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From the desk of Dr Didar Singh, Secretary Genera, FICCI
 

From the desk of Dr Didar Singh, Secretary Genera, FICCI

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A look back at our work in November 2013

A look back at our work in November 2013

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    From the desk of Dr Didar Singh, Secretary Genera, FICCI From the desk of Dr Didar Singh, Secretary Genera, FICCI Document Transcript

    • • FICCI COMMENTS ON GDP NUMBERS The GDP numbers released recently indicated some recovery, with Q2 FY14 growth reported at 4.8%. This was slightly higher than 4.4% growth registered in the previous quarter. In fact FICCI’s most recent Economic Outlook Survey had projected GDP growth rate of 4.5 % for Q2 FY14. It is encouraging to see that the actual numbers have surpassed expectations and we believe this trend will continue. While the situation could further improve in the second half of the year, some of the existing stress points need to be dealt with effectively. Appropriate targeting to check persistently high food inflation is of utmost importance. The liquidity situation remains a major concern for industry and recent hikes in repo rate do not bode well for reduction in interest rates. Various surveys and studies conducted by FICCI over the past three quarters have clearly shown that high lending rates have emerged as one of the major worries for companies. • FICCI SURVEY - SUBDUED GROWTH TO CONTINUE IN Q-3 FOR MANUFACTURING FICCI’s latest Quarterly Survey on Manufacturing for third quarter (Q-3) of 2013-14, indicates continuation of growth, though subdued, in the manufacturing activity in Quarter-3 of 2013-14. This low or subdued growth is supported primarily by some improvement on export front. However, we are seeing rising concerns over the cost of credit by the manufacturers as compared to previous surveys. The proportion of respondents reporting higher levels of production in third quarter of 2013-14 has slightly increased to 52% as compared to over 48% in previous quarter and 45% for the same quarter last year, FICCI survey observed. Upturn in industrial sector is particularly evident in sectors like leather, textiles, cement, chemicals and textiles machinery. At the same time, sectors like automotive, capital goods and electronics are expected to witness sluggish growth in Q-3. Notably, the proportion of respondents availing credit above 12% per annum rose significantly in the current survey to 58% as compared to 42% in previous survey. Interest rate paid by the manufacturers, as reported in the survey, ranges from 8 to 16% with average interest rate at around 12% per annum. FICCI’s latest quarterly survey gauges the expectations of manufacturers for Q-3 (October-December 2013-14) for thirteen major sectors namely textiles, capital goods, textiles machinery, metals, chemicals, cement, electronics, automotive, leather & footwear, machine tools, Food processing, Paper and tyre. Responses have been drawn from 276 manufacturing units and sectoral associations from both large and SME segments with a combined annual turnover of over Rs 5 lac crore. The current average capacity utilization as reported in the survey is around 70% for manufacturing which is somewhat less than that reported in previous quarter. Outlook on hiring looks bleak in manufacturing. Over 75% of the respondents are not likely to hire additional workforce in next three months. This proportion is the same as in previous quarter but has increased as compared to earlier quarters in which the proportion was around 70%. Based on expectations in different sectors, the Survey pointed out that five out of thirteen sectors were likely to witness low growth (less than 5%). Only two sectors namely, leather and paper are expected to have a strong growth of over 10% in October-December 2013-14 and rest all the sectors are likely to witness moderate growth. 1
    • • FICCI REACTION ON INFLATION DATA The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) data released shows price levels inching up to 7% in October, 2013 from 6.46% in the last month. WPI in the corresponding period last year stood at 7.32%. Rising food prices continue to put pressure on the overall inflation, which makes it imperative to address the supply side bottlenecks at the earliest. There is an urgent need to take reform measures necessary for strengthening the agriculture supply chain and increasing cold storages across the country to counter the seasonal factors. Further, with the rupee weakening once again, imported inflation may be a concern going ahead. Fuel inflation has remained over 10% since July 2013. Nonetheless, it might also be noted that non-oil imports have been declining over the last few months, indicating weak industrial activity. This is also corroborated by the IIP numbers released this week indicating a moderate growth of 2% in September, 2013. FICCI would urge RBI to review the policy rates in light of the fact that current inflation is primarily due to supply side bottlenecks, which cannot be checked by monetary tightening measures. Rather, any