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Events, News

3rd India-Europe 29 Business Forum – December 8 & 9, 2016

Invitation to the representatives of Bulgarian companies who would be interested to join the IBBC Delegation to the 3rd India-Europe 29 Business Forum to be held in New Delhi on December 8 & 9th, 2016. They need to subscribe by 28 September 2016 by sending a request to IBBC. (Cost covered by the participants).
Please see the official website for all details of the Event –


demise of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former President of the Republic of India

Dear Sir/ Madam,

1. You might be aware about the sad demise of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former President of the Republic of India.
2. In this connection, a condolence book is being opened in the Embassy of India on 29 and 30 July 2015 from 1000 to 1200 and from 1500 to 1700.
3. You may like to disseminate this information to your members, colleagues and other Indophiles, who may wish to express their condolences in the said book.

Sanjeev K. Bhati
Second Secretary & Head of Chancery
Embassy of India, Sofia


Export of cashewnut declining due to hike in production & labour costs

India produces quality cashewnuts, which enjoy acceptance overseas. However, their export is on the decline, owing to the increase in production costs (which, in turn, has resulted in an increase in the costs of raw nuts), input costs and labour costs; the increasing competition in the international markets, and the restrictions by importing countries.

Its domestic consumption has increased significantly, resulting in an increase in its imports and the attention of exporters. With higher profits and a competitive global market, a major chunk of the cashewnuts has got diverted to the local market. G Kannan, managing director, G K Exports, said, “There is a strong demand in the domestic market for various types of cashewnuts. The rising demand makes the Indian market more profitable, so traders don’t have to go overseas.”

“But the increase in the input costs, a result of the hike in labour costs in different cultivating states, poses dangers for both producers and exporters. On one hand, the profit margin is higher due to the domestic demand, and on the other, we are losing the international market due to higher prices. Other cashew-producing nations have larger markets, as their production costs are low. But they compromise on quality,” he added.

An official of the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India, which looks after the promotion of the nut overseas, stated, “The cashewnut exports are satisfactory, but there is a need for improvement. Exporters are assisted by the promotion council’s programmes. The government is constantly helping both domestic traders and exporters (who are equally affected by the price and production constraints) to expand the market and increase the supply,” he added.

The Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development is the nodal agency for the development of the nut in India.

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India’s Jan 1 wheat stocks three times its target – government sources

India had 25.1 million tonnes of wheat in government warehouses as of Jan. 1, sources said on Thursday, more than three times the target, potentially making it easier for the government to allow exports to cash in on attractive global prices.

Bumper harvests since 2007 have led to huge stockpiles of rice and wheat with the government, which buys from farmers to meet emergencies and run welfare programmes.

India’s milled rice inventory at the beginning of January was 11.7 million tonnes against a target of 11.8 million tonnes. Government’s rice inventory target is for paddy or unmilled rice.

India in 2011 lifted a four-year-old ban on wheat and non-basmati rice exports to offload grains from its bulging bins. The country has shipped out nearly 7 million tonnes of wheat from its warehouses in the past few years.

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Govt considering higher sugar export subsidy of Rs 4,000/tonne

New Delhi: The government is considering extending subsidy on raw sugar exports for the ongoing marketing year 2014-15 by giving a higher incentive of Rs 4,000 per tonne to cash-starved mills.

Last year, the Centre had announced a subsidy for exports of raw sugar up to 4 million tonnes in order to help the cash-starved industry clear sugarcane arrears to farmers. The subsidy scheme ended in September 2014.

“A proposal to extend the subsidy on export of raw sugar for 2014-15 marketing year (October-September) is under active consideration. Based on the set methodology, the subsidy has been calculated at around Rs 4,000 per tonne considering the current global price situation,” a government source said.

A Cabinet note has already been prepared and will be circulated for inter-ministerial consultation after approval from Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, another source said.

Last year, the Centre reviewed the quantum of subsidy every two months. It first fixed subsidy at Rs 3,300 per tonne for February-March, which was reduced to Rs 2,277 for April-May and the same was reinstated at Rs 3,300 for June- July before hiking it to Rs 3,371 for August-September.

Sugar mills exported about 7.5 lakh tonnes of raw sugar in 2013-14 marketing year (October-September) with an incentive of about Rs 200 crore.

The sugar industry is seeking extension of the export subsidy for this year as mills are facing liquidity crunch to make cane payment in the wake of depressed local prices due to higher production in the last few years.

Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said that domestic sugar prices are substantially below the cost of production and it has become difficult for mills to even pay the cane price to farmers.

Sugar production in India — the world’s second biggest producer after Brazil — has increased by 27.3 percent to 7.46 million tonnes in the first three months of the current 2014-15 season, according to the ISMA.

