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13 Nov 2017

Exports to China surge 39% but trade deficit widens too

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"Exports to China surge 39% but trade deficit widens too India and China may have been engaged in a verbal duel over border disputes for the past few months, but the country’s exports to the neighbouring nation have surged 39 per cent during the first half of the current fiscal, amid indications that Beijing is more accommodating in addressing New Delhi’s long pending trade concerns. Latest data available with the commerce department showed that exports have grown faster than the pace of import expansion with India’s largest trading partner, although the trade deficit has widened given the massive shipments of electronics and pharmaceuticals from across the border. A large part of the export jump was driven by three sectors: iron ore, cotton yarn & ferro alloys, all raw material and inputs that feed into China’s manufacturing chain. But the government is looking to ensure that the best quality iron ore does not flow out of the country and only those with lower ferrous content gets loaded for ships that sail to Chinese ports, said sources. Sources said commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu has also flagged several issues with the Chinese authorities to push export of Indian goods, many of which face restrictions. The government is looking at easier rules for export of agricultural products, including non-basmati rice, identified as an item of significant potential and the issue is being flagged. Now, the government is planning to bridge the trade gap by checking imports. Prabhu is looking to set up a task force under commerce secretary Rita Teaotia to rationalise the trade deficit with a sector-specific strategy, sources said. While the government realises that it may not be possible to comp letely choke the flow of smartphones and other electronic items from China, it wants to put in place standards for a host of other products to ensure that the near unabated flow is stemmed. Given the high dependence of Indian pharmaceutical companies on raw material from China, the government is keen to initiate steps to get domestic players to claw back into the space. While this has been discussed for years, there has hardly been any movement on this front."

13 Nov 2017

Mumbai Port Trust kick-starts process to convert Sassoon dock into modern fishing harbour with urban contemporary art exhibition

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"…..Sassoon Dock to be the first shipping harbour to be modernized under Sagarmala Mumbai, November 13: Mumbai Port Trust has commenced its development plans for Sassoon dock with the inauguration of an urban contemporary art exhibition by St+art India Foundation and its 30 participating artists. “The art project at Sassoon Dock is the first phase of redeveloping the area into a modern fishing harbour by streamlining fishing activities replicating global practices. This initiative is part of the fourth pillar of the Sagarmala project to upgrade all fishing harbours across the country and modernise them. Sassoon Dock is the first step in this direction and will be developed over four phases that will lead to better sanitation and cleanliness along with promoting fish tourism and excursion. The master plan for redevelopment also includes air-conditioned fish market, creche & healthcare facility, open exhibition space and multi-cuisine restaurants,” said Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust. Sassoon dock with its historic legacy, is the oldest dock from where the port has evolved over the past 150 years. The port has been a standing testimony of the Mumbai’s evolution and this initiative of wall painting and murals and exhibiting the same is a step further in this direction. Speaking at the inauguration, Giulia Ambrogi, Festival Curator & Co-Founder, St+art India said, “Urban art can change spaces and activate important places in the city. A huge thanks to Asian Paints for believing in us and for always supporting us, JSW for spreading art across the country and Mumbai Port Trust for believing in us and giving us this space to create beautiful artworks by artists across the world.” With support from Asian Paints and association with Mumbai Port Trust, Singapore Tourism Board, Bonjour India, Institut Francais and JSW group, St+art Mumbai 2017 will mobilise artists to create murals, an experiential exhibition, performances, workshops, curated tours, screenings, talks and many more interventions, which will bring various creative communities together. The aim is to connect these areas of modern Mumbai, which seem so distant from one another, yet are part of a shared history and explore how integral these spaces have been to the cultural history and development of the city. The Sassoon Dock Art Project will be open from 11th November to 30th December 2017. Mumbai Port Trust: Playing a pivotal role in India’s economy, trade and commerce as the country’s premier port for several decades, Mumbai Port has long been the principal gateway to India. Even today, with the development of other ports, it caters to 10% of the country’s sea-borne trade handled by Major Ports of the country in terms of volume. Beyond trade and commerce, the port has always strived to maintain the ecological balance by opting for eWaste disposal, tree plantation, Botanical garden and Central Kitchen garden among others. St+art India Foundation St+art India Foundation is an organisation formed on the principle of ‘Art for All’ and works on art projects in public spaces. The aim of the foundation is to make art accessible to a wider audience by taking it out of the conventional gallery space and embedding it within the cities we live in - making art truly democratic and for everyone. Across the past 3 years, the foundation has organised 6 St+art festivals and numerous public art projects in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad creating iconic landmarks within all these cities. Each new edition of festivals and public art districts brings to civic spaces curated interventions, which are embedded in urban culture, and activate alternative spaces for art enabling people to reimagine how public spaces can be utilised. For the foundation, which has been responsible for making urban art a movement in India, public art interventions are a celebration of the street as a canvas for visual creativity."

