighami, Iran’s deputy oil minister and managing director of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) said an Iranian delegation will soon travel to Afghanistan to discuss the details of the agreement.
Earlier in December 2011, Iran’s Oil Ministry signed an agreement with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the annual export of one million tons of Iranian oil products.
According to the contract, Iran is expected to export products including gasoil, jet fuel and gasoline to Afghanistan.
China’s October data indicates that full-year growth will reach 7.5 per cent, while inflation should come in just under 4 per cent, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics told reporters on 09NOV12. The projections were in line with previous government targets.