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MARKET WATCH 31 DEC 2020

NATIONAL

INTERNATIONAL

Exports may reach $290 billion by fiscal-end: FIEO

Exports, FIEO, Sharad Kumar Saraf, COVID-19 pandemic, world tradeThe country’s exports may reach USD 290 billion by the end of this fiscal as the outbound shipments were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic during the first half of the year, FIEO said on Wednesday.

Federation of Indian Exports Organisations (FIEO) President Sharad Kumar Saraf also said that 2021 would bring a ray of hope and optimism for the exporting community.

“We are confident that a V- shaped recovery will be witnessed in world trade and we will recover much more from what we lost in 2020. Since the first and second quarter have been pretty bad, we may end the financial year 2020-21 with exports of around USD 290 billion,” he said in a statement.

However, looking into the good order booking position for food including processed food, pharma, medical and diagnostic products, technical textiles, chemical, plastics, electronics and networking products, “we should endeavor to take exports to USD 350 billion in 2021-22,” he added.

He suggested that the government should focus on sectors where major imports are happening and boost traditional sectors, which are important for exports as well as employment.

During April-November 2020-21, exports dipped by 17.8 per cent to USD 173.66 billlion. India’s exports dipped by 4.78 per cent to USD 314.31 billion in 2019-20.

Source: The Financial Express

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India now second-largest producer of PPE kits: Textile ministry

India has become the world’s second-largest personal protection equipment (PPE) manufacturer with the industry worth Rs7,000 crore of 1,100 manufacturers producing 4,500,00 units daily, the Union textile ministry said on Wednesday.

PPE kits are the first line of defence for health workers against infectious diseases like Covid-19. Their production was ramped up in March amid growing demand for them as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened.

In June, the ministry allowed the export of 500,000 PPE kits. The government allowed the PPE exports amid demands from the industry for them as it started producing surplus kits.

The PPE production came as a boost for the industry as it faced nearly 84% fall in apparel sales and an acute shortage of labour due to the pandemic.

Source: Hindustan Times

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National action plan for toys industry, mega textile park scheme under consideration: Government

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday said a national action plan for the country's toys industry has been prepared with collaboration of 14 central ministries involving need-based interventions for overall development of the sector in 13 identified handicrafts toy clusters.

As part of the initiative to promote the domestic toy industry, a National Toy Fair is proposed to be held between February 27 and March 3, 2021, the textile ministry said.

The ministry said a scheme and a Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (MITRA) Park, in over 1,000 acres of land with state-of-the-art infrastructure, common utilities and R&D lab, are under consideration.

So far, 59 textile parks have been sanctioned under the Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks, out of which 22 have been completed.

The ministry also stated that it is developing an e-commerce platform through Digital India Corporation, ministry of electronics and information technology, to provide direct marketing platform to the handicraft artisans.

"In the first phase, the artisans/weavers from 205 handicrafts/handlooms clusters are being selected throughout the country for uploading the handicrafts/handlooms product on portal," the ministry said in its Year-End Review.

During the calendar year 2020, the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has made a record procurement of around 151 lakh bales under minimum support price (MSP) operations, around 290 per cent higher as against the procurement of 38.43 lakh bales a year ago, it said.

CCI has disbursed an amount of Rs 39,500 crore to 30 lakh cotton farmers towards procurement of cotton under MSP operations, which is around 265 per cent higher than the disbursement of Rs 10,800 crore in the previous year, the ministry said.

The ministry also highlighted the concerted efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in the manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It said, "With development of a new industry valuing Rs 7,000 crore with 1,100 PPE manufacturers producing a peak of 4.5 lakh units per day, India becomes second-largest PPE manufacturer in the world."

Prior to March 2020, PPE body coveralls required for use of health professionals, suitable for Covid-19 pandemic were not manufactured in India.

Besides, for promoting silk mark products on e-commerce platforms, the Silk Mark Organisation of India entered into an agreement with Amazon for online promotion of the 100 per cent pure silk products with 'Silk Mark' by the Authorized Users of Silk Mark.

"Further, discussions are also being held with Flipkart, for the online promotion of products of Silk Mark Authorized Users on their platform," stated the ministry.