13 Nov 2017

Vedam completes two ballast water treatment system projects.

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"Vedam recently completed two ballast water treatment system projects. First project consisted of feasibility study and equipment selection for two oil tankers. Length of the vessel were less than 100 m and they were involved in trade within European Ports. Therefore, the owner wanted the feasibility study done for only those equipment which had a good network of suppliers in and around Europe. In first step, review of vessel’s drawings were done. It was noted that vessel has very less spare power available during ballasting and de-ballasting process. Also, the vessel had ample space in engine room, pump room and poop deck for installation of the equipment. Therefore, the space was not a constraint. Based on Vedam’s proprietary database of BWTS equipments, 22 equipments were shortlisted. These 22 equipment were presented to owner and based on discussion with the client, 3 equipments were further shortlisted for the detailed feasibility study. For these 3 equipments, detailed level feasibility was conducted which included spatial feasibility, operational and maintenance requirements, electrical load check, envisaged modification, bill of material estimation and total costing for retrofit in a European Shipyard. Based on the data for these three equipment, owner has selected the most suitable equipment for their vessel and are negotiating with the makers for final cost and lead time. Second project consisted of Preliminary Design and cost estimation for installation of a UV based BWTS system. Owners had already selected the BWTS vendor and they were mainly interested in preliminary design for the installation of the system and budgetary cost estimate for installation of these systems in a shipyard in Far East. The vessels were all product tankers with submersible pumps. Our design team come up with an optimum design with minimal modifications and cost. The owners are now planning to go for installation of the equipment in next few years. Kudos to Vedam’s team for completing such unique and challenging projects on time."

11 Nov 2017

China, Vietnam leaders reach South China Sea consensus

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"China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually. It is also believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits 1 1 SHARES The Communist leaders of China and Vietnam reached a “consensus” on handling the contested South China Sea, Chinese state media reported Sunday, hours after US President Donald Trump offered to mediate in the dispute. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong during a state visit to Hanoi on Sunday, after Trump also visited the country. Xinhua news agency reported that the Chinese and Vietnamese sides “reached an important consensus in accordance with leaders of the two parties and countries, to appropriately manage maritime issues, steadily advance all forms of maritime cooperation including joint development and jointly strive to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.” The report did not provide more details about the agreement. China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually. It is also believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, and the dispute has long been seen as a potential trigger for conflict in Asia. Days after the US leader met with Xi in Beijing, Trump made a surprise offer to Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi. “If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know… I am a very good mediator,” Trump said. The offer could irritate the Chinese government as it has repeatedly said the United States has no role to play in what it insists is a series of bilateral issues. Vietnam has courted support from Washington in the row, in the face of Beijing’s efforts in recent years to cement its claims by building artificial islands in disputed areas. Those islands are capable of serving as military bases, and some of the rival claimants are concerned that China will soon establish de facto control of the waters. Tensions spiked this year when Vietnam suspended an oil exploration project in an area of the sea also claimed by Beijing, reportedly over pressure from its powerhouse communist neighbour. In 2014, China moved an oil rig into waters off Vietnam’s coast, sparking violent protests in several Vietnamese cities."

08 Nov 2017

Shipping lines anxious over declining draught levels at Mumbai port

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"Shipping lines have expressed their apprehensions over calling at Mumbai port following reduced draught levels making their position vulnerable while berthing. In a letter addressed to chairman of Mumbai Port, Mumbai and Nhava Sheva Ship Agents Association has pointed out the decline in draught levels would lead to bunching of deep draught vessels increasing their turn around and waiting time at berth. As per the data shared in the letter, the draught levels have dropped to as low as 5.3 metres at some berths compared to the minimum desired levels of 9.1 metres. “It is understood that Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) have been awarded the contract but are unable to meet the target. As per information, DCI are inadequately equipped resulting in large quantities of silt remained in the sea bed creating patches. The flaw in dredging is attributable to utilization of inappropriate dredgers,” said the letter. The issue pertains to the berths inside and outside at harbor wall, BPS/BPX as well as Indira Dock Channels where draught levels have fallen much below desired levels. MANSA: Established in 1977, Mumbai and Nhava-Sheva Ship-Agents Association – (MANSA) gives a powerful voice to the grievance of ship agents and address their issues to enhance working and business environment besides good relationships with the port authorities and port administration."

