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MARKET WATCH 08 FEB, 2019

NATIONAL

INTERNATIONAL

450 textile mills in Surat to implement energy efficiency measures

About 450 textiles dyeing and printing mills located in the city and surrounding talukas of Surat district will be first in the country to implement energy efficiency measures to promote more cleaner and competitive MSME sector. Ministry of MSME and South Gujarat Textile Processors’ Association (SGTPA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for providing dedicated world-class technology support to implement energy efficient and eco-friendly technology and modernization of the textile mills in Surat cluster on Thursday. Industry sources said the project ‘promoting market transformation for energy efficiency in MSME’, a joint initiative conceptualized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the office of the development commissioner of MSME, will be implemented in Surat cluster soon. The project targets to create and sustain a revolving fund mechanism as a mode to ensure replication of energy efficiency measures in the textile mills. SGTPA president Jitu Vakharia told TOI, “About 450 textile mills in Surat city and nearby areas will get benefit under the project to be implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) on behalf of the MSME ministry. The project will provide energy and water conservation solutions for the textile mills, thereby saving about 15 per cent of water and energy requirement in the industry.” Vakharia added, “The project envisages replacing the existing machinery and equipment in the textile mills, including boilers, motors, drum dryers, screw compressors etc. The mill owners will have to spend 20% of the cost of replacement of the machineries, whereby the rest will be paid by the government under the project.” Vakharia said regular audit will be conducted by the EESL of the member units periodically to gauge saving of energy, including water and electricity. The saving by each of the mills will be refunded to them at the end of the energy audit.

Source: Times of India

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Surat Municipal Corporation seals more textile godowns for causing traffic congestion

SURAT: Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has swung into action by sealing some more transport godowns located in other parts of the city on Thursday. The textile goods transporters in city’s Bhatena had knocked the doors of Gujarat High Court against the action by the SMC for sealing 58 transport godowns. The transporters submitted to the high court that they were not against the SMC’s action, but want all the other transport godowns be also sealed and shifted to the outskirts of the city. The SMC’s Limbayat zone had earlier sealed about 58 godowns in Bhatena’s Umarpada area, which are located along BRTS canal road. The godowns were sealed because of heavy traffic issues during peak hours. On Thursday, the SMC’s Limbayat zone officials sealed 26 transport godowns at Bharat Nagar in Anjana. All the transport godowns were being operated from rented premises and the civic body had been giving the owners ultimatum for the last four years to shift the godowns out of the city. Bhairav Desai, Limbayat Zone executive engineer, told TOI, “The transporters were asked to shift their godowns out of the city four years ago. Following orders, we had to seal 26 godowns at Bharatnagar. More textile godowns are likely to be sealed in the coming days. The godowns are the biggest bottlenecks for the growing traffic problems in areas like Bhatena, Umarwada and Anjana.” Pavan Sharma, a textile godown owner at Bhatena, said, “We are happy with the action taken by the SMC to seal transport godowns in other parts of the city. We are ready to shift out of the city limits, but all the godowns should be shifted at one go”.

Source: Times of India

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India vaults eight slots to 36th rank in IP index

However, US body red-flags ‘serious challenges’ on the patent front. Acknowledging the improvement in India’s innovation ecosystem, the US Chamber of Commerce has moved India up eight places in its international intellectual property (IP) index by ranking it 36th amongst 50 countries in 2019. “The improvement reflects important reforms implemented by Indian policy makers toward building and sustaining an innovation ecosystem for domestic entrepreneurs and foreign investors alike,” the report card, released by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) on Thursday, pointed out. “The reforms that helped improve India’s ranking include its accession to the WIPO Internet Treaties, the agreement to initiate a Patent Prosecution Highway with international offices, a dedicated set of IP incentives for small business and administrative reforms,” said Patrick Kilbride, Senior Vice President of GIPC.