Elaborating upon other major initiatives for the textile sector during the year, the ministry observed that a National Technical Textiles Mission was approved with a total outlay of Rs 1,480 crore.

The mission will aim at an average growth rate of 15-20 per cent per annum, taking the level of domestic technical textile market size to $40-50 billion by 2024.

Moreover, in support of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, necessary steps were taken to manufacture automatic reeling machine (ARM) package indigenously by involving local machinery manufacturing industries at a competitive price challenging the import of ARMs particularly from China, it stated.

The Indian textile sector is the sixth-largest exporter of textiles and apparels in the world. Its share in mercantile exports is 12 per cent and is the second-largest employment generator after agriculture.

Source: Times of India

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From pushing electric mobility to boosting textile sector, Niti Aayog charts 2021 reforms map

Accelerating electric mobility, enhancing competitiveness of textiles industry, improving credit access for small and medium enterprises, and pushing water conservation measures will dominate Niti Aayog’s to-do list in the new year as it seeks to further the government’s reforms agenda for sustained economic growth.

As the think tank continues to work with various stakeholders to boost the country’s economy, its Vice Chairman and economist Rajiv Kumar said the government has already used COVID-19 crisis for taking several steps to lay the foundation for a “rapid and sustained growth in the coming years”.

While noting that these steps and reforms have to be further consolidated, Kumar asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government is “certainly not protectionist” and has been continuously expanding the scope for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

“In the next calendar year, the Niti Aayog will be looking at several areas for pushing the reform agenda forward. These will be broadly in the field of pushing the movement on electric mobility. “… the second area that we will be working on is collaboration with the textile ministry in setting up mega textile firms which will improve the competitiveness of the textile industry, help us to expand our exports for both the fabric and the garment sectors,” he told PTI in an interview.

Besides, he said the Niti Aayog will push forward the agenda on water conservation and better water use as well as look at the possibility of improving access to formal credit for small and medium enterprises because they will be one of the pillars for Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

According to him, Niti Aayog will work on creating a body of scientific and empirical evidence to examine the appropriateness of natural farming techniques in India whose proponents have claimed that this can bring down the costs dramatically and increase farmers’ income also quite significantly.

Doubling farmers’ income is a priority for the Union government. “So, the Niti Aayog is now working closely with ICAR and other agriculture universities to have a body of empirical evidence through field trials to examine the benefits of natural farming,” Kumar said.

The government think tank will also look at the possibility of mainstreaming the use of traditional medicine and promoting integrated medicine practices as has been done in several other countries.

“Because the efficacy of traditional medicine that is AYUSH has come out as being shown to be quite high in the COVID-19 pandemic period,” he pointed out.

Niti Aayog is playing a key role in COVID-19 vaccine rollout and its member V K Paul is heading the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

Emphasising that steps have been taken to convert the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity, Kumar said, “already the economy has bounced back, much better than what all of us had expected”.

He expects the country’s economy, which contracted in the first two quarters of the current financial year, to register a small positive growth in the January-March quarter.

“It will of course grow at very high rates in 2021-22 but beyond that also it will achieve its potential rate of growth which is estimated at 7-8 per cent,” he said.

Noting that there is a need to focus on improving the global competitiveness of India’s industry and achieve global scales, Kumar said those will require the continuation of the government’s efforts to reduce logistic costs and improve credit availability for all units, especially for small and medium enterprises.

“And continue on the focus of expanding infrastructure capabilities plus promote public private partnership, so as to give larger space for private enterprise for accelerating economic growth in the country,” he opined.

On the government’s disinvestment programme, Kumar said the Niti Aayog has recommended sale of stakes in several CPSEs (Central Public Sector Enterprises) and that the Union Cabinet itself has approved more than 20 such proposals.

“So it (stake sale in CPSEs) is very much on the cards and has been on the cards for this government,” he added. Disinvestment process is progressing for various CPSEs, including Air India and BPCL.

To a query about India’s decision not to be part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Kumar said Modi government is certainly not protectionist because it has continuously expanded the scope for FDI and made it under the automatic route for most areas.