08 Nov 2017

Month after 'relief', exporters still feel pinch of GST

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"The government's move to simplify the GST regime for exporters has not had the desired impact due to glitches in the process being implemented for merchant exporters. Several exporters are also complaining of continued difficulty in getting refunds and credits under the new regime, which has made life tougher. A month ago, the GST Council had decided to allow merchant exporters to pay a nominal GST of 0.1 per cent for procuring goods from domestic suppliers for export. But the rules finalised by the Central Board of Excise & Customs are seen to be so cumbersome that it has not benefited these exporters, who complain that their entire margin is wiped out if they pay the product-specific GST. Government officials pointed out that merchant exporters, who source goods for manufacturers and export them, have been mandated to use only registered warehouses something that business is finding it tough to meet. Similarly, the rules require an exporter to share details of a buyer along with the price at which it has been exported. ""This is something that no businessman will share as it is commercially sensitive information,"" explained an officer. While officers from revenue and commerce departments have met on this issue, CBEC has failed to address the concerns. Officers met again on Tuesday to find a solution with a revised notification expected soon. A sources said that move is afoot to put in place a mechanism that the buyer's name and the price is not visible to the manufacturer as the shipping bill has to be shared by the exporter to claim benefit. The finance and commerce ministries are also working out the details of how the duty drawback scheme is reworked to ensure that taxes are reimbursed to exporters. While a political clearance has been received, details are being worked out."

07 Nov 2017

UNCTAD releases World fleet details

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"The recently released UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2017 offers a snapshot of the world fleet which, at the beginning of 2017, had a commercial value of $829 billion. For the fifth year in a row, world fleet growth has been decelerating. The commercial shipping fleet grew by 3.15 percent in 2016, compared with 3.5 percent in 2015. Three countries – South Korea, China and Japan – built 91.8 percent of world gross tonnage in 2016. Among these, the South Korea had the largest share, with 38.1 percent. Four countries – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China – together accounted for 94.9 percent of ship scrapping in 2016. The top five shipowners in terms of cargo carrying capacity (dwt) are Greece (309 million dwt), Japan, China, Germany and Singapore. Together, these five countries have a market share of 49.5 percent of dwt. Only one country from Latin America, Brazil, is among the top 35 shipowning countries; none are from Africa. In terms of vessel numbers, China is the leading shipowning country (5,206 ships of 1,000 gross tons and above), including many smaller ships deployed in coastal shipping. The share of shipowning by the traditional maritime nations in Europe and North America has continued to decrease, while that of middle-income developing countries, especially from Asia, has increased. Shipowning is not a high-technology industry that would require the latest, most sophisticated technologies and thus provides opportunities for emerging economies. At the same time, shipowning is not a labor-intensive business, where low-wage countries could benefit from any cost advantage – as is the case for ship scrapping. It is for this reason that middle-income countries in particular have increased their market share over the last decades, while the least developed countries are not among the world’s major shipowners. A somewhat different picture emerges if the estimated commercial value of the fleet is considered. Here, the U.S. fleet leads with $96 billion, followed by Japan, Greece, China and Norway. The average value per ship of owners from Qatar is $75 million, reflecting its fleet of expensive liquefied natural gas tankers and other specialized tankers. In comparison, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam own fleets with low unit values. Indonesian-owned fleets have an average commercial value of $3.6 million per vessel, reflecting the large number of smaller and older general cargo ships and ferries that are employed in inter-island transport. Gas carriers of LNG recorded continued high growth (+9.7 percent); growth was also recorded in the oil tanker (5.8 percent) and chemical tanker (4.7 percent) segments. In contrast, a long-term decline continued in the general cargo ship segment, which experienced negative growth (-0.2 percent); its share of world’s tonnage is currently four percent, down from 17 percent in 1980. At the beginning of 2017, the average age of the commercial fleet was 20.6 years, representing a slight increase over the previous year. Fewer newbuildings than at the beginning of the decade, combined with similar scrapping levels, have led to an aging fleet. Compared with historical averages, however, the world fleet is still relatively young, especially in the bulker and container segments. Ships flagged in the developing economies are on average 10 years older than those flagged in developed economies, and among the different vessel types, general cargo ships are the oldest (more than 25 years), and dry bulk carriers are the youngest (less than nine years)."

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