Key issues

The report also focuses on thorny issues. According to the report, the key problems in India include barriers to licensing and technology transfer, strict registration requirements, limited framework for the protection of bio-pharmaceutical IP rights, patentability requirements outside international standards, lengthy pre-grant opposition proceedings and previously used compulsory licensing for commercial and non-emergency situations. “If India can surmount the serious challenges that remain, including with regard to patent eligibility and enforcement, it can build a robust innovation-led growth model for other countries to emulate,” Kilbride said. While the report suggests that India’s patent rules are over and above global norms, New Delhi has been steadily refuting it by stressing that it is in strict adherence to World Trade Organisation’s TRIPS mandate. The report ranks economies based on 45 indicators covering patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets protection. For the second year in a row, India’s score represented the largest gain of any country measured on the index, which covers over 90 per cent of global gross domestic product, the report said. Last year, India had ranked 44th of 50 economies in the index.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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Indo-Africa Strategic Economic Co-operation session holds in New Delhi on Feb 6

The Commerce Minister said that synergy that exists between India and Africa can be gauged from the recent robust trends in Indo-Africa trade relations. India has strong ties with Africa for centuries, and in recent times our development and economic partnership have become stronger. India and African countries share common interests in inclusive growth, trade and investment, and resilient economic partnerships. This was stated by Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu while addressing the interactive session on Indo-Africa Strategic Economic Co-operation in New Delhi yesterday. Suresh Prabhu said that the impressive growth in trade between Africa and India stems from a mix of factors, including a growing stock of foreign direct investment undertaken by African and Indian corporate entities and deepening economic and political ties illustrated by a number of strategic initiatives, particularly "Focus Africa" launched by the Government of India in 2002 to boost trade and investment between Africa and India. Other key drivers include the Government of India's Duty-Free Tariff Preference Scheme for Least Developed Countries launched in 2008 which has benefitted 34 African countries, Suresh Prabhu added. The Commerce Minister said that synergy that exists between India and Africa can be gauged from the recent robust trends in Indo-Africa trade relations. Bilateral trade between Africa and India has increased from around USD 7 billion in 2001 to about USD 78 billion in 2014, before moderating to USD 60 billion in 2017, reflecting a commodity price decline. The Minister said that while these initiatives bode well for bilateral trade, there remains substantial untapped trade potential. As per a joint study conducted by Exim Bank of India and Afreximbank, the value of untapped bilateral trade potential between India and Africa is more than USD 42 billion. Suresh Prabhu further stated that a multi-pronged strategy is needed to provide a more holistic and sustainable approach for tapping this untapped potential. He said that any strategy for enhancing bilateral trade between Africa-India will therefore critically hinge on the scope for value chain integrations in various manufacturing and services segments. The Commerce Minister expressed hope that a resurgent Africa and a rising India can create a new paradigm for South-South Cooperation. He stressed on the need for right kind of investments in Africa, focusing on accessing the market coupled with the development of manufacturing capacities, seeking low-cost labour while focusing on human resource development and exploring the natural resources along with improving the infrastructural facilities. Speaking on the occasion, Commerce Secretary, Dr Anup Wadhawan said that Africa-India economic relations have grown from strength to strength over the years, and the partnership has entered a new era, underscored by stronger economic links and a mutually trusted development partnership. Dr Wadhawan said that India has emerged as an important development partner in the continent and the volumes of development assistance have increased manifold. African countries account for nearly 40% of operational Lines of Credit (LOC) extended by the Government of India. This increase in Indian development assistance is coming at a time when foreign aid of most developed countries has been registering a decline, Commerce Secretary added.

Source: Devdiscourse

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Nepal, India review trade treaty

Senior officials from Nepal and India met on Thursday in Pokhara to review the trade treaty between the two neighbours. The Indian delegation is led by Bhupinder Singh Bhalla, Joint Secretary (South Asia), Department of Commerce, while Ravi Shankar Saiju, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies is leading the Nepalese delegation during the two-day meeting. This is the second Nepal-India Joint Secretary-level meeting to review the trade treaty that was signed between the two countries in 2009. During the two-day meeting, India will respond to Nepal's proposal of updating treaty submitted in the first meeting held in New Delhi in August 2018, officials said. Nepal has requested India to help reduce its increasing trade deficit through free access for its products in Indian market. In April last year, India and Nepal agreed to review trade treaty to further promote trade and investments between the two countries.

