How fast is India changing? It is about to become the largest producer of steel on the planet

INTO INDIA has written about the extraordinary transformation that is happening in the “New India” – airports, roads, ports, urban renewal, smart cities, shopping malls, digitisation and online shopping.

But is is truly stunning to hear that India is right on the verge of being the biggest steel producer in the world.

On August 23, Minister of Civil Aviation and Steel, Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, stated that India would soon become the world’s top steel producer. The Minister was addressing an NMDC and FICCI-organized conference on the Indian minerals and metals business. After China, India is the second-largest producer of crude steel worldwide.

He believed that India had switched from being a net steel importer to an exporter of steel. According to him, India now consumes 78 kg of steel per person, up from 57.8 kg in 2013–14. By 2030, the government wants to produce 300 million tonnes (MT) of steel, according to Mr. Scindia.

READ MORE:

https://www.ndtv.com/business/india-to-become-worlds-number-one-producer-of-steel-union-minister-jyotiraditya-m-scindia-3278800

Some straight talking on climate change and public policy

Patrick Suckling presents the clearest short paper on climate change and what we urgently need to do

Patrick Suckling is a non-resident Senior Fellow of Asia Society Policy Institute and former Australian Ambassador for the Environment – and former Australian High Commissioner to India.

He has written one of the clearest – and briefest – papers on the importance of climate change and how we need to respond.

Highly recommended reading –

India-Australia trade deal – a handy list of features

Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal is negotiating multiple trade deals

Benefits of AI Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement include:

  • Sheep meat tariffs of 30 per cent will be eliminated on entry into force, providing a boost for Australian exports that already command nearly 20 per cent of India’s market
  • Wool will have the current 2.5 per cent tariffs eliminated on entry into force, supporting Australia’s second-largest market for wool products.
  • Tariffs on wine with a minimum import price of US$5 per bottle will be reduced from 150 per cent to 100 per cent on entry into force and subsequently to 50 per cent over 10 years (based on Indian wholesale price index for wine).
  • Tariffs on wine bottles with minimum import price of US$15 will be reduced from 150 per cent to 75 per cent on entry into force and subsequently to 25 per cent over 10 years (based on Indian wholesale price index for wine).
  • Tariffs up to 30 per cent on avocados, onions, broad, kidney and adzuki beans, cherries, shelled pistachios, macadamias, cashews in-shell, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants will be eliminated over seven years.
  • Tariffs on almonds, lentils, oranges, mandarins, pears, apricots and strawberries will be reduced, improving opportunities for Australia’s horticulture industry to supply India’s growing food demand.
  • The resources sector will benefit from the elimination of tariffs on entry into force for coal, alumina, metallic ores, including manganese, copper and nickel; and critical minerals including titanium and zirconium.
  • LNG tariffs will be bound at 0 per cent at entry into force.
  • Tariffs on pharmaceutical products and certain medical devices will be eliminated over five and seven years.

Wow! India Australia trade deal much bigger than we thought

These two Ministers are transforming the Australia-India relationship

Wow! The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement signed yesterday is a whopper.

Get on the plane now if you are in business or education! The trade and investment doors are open for you.

The two trade ministers, Australian Dan Tehan and Indian Piyush Goyal, are transforming the economic relationship and created a platform for decades of growth for India and Australia. Well done.

READ MORE DETAIL HERE:

https://www.trademinister.gov.au/minister/dan-tehan/media-release/historic-trade-deal-india

Will India and Australia achieve “early harvest” trade deals and lay groundwork for a CECA?

Former PM Tony Abbott was instrumental in getting trade talks going again

INTO INDIA believes the two big issues facing Australia are allowing greater people movement from India to Australia, and directing more of our massive A$ 2.3 trillion pension fund sector that could be a regular source of investments in the Indian infrastructure and disinvestment story.

The key for Australia is to see India as more than a “quick sale” – Indian negotiators will be looking to push the two countries to become partners, adopting policies that streamline physical movement, including, on-arrival visas, multiple entry long term business visas, etc.

