Weekly News 13 - 17 November 2023
Monday, 13 November 2023 “Major ports log FY24's 1st double-digit cargo growth” (Saha 2023:4).
In a notable shift, Indian government-owned major ports recorded a substantial 13% growth in cargo in October, handling 70 million tonnes of goods. This marks a significant turnaround in the fiscal year 2023-24, with the first instance of double-digit percentage growth, contrasting with the sluggish growth observed earlier in the year due to global headwinds. The surge in cargo was multifaceted, with a 19% increase in container handling, signaling heightened movements of finished goods in the maritime economy. The overall cargo growth for FY24 at major ports is now approaching 4%.
However, state-owned ports faced criticism for lagging behind their private counterparts, particularly in coastal cargo. While major ports showed minimal growth in coastal cargo in FY24, private ports experienced a robust 21% increase during the same period. Despite challenges, certain cargo types exhibited notable growth, with volumes of thermal coal, coking coal, and industrial coal growing by 10% in October. Additionally, iron ore traffic more than doubled during this period. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways reported a commendable 9.92% increase in the movement of raw materials and goods through inland waterways between April and October compared to the same period last year.
Tuesday, 14 November 2023 “India & ASB Sign $400M Loan Pact for Urban Reforms” (The Economic Times 2023:11).
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $400 million "policy-based loan" to support India's urban reform agenda. This agreement, signed between the finance ministry and ADB's India Resident Mission, falls under the "sub-programme 2 of the Sustainable Urban Development and Service Delivery programme." The initiative focuses on investment planning and reforms at the state and urban local body levels, complementing the earlier sub-programme that established national-level policies for urban service improvement with $350 million in financing.
This financial support aligns with the Indian government's urban sector strategy, emphasizing reforms to make cities not only livable but also key centers of economic growth through inclusive, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure, according to the finance ministry statement.
Wednesday, 15 November 2023 “India to waive curbs, allow food items to be shipped to Bhutan” (Das 2023:2).
In a humanitarian gesture, India will allow the export of around 103,600 tonnes of food items to Bhutan, bypassing its usual export restrictions for strategic partners. This exception comes amidst positive signs in boundary talks between China and Bhutan, capturing India's attention. The exported goods, including wheat grain, flour, maida, suji, broken rice, and sugar, will be facilitated through the National Cooperative Exports Ltd, despite a ban on non-basmati white rice exports. This move reinforces India's commitment to supporting countries like Bhutan and Nepal, which depend on imports to meet their food demand, while maintaining a robust strategic relationship.
Bhutan, reliant on imports for its food needs, particularly from India, stands to benefit from this humanitarian initiative. India's decision aligns with the aim of supporting neighboring nations while navigating strategic considerations.
Thursday, 16 November 2023 “India signs agreement with IPEF members on supply chain resilience” (Kumar 2023:2).
India has signed an agreement with the US and 12 other members of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) to reduce dependence on China and address supply chain risks. The pact, signed by Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and US Trade Secretary Gina Raimondo in San Francisco, aims to fortify global supply chains, enhance adaptability, stability, and sustainability. The agreement encourages the potential shifting of production centers, diversification of supply chains, and deeper integration of India in global value chains, offering benefits such as support to MSMEs and the creation of a seamless regional trade ecosystem.
The IPEF initiative, launched in Tokyo in May 2022, includes countries like Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. India's participation in this collaborative effort reflects a strategic move to prepare for future supply chain challenges and strengthen economic ties within the Indo-Pacific region.
Friday, 17 November 2023 “G20 group seeks $1 ton fund every year to grow startups” (Kundu 2023:2).
G20 nations are considering a proposal to allocate 1% of the group's gross domestic product (GDP) annually from 2030 to startups, according to Chintan Vaishnav, outgoing chair of the Startup 20 engagement group under India's presidency. The proposal, introduced in June by the Startup 20 engagement group, calls for G20 countries to make $1 trillion available annually for startups by 2030. While the details were not included in the September New Delhi declaration, the proposal has gained momentum, with Saudi Arabia endorsing it. Directing 1% of the GDP towards startups is seen as a catalyst for ecosystem growth and private investments.
India, expected to become the third-largest economy by 2030, supports the proposal to boost the startup ecosystem. The ongoing high-interest rate environment in economies funding startups, including advanced economies, might impact weaker startups despite strong fundamentals. However, Vaishnav believes this is a temporary scenario, and efforts are underway to create a $1 trillion fund to support startups. The Startup 20 working group, initiated by India, will continue under future G20 presidencies, with a focus on transferring knowledge to ensure its success.
- Das, Puja. 2023. “India to waive curbs, allow food items to be shipped to Bhutan”. Mint, 15 November 2023: 2.
- Kumar, Dhirendra. 2023. “India signs agreement with IPEF members on supply chain resilience”. Mint, 16 November 2023: 2.
- Kundu, Rhik. 2023. “G20 group seeks $1 ton fund every year to grow startups”. 17 November 2023: 2.
- Saha, Dhruvaksh. 2023. “Major ports log FY24's 1st double-digit cargo growth”. Business Standard, 13 November 2023: 4.
- The Economic Times. 2023. “India & ASB Sign $400M Loan Pact for Urban Reforms”. 14 November 2023: 11.