Source: CIOL

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EY launches GST DigiLearn – A cloud-based digital learning solution to support GST training needs

EY announced the launch of GST DigiLearn, a comprehensive, cloud-based digital learning solution to provide systematic and structured training support to meet the GST training needs across an organization. The solution contains the latest GST changes and offers advanced modular packs specifically meant for key functions – sales, procurement, legal, tax and accounts. Built by EY subject matter and digital learning experts, GST DigiLearn offers 35 training modules with a total duration of 25 hours. It’s available online and equipped to address potential and practical issues pertaining to GST. Additionally, the tool provides real-life business case-studies, with a focus on story-based and application-oriented learning approach. Uday Pimprikar, Partner & National Leader, Indirect Tax, EY India commenting on the launch, says: “The GST framework contains several nuances that are novel and do not have precedents. Structured education, imparting up to date and practical knowledge focusing on operational aspects of GST is an essential requirement to ensure efficiencies for organisations. GST DigiLearn meets these requirements by providing a comprehensive and updated GST training curriculum. It offers a flexible and agile modular delivery to organizations, helping them fully realize the benefits of GST while meeting compliance requirements in the most digital and user-friendly manner.” GST DigiLearn is relevant for senior management, functional heads, vendors, customers and other users. This solution is easily accessible on laptops/tablets. Anurag Malik, Partner & India Workforce Advisory Leader, EY India says:  “As organizations adapt to GST, the need for learning sessions across industries and functions to understand GST and its nuances has significantly increased. GST DigiLearn is a cloud based GST learning platform which can be accessed anywhere, anytime across a variety of platforms (laptops, desktops and tablets). It has been developed to cater to critical learning needs of an organization, be it small or large, and empower the stakeholders to tackle any issues with respect to GST.”

Uday Pimprikar, added:

“Further the GST legislation is expected to witness frequent clarifications and amendments issued with a view to reduce ambiguities and remove areas of concerns. In addition, the integrated framework mandated by the legislation means that an organisation’s compliance efficacy is dependent on the understanding of the legislation by internal functions as well as by the external stakeholders namely vendors, customers, etc. EY GST DigiLearn solution addresses both these scenarios to drive maximum value to organizations.”

Source: CIOL

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Rupee gains 11 paise to 71.45 vs USD after RBI rate cut

Mumbai: The rupee Thursday appreciated by 11 paise to close at 71.45 against the US dollar after the Reserve Bank of India cut the repo rate and changed its policy stance to 'neutral'. Forex traders said the domestic currency gained strength after the Reserve Bank of India Thursday cut benchmark lending rate by 0.25 percentage point to 6.25 per cent. Moreover, easing crude prices and fresh foreign fund inflows also propped up the local unit. This is the third consecutive session of appreciation for the rupee, during which it has gained 35 paise. "Rupee appreciated after RBI's rate cut decision," HDFC Securities Head PCG & Capital Markets Strategy V K Sharma said. He further said that the rupee and 10-year gilt prices gained Thursday after the Reserve Bank of India cut the repo rate and changed its policy stance to 'neutral' from 'calibrated tightening'. The RBI also announced removal of a restriction on foreign portfolio investor from having an exposure of more than 20 per cent of its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate. At the Interbank Foreign Exchange, the rupee opened on a weak note at 71.73 a dollar. The local unit moved in a range of 71.76 to 71.30 during the session before finally ending at 71.45, a gain of 11 paise over its last close. On Wednesday, the rupee had settled 1 paise higher at 71.56 against the US dollar. Rushabh Maru - Research Analyst, Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers, however, noted that the appreciation in the rupee is a temporary phenomenon. Globally crude oil prices are rising gradually and is a matter of concern for the markets. Besides, trade tension and geopolitical matters also remain cause of worry. "Hence we expect the rupee to trade in 71-72 range in the near term with the currency continuing it's depreciation bias," he said. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was trading at USD 62.33 per barrel, lower by 0.57 per cent. Meanwhile, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth a net of Rs 418.01 crore, and domestic institutional investors (DIIs) purchased shares worth Rs 294.11 crore Thursday, provisional data showed. Benchmark equity indices gave up gains to end almost flat on Thursday as investors booked profits at higher levels, after the the Reserve Bank surprisingly reduced the repo rate by 25 basis points. After rising nearly 200 points, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 4.14 points, or 0.01 per cent, lower at 36,971.09; while the broader Nifty settled 6.95 points, or 0.06 per cent, higher at 11,069.40. The dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.21 per cent to 96.59. The Financial Benchmark India Private Ltd (FBIL) set the reference rate for the rupee/dollar at 71.4688 and for rupee/euro at 81.2024. The reference rate for rupee/British pound was fixed at 92.4478 and for rupee/100 Japanese yen at 65.00.