From India’s perspective, it will want to ensure that trade deficits in the post agreement period do not widen. And two, non-tariff barriers and differences in standards or recognition of qualifications do not offset higher access through the trade deal. As an Indian report recently wrote: “This is the crux of the matter.”

In the larger CECA agreement, investments from Australia will play a big role in the growth of bilateral trade between the two countries, because the growth trajectory of India will create new opportunities for Australian companies, including in areas like water management and up in future, for which Australia can be a long term reliable supplier.

In the early harvest agreement, Australia wants services included with goods – an area where India has not performed well in earlier trade deals such as with ASEAN.

Australia however just needs to accept the sensitivity of the agribusiness sector in India – the deal will fall over if Australia demands substantially lower tariffs across the board for fruits, dairy, agriculture and processed food items.

INTO INDIA RECOMMENDS Australia narrow its ambitions down to selected niche items in the agriculture sector. Finding ways that Australian expertise, technology innovation and scale can actually transform Indian agriculture sector towards value addition would give Australia a big advantage.

Finally, you can expect India could show flexibility in tariff lines related to commodities and minerals, which are needed for its growing economy and the e-mobility program. In turn, Australia could be accommodative in tariff lines related to refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles, gems and jewellery, auto components and made up textile items, which it imports in any case from countries around the world, in addition to India.

Thanks to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in collaboration with KPMG and led by Amb Anil Wadhwa, who is Former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

How is India travelling? Some developments for investors and exporters

Some developments for investors and exporters

  • One billion vaccines: The cumulative coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine doses administered across the country surpassed the 1-billion milestone, today. Over 700 million people have been administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while 290 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the government’s CoWin website. The government has set a target to vaccinate all adults by the end of 2021.
  • Moody’s banking rating: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the outlook for the Indian banking system to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’. It believes that the deterioration of asset quality since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic has been moderate and an improving operating environment will support asset quality. Moody’s expects asset quality to further improve, leading to decline in credit costs, as economic activity normalises. The rating agency has projected India’s real GDP growth for 2021-22 at 9.3 per cent.
  • Tax targets overshoot: The Centre is likely to exceed the budgeted tax collection target of Rs.22.2 trillion for the current fiscal year by Rs.2.5 trillion, according to experts. This is driven by better indirect tax mop-up, compliance measures and recovery in most sectors following the second wave of the pandemic. Personal income and corporate tax collections grew by 74 per cent to Rs.5.7 trillion in the first half of the current financial year, mainly due to advance tax and tax deduction at source (TDS) payments.
  • Power deficit: The power shortage situation in the country is improving as per the data released by the Central Electricity Authority. Power shortage came down to 1,456 MW on 17 October 2021 from 2,714 MW a week back. Peak power shortage stood at a massive 11,626 MW on 7 October 2021. According to power sector experts, demand has moderated due to the onset of autumn and heavy rains in many parts of the country. Moreover, an improvement in coal supplies would further bring down the power deficit.
  • Data consumption: India has the highest mobile data consumption in the world which is about 11 to 12 GB per user a month. The country is adding as much as 25 million new smartphone users every quarter making it a flourishing ground to launch digital initiatives, Ram Sewak Sharma, chief executive of the National Health Authority of India said. By 2025, India’s data consumption is likely to be doubled to nearly 25 GB per person a month, driven by affordable mobile broadband services and changing video viewing habits, Swedish gear maker Ericsson said.
  • E-Commerce sales: The share of e-commerce in the overall sales pie has touched new highs in the first fortnight of October 2021, according to market trackers and companies. Several categories, including smartphones, consumer electronics, apparel and daily necessities are growing faster than last year. The share of smartphone sales online surged to around 60 per cent in the first fortnight of Navratri-Dussehra from around 55 per cent, early estimates by market tracker Counterpoint Research showed. Televisions grew to 40 per cent from 31 per cent in the same period last year, while refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines and kitchen appliances rose to 9-10 per cent from 6-8 per cent. Market research firm RedSeer Consulting said the overall online shopper base has grown by around 20 per cent this festive season compared to last year, with tier II markets contributing to almost 61 per cent of all shoppers
  • Foreign investment: India witnessed net foreign investment inflows of USD 8.3 billion in August 2021, as compared to net inflows of USD 649 million in the preceding month. Net inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to USD 5 billion from nearly USD 3 billion in July 2021. Net inflows of foreign portfolio investment (FPI) worth USD 3.3 billion were seen in August 2021, after witnessing net outflows of USD 1.6 billion in July 2021.