ISMA estimates sugar production at 25-25.5 million tonnes for this season, while the government’s projection is 25.05 million tonnes for the same period.

During 2013-14 season, the country had produced 24.4 million tonnes sugar and exported 2.11 million tonnes.

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EU agrees to lift import ban on Alphonso mangoes

The European Union (EU) has agreed to lift the ban on import of Alphonso mangoes from India before the start of next season, but the ban on import of four other vegetables from the country may stay for longer.

“They have communicated to us that they are going to lift the ban on Alphonso mangoes before the next season, but lifting the ban on other vegetables may take more time,” said a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Citing the presence of pesticides, the EU had banned the import of Alphonso mangoes, brinjal, taro, bitter gourd and snake gourd from 1 May 2014 to December 2015. The ban is estimated to have affected exports worth millions of dollars.

The decision by the grouping’s standing committee on plant health came after 207 consignments of fruits and vegetables from India imported into the EU in 2013 were found to be contaminated with pests, including fruit flies.

Although the prohibited commodities represent less than 5% of fresh fruits and vegetables exported to the EU from India, the potential introduction of new pests could pose a threat to EU’s agriculture and production, the committee noted. photo

The UK’s department for environment, food and rural affairs, which backs the ban, said it was necessary because pests could threaten the country’s £321 million salad crop industry of tomato and cucumber. The UK imports nearly 16 million mangoes from India, and the market for the fruit is worth nearly £6 million a year.

After a strong protest by India, a team of experts from the Food and Veterinary Office of the EU visited Indian facilities in September last year. The EU experts gave a favourable report stoking expectations that the ban on all items would be revoked. India has now made it mandatory that every export of food product to the EU will go through a standard inspection process.

The EU has also complained that Indian systems are not helpful for its countries to export processed foods, said the official.

Insram Ali, chairman of Mango Export Promotion Council, said the ban imposed by the EU on Alphonso mangoes had a significant impact on business since 30-40% of the mango variety is exported to European countries. “A lift of ban by EU will be a big boost to our exports,” he added.

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Neem-coated urea helps in increasing the yield: Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan

NEW DELHI: Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh today asked farmers to use ‘neem-coated’ urea as it helps in increasing the yield with its minimum use.

“Plants cannot absorb nitrogen found in urea to its maximum extent. As a result a large component of it goes waste. By increasing the utility factor of nitrogen through neem-coated urea, the consumption of urea can be reduced,” Singh said.

The minister was speaking at a function on the launch of neem-coated urea in Bengaluru today, an official release said.

By reducing the use of urea, country can save foreign exchange as India has to import about 70-80 lakh tonnes of the fertiliser to meet its annual demand.

He also said that neem-coated urea is helpful in reducing the pollution of water, soil and air. And by balanced use of fertilisers, the health of soil can be sustained over a long period, he added.

India has been using neem over the centuries in one way or the other. Neem is a true friend of farmers from ancient times. By mixing neem oil in urea, which is being used by various farmers across the country and they are benefited by it, Singh added.

The Agriculture Minister at an another event in the city also asked horticulture farmers to use modern techniques and machinery as per international standards to produce horticultural products.

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Skimmed milk prices decrease due to surplus supply, lower offtake

NEW DELHI: Prices of skimmed milk powder, a key constituent in the milk and dairy products industry, have come down significantly globally and in India due to surplus supplies and lower offtake during the past two months.

In India, SMP prices have declined to Rs 232-240 per kg, although they are still higher than international rates of Rs 158-160 a kg.

While cooperatives and private dairy players say prices of milk and milk products will remain stable over the next six months, a segment of the industry wants the government to allow SMP imports to cool high prices of milk and its products and reduce the gap with overseas rates.

The National Dairy Development Board is the only entity in the country that is allowed to import SMP, an extract of milk that is used to boost production during the lean season.

“There is huge stock in the country with export of milk powder closed. Prices will further come down in next few months by Rs 10-120 a kg. There is unlikely to be any increase in prices of milk and milk products for the next six months,” said RS Sodhi, Managing Director of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, which markets the Amul brand of dairy products.

Mother Dairy, which sells about 3.5 million litres of milk a day in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, also expects prices to stabilise.

“From a high of Rs 280-290 early this year, prices have corrected. The country has adequate milk powder stock of 20,000-30,000 tonnes and with the flush season to begin, prices will fall,” said S Nagarajan, MD of Mother Dairy. The flush season runs from October to March, when milk production increases across the country.

The price of skimmed milk powder in the global market has eased to $2,600 a tonne from a year-high level of $4,693 in January.

“These prices are the lowest in two years. Despite good rainy season, inflation under control and improvement in Indian currency rates, the SMP rate in India is still very high compared to international market.

The government should allow imports of SMP into the country to cool high prices of milk,” said an industrialist manufacturing dairy products.

He said high prices paid to farmers, feed costs, low milk yields and high operational costs were preventing a drop in prices.

Milk prices have increased over the past few years, burdening consumers. In the previous year, milk prices rose 17%.

“We are looking at below Rs 200 a kg for SMP, which will be below the past two years’ price. This will ensure that ice-cream price rise in the next season will be avoided,” said Rajesh Gandhi, MD of icecream manufacturer Vadilal Industries. Most companies increased icecream prices by 8-10% across the country this year anticipating a belownormal monsoon.

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India willing to go ahead with free trade pact with EU: Nirmala Sitharaman

NEW DELHI: India today said it is willing to go in for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union but wants the 27-member bloc to address the issues flagged by New Delhi.

“Nothing stops us from doing it but, of course, let him (the EU ambassador) also come back saying that they are interested…its not as if we are holding back…,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

The EU’s main focus at present is on the the mega trade pact – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The minister said the EU Ambassador had met her recently and the agreement came up for discussion.

Launched in June 2007, negotiations between India and the EU for Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) had hit a road block in May last year as both the sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues.

For the Indian side, among other issues, granting of data secure nation status to it by the EU is very crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access there. India also wants liberalised visa norms for its professionals and greater market access in services and the pharmaceuticals sector.

Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU side is pressing for tax reduction in wines and spirits and dairy products and a strong intellectual property regime.

Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said that negotiations for the pact had advanced to a significant levels.

“…if this agreement has to conclude, then the EU has to consider exposition thats what we have said,” Kher said.

The total trade between India and EU was about $ 103 billion during 2013-14.

On industry apprehensions that FTAs are not benefiting India, he said these pacts will help increase competitiveness of Indian products.

He admitted however that few sectors could have been impacted by these agreements.

“This is clearly made out that FTAs per se have not adversely affected manufacturing. Yes, some segments of manufacturing can be affected,” he said, adding that the recent FTA partners have utilised these pacts to the extent of only 3-28 per cent.

He also said that at a time when the WTO is not delivering “then in order to find preferential markets you get into these FTAs”.

India is part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement but not the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and TTIP.

Kher said: “…so clearly the choice is if you want to diversify and if you want to intensify preferential trading, we have to look into markets which are relatively less exposed and that is why we are proposing Latin America, Africa, CIS, South Asia, and West Asia.

“These are the markets which we should utilise either through institutional mechanism such as PTAs and FTAs or through the sector base cooperation.”

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Indian solar industry to refocus on growth

CHENNAI: With the ambiguity surrounding the imposition of antidumping duties on imported solar panels behind it, the Indian solar power industry is looking to refocus on growth and would install about 900 megawatt (MW) of solar power in 2014, a statement by Mercom Capital Group, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm, said.

Mercom had earlier forecast 1000 MW of installation in 2014 but has revised it now since uncertainty that surrounded the anti-dumping case and delays caused by the elections have slowed installation growth.

Major developments in the Indian solar market over the last three months have been dominated by general elections, the anti-dumping case and the recent release of draft guidelines for Phase II, Batch 2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), a statement from Mercom said. Approximately 500 MW of solar were installed this year.

The Indian government let the August 22, 2014, deadline lapse on the proposed imposition of anti-dumping duties on cells and modules manufactured in China, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Unites States, indicating that there will be no anti-dumping tariffs placed on components imported from these nations.

India’s solar industry is collectively breathing a sigh of relief that a potential disaster has been averted and projects that were stalled can now restart, the statement said.

The drama surrounding the anti-dumping case had brought project development in the country to a standstill with developers essentially stopping the procurement process due to uncertainty surrounding the case. The government has now assured domestic manufacturers a guaranteed market by providing ‘adequate offtake’ through government programmes, which will employ domestic content requirements, to make up for the antidumping case.

A draft policy guideline for Phase II, Batch 2 projects was also recently announced. However, the new administration has assured the market that there will be a more robust ‘revised’ draft in the coming months from the solar-friendly NDA administration, the Mercom statement said.

“Although the antidumping case affected short-term outlook on installation growth, the end result was good and the new NDA administration was able to take decisive action, making a pragmatic, ‘big picture’ decision that will remove uncertainty and help put the solar industry back on track for sustainable, long-term growth,” Raj Prabhu, CEO and co-founder of Mercom Capital Group, said.

In addition to this, Indian solar panel manufacturers are also exporting more. Almost $270 million (approximately Rs 1,620 crore) in solar exports were registered in financial year 2013-14, a 152% growth from the previous year, mostly to the European market, the statement said.

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