Source: Times of India

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ITMA 2019 forums to host speakers from nonwovens sector

ITMA 2019 will be complemented by several key nonwovens, and chemical, and colourant forums, two of which are the ITMA-EDANA Nonwovens Forum and Textile Colourant and Chemical Leaders Forum. The leading international textile and garment technology exhibition will be held from June 20-26, 2019, at Barcelona, Spain, organised by ITMA Services. The Nonwovens Forum is jointly organised by ITMA and Edana. To be held on June 21, 2019, it will highlight the latest innovations in nonwovens. The theme of the forum is ‘Nonwovens Manufacturing Processes for the 21st Century: More Flexible, More Efficient, More Sustainable’, according to a press release on the show. Providing the latest industry insights will be keynote speaker David Allan, editor, Nonwovens, RISI (United States). His presentation is titled ‘Global Trends in Nonwoven Processes under Economic and Sustainability Constraints’. The forum will feature three sessions, circular economy/challenges & opportunities for processing bio-based & recycled materials on nonwovens machinery; latest trends and innovation in nonwoven processes – including hybrids and composites; and innovations in nonwovens technology. In addition, there will be a panel discussion with experts from leading centres of excellence in nonwovens who will exchange their views on the nonwoven processes of the 2030s. The third Textile Colourant and Chemical Leaders Forum to be held on June 23, 2019, will focus on the circular economy and resource sustainability strategy and how innovation will drive future industry success. Launched at ITMA 2011, the forum, is an industry initiative that draws lively participation from dyestuff, colour and chemical professionals from around the world. Themed ‘Meeting Resource Challenges in the Circular Economy’, the 2019 forum explores how textile chemicals and innovative and cleaner technologies can help create a more sustainable future for the textile and garment industry. Presentations at the forum are clustered into three sessions; resource management and Industry 4.0; responding to sustainability challenges with innovation; and envisioning the future of the colourant and chemical industry. Speakers confirmed for the forum include Christina Raab, global implementation director of The ZDHC Foundation. She will speak on the role of chemistry for circularity in textile, leather and fibre production. She will also elaborate on ZDHC’s approach and tools to drive the transition and uptake of safer and more circular chemistry, as well as the current state and findings of circular implementation projects from the sector. Another speaker is Dunja Drmac, sustainability officer of the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX). Her presentation will enlighten participants on resource sustainability and relevant strategies in the journey towards a circular economy. In addition to the forums, other knowledge sharing activities include the ITMA Innovation Lab. An important element of the lab is the ITMA Speakers Platform, where all ITMA exhibitors have been invited to participate. The platform will be complemented by a video showcase. A new highlight, the ITMA Innovation Video Showcase will provide a new channel for visitors to learn more about innovative exhibits at ITMA 2019. (GK)

Source: Fibre2fashion

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Cotton imports to surge by 80% as output hits 9-year low: Report