further tightening would worsen the industrial production scenario. • FICCI COMMENTS ON IIP DATA Commenting on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data for September 2013 which was released President, FICCI said that the positive growth in manufacturing, shows some revival in manufacturing activity. However, we expect the growth in manufacturing to be subdued in the coming months also as a result of the current slowdown in domestic demand and a lack of investor optimism given the usual uncertainty that builds around elections. Improvement on the export front is likely to support manufacturing growth for the next few months. Looking at the consistent negative growth in consumer durables, Government need to consider reviving demand to stimulate investments including reduction of interest rates both for consumers and corporates. FICCI’s latest Quarterly Survey on Manufacturing for the third quarter (Q-3) of 2013-14, indicated that conditions were slightly better than the previous quarter helped by improvement in exports and the improving power position in the country as stalled projects come on stream . The survey also indicated continuation of growth, in the manufacturing activity in Quarter-3 of 2013-14. The survey noted rising concerns over the cost of credit as compared to previous surveys. It is heartening to see revival in the electricity sector which is related to growth in the coal sector. Growth in coal production by over 12 percent in September would certainly support growth of electricity and in turn of manufacturing in coming months. This will also help our CAD as imported coal demand diminishes. • FICCI COMMENTS ON TRADE DATA Welcoming the double-digit growth in exports for the fourth month in a row, FICCI feels that the steady rise in exports and significant reduction in trade deficit during the first seven months of this fiscal augur well for the economy. Many sectors have substantially contributed to the export growth and we are doing quite well in both the US and European markets which is a positive development. Recognizing that measures towards restricting non-essential imports have been effective, as India's trade deficit has narrowed by over 19% in April-October this year, it would significantly ease the pressure on current account deficit. 2
    • • FTA ALSO LEADING TO DUTY INVERSION - FICCI SURVEY According to recent ‘FICCI Survey on Inverted Duty Structure in Indian Manufacturing Sector’, a number of manufacturing segments are facing inverted customs duty that is making them uncompetitive against finished product imports and discouraging domestic value addition. In its submission to Government, FICCI has said that nine manufacturing sectors have reported duty inversion and these sectors are Aluminum products, Capital Goods, Cement, Chemicals, Electronics, Paper, Steel, Textiles and Tyres. The findings of the survey assume importance as India is now a part of a number of regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTA) like India-Japan, ASEAN, India-South Korea etc. These FTAs aim to provide equal opportunity to Indian players in terms of market access. However, the higher import duty on raw materials due to concessions given by India under the FTAs has resulted in inverted duty structure in certain segments that makes Indian manufactured goods (those dependent on imported raw materials) uncompetitive in domestic markets. In addition to the duty anomaly created on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis (implying that duty inversion in general custom duty structure), the survey notes that many a times inverted duty is caused by FTAs also. • FICCI APPLAUDS THE LAUNCH OF BHARTIYA MAHILA BANK, THE FIRST EVER BANK FOR WOMEN FICCI applauds the launch of the first ever women centric public sector bank in India, the Bharatiya Mahila Bank. In a country where women entrepreneurship is growing certain gender biases inherent to Indian society have always remained an obstacle for women to obtain credit. Only 26% of women in India have a bank account and credit issued to women accounts for only 7.3% of the total credit in the Indian financial system. Many times due to lack of ownership of collaterals, women entrepreneurs are unable to access bank credit. Women self -help groups (SHGs) are a growing phenomenon in rural India and require special attention and customized services for nurturing their growth. FICCI believes that the beginning of operations of the Bharatiya Mahila Bank will provide women an equal chance to access credit. Setting up of an all India Women bank is a welcome move and a step in the right direction to providing financial services and credits to the millions of women in the country, especially the 60 lakh plus SHGs. Access to easy credit for these women in rural India will play an important role towards building skill, growing women entrepreneurship and economically empowering our women. • FICCI-GIZ LAUNCH ‘ALLIANCE FOR INTEGRITY: CHISELLING THE WAY FORWARD’ The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, (UNODC) has underlined the need for a four point agenda for achieving probity in public procurement