“Walking out of the RCEP was done because it was clearly seen that until we have improved our competitiveness, for which now the government is taking very active steps, joining the RCEP under the condition it was offered would not have served the national interest,” he pointed out.

According to him, India walking out of the RCEP is certainly not moving away from the country’s commitment to take a greater part in global technology, financial, goods and services flows.

The Niti Aayog Vice Chairman also noted that India still continues to have nine Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and is negotiating 19 FTAs with various countries.

“But we have to be very cognizant of which agreement serves our national interest and which does not,” he stressed.

In efforts to boost economic output, the Niti Aayog played an active role in formulating the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for ten key sectors. This year, it came out with a draft model Act and rules for states on conclusive land titling with an aim to reduce litigations and ease the land acquisition process for infrastructure projects. Also, the Niti Aayog released a draft report titled ‘Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India’.

Source: The Financial Express

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Govt extends 2019-20 ITR filing deadline till Jan 10

Extending the deadline for the third time, the government on Wednesday allowed individuals to file income tax returns for 2019-20 fiscal till January 10.

The deadline for companies and individuals who need to get their accounts audited too have been extended by 15 days till February 15, the finance ministry said in a statement.

The due date for filing income tax return (ITR) by individuals and companies was December 31, 2020, and January 31, 2021, respectively.

Over 4.54 crore ITRs for 2019-20 fiscal (assessment year 2020-21) were filed till December 28. In the comparable period last year, 4.77 crore income tax returns were filed.

At the close of deadline for filing ITRs without payment of late fees for fiscal 2018-19 (assessment year 2019-20), over 5.65 crore returns were filed by taxpayers.

The income tax department tweeted that the extension in various deadline was given in view of the continued challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting statutory compliances due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Also, the due date for filing declaration under the direct tax dispute resolution scheme Vivad Se Vishwas has been extended by a month till January 31.

The deadline for filing GST annual return for 2019-20 fiscal has been extended by 2 months till February 28, 2021.

Source: The Tribune

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Current account surplus at 2.4% of GDP in Q2, $32 billion added to reserves: RBI

India produced current account surplus for the third straight quarter in Q2FY21, but the surplus moderated to $15.5 billion or 2.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the quarter from $19.2 billion (3.8%) in Q1, according to data released by the Reserve Bank of India.

The surpluses have been enabled by a narrowing of the country’s usually very large merchandise trade deficit. This is primarily due to steeper decline in imports relative to exports, which reflects a demand slump in the economy.

Pertinently, the capital account — which is usually in considerable surplus but saw only a relatively small surplus of $1 billion in Q1— reported a robust surplus of $15.4 billion in Q2.

Strong net FDI inflows of $25.6 billion boosted the capital account in Q2 (net FDI was minus $0.8 billion in Q1), while portfolio flows also improved sequentially (net inflows of $7 billion was recorded in Q2 largely reflecting net purchases in the equity market against just $0.6 billion in Q1).

On a balance of payment basis, Q2 saw net accretion of a robust $31.6 billion to the country’s forex reserves in Q2, compared with $19.8 billion in the previous quarter.

Net purchases by portfolio (FPI) investors in the Indian equity market continued to be strong through December quarter as well (net inflows of $19.7 billion through December 20), bolstering the capital account.

The narrowing of the current account surplus in Q2 was mainly on account of a rise in the merchandise trade deficit to $14.8 billion from $10.8 billion in the preceding quarter.

However, after remaining subdued in the first two quarters of this fiscal, merchandise trade deficit started rising again since October and hit a ten-month high of $9.9 billion last month, as a Covid-induced contraction in imports narrowed.

Trade deficit touched $18.6 billion in October-November.

Net services receipts increased both sequentially and on a year-on-year basis in Q2, primarily on the back of higher net earnings from computer services.

Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, declined on a y-o-y basis but improved sequentially by 12%t to $ 20.4 billion in Q2.

Net outgo from the primary income account, primarily reflecting net overseas investment income payments, increased to $9.3 billion from $8.8 billion a year ago.

Source: The Financial Express

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India may see freakish high growth in 2021 and three things in the big picture

In 2021, India may record its fastest GDP growth in history, maybe 11-12%. This will, of course, represent the bounceback from the Covid-lockdown crash of 2020. With growth at minus 24% in the April-June quarter 2020, positive growth of 28-30% is possible in the corresponding quarter of 2021, lifting the average for the year.

Forget these freak statistics. The big picture shows three things. First, India has proved far more resilient than expected after the terrible first quarter of Covid, and this bodes well for the short term. Second, India has been resilient despite having among the smallest fiscal stimuli among major nations, which means the long-term scars of Covid (such as the debt-GDP ratio) will be correspondingly shallower, aiding the recovery in 2021. Third, Indian growth was steadily falling even before the pandemic - from 8.3% in 2016-17 to 7.0%, 6.1% and 4.2% in subsequent years. This revealed deep structural problems, so India's new normal for GDP growth may be 6% rather than 7-8% until it tackles problems leading to export stagnancy, jobs and third-rate education.

Several vaccines for Covid are about to be launched, and look like being effective even against new mutated strains. If so, the whole world will bounce back fast in 2021. World commodity prices boomed in the last quarter. Brent crude has crossed $52 per barrel.

A lot riding on consumer spending

Steel, copper and aluminium have shot up in price. Iron ore has almost doubled from its nadir in 2020.

Unquestionably manufacturing will boom in 2021, in India and in the whole world. But services account for over half of global GDP. Unless fear of Covid diminishes, services like entertainment, travel, tourism and restaurants will remain subdued. Much depends on the animal spirits - not of investors but of ordinary people fed up with being cooped up for safety for months. Quick massive vaccination followed by a spending spree on services is what India needs. Given how used Indians are to crowding, and how keen they are on pilgrimages (which account by far for the most tourism), Indian services should return to normalcy much faster than in the West.

Many analysts are pessimistic. India badly needs reforms to reverse the GDP decline from 2016-17 onward, but resistance from vested interests is strong. The farmers' agitation represents pure vested interest rather than the national interest, but shows no sign of an early end. The labour reforms proposed in 2020 are weak and incapable of convincing investors to set up factories with 50,000 workers as in Bangladesh. Land acquisition remains such a problem that India has not completed the eastern or western dedicated rail freight corridors despite 15 years of work. A strike by Uttar Pradesh power staff ended attempts at privatising power distribution in the state. The Centre is genuinely keen on privatisation, yet finds it difficult to attract bidders at reasonable prices, partly because it's unwilling to sack a single surplus worker.

Demographic dividend

One of India's main advantages is supposed to be its demographic dividend, the rise in the share of population in the working age group of 15-65.

In fact, the open unemployment rate has tripled to 6%. In most miracle economies, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) rose to 60-65%, boosting gross domestic product. In India, it has slipped to 43% in 2019-20 from 50% in 2016-17, and Covid has driven it down further to 39%. Useless colleges are churning out unemployable graduates. Female urban labour participation is barely 14%, among the lowest in the world, because urban women fear rape, molestation and robbery. Without huge social and legal changes, India is going to miss out on its demographic dividend.

On the positive side, government capacity has improved a lot. Very few countries could in a short time have opened 350 million bank accounts for the unbanked, provided 80 million cooking gas connections or 100 million toilets for the poor. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform is promoting the digitisation of payments impressively. Despite glitches and exaggerations galore in government figures, the improvement in government capacity is a clear plus.

Pessimists think, post-Covid, India will be lucky to achieve 4-5% GDP growth. Yet gross fixed capital formation has remained at 29% even in the Covid-stricken months. This is down from a peak of 37%. But if fixed investment is 30% of GDP, a reasonable incremental capital-output ratio (ICOR) of 4 will yield 7.5% growth.

Even a poor ICOR of 5 will yield 6% growth. Many analysts keep saying that "nobody is investing" but that is plain false. Gross fixed capital formation remains as high as 30% of GDP and could pick up once Covid passes. This is possibly the greatest cause for hope, for it could not be this high unless many things were actually working out.

Source: The Economic Times

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Budget imperatives for a resurgent India

The three pillars on which the next Union Budget should be built are:

  • Sustainability and regeneration
  • Education and health for all and
  • a blockchained, honest India

We proceed to elaborate on each of the above:

India will emerge as “Sustainability, Regeneration and Reassignment of assets” capital of the world. For the first time in history, some of the old and decaying fossil fuel based plants and assets will be mothballed. Enterprises like Air India and BPCL will be sold and many will have their surplus assets sold. A large part of the resource generation will be from this source.

In the private sector too, the concept of ‘Gross zero’ will be deployed. Incentives will be provided for 3–D printing driven manufacturing with non-renewable power. Centre-State- company-individual strategies & resource allocation will follow E.S.G. principles. The entire exercise will be driven by subsumed 17 SDGs: No poverty; no hunger; good health & wellbeing; quality education; gender equality; clean water; sanitation; affordable, clean energy; decent work and 10% + Economic Growth; industry innovation & Infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities & communities; responsible consumption & production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace justice and strong institutions; partnerships for the goals.

Reporting will be on 6 capitals. From the current level of 80 companies reporting on Integrated Reports, the number will rise to 800 companies. Natural, human, financial, manufactured, social relationship & intellectual capital will be reported on using metrics like: Environment performance index; Human capital/ Happiness index; clean GDP per capita; Asset reassignment; regeneration Index; gross trust Index.

New mind-sets of abundance; moon shots; Massive transformative purpose; exponentiality; gratitude & innovation will drive actions. Digital era constructs: digitize, disrupt deceive, dematerialize, demonetarise, delocalise, democratise will be widely deployed to enable growth to touch 10%+!

India will certainly emerge as the Largest Producer and buyer of Vaccinations on Earth. By end of fiscal 22-22, India will have the most number of vaccinated humans in the world. Yoga, Meditation, running, walking, nutraceuticals and preventive healthcare are set to explode.

Breakthrough Innovations in DNA Mapping, Blood test based Early warning system on major diseases including cancer will emerge in India next year. Once the Genome and the gut micro biome are mapped in a large number of cases, diet and supplement regimes will proliferate to enhance the quality of nutrition dramatically. Far healthier food will be produced and consumed as land gets allocated more scientifically to healthier food.

Protein extraction for consumption from Moong will become an egg substitute. Cellular Agriculture - animal cell extraction, culturing and production of meat, chicken, fish & eggs at scale will be licenced as has happened in Singapore. As complete re-cropping takes place  during 2021, a protein explosion in Indian diets will be established.

Chief cause of many aliments will reduce /disappear as Nutrition levels will rise dramatically. For the first time in our history, telemedicine, e- commerce in pharmaceutical distribution and technology driven home care will emerge. The budget allocation will rise to support health care for all.

As the new education policy gets implemented by all states, Phygital school will emerge all over India. Where possible, physical schools will be speed built. Elsewhere digital schools will get established. Many schools will be VR -AR enabled.

This will make education experiential. The best teachers from anywhere in the world will be imported into classrooms who can use the best content that is already available. Live, interactive video, in full functionality will be deployed using the spatial web & quantum computing

Emerging and widely deployed block chain technology will usher in honesty:

The most valuable digital transformation will emerge as Block chain drives RBI issued digital currency. The only way to reduce usage of currency notes is by substituting them by crypto currency. To facilitate seamless conversions, crypto exchanges will convert digital currency to fiat currency and also the other way around. As settlement systems become more reliable and robust, a new reliability and trust in the digital currency will emerge. This process can be kick started by appropriate policy announcements in the budget.

Accounting, GST, Auditing, cloud computing will all be increasingly blockchained. This will lead to Clean, reliable data. Data led lending, monitoring, recovery, scoring, and regulations can then take full root. This is the only way forward to reducing the NPAs in the system as records are subjected to Governance which is secure and private. Also as data becomes immutable, the manipulation will be reduced considerably and will permit a new reliable, trustworthy Financial system to emerge

Besides these deployment and policy announcements, the next Union Budget is expected to:

Stabilise and simplify the law, enable swift disposal of pending tax cases and in General cater to the easing of taxpayer burden.

Attract investment from both domestic and international sources.

Completely rationalise and simplify the rate structure in GST.

As Government gets out of business in a determined manner, eases the life of citizens, delivers Universal basic income and services, curtails the financial manipulation and simplifies and stabilises the laws, citizens will respond with greater voluntary compliance and the tax to GDP ratio will soar. India will be on an irreversible path of sustainable and green growth.

Source: The Economic Times

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India eyes asset sales to partly fund higher spending next year - sources

After largely keeping its purse strings in check as the coronavirus pandemic choked businesses and threw millions out of jobs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is keen to bring the economy back onto a solid growth path with the budget to be presented on Feb. 1.

Actual spending in the current fiscal year ending March 31 could be lower than the original target of 30.4 trillion rupees, but will be higher than last year’s 26.86 trillion rupees, one of the sources said.

“Supporting growth (and) infrastructure spending is the priority now, not fiscal-deficit math,” said one of the sources.

“But it is not that the spending will suddenly increase from 30 to 35 trillion rupees (when) our revenues are falling. The only ways to generate funds are through asset sales and borrowing.”

Both sources declined to identified as they were not authorised to discuss budget deliberations.

The Ministry of Finance did not respond to an email seeking comment.

India had aimed to raise more than $28 billion this fiscal year by selling stakes in companies such as Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd, Container Corp of India, Shipping Corp of India and Air India, and by listing Life Insurance Corp, but the pandemic delayed the process.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Reuters early this month that the economy would expand in the next financial year and that if “I don’t spend now the revival is going to get deferred and we can’t afford that”.

For the current fiscal year, India’s deficit is likely to rise to 12 trillion rupees to 13 trillion rupees, much higher than the budgeted 7.9 trillion, mainly due to a revenue shortfall of 5 trillion rupees to 6 trillion rupees, said one of the sources.

India’s economy contracted a record 23.9% in the June quarter, before recovering slightly to contract 7.5% in September quarter.

($1 = 73.2336 Indian rupees)

Source: Reuters India

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Import monitoring system being developed for several sectors: Commerce Ministry

The commerce ministry on Wednesday said an import monitoring system is being developed for several sectors, including aluminium, copper, footwear, furniture, sports goods, and gym equipment. The system would help gather advanced information on imports of these products and make it available to the stakeholders, including government and domestic industries. The system is already in place for steel and coal.

"Import monitoring system (IMS) is being developed for aluminium, copper, footwear, furniture, paper, sports goods, gym equipment etc," the ministry said while enlisting significant highlights of the Department of Commerce during 2020.

It also said that India had supplied around 45 tons and 400 million tablets of Hydroxychloroquine to about 114 countries.

Besides, the country has provided around 96 million tablets of Paracetamol to 24 countries.

For trade facilitation, about a 1.3 lakh Certificate of Origin has been issued through an electronic platform, it said.

During April 1 and December 30, the directorate general of trade remedies (DGTR) has initiated 43 anti-dumping, four countervailing duty, and one safeguard investigations to support domestic manufacturers.

"Average time taken to initiate an anti-dumping investigation has been brought down from 43 days in 2018-19 to 33 days in 2019-20 and the average time for completing an investigation has been brought down to 234 days in 2019-20, from 281 days during 2018-19 and more than 400 days in previous years," it added.

Technical regulations were formulated for 176 products (worth USD 49.9 billion), and similar norms for 371 goods are in progress.

Further, the ministry said that till  date, a total of 40 projects have been approved under the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES), out of which eight projects have been completed.

Till date, a total of 40 projects have been approved under the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES), out of which eight projects have been completed.

The scheme helps involve states in promoting export activities in the country.

Source: The Economic Times

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Top ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ Technology Developments in 2020

The Chinese dominance in the sewing technology is well known and India-China standoff amidst widespread COVID-19 pandemic in the early quarters of 2020 made things difficult for the manufacturing business in the country, which is largely dependent on the Chinese players.

That was the time when PM Narendra Modi called for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mantra and urged the industries across India to reduce dependency on overseas players.

As PPE (especially face masks and body coveralls) was the product which kept apparel manufacturers engaged and survived particularly in the second quarter of 2020, it was a necessity for the country’s manufacturers to step up and support the industry with the locally made technologies.

Not just PPE, the industry also opened doors for many areas where technology and innovations could be applied for better outputs. Team Apparel Resources has made a list of these indigenous developments.

  • A number of domestic launches in ‘Hot Air Seam Sealing Machine’ for PPE products
  • India came up with its own engineered hot air seam sealing machines amidst rising demand of PPE kits in the domestic medical industry.
  • One of the first to develop this machine was Vardhaman Nissinbo under the brand name Reliable.
  • Another development done was from Abhishek Industries which designed and produced its first hot air seam sealing machine called Panther in-house in just 15 days.
  • 4 Tirupur-based firms developed hot air seam sealing machine – Sealking
  • Details of Sealking: https://in.apparelresources.com/technology-news/manufacturing-tech/4-tirupur-based-firms-develop-hot-air-seam-sealing-machine-boost-make-india-project/
  • Rajkot-based firm introduced Macpower CNC

Details of Macpower CNC: https://in.apparelresources.com/business-news/manufacturing/manpower-launches-hot-seam-sealing-machine-ppe-production/

•             In-house development of Mask Making Machines was too taken care of by the Indian companies

•             Pelican’s ‘Made in Rajkot’ machine is a major techno feat…First-ever indigenously developed N-95 mask machine!

Gujarat has been one of the worst pandemic-hit states in the country and that’s why one of the leaders in technology – Pelican Rotoflex – joined hands with Raju Engineers Pvt. Ltd. (both Rajkot-based) to develop an automatic mask machine domestically in their endeavour towards ending India’s dependence of such machines on other countries, to certain extent.

This machine is by far India’s first fully automatic machine for N-95 masks which has been conceptualised, designed and built within a short time of just 3 weeks! All the components used to assemble machine have been manufactured by Pelican in-house. This is a major push ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ concept has got especially in N-95 mask manufacturing.

•             MaskJet: A ‘Made in India’ Product offered by ColorJet

Already a known name in digital printing and one of the first ‘Made in India’ promoters, ColorJet has always stayed ahead with its locally developed technologies. When COVID-19 hit India, the company indigenously developed MaskJet which is a mask making machine and is used to manufacture non-woven disposable face masks.

The machine is suitable for non-woven fabric, activated carbon and filter material from 3-4 layers. MaskJet is also able to finish all the processing from the feeding to nose-clip fixing, edge sealing to cutting the finished products. The production capacity is 60 pcs per minute while it runs on optimum speed.

Source: Apparel Online

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INTERNATIONAL

BKMEA urges to withhold 5% workers wage increment for 2 years

According to the present lowest wage structure for garment workers, a worker is eligible for an increment on their basic salary of Tk 8,000 a month.

The rule was set in September 2018, and it is scheduled to increase by 5% by the end of this year. Given the current scenario of the overall fashion industry, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the platform of 2,300-odd knitwear factories, has demanded the Bangladesh government to delay the application of the annual wage hike for garment workers for the next two years.

AKM Salim Osman, President, BKMEA said, “It has become very hard to pay workers their wages regularly due to the pandemic.”

Also, the fashion brands and buyers are delaying the payment up to 180 to 200 days, said BKMEA.

“In the meantime, it is not clear to any of us when the situation would be normal, while global buyers are not placing work orders as they are wary about the present situation.”

While many countries, plus Bangladesh, have reduced wages and allowances in different sectors, it is not wise for the apparel sector to raise wages by 5% as per the facility of the minimum readymade garment (RMG)workers wage, experts opined.

On the other hand, the worker unions have voiced their strong concern against such move.

SOURCE: Textiles Today

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adidas aims to use sustainable materials in 60% of its products in 2021

The German sportswear giant has pledged that 2021 will see the retailer include sustainable materials like recycled polyester and sustainably grown cotton in over 60 per cent of the apparels and footwear that it plans to sell.

The long-term goal is to use exclusively recycled polyester by 2024.

In 2021, adidas will also be looking at supporting the development of circular production models through research partnerships, which will include efforts to convert used clothes into a cotton-like material.

Here it is pertinent to state that the purchase and development of new recyclable materials will be partially funded by a sustainability bond that adidas had issued few months back. It was, notably, valued at US $ 600 million.

Besides, adidas also plans to make 17 million pairs of shoes in 2021, which will be made from recyclable plastic waste collected from beaches and coastal areas.

Sustainability has always been a part of business philosophy of adidas and the fashion label has made it clear that 2021 is going to be no different.

Source: Apparel Resources

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Trump lashes out at GOP after override vote on defense bill

President Donald Trump lashed out at congressional Republicans on Tuesday after the House easily voted to override his veto of a defense policy bill.

A total of 109 Republicans, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a member of GOP leadership, joined with Democrats on Monday to approve the override, which would be the first of Trump’s presidency. The Senate is expected to consider the measure later this week.

Trump slammed GOP lawmakers on Twitter, charging that “Weak and tired Republican ‘leadership’ will allow the bad Defense Bill to pass.″

Trump called the override vote a “disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech. Negotiate a better Bill, or get better leaders, NOW! Senate should not approve NDAA until fixed!!!″

The 322-87 vote in the House sends the override effort to the Senate, where the exact timing of a vote is uncertain.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants a vote as soon as Wednesday, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders objected to moving ahead until McConnell allows a vote on a Trump-backed plan to increase COVID-19 relief payments to $2,000.

“Let me be clear: If Sen. McConnell doesn’t agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year’s Eve,” said Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. “Let’s do our job.”

McConnell said Tuesday that approval of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is crucial to the nation’s defense and to “deter great-power rivals like China and Russia.”

The bill “will cement our advantage on the seas, on land, in the air, in cyberspace and in space,” McConnell said. The bill also provides a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops, improvements for military housing, child care and more, McConnell said.

“For the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces, failure is not an option. So when it is our turn in Congress to have their backs, failure is not an option here either,” he said.

Trump rejected the defense measure last week, saying it failed to limit social media companies he claims were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign. Trump also opposes language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after the House vote that lawmakers have done their part to ensure the NDAA becomes law “despite the president’s dangerous sabotage efforts.”

Trump’s “reckless veto would have denied our service members hazard-duty pay,” removed key protections for global peace and security and ”undermined our nation’s values and work to combat racism, by blocking overwhelmingly bipartisan action to rename military bases,” Pelosi said.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was “disappointed” with Trump’s veto and called the bill “absolutely vital to our national security and our troops.”

“This is the most important bill we have,” Inhofe said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “It puts members of the military first.”

Trump has succeeded throughout his four-year term in enforcing party discipline in Congress, with few Republicans willing to publicly oppose him. The bipartisan vote on the widely popular defense bill showed the limits of Trump’s influence in the final weeks before he leaves office, and came minutes after 130 House Republicans voted against a Trump-supported plan to increase COVID-19 relief checks to $2,000. The House approved the larger payments, but the plan faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate, another sign of Trump’s fading hold over Congress.

Besides social media and military base names, Trump also said the defense bill restricts his ability to conduct foreign policy, “particularly my efforts to bring our troops home.” Trump was referring to provisions in the bill that impose conditions on his plan to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan and Germany. The measures require the Pentagon to submit reports certifying that the proposed withdrawals would not jeopardize U.S. national security.

The House veto override was supported by 212 Democrats, 109 Republicans and an independent. Twenty Democrats opposed the override, along with 66 Republicans and an independent.

The Senate approved the bill 84-13 earlier this month, well above the margin needed to override a presidential veto. Trump has vetoed eight other bills, but those were all sustained because supporters did not gain the two-thirds vote needed in each chamber for the bills to become law without Trump’s signature.

Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s declaration that China benefited from the defense bill was false. He also noted the shifting explanations Trump had given for the veto.

“From Confederate base names to social media liability provisions … to imaginary and easily refutable charges about China, it’s hard to keep track of President Trump’s unprincipled, irrational excuses for vetoing this bipartisan bill,” Reed said.

Reed called the Dec. 23 veto “Trump’s parting gift to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and a lump of coal for our troops. Donald Trump is showing more devotion to Confederate base names than to the men and women who defend our nation.”

The defense bill guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, personnel policy and other military goals. Many programs, including military construction, can only go into effect if the bill is approved.

Source: New Delhi Times

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