Thanks to ASK Capital Management Pte Ltd for the above information.

Don’t get too excited about the new India and Australia talks on CECA

The relationship between these two might hold the key to the current CECA talks

INTO INDIA is optimistic that some deals will emerge from the current round of talks on the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) – spearheaded by Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan and, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

But a look at Australia’s stance and recent Indian trade policy actions is not reassuring.

India withdrew from the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); it renegotiated a number of its free trade agreements; it terminated most of its bilateral investment agreements; and it has failed to agree a mini-economic deal with the United States. Not to mention India’s stance in the World Trade Organisation which has been unchanged.

At the domestic level, India has imposed prohibitive tariffs in several sectors and introduced a range of incentives to attract reshoring and investment.

How does Australia’s record stack up? Eager to send more resources and agriculture to India, Australia has been reluctant to allow great services access and people movement from India. This is a thorny issue.

So our word is CAUTION – don’t get your hopes up too high – there has been little progress to show after ten years of negotiations.

So, why be optimistic now?

First, Australian professional trade negotiations have loosened up on what was a cornerstone article of faith for them – preferring the “single undertaking” negotiating model – in which nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Now even they are talking about “early harvest” deals. But can they change their spots? The Morrison government, desperate for a trade win, hopes they can.

Second, India has direct concerns about China and is nervous about the US-China rivalry. It has sensibly decided to build up strategic and economic partnerships as a hedge. There is much talk in India about potentially good trade outcomes arising from China’s “trade war” on Australia.

But the stalemate is always market access.

Australia wants agriculture access – India is hesitant because this sector employs 40% of India’s population. India wants liberalisation of the services “mode 4”, specifically the short-term entry of business persons. India has argued that Australia’s short term business visitor regime constitutes a barrier to India’s services exports. Australia has pushed back on these demands, reflecting concerns at the potential impact on the labour market. In a nutshell – one big stalemate!

Overall, India is not a fan of Free Trade Agreements, seeing most of them widening its trade deficit. That is, India feels the other party benefits most. It has negotiated on five FTA’s over the last 11 years and only one has been signed.

True, India is looking eager, having revived trade talks with the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and Australia. But is it all just a lot of talk?

Remember, India is primarily after foreign investment, exports, making domestic industries competitive and incentivise other countries to manufacture in India. Can Australia play a role in any of this?

The key for Australia and India is to somehow align Australia’s export goals with India’s investment and new exports priorities.

Australia could partner India on technology, innovation and R&D.

Australian companies could boost investment into India – and there are good economic and government subsidy reasons to do so.

Australia has one big advantage here – critical minerals. India has high sustainable energy and e-mobility goals and will need these minerals.

Add to that, Australia has growing expertise in the hydrogen industry, while India has a National Hydrogen Mission. There are good R&D opportunities for both.

While India is the “pharmacy of the world”, Australia is a leader in biotech R&D. Biotech in dairy, marine and more could provide trade deal motivation.

But finally, there is the big blockage.

India wants to increase skill migration to Australia. Australia has opposed it. Most of the talks in the last decade have faltered at this point.

What has changed?

Border closures have left Australian businesses struggling to fill roles. Australia needs an ‘early harvest deal’ to attract skilled professionals from India.

So, despite the gloom of the past, there are reasons to have some optimism for these talks on CECA.

Watch this space.

Despite the huffing and puffing, China and the USA remain at the top of India’s trading partners

China trade is holding at much the same level as USA

China and the USA might fluctuate in terms of who is the biggest trading partner of India, but the one stable thing is that they both remain around the same level as India’s biggest trading partners.