and corporate integrity to promote sustainable growth. The agenda, derived from studies conducted by the UN, calls for a model of business where ethical business is rewarded. The measures proposed included capacity building, dialogue amongst the private sector, government and law enforcement agencies, and corporate integrity in sectors most vulnerable to corruption, such as real estate, roads, energy and healthcare and enactment of legislation related to whistle-blower protection and public procurement and their effective implementation. FICCI feels that Governance is the key to competitiveness and inclusive growth. Given India’s ambitions for economic development, good governance is critical for us. It is now impossible to break the link between good governance and sustainable development. Of course the governance mechanisms should 3
    • be efficient, equitable and enforceable. Apart from laws, deep reforms and simplifications are overdue both in legal and administrative areas. This provides certainty and contemporary clarity to investors, both domestic and global. • FOOD SECURITY CRITICAL FOR INDIA FICCI welcomes the breakthrough in the trade facilitation agreement and hope the remaining gaps in the area of food security will be closed so that we could have a trade deal in the Bali Ministerial. Highlighting the critical significance of food security FICCI feels that there is need for adequate flexibility for developing countries like India in building public stocks for food security purposes and to prevent volatility in food price. There is merit in the argument for revision in the “reference price” that is used for computation of trade-distorting subsidies in view of the inflation. FICCI also welcomed India’s decision to increase the product coverage for the duty-free, quota-free imports from LDCs. FICCI reiterated the importance of successfully concluding a Bali package consisting of trade facilitation and agriculture including public stockholding for food security purposes. Indian business does not want to miss the opportunity to have an agreement that will lead to reduction in overall trading costs by 10 to 15 per cent. If Bali fails to deliver, then it will weaken the multilateralism and the credibility of WTO as an institution. Failure in Bali would be very disappointing particularly in view of the mega-FTAs currently under talks, that will imply a huge share of world trade conducted on preferential basis which may not be to the advantage of India. • FICCI URGES TRADE MINISTERS TO CONCLUDE DEAL IN BALI FICCI calls upon the Trade Ministers to step up engagement so that it is possible to have a trade deal in the Bali Ministerial of the WTO. This would be critical in the interest of multilateralism and towards taking the Doha development agenda forward. FICCI commenting on WTO DG’s report after the last General Council Meeting emphasized the need for continuing the efforts to close the remaining gaps so that a Bali package could become a reality. It is indeed important that we do not lose this opportunity to break the stalemate in Doha talks and that we are successful in building on the progress achieved so far in the areas of trade facilitation, agriculture including public stockholding for food security purposes and a range of development issues. It is encouraging to learn that a stable draft has now emerged in Section-II of the trade facilitation text, because effective provisions for special & differential treatment, customs cooperation and capacity building are essential to take care of varying levels of development of member countries and their different abilities/resources to implement trade facilitation measures. It is hoped that the outstanding issues in Section-I would also be resolved so that a balanced agreement on trade facilitation could be concluded in the 9th Ministerial Conference, said FICCI in the statement. Estimates suggest that a trade facilitation deal could result in nearly $1 billion rise in worldwide GDP (of which more than half would accrue to developing countries) and create around 21 million new jobs. While the immediate task for the Ministers would be to have a set of agreed outcomes, we believe it is equally important not to lose our focus on the ‘post-Bali agenda’ including the key areas of Doha talks. Bali cannot be the end-point; it has to be viewed as a milestone in our quest for strengthening multilateralism. 4
    • • INDUSTRY TO INVEST IN JHARKHAND: IMPROVING VALUE CHAIN, MARKETING STRATEGIES AND EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES While addressing a seminar on ‘Investment Opportunities in the State of Jharkhand’ organized by FICCI in association with the Government of Jharkhand, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand urged industry to take advantage of these resources. The state needs to improve the value chain, marketing strategies and employment opportunities. The government is also working upon reducing the number of mediators who take advantage of the vulnerable farmers by building cold storages and creating rural infrastructure. FICCI is of the view that the new Industrial Policy not only lays down very clearly the various concessions and incentives that the government has to offer but at the same time also addresses the needs and requirements of the industries in the state, how they can be revived and can play a more proactive role in the development of the state. There are several large industries in Jharkhand. The state needs more of secondary sector industries to come into the state. As more and more medium and small scale industries come into the state, there will automatically be a huge demand for the tertiary or services sector. • LAUNCH OF ALLIANCE FOR INTEGRITY : CALL FOR CLOSER COORDINATION BETWEEN PRIVATE SECURITY INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT FICCI has taken the initiative to represent the private security industry in India. The committee has a fullfledged agenda, formulated through discussions with key industry stakeholders. The main focus of the committee is to remove functional and policy related impediments that have hampered growth potential of the industry. The FICCI committee plans to gather consensus for the amendments in the PSAR Act 2005, to further boost the growth of the private security industry in the country. FICCI is also advocating for categorization of private security guards as skilled and highly-skilled workers under the Minimum Wage Act, and has already made representations to the government regarding the same. A FICCI-EY report on ‘Private Security Industry’ addresses various issues and key drivers of the private security industry. The information presented in this report will serve as a valuable reference to all stakeholders. • OUR EDUCATION SECTOR IS OVER REGULATED AND UNDER GOVERNED At the ‘9th FICCI Higher Education Summit 2013’ on the theme ‘Building Networks for Transforming Indian Higher Education - Enabling to Deliver Value’, organized by FICCI in partnership with the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Planning Commission, it was observed that our education sector is over regulated and under governed. While some form of governance was essential, it is our hope that the tweaking of the policy framework will encourage foreign universities to set up their campuses in the country. President FICCI also observed that the government should treat the public and private higher education institutions and universities on par and provide equal opportunity for funding for faculty development, student scholarships and research grants based on merit. Needless to add that with a share of 64% of the total number of institutions and 59% of enrolment in the country, private sector is indeed a critical stakeholder and has been addressing to the country’s needs. Entry barriers for setting up higher 5
    • education institutions and universities should be removed. Trusts, Societies and Section 25 companies should be facilitated to co-exist with transparent governance framework that encourages self-regulation. This will be a positive step forward to attract credible private sector to invest in the higher education space. A FICCI- EY Report on Higher Education in India: Vision 2030 launched during the Summit states that the Indian higher education system in 2030 will emerge as a role model for high quality affordable educational system and will become a global magnet of aspiring learners. The higher education system will not only be equipped to address the socio-economic imperatives of the country in 2030, but also lead globally in excellence and quality. The system will successfully address the current challenges that are plaguing the Indian education system, namely lack of equitable access, issues pertaining to outdated curricula and pedagogy, faculty shortages and lack of quality faculty, relative lack of partnership amongst industry, research and academia, and other such challenges. • ARCHAIC COAL POLICY OF INDIA NEEDS A FACE-LIFT The Coal Policy of India is in dire need for revamp. The government should look at a new policy which allows private players to take up coal mining. If opening up of the sector to the private players is not feasible, the government should allow some of the major companies to invest and use the best technologies to mine coal in India by substantially incentivizing their initiative. FICCI feels that with the unbridgeable gap between domestic coal production and demand, which conservative estimates put at 200 million tons as of today, imports of coal for the foreseeable future remain unavoidable. Hence, it is imperative that India explores coal sourcing options. A FICCI-Metis Energy Consulting knowledge paper on ‘Re-energising Indian Coal Sector: Interventions through Policy, Competition and Technology’ identifies major challenges in stepping up coal production which has led to a near crisis-like situation in recent years. The monopolistic structure that has been followed in the coal sector, while being useful in delivering desired results in the decades leading to the 21st century, is posing a major challenge today when fast paced economic reforms, achieving higher economic growth and meeting the challenges of growing energy demand have become the key issues before the government. The recommendations