The country could import 2.7 million bales in 2018/19 marketing year ending on September 30, up from 1.5 million bales a year ago, he said. India's cotton imports are likely to jump 80 per cent from a year ago as production could fall to the lowest level in nine years due to low rainfall in key growing region, a senior industry official told Reuters on Thursday. Higher imports by the world's biggest cotton producer could support global prices, trading near their lowest in more than a year. The drop in Indian supplies could help rivals such as the United States, Brazil and Australia increase cargoes to key Asian buyers such as China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. "The production is not sufficient to fulfil local consumption. From March onwards imports will pick up," said Atul Ganatra, president of the Cotton Association of India (CAI). The country could import 2.7 million bales in 2018/19 marketing year ending on September 30, up from 1.5 million bales a year ago, he said. Spinning mills have imported 548,000 bales by the end of January out of total contracts of 1 million bales signed so far in the current marketing year, Ganatra said. India imports cotton mainly from the United States, Brazil and Egypt. "Due to dry weather farmers were forced to uproot plants early. They couldn't go for third and fourth picking," he said. Rains in Gujarat and Maharashtra, which account for more than half of India's cotton production, were nearly a quarter below normal during the June-September monsoon season in 2018. India is likely to produce 33 million bales in the current season, down from earlier estimate of 33.5 million bales and last year's output of 36.5 million bales, CAI estimates. The drop-in output is likely to lead to lower cotton shipments from India. India's exports could fall 27.5 per cent from a year ago to 5 million bales, the lowest level in a decade, Ganatra said. In June, traders were expecting India to export as much as 10 million bales amid strong demand from China due to the trade dispute between Beijing and Washington. Trade bodies have been reducing cotton production estimates for the current season due to low rainfall and as pest attacks curtail per-hectare yields. Indian farmers have adopted genetically-modified seeds known as Bt cotton that are resistant to boll worms, but it hasn't stopped infestations. Pink boll worms consume the fibre and seeds inside a cotton plant's boll, or fruit, and yields fall.

Source: Business Standard

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High-Level China-US Trade Talks to Resume Next Week

High-level talks between the United States and China are set to resume next week in hopes of ending an escalating trade war between the two economic superpowers. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed to reporters Wednesday at the White House that he and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are headed to Beijing “with a large team.” Both the Americans and Chinese express a desire to reach an agreement to avert a March 2 deadline imposed by Washington for an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese products. If no deal is achieved, tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods will increase from 10 percent to 25 percent. “These are very complicated issues. We’re making progress, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Mnuchin told reporters. Talks held last week in Washington among negotiators for the two countries were very productive, according to the treasury secretary. U.S. President Donald Trump, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, said any new trade deal with China “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs.” Trump previously had indicated he might travel to Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping to finalize a deal. “We’ll see what progress is made next week,” responded Mnuchin when asked Wednesday about that. “There’s no plan set at the moment but right now we’re focused on next week and making more progress.” The discussions center on demands from Washington for Beijing to make deep structural changes to its economic and trade policies. The United States wants China to reduce subsidies for government-run industries, increase purchases of American agricultural and manufactured products, end forced technology transfers and improve protections for U.S. intellectual property. There have been reports that aggressive cyber hacking by China also will be added to the agenda of next week’s talks. “We’ve always talked about cyber issues. This is something we’ve been consistently talking about with them and the importance of them adhering to the cyber agreements,” Mnuchin responded to a question from VOA on this topic. “This is not a new issue. This has been on the agenda.” Trump last Friday said ending the trade war with China could produce the “biggest deal ever made.” If the talks collapse, however, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development is warning the repercussions will go well beyond the trans-Pacific trading route. UNCTAD predicts that if the increased tariffs go into effect next month, there will be a downturn in the global economy and instability in commodities and financial markets; however, the European Union would stand to benefit, capturing about $70 billion of U.S.-China bilateral trade, while Japan, Mexico and Canada would each take more than $20 billion.

Source: New Delhi Times Bureau

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Pakistan: New industrial and tariff policy soon

Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood has said the government would announce soon the new industrial and national tariff policy in consultation with all stakeholders and was taking steps to enhance inter-provincial coordination. Razzak Dawood said this in a recent meeting with members of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Karachi, a private news channel reported on Thursday. He said this year, the incumbent government with effective measures of promoting the country’s exports products would make a huge breakthrough of achieving the export target of 27 billion dollars.He said the PTI government was efficiently managing the financial matters of the country and taking consolidated steps to boost the national economy through increasing its trade and export activities. He said the countries, including China, Japan, Indonesia and others were cooperating with Pakistan to support its exports volume by giving space to its products like rice, fruits and others. In a bid to encourage multi-national companies to set up joint ventures (JVs) with local partners, Razak said the government would offer some incentives to these companies. “A level playing field would be given to existing and new local and foreign investors,” he said. Replying to a question, he said there was a dire need to bring foreign investment in the manufacturing sector to promote value-added exports.

