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Israel-Gaza conflict adds to global uncertainty: IMF MD

Oct 14: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Saturday the Israel-Gaza conflict was "such a tragedy" with innocent civilians attacked, and added uncertainty to the global economic outlook.

"This is yet another source of uncertainty," for the global economy, she told a news conference, adding that it was too early to assess the fallout from the conflict.

Talks on India-UK trade deal reach ‘advanced stage’

NEW DELHI, Oct 13: Talks between India and the United Kingdom on a trade deal have reached an “advanced stage” as negotiators have significantly narrowed differences on key issues while a few unresolved matters will require a political nod, four officials aware of the developments said on Friday.

Among the issues on which the two sides have narrowed divergences are business mobility, Scotch whisky and automobiles, increasing hopes for a breakthrough within the next two weeks, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

India’s key ask for liberalising business mobility for short duration deployment of professionals is only to facilitate trade between the two countries, particularly in services, and it is in no way related to the larger issue of immigration, which is not even part of the free trade agreement (FTA), they said.

“It seems the UK has nearly agreed to grant access to Indian professionals for business-related visits on a reciprocal basis. Modalities are being discussed between the two sides,” one official said. The negotiators – under the direct guidance of commerce secretary-level officials – are currently holding talks in New Delhi.

With the UK reluctant to go beyond the current level of 100,000 work visas issued to Indians annually, the Indian side suggested as a compromise that the number could be increased while reducing the duration of visas.

Replying to a specific question on the possibility of concluding the FTA by the end of this month, commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal said on Friday that talks are at an “advanced stage” and “negotiations are going on, so we should wait” till the talks are over.

Barthwal travelled to London last week to give a boost to the talks and his UK counterpart was in New Delhi this week for the same purpose. It is now widely expected that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may visit India from October 28 to endorse an agreement, if the negotiations covering 26 chapters are concluded, a second official said.

The officials said a few unresolved issues require a political nod. “A majority of the chapters are either closed or are at advanced stage of negotiation. High level engagements at various levels are ongoing to iron out differences,” a third official said.

Among issues that remain to be addressed are inter-company movement of workers, rules of origin and greater access to Indian markets for British dairy products and electric vehicles.

Indian and British negotiators are currently continuing the 13th round of talks that began on September 18.

According to a report by Politico, British officials will brief Sunak on the outlines of the FTA next week “as he makes a final call on whether to seal the coveted pact in New Delhi” later this month. The report quoted an unnamed senior UK official as saying that negotiations were in the “final stages”.

“If they can conclude a deal it obviously makes sense that he’d go,” the UK official told Politico, referring to Sunak’s planned trip.

Mobility, automobiles and whisky had been some of the vexed issues, but it seems a win-win situation has emerged after intense negotiations, the third official said.

If business mobility – or easier temporary movement of Indian professionals to the UK for business purposes – is taken out of the negotiations, there won’t be any significant gain for India as most Indian goods (more than 60% of total merchandise) already have duty-free access to the UK market, and most other items attract a low tariff of 5%.

According to an information note from the UK’s Department for International Trade, the simple average tariff on goods imported into Britain from India is 4.2%, compared to 14.6% simple average tariff on British exports to India. “The majority of product lines (66%) on Indian exports to the UK face no tariffs. In comparison, only 3% of product lines on UK exports to India can enter tariff free,” it said.

Besides, India has a very high import duty on automobiles (100%) and whisky (150%). Indian industry has expressed willingness to substantially reduce tariffs in automobiles and whisky provided there are similar concessions in business mobility, the three officials cited above said.

The two sides have also reached understanding on provisions related to labour standards and rights and sustainable business as these are not binding or legally enforceable, a fourth official said.

However, the window for striking a trade deal is narrowing as both India and the UK are set to hold a general election next year. The two countries have already missed a deadline for finalising the FTA by Diwali in 2022.

India, Saudi Arabia sign pact on clean hydrogen, supply chains

RIYADH, Oct 8: India and Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed a MoU on electrical interconnections, green and clean Hydrogen and supply chains.

The MoU was signed between Power Minister R.K. Singh, who is currently in Riyadh and Saudi Arabian energy minister Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud on the sidelines of the MENA climate week.