assume significance as coal will continue to be the mainstay in India’s energy basket with a share of 57%. Power sector is the major consumer of coal with a share of 74% of total coal consumption followed by steel and cement which have a combined share of 11%. With key sectors of the economy being largely dependent on coal and with rising demand, it is important that India develops a long term Coal Sector Strategy. The paper points out that the time taken from the initial geological survey to commencement of production from a coal block, in India, is typically around 10 years against 67 years as per international mining practices. These unduly long cycles discourage private sector investment and increase the risk considerably for everyone involved. The atmosphere is further vitiated by the paucity of decision making due to pending litigations and investigations. • DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRONICS & IT URGES INDUSTRY TO CREATE WEB PORTAL TO REFLECT ADOPTION OF ICT IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR During a conference on ‘Accelerating Domestic Technology Adoption to Drive Inclusive Growth’ organized by FICCI in partnership with the Ministry of Communications & IT, Government of India, it was urged that the industry need to create a web portal which reflects the adoption of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in the private sector on the lines of the Department of Electronics & 6
    • Information Technology’s eTaal. FICCI would endeavour to prepare a document comprising the best known methods from around the world for ICT adoption to drive inclusive growth and how it can be adopted and implemented in India. • CREATE PLATFORMS TO ENCOURAGE ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION: STARTUPS NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT, ACCESS TO MARKET, MATERIAL AND TECHNOLOGY TO FLOURISH To give boost to innovators and entrepreneurs a workshop on ‘Indo-U.S. Startup Accelerator’ was organized by FICCI in partnership with the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum and Department of Science & Technology. Entrepreneurial fraternity has seen remarkable surge in the funds being pumped into their growth. The first quarter of 2013 saw 55 deals and 16 acquisitions with disclosed deals amounting to $140 million. Whereas, the second quarter has seen 70 deals with declared investments amounting to $240 million. India, fortunately, is in a position where there is no paucity of innovation, and we pride ourselves in ‘jugaad’ or incremental invention with topical benefits. The United States on the other hand has always been instrumental in steering the entrepreneur community and innovation society attracting about 70 per cent of global VC investments. • FICCI’s POLICY REPRESENTATIONS IN FMCG & RETAIL FICCI has made policy representation in for FMCG and Retail sector including recommendations to various State Governments like Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal to adopt model Shops and establishment bill. FICCI has also been incorporated as a constituent of High Level Group on Internal Trade Reforms formed under Ministry of Consumer Affairs. • FICCI POLICY ADVOCACY IMPACT: NEW COMPANIES ACT 2013, NOTIFIES SPORTS UNDER INFRASTRUCTURE STATUS FICCI has been very closely working under the guidance of MYAS on several policy issues which are going to be milestones in helping sports get its due place in the economy. After FICCI representation on granting industry status to sports, a committee was setup under the chairmanship of Director General, Sports Authority of India (SAI) where FICCI prepared a report on “granting infrastructure status to Sports Sector to begin with. Under the new Companies Act 2013, sports infrastructure is part of “infrastructure facilities” and “infrastructure projects”. Besides, there is a specific mention of sports related businesses to be registered as a type of “limited company”. • FICCI- DOP BIOPHARMACEUTICAL CONFERENCE 2013 : GOVERNMENT TO LOOK AT SEPARATE PRICING REGIME AND TRANSPARENT PROCEDURES FOR BIOPHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS FICCI – DOP Biopharmaceuticals Conference 2013, on the theme ‘Leveraging Opportunities in Biopharmaceuticals: Challenges and Way Out’, highlighted the need to fast track the BIosimilar segment in the way generics were done in the past to keep the availability of drugs and vaccines affordable. The Indian biopharmaceutical sector, valued at US$ 28 billion, is one of the fastest growing knowledge based sectors and was expected to play a key role in shaping India’s rapidly growing economy by way of producing alternative medicines that are cheaper and qualitatively superior to counter ill effects of growing diseases. 7
