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 Hangs On To Iranian Crude

While western powers continue to tighten the screws on Iran’s oil exports, India, the world’s fourth largest oil importer, continues to remain one of Iran’s largest customers after China.

Accordingly, Iran has continued to occupy a major space in India’s energy import basket although at a lower level as a supplier of crude. While the US has been pushing Saudi Arabia to help fill the gap left by Iranian exports, India doesn’t want to depend too heavily on ersatz Saudi supplies as it could weaken New Delhi’s position in future price negotiations. In addition, it has become apparent that India’s foreign policy position on America and Iran is to try to back away from taking either side.

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BHEL Said to Seek $500 Million Europe Purchase

On 25SEP12, Bloomberg reports Bharat Heavy Electical Ltd (BHEL), India’s biggest power-equipment maker, may buy a European provider of metro-rail technology for as much as $500 million to help revive profit growth from a three-year low.

The company plans to use part of its 67 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) of cash reserves and raise debt to fund the purchase, two people familiar with the plans said. Bharat Heavy has identified targets in Italy and the Netherlands and the acquisition may be completed by March 31, said the people, asking not to be identified as the talks are private.

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Indo-Pak Expert Group Takes Step Forward to Boost Trade in Petro Products

The First Meeting of the Experts’ Group on Trade in Petroleum & Petrochemical Products between India and Pakistan was held on 17-18 July, 2012 in New Delhi.

Both sides welcomed the inauguration of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari-Wagah border on 13.04.2012.  However, it was noted that trade through the road route was limited to specified products. The Indian side suggested that solid products like Pet Coke and Sulphur could be moved in open trucks, finished lubes (small packs & drums) in containers, and liquid products like Hexane, MTO, Petrol, Furnace Oil, LAB, MEG, DEG, TEG, Lube Oil Base Stock be transported in ISO tank containers /tank trucks.

It was noted that the use of Attari-Wagah railway line was currently limited to trade in petrochemical products only, mainly by Indian Oil Corporation Limited. Both sides agreed that the current prohibition on rail movement of container and open wagons for Pet Coke and Sulphur needs to be re-examined. The Indian side emphasized the desirability of developing another railway route for trade, i.e., the Munabao-Khokrapar route.  Both sides agreed on the need for the railway authorities of India and Pakistan to work out the most optimal commercial utilization of the available railway infrastructure for transportation of petroleum and petrochemical products, including addressing the existing issue of inadequacy of locomotives in Pakistan.

HPCL /HMEL and IOCL respectively offered to examine the feasibility of constructing petroleum product pipelines between HMEL’s Bathinda refinery and Lahore, IOCL’s Jalandhar tap-off point to Lahore subject to commercial viability and considerations.

Noting that the current cost of confirmation of letters of credit was high, both sides agreed on the need to work out back-to-back credit lines between banks so as to put in place an efficient trade finance arrangement between the two countries.  It was agreed that this would be taken up with the respective Central Banks, Finance Ministries and other agencies concerned.

Both sides also noted the need for a direct courier service between India and Pakistan, as presently cargo reaches much faster than the documents required for clearing of goods at the discharge port. Both sides agreed to take up the matter with the appropriate authorities in their respective Governments.

Both sides agreed on the need to make the SAFTA Certificate recognition systems online so as to prevent delays in the process and thereby facilitate timely availing of import duty benefits.

PIB 18JUL12

Record production of rice, wheat, cotton and sugarcane

Foodgrain Storage

The Government on 17JUL12 released the 4th advance estimates of foodgrain production for FY 2011-12.

As per the latest estimates, India has produced 257.44 million tonnes of foodgrains during 2011-12 compared to 244.78 million tonnes in the previous year. This is highest foodgrains production level surpassing all earlier records.

Record production has been achieved in the case of rice ( 104.3 MT), wheat ( 93.9 MT), cotton ( 35.2 million bales), and sugarcane ( 357.7 MT).

The production estimates for major crops for 2011-12 are as follows:

Total foodgrains  –  257.44 million tonnes

Rice  –  104.32 million tonnes

Wheat  –  93.90  million tonnes

Coarse Cereals  –  42.01 million tonnes

Maize  –  21.57 million tonnes

Pulses  –  17.21 million tonnes

Tur  –  2.65 million tonnes

Urad  –  1.83 million tonnes

Moong  –  1.71 million tonnes

Gram      –  7.58 million tonnes

Oilseeds  –  30.01 million tonnes

Soyabean  –  12.28 million tonnes

Groundnut  –  6.93 million tonnes

Rapeseed & mustard – 6.78 million tonnes

Cotton  –  35.20 million bales (of 170 kg each)

Sugarcane – 357.67 million tonnes

India and Mauritius to Expand Trade Ties

The Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Shri Anand Sharma today met Mr. Arvin Bollel, Mauritian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade on 6JUL12.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed earlier this year between the two countries which envisaged the consolidation of the textile and clothing industry, enhancing  trade and economic relations while also aiming to share best practices and transfer technology.

Perhaps more importantly, the two Ministers also agreed to hasten the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) negotiations supporting deeper economic integration.

Beyond petroleum products, India`s main exports to Mauritius in 2010-11 were cotton, pharmaceuticals, cereals, carpets, electrical machinery and equipment parts, apparel and clothing accessories. India is also a major supplier of cotton to Mauritius` textile industry while also supplying a significant portion of Mauritius` basmati and non-basmati rice requirements.

India has been the largest source of imports for Mauritius since 2007.

The bilateral trade between India and Mauritius in 2011 was US$ 1.395 billion as compared to US$ 0.687 billion in 2010.