If you pay attention to the posturing over border clashes with China and the “contain China” rhetoric of the QUAD, you will be surprised that very little has changed in India’s trading relationships. There might be change ahead, but it is not happening now.

In Fiscal 21, China two-way trade is at US$86 billion, USA US$80 billion, and UAE US$43 billion.

The countries that India IMPORTS vastly more than it exports are (roughly in order) China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan, Kuwait, Indonesia, Iran, Switzerland and Iraq.

While the US trade does favour the US, it is the closest major trading partner to delivering anything remotely close to trade balance – India exports roughly US$38billion while it imports US$50 billion.

Smaller partners that Indian EXPORTS dominate the relationship are Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

India now chasing trade deals – having resisted for decades

Indian PM Narendra Modi meets recently on trade with former Australian PM Tony Abbott

What has changed for India? It seems that having resisted trade deals for years, it now plans by the end of March 2022, to complete multiple quick-fire bilateral trade agreements.

Something has not changed however – the Indian government, distrustful of full scale FTA’s, is prioritizing “early harvest” pacts over comprehensive free trade agreements.

What has changed is the pandemic and the rise of China.

Therefore, the Indian government is focusing on strengthening the trade with G-7 nations with strong Indo-Pacific strategies and those with growing influence in central Asia such as the United Arab Emirates.

Australia, at a key position in the Indo-Pacific, is a high priority. As a fellow member of the QUAD, India and Australia have never been so close strategically and are keen to add trade now.

In large part, this is India’s push to do well as supply chain realignments take place – there is only a narrow window of opportunity to get these deals done.

How big is this? The government is negotiating bilateral trade agreements with 20 countries and expects to complete half a dozen deals, including those with Australia and Britain by this December and March 2022. 

India is ambitious – Mr. Piyush Goyal has set kept a target of US$ 400 billion for annual merchandise exports – almost 38% higher than US$ 290 billion achieved in last year and plans to achieve US$ 2 trillion annual merchandise exports by the end of this decade.

Outcome? Lots of deals that will not be quite world class Free Trade Agreement (FTA) but which will have some wriggle room.

New “Business Champions” group to provide much needed top level links between India and Australia

Indian Commerce Minister Mr Piyush Goyal

A new “Business Champions” group will lead top level business engagement between India and Australia – and it was launched last week in India.

INTO INDIA welcomes this move to bring the “top end” of both countries together. Business engagement at this level has not worked well in the past. Most of the business councils and chambers have provided lower level SME engagement – important as this is.

“Supply chains” is behind the enthusiasm of India for the new Australia-India Business Champions Group’s role. Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Textiles, Government of India said this when addressing the Inaugural Meeting of the Australia India Business Champions.

The Minister is co-chairing the group with Australian Trade Minister, the Hon Dan Tehan.

“The Australia-India Business Champions Group’s key aim is to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade between both the nations and pave the way for collaborative economic growth.” stated Mr. Dan Tehan MP, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, Government of Australia.

Major business organisations leading the group are the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA). Both represent almost all the major business corporations in both countries.

Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, pointed to areas such as mining, education, defence, space and emerging sectors which the group can take forward.

Ms. Jennifer Westacott AO, CEO, BCA, highlighted that we must strengthen and reform regional and global institutions, so they deliver for our citizens.  She said the Business Champions would engage directly with the top tier of Australian and Indian Governments on matters critical to business. 

Other panelists at the meeting included H E Mr. Manpreet Vohra, High Commissioner of India to Australia, H E Mr. Barry O’ Farrell AO, High Commissioner of Australia to India, Dr. Anish Shah, MD & CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, Ms. Julie Shuttleworth, CEO, FFI, Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, Mr. Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Atlassian, Mr. Nitish Jain, President, SP Jain School of Global Management, Ms. Verena Lim, Asia CEO, Macquarie Group, Mr. Girish Ramachandran, President, Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific, Professor Duncan Maskell, Vice Chancellor, University of Melbourne.