    • • FICCI EXPLORES SME COOPERATION WITH AGRICULTURE, FOOD PRODUCTS, RENEWABLE ENERGY, STEEL SCRAP, PHARMA, BIOTECH, LIFESCIENCES & IT FICCI has been instrumental in bringing businesses of the two countries together and has been exploring connect between mid-sized SMEs in both countries which can be the next frontier in the bilateral economic relations. Bilateral trade between India and Canada has seen substantial growth over the years and reached US$ 4.8 billion in 2012-13. The India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which is still under negotiation, promises to boost trade to US$ 15 billion by 2015. SME partnering is expected to strengthen the existing India-Canada ties and forge new relationships with Canadian businesses. FICCI CAUTIONS MOD AGAINST ROLL-BACK OF REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) TO REPLACE IAF’S AGEING AVRO FLEET • The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has cautioned the Government against re-examination of the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued to global aviation majors to replace the ageing AVRO fleet of Transport Aircraft of the IAF. In a communication to Mr. A K Antony, Minister of Defence, FICCI has stated that any such re-examination and subsequent roll-back of RFP will mark a setback to the open and transparent approach and the innovative model cleared by the DAC of a new categorization of Buy & Make with ToT to an Indian Production Agency (IPA). FICCI has stated that the proposal envisaging buying 16 transport aircraft in flyaway condition to meet the immediate operational requirements of the IAF and setting up a production facility for producing the remaining fleet of 40 aircraft in the country is commendable as it would create a second line of aircraft production. This innovative model is seen by Indian industry as a farsighted measure to build capabilities in Indian industry that would act as a force multiplier and pave the way for domestic capability creation to address the growing needs of the Indian defence as well as civilian aerospace sectors. FICCI has commended the change in thinking of the MoD and collective wisdom that prevailed to support a second line of production of Aircrafts. The benefits of this strategy are unique as it is envisaged that the indigenous content in this second line of production will increase gradually from 30% to 60% over the life of the programme. Also capabilities acquired through the Maintenance ToT will reduce cost to the exchequer over the life period. There exist further opportunities for industry with possible civilian spinoffs and export opportunities. FICCI fully supports initiatives to create a second line of aircraft building and has sought early intervention of the Raksha Mantri to dispel all doubts and accord expeditious clearance to this project of national importance which could be a game changer for our Military and Civilian Aerospace industry. The Chamber has, therefore, advised against retraction of the RFP which will slow down the development of capabilities in the Indian aerospace sector. • ABANDONING IMMIGRATION CASH BOND BY THE BRITISH GOVT. IS INDEED A WELCOME DEVELOPMENT The news from the British Government abandoning its controversial decision to impose a £3,000 immigration cash bond is indeed a welcome development and has come as a relief to Indian companies who have been actively eying the UK market to invest and to do business with. 8
    • FICCI has always stood for a free, fair and transparent UK visa regime allowing for greater people to people interactions and movement of professionals for furthering trade and economic relations between the two countries. Despite being one of the largest investors in the UK, Indian citizens would have been clubbed in the "high-risk" category along with other African and Asian countries. FICCI was the first to raise Indian industry's concerns on the negative impact such an unwarranted measure could have on rising Indian investments into the UK. It is noteworthy that the UK government has positively considered the apprehensions raised by Indian Industry on the issue and has accordingly decided to withdraw the proposed cash bond scheme. • FICCI COMMENTS ON US-IRAN DEAL This is a historic decision and hopefully a first step towards engaging Iran in a deeper and more meaningful manner. If the discussions go on as suggested we could see further normalisation of relations and lifting of more sanctions. India has maintained its strong historic links with Iran and any step that makes it easy for Iran to engage economically with the rest of the world would help us in sourcing of oil imports from Iran. We will also see possibilities for exporting our manufactured and other goods to that market including pharma, IT, electronics, automobile spare parts and food processing. This relief will benefit Indian companies in promoting bilateral trade between India and Iran which at present is around USD 15 billion. India's recent decision to invest US $100 million in the free trade zone in Chabahar was an example of the growing ties between the two countries. The port located at the confluence of the Indian Ocean and the Oman Sea will boost trade between the two countries. Indian companies will get access to the markets in Afghanistan and Central Asia. This port would also have greater strategic importance for India after foreign forces leave Afghanistan in 2014. • INDIA CAN GAIN FROM BELGIAN CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES TO RAISE SHARE OF RENEWABLES IN ENERGY MIX During the seminar on Clean Technologies, Waste Management & Renewable Energy organized by FICCI- Embassy of Belgium, President FICCI remarked that the clean technology will be the underpinning of inclusive growth in India, besides its impact on energy security, climate change and environment.. It has the potential to bring about social innovation and have a positive impact on education, health and livelihoods. Belgian companies with their expertise in cleantech clusters could provide Indian industry with the relevant expertise and share their learning and experience. Indian industry, on its part, can provide its Belgian counterparts with its in-depth knowledge of operating cleantech business in India and insights on the relevant policy and regulatory mechanism in India for the cleantech sector. • DOING BUSINESS WITH AFGHANISTAN FICCI is designated as the implementing agency of activities under the Confidence Business Measures (CBM). FICCI has a key role in this effort to unlock Afghanistan’s investment and business potential, besides providing an opportunity for Afghanistan and its extended neighborhood to engage in a sincere dialogue to build confidence and promote economic cooperation. 9
    • India’s efforts in the Chabahar port is aimed at providing alternate access to the sea. India is also improving airline connectivity for both passenger and cargo flights. India is a major destination for Afghan products and to promote such exports there is exemption from customs duty on almost all products (except alcohol and tobacco). • KUWAIT COULD BECOME INDIA’s LONG TERM PARTNER Kuwait is poised to become a financial and commercial hub for domestic and international business, and is diversifying its industrial base for attracting global investment. FICCI looks at Kuwait as a long term dependable partner and not just as a supplier meeting India’s energy demand. Indian Industry, is keen to participate and partner in the massive on-going economic development in the State of Kuwait in all sectors, including telecom, infrastructure, security, defence, and education. India had emerged as an important investment destination globally and Kuwaiti Investors as well as Kuwaiti sovereign funds must seriously consider investing in India’s high-return investment projects and become our partners in progress. • BILATERAL TRADE BETWEEN IRAN AND INDIA For promoting bilateral trade between Iran and India Mr. Yahya Ale-es-hagh, President, Teheran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Agriculture (TCCIMA) led a business delegation to India. In a meeting with him, FICCI brought out issues of importance between India and Iran and sent out a strong message of commitment to promote trade and investments between the two countries. Around 450 B2Bs were organised by FICCI between the Indian businessmen and Iranian delegation. • INDIA PAKISTAN ECONOMIC RELATIONS With recent developments and breakthroughs as well as a reinvigorated process of building consensus injecting a momentum in India-Pakistan economic ties, FICCI hosted a roundtable on “India Pakistan Economic Relations: The Next Milestone” to take forward the process of identifying the next steps that will take the bilateral economic relations to new heights. The initiative reinforces the commitment of FICCI towards furthering India-Pakistan economic relations. FICCI has recommended grant of MFN status by Pakistan to India, signing of an Investment Protocol between the two countries which is still non-existent, bridging the information gap in terms of each other’s product offerings, easing restrictions on visas, opening of additional border crossings and increasing traffic frequency on the road through the Wagah border, improving banking facilities on both sides and investing in infrastructure development as potential areas for furthering our economic ties. • INDIAN COMPANIES INTERESTED IN ENHANCING BUSINESS RELATIONS WITH VIETNAM & MYANMAR The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam H.E Mr Nguyen Phu Trong visited India alongwith a delegation. FICCI recognized the potential in areas such as pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, agriculture, IT and defence to spearhead cooperation between the two countries and help realize this target. Better land, sea and air connectivity would play a significant role in giving a boost to our commercial ties. 10
    • FICCI also organized a meeting with H.E Mr Mynit Hlaing, Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar and the accompanying delegation. FICCI saw this visit as important from the point of view of the large untapped market in Myanmar and the opportunities that need to be explored. There are specific areas where Myanmar needs Indian industry’s support. These include various avenues associated with agriculture like seeds, mechanization of agriculture, pre and post harvest technology. FICCI has also brought out issues and recommendations to promote bilateral cooperation and strengthen business participation in recent week with Qatar, Ukraine, Russia, Spain, Romania, Czech Republic and Canada. For more details contact FICCI Corporate Communications at tripti.kataria@ficci.com 11