Source: The Nation

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Egypt- Trade Ministry holds first meeting to formulate upgraded version of Export Support Programme

The Ministry of Trade and Industry hosted the first meeting to formulate new version of the Export Support Programme, with the participation of the heads of Export Councils. The minister of trade and industry, the advisor for SMEs, and the general coordinator of the Export Councils, Hossam Farid, said that this meeting comes within a framework of implementing the prime minister's instructions to the ministry of trade and industry to prepare a new programme that is more effective than the current programme to stimulate Egyptian exports to foreign markets. Farid noted that the meeting stressed the importance of focusing on axes of the new programme especially deepening local components in the industry, increasing added value, developing small enterprises, encouraging access to new markets, increasing labour force rates and expanding the benefits of export incentives in the region and the border areas. He revealed that it is scheduled to announce the programme in its new version by the end of February. The meeting discussed the settlement of the amounts due to exporters, where a number of agreed proposals were presented by all industrial sectors subject to the Export Support Programme, which will be presented to the prime minister at a meeting with Export Councils. A number of export support programmes in a number of countries including South Africa, Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, America, China, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine have also been presented during the meetings. The number of companies benefiting from the current export support programme is about 2,000 companies in seven sectors, which are the most important contribution to the national economy, including textile industries, agricultural crops, food industries, engineering industries, furniture, leather, and chemical industries. The value of subsidised exports during the fiscal year (FY) 2017/18 reached about $5.8bn, and so far about EGP 2bn out of EGP 4bn have been allocated to the export support programme during the current FY. Chemical and Fertilisers Export Council chairperson Khaled Abou El Makarem said that Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly gives this file special importance, and therefore each council is due to submit its own proposals during upcoming meetings. The final plan will be presented within three weeks to the minister of trade and industry and then will be presented to the prime minister before the end of February. Abou El Makarem added that the new programme of export subsidies, which will be called a new name, the export incentive programme, will be suspended in March this year, with the implementation of the new programme from first of March. One of the most important proposals for the new regime, according Abou El Makarem, is that a large part of the support should be non-financial so as to not burden the state budget, and the other part of the subsidy will be services to be provided to exporters as well as financial subsidy. In late January, the prime minister held a meeting with heads of Export Councils opened a dialogue on a new export incentive programme, which is currently being prepared by the ministry of trade and industry to replace the current export support programme to provide more effective means to boost exports.

Source: MENAFN

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European Commission cuts down growth forecast amid slowdown concerns

The European Commissionsharply cut on Thursday its forecasts for economic growth in the euro zone this year and next because of an expected slowdown in the largest countries of the bloccaused by global trade tensions and growing public debt. In its quarterly economic forecasts, the EU executive also revised down its estimates for the inflation in the 19-country currency bloc next year, which now is expected to be lower than forecast by the European Central Bank - likely complicating the bank's plans for an interest rate hike this year. The Commission said eurozone growth will slow to 1.3 per cent this year from 1.9 per cent in 2018 and is expected to rebound in 2020 to 1.6 per cent. The new estimates are less optimistic than the Commission's previous forecasts, released in November when Brussels expected the eurozone to grow 1.9 per cent this year and 1.7 per cent in 2020. Growth in the 27-nation European Union - without Britain which is planning to leave in March - is expected to slow to 1.5 per cent this year from 2.1 per cent in 2018. Next year, the bloc is forecast to expand by 1.8 per cent. All countries of the European Union are poised to continue growing, with the bloc expected to post its seventh consecutive year of expansion, but the larger member states will brake significantly. In Germany, the bloc's largest economy, growth is expected to slow to 1.1 per cent this year from 1.5 per cent in 2018. The Commission had previously forecast 1.8 per cent growth for Germany this year. France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are also forecast to reduce the pace of their expansion, with Italy expected to be the slowest economy in the whole EU with a mere 0.2 per cent growth this year. The Commission cited global trade tensions and China's slowdown as the main drag for the European Union's economy. But it also mentioned renewed concerns on debt sustainability, mostly in Italy, as a cause for the slowdown as Rome passed a free-spending budget forecast to have limited effects on growth. The economic slowdown forecast by the Commission is worse than that seen by the ECB in its latest projections released in December when the bank expected the eurozone to grow by 1.7 per cent this year. In a further concern for the ECB, the Commission expects euro zone inflation to be at 1.4 per cent this year, below ECB estimates of 1.6 per cent rate, and further away from the bank's target of a rate close to 2.0 per cent. After December, ECB policymakers have said that the bank's new forecasts in March are likely to be revised down.

Source: Devdiscourse

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Foreign traders push for 3 bills to ease investment restrictions

Foreign business groups supported the call of the government’s economic managers for Congress to swiftly approve three bills that aim to lift or ease restrictions on the entry of foreign investments. The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines said in a statement these measures would help create more jobs and bring in new technologies to improve the global competitiveness of the Philippines. The group, which counts the biggest organizations of foreign businesses, said the bills aimed to amend the Foreign Investment Act, the Retail Liberalization Act of 2000 and the Public Service Act. Lowering the employment threshold for foreigners investing at least $100,000 in small and medium enterprises here is among the key amendments being sought under the Foreign Investments Act. Amendments to the Retail Liberalization law seeks to reduce the minimum paid-up capital required for foreign investments in retail trade, while revisions to the Public Service Act seek to redefine public utilities and thereby lift ownership restrictions on certain sectors such as telecommunications. The letter was signed by James Wilkins, president of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.; Daniel Alexander, president of Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Julian Payne, president of Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.; Nabil Francis, president of European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Naoto Tago, president of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines Inc.; Ho Ik Lee, president of Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; and Evelyn Ng, president of Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. The joint statement issued last month by the Departments of Finance and Budget and Management along with the National Economic and Development Authority on the performance of the economy in the fourth quarter and the whole of 2018 called on Congress to approve these investment-friendly bills, which they described as “needed and urgent” to “help attract foreign investments in manufacturing.” This sector, the economic managers said, remained an “area of concern,” given its lackluster performance during that year. The JFC said it was in “strong agreement” with this call, considering that such reforms “will attract large amounts of new foreign investment, provide more jobs and transfer important technology for the betterment of the Philippine economy.” “We ask the Department of Finance to recommend to President Duterte to certify the bills as urgent,” the JFC said in a Jan. 25 letter to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. The JFC, in a letter to the President’s economic team, also appealed for the swift passage of the Open Access to Data Transmission Act and the amendments to the Charter of the National Telecommunications Commission, which the group said were necessary to “achieve substantial reforms in the ICT sector [that are] crucial to Philippine development.” It also urged Dominguez to recommend to President Duterte to endorse as urgent these two bills that aim to narrow the digital divide in the country. The JFC assured Dominguez of its “commitment to increase investment in the country and to create more jobs for Filipinos.”

Source: Manila Standard

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Joint Technological Conference on February 15 in Ghaziaba

Four premiere textile research associations namely ATIRA, BTRA, SITRA and NITRA are together hosting the 58th edition of Joint Technological Conference (JTC) on February 15, 2019 in Ghaziabad. Post the annual feature, NITRA will also organise another event Tech-Tex: A Conference on Protective & Automotive Textiles on February 16 on its campus. At the conference, major R&D highlights, carried out during last one year, in the areas of spinning, weaving, chemical processing, apparel manufacturing, home textiles, technical textiles and other related areas will be presented and deliberated by core researchers and seasoned professionals in the form of technical papers. Participating in both the events is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity for entrepreneurs and professionals to enrich their knowledge both in conventional textiles as well as in the most emerging area of textiles, NITRA said in a press release. (RR)

Source: Fibre2fashion

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