This MoU aims to establish a general framework for cooperation between the two countries in the field of electrical interconnection, exchange of electricity during peak times and emergencies, co-development of projects, co-production of green and clean hydrogen and renewable energy and also establishing secure, reliable and resilient supply chains of materials used in green and clean hydrogen and the renewable energy sector.

It was also decided between the two energy ministers that B2B (business to business) business summits and regular B2B interactions between the two countries will be conducted to establish complete supply and value chains in the above-mentioned areas of energy sector cooperation.

Singh is leading a delegation to the MENA climate week, which is being held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between October 8-12, 2023.

It will discuss climate solutions ahead of COP28 and is being hosted by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Earlier while addressing a session on "Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement (GST) Regional Dialogue: Highlighting enablers and technologies for ambition and just and inclusive transitions" on the first day of the MENA climate week, the power minister said that the event is extremely important in exploring and sharing opportunities to shape the future of energy production, consumption and sustainability on a global scale.

"India having almost 17 per cent of the world population and being the world's fifth largest economy, is taking significant steps to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by 45 per cent by the year 2030 and to achieve the goal of Net Zero by the year 2070," he said.

Singh further said that green hydrogen is a promising alternative for accelerating India's energy transition.

"It brings me great pleasure in informing you that the government of India has launched the National Green Hydrogen Mission for harnessing hydrogen energy and has approved an initial outlay of $2.3 billion for this Mission," he informed the gathering.

The minister called upon MENA countries to join the Global Biofuel Alliance, in order to advance international cooperation in sustainable biofuels to realise the full potential of the Alliance.

He said that the Alliance aims to facilitate cooperation in intensifying the development and deployment of sustainable biofuels, to facilitate trade in biofuels and much more, in collaboration with international biofuels organisations.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announces an expected decline in USD

WASHINGTON, Oct 8: Janet Yellen has advised people to diversify their interests as USD is expected to decline. Read more below about the announcement and ways to prepare.

In 2022, the U.S. Dollar saw an 8% decline in its share of global reserve. This has led to some questioning if the dollar days were over.

However, in a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen shared her opinion on the same.

According to her, no existing currency can displace the greenbacks.

Though it is true that U.S. sanctions and foreign policy have led to countries such as - China, Russia and others dethroning the dollar, Janet insists that “it will not be easy for any country to devise a way to get around the dollar.”

However, she did issue a warning that the currency's share of the global reserve may continue to decline as other countries continue to “diversify”

When questioned if the dollar's international dominant status is declining she said she sees, “virtually no meaningful workaround for most countries for using the dollar as a reserve currency.”

Govt elevates 12 general managers as executive directors in UCO Bank, Canara Bank, Indian Bank, others

NEW DELHI, Oct 8: The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has appointed a total of twelve general managers as executive directors in various Public Sector Banks, people in the know informed a news agency.

Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on Saturday approved the appointments of 12 EDs.

According to a report, Sanjay Rudra, general manager, Bank of Maharashtra, has been appointed ED, Union Bank of India. Another General Manager from the same bank, Vijaykumar N Kamble will take over as ED of UCO Bank.

Bhavendra Kumar, currently Chief General Manager with Canara Bank, has been elevated to become ED of the same bank.

Bibhu Prasad Mahapatra, Chief General Manager of Punjab National Bank, has been elevated as ED of the bank, while Ravi Mehra, general manager, has been promoted to become ED of Punjab & Sind Bank.

Rajiv Mishra, Chief General Manager with Union Bank of India, will take over as ED of Bank of India, and Brajesh Kumar Singh, Chief General Manager of Bank of Baroda, will join Indian Bank as ED in March.

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At the same time, Rohit Rishi, Chief General Manager in Indian Bank, will take over as ED of Bank of Maharashtra next month.

In addition, the government has approved the appointment of Lal Singh as ED, Bank of Baroda; Shiv Bajrang Singh as ED, Indian Bank; Mahendra Dohare as ED, Central Bank of India; and Dhanaraj T as ED, Indian Overseas Bank.

GST collections rise at Rs 1.63 lakh crore in September, up 10.2% YoY

NEW DELHI, Oct 1: The government's Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections climbed 10.2 percent year-on-year in September to Rs 1.63 lakh crore, the Ministry of Finance said.

At Rs 1.63 lakh crore, the September GST collections is 2.3 percent higher than what was collected in August.

This is the seventh month in a row that the monthly GST collection has come in above the Rs 1.5-lakh-crore mark.




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