China to overtake India as largest gold importer

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.

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India to train Afghan troops

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).

Drop in Somali Piracy But Rise in Gulf of Guinea

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.

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PLA Lieutenant-General Ren Haiquin Speech at Aussie Army Conference

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.

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Iran to build oil pipeline to Afghanistan

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 2012 growth to hit 7.5 per cent

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.

Pakistan to discuss plan to import LNG from Qatar via India

The Economic Times on 07NOV12 reports a proposed plan to import LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) from Qatar to Pakistan via India that will be discussed during President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Doha. Accordingly, a senior unnamed official of the Ministry of Petroleum said that besides importing LNG from Qatar through a terminal in India, there was a proposal to import LNG directly from India through a 60-km pipeline to be laid to the Wagah land border.

The Prime Minister’s Advisor on Petroleum Asim Hussain said that the price of LNG was yet to be decided by the two countries but expressed hope the supply would start within 18 months.

In February 2012, Pakistan and Qatar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for importing 3.5 million tons of LNG during a visit to Doha by former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani.