India replaces France as world’s 6th biggest economy

India’s GDP amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France

India has become the world’s sixth-biggest economy, pushing France into seventh place, according to updated World Bank figures for 2017. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France. India’s economy rebounded strongly from July 2017, after several quarters of slowdown blamed on economic policies pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

India, with around 1.34 billion inhabitants, is poised to become the world’s most populous nation, whereas the French population stands at 67 million. This means that India’s per capita GDP continues to amount to just a fraction of that of France which is still roughly 20 times higher, according to World Bank figures.

Manufacturing and consumer spending were the main drivers of the Indian economy last year, after a slowdown blamed on the demonetisation of large banknotes that Modi imposed at the end of 2016, as well as a chaotic implementation of a new harmonised goods and service tax regime.

India has doubled its GDP within a decade and is expected to power ahead as a key economic engine in Asia, even as China slows down.

According to the International Monetary Fund, India is projected to generate growth of 7.4% this year and 7.8% in 2019, boosted by household spending and a tax reform. This compares to the world’s expected average growth of 3.9%.

The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy, said at the end of last year that India would overtake both Britain and France this year in terms of GDP, and had a good chance to become the world’s third-biggest economy by 2032.

At the end of 2017, Britain was still the world’s fifth-biggest economy with a GDP of $2.622 trillion. The US is the world’s top economy, followed by China, Japan and Germany.

 

IMF says global growth recovery an opportunity for Indian economy

IMF expects the Indian economy to recover sharply in 2018 to grow at 7.4%, though 30 basis points lower than its earlier estimate in April.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday pared its growth forecast for the Indian economy by half a percentage point to 6.7% for 2017, blaming the lingering disruptions caused by demonetisation of high value currencies last year and the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

However, IMF said the structural reforms undertaken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government would trigger a recovery—above 8% in the medium term.

In its latest World Economic Outlook, IMF said the global economy is going through a cyclical upswing that began midway through 2016. It raised the global growth estimate marginally for 2017 to 3.6% while flagging downside risks. The upward revisions in its growth forecasts including for the euro area, Japan, China, emerging Europe, and Russia more than offset downward revisions for the United States, the United Kingdom, and India.

“In India, growth momentum slowed, reflecting the lingering impact of the authorities’ currency exchange initiative as well as uncertainty related to the midyear introduction of the countrywide Goods and Services Tax,” it said in the WEO.

However, IMF expects the Indian economy to recover sharply in 2018 to grow at 7.4%, though 30 basis points lower than its earlier estimate in April.

One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

In its South Asia Economic Focus (Fall 2017) released on Monday, the World Bank reduced India’s GDP growth forecast to 7% for 2017-18 from 7.2% estimated earlier, blaming disruptions caused by demonetisation and GST implementation, while maintaining at the same time that the Indian economy would claw back to grow at 7.4% by 2019-20.

Both the Asian Development Bank as well as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have also cut their growth projections for India to 7% and 6.7%, respectively, for fiscal 2017-18.

IMF said a gradual recovery in India’s growth trajectory is a result of implementation of important structural reforms. GST, “which promises the unification of India’s vast domestic market, is among several key structural reforms under implementation that are expected to help push growth above 8% in the medium term,” it added.

The multilateral lending agency said India needs to focus on simplifying and easing labour market regulations and land acquisition procedures which are long-standing requirements for improving the business climate. It also called for briding the gender gap in accessing social services, finance and education to accelerate growth in developing countries like India.

IMF said given faster-than-expected declines in inflation rates in many larger economies, including India, “the projected level of monetary policy interest rates for the group is somewhat lower than in the April 2017 WEO.”

In its monetary policy review last week, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept its policy rates unchanged and marginally raised its inflation forecast for rest of the year.

Highlighting the growing income inequality within and among emerging market economies, IMF said a country’s growth rate does not always foretell matching gains in income for the majority of the population. “In China and India, for example, where real per capita GDP grew by 9.6% and 4.9% a year, respectively, in 1993–2007, the median household income is estimated to have grown less—by 7.3% a year in China and only 1.5% a year in India,” it said.

Source: Live Mint

India is world’s 40th most competitive economy: WEF

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

India has been ranked as the 40th most competitive economy — slipping one place from last year’s ranking — on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, which is topped by Switzerland.

On the list of 137 economies, Switzerland is followed by the US and Singapore in second and third places, respectively.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Report released today, India has slipped from the 39th position to 40th while neighbouring China is ranked at 27th.

“India stabilises this year after its big leap forward of the previous two years,” the report said, adding that the score has improved across most pillars of competitiveness. These include infrastructure (66th rank), higher education and training (75) and technological readiness (107), reflecting recent public investments in these areas, it added.

According to the report, India’s performance also improved in ICT (information and communications technologies) indicators, particularly Internet bandwidth per user, mobile phone and broadband subscriptions, and Internet access in schools.

However, the WEF said the private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

“A big concern for India is the disconnect between its innovative strength (29) and its technological readiness (up 3 to 107): as long as this gap remains large, India will not be able to fully leverage its technological strengths across the wider economy,” it noted.

Among the BRICS, China and Russia (38) are placed above India.South Africa and Brazil are placed at 61st and 80th spots, respectively.

In South Asia, India has garnered the highest ranking, followed by Bhutan (85th rank), Sri Lanka (85), Nepal (88), Bangladesh (99) and Pakistan (115).

“Improving ICT infrastructure and use remain among the biggest challenges for the region: in the past decade, technological readiness stagnated the most in South Asia,” WEF said.

Other countries in the top 10 are the Netherlands (4th rank), Germany (5), Hong Kong SAR (6), Sweden (7), United Kingdom (8), Japan (9) and Finland (10).

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

Institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation are the 12 pillars.

According to WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey 2017, corruption is the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

The second biggest bottleneck is ‘access to financing’, followed by ‘tax rates’, ‘inadequate supply of infrastructure’, ‘poor work ethics in national labour force’ and ‘inadequately educated work force’, among others.

The survey findings are mentioned in the report.

“Countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future,” WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

India growing pretty robustly: World Bank President Jim Kim

Jim Kim said Japan, Europe and the US along with India were growing and there was a levelling-out in developing countries.

India has been growing “pretty robustly”, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has said as he predicted a strong global growth this year.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum meeting here on Wednesday, Kim also called for more cooperation among the multilateral system, private sector and the governments to take advantage of the current win-win situation.

“That dormant capital will earn a higher return, where developing countries will have access to much more capital for the infrastructure needs, even for investing in health and education, investing in resilience to climate change and other factors,” Kim said.

He said Japan, Europe and the US along with India were growing and there was a levelling-out in developing countries.

“A country like India is growing, has been growing pretty robustly. We think, Japan is growing. Europe is growing in a much more healthy way. The United States continues to grow. There is a levelling-out in developing countries,” he said, adding that the growth will be more robust this year.

In June, the World Bank predicted a 7.2 per cent growth rate for India this year against 6.8 per cent growth in 2016. India remains the fastest growing major economy in the world, the World Bank officials had said.

“It used to be that commodity importers were doing much better than commodity exporters. But that’s levelling out. So the growth is relatively more evenly distributed,” Kim said.

He said in terms of indebtedness, the bank was watching very carefully the debt-to-GDP ratios of every single country.

“In Africa, the debt-to-GDP ratios are still very manageable…We would not be moving toward providing more financing for countries if we thought there was a real problem with over indebtedness in the countries. Because we follow this very closely, along with the IMF,” he said.

“We think that there are tremendous opportunities for investment. But sometimes, purely based on perception, investors in sovereign wealth funds – I’ve heard them say, Africa is risky. Right, as if Africa was a single country.

Africa’s not a single country and the risk profiles from country to country have enormous differences,” he said.

Source: Economic Times

 

Nuclear deal between India and Japan opens up new vistas of cooperation

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting India nearly two months after operationalisation of the historic Indo-Japan civil nuclear deal, which has added a new dimension to bilateral ties that could scarcely be imagined in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima tragedy.

The journey traversed by the two nations over the past six years reflects growing confidence in each other and depth of the strategic partnership.

Japan and India signed a memorandum of understanding for civil nuclear cooperation in December 2015, when Abe was in Delhi for the annual bilateral summit, overcoming reservations over India’s status as a nation which has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This was transformed into a deal in November last year when PM Narendra Modi was in Tokyo for the summit.

Subsequently the Japanese government got approval from the Diet (parliament) for the nuclear deal with India.The landmark deal came into force in July this year with the completion of necessary formalities in both countries. This will enable Japan to export nuclear power plant technology as well as provide finance for nuclear power plants in India.

Besides, Japan will assist India in nuclear waste management and may undertake joint manufacture of nuclear power plant components under Make in India initiative, people familiar with the development told ET. Growing civil nuclear ties will be highlighted during Abe’s trip as one of the key elements of Indo-Japan strategic partnership, they said.

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, which owns US-based Westinghouse, will have a major role when the US nuclear firm supplies technology for the set of six reactors in Andhra Pradesh following its bankruptcy.

Westinghouse, which was to set up six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh, will supply technology while construction will be undertaken by an Indian partner. This was discussed as a way out during Modi’s visit to Washington, D.C. for ensuring the presence of Westinghouse in India following the troubles the company faced over bankruptcy.

The finance for the project from the US Exim Bank remains intact and the initiative may kick-start only in 2018. Westinghouse, which was acquired by Japanese conglomerate Toshiba in 2006 for $5.4 billion, had filed for bankruptcy in March this year. HitachiBSE 2.80 %, another Japanese firm, has a stake in GE, which is also proposed to set up reactors in India.
ET View: Enhance areas of partnership

The partnership in space, like that on the African continent, will give a new dimension to the longstanding India-Japan ties. It makes sense for India to partner with Japan to focus such opportunities in areas where the two countries have complementary strengths. The space partnership will serve as another plank in the effort to present a counter to Beijing. For New Delhi, it is also a spring board for a bigger role in the global arena. India must seize this opportunity with a clear plan.

India, Japan Ink 15 Agreements Including Aviation, Trade and Science

The pact in the area of disaster risk management, entered into between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan, aims to cooperate and collaborate in the field of disaster risk reduction, an official statement said

India and Japan on Wednesday signed 15 deals in key areas, including civil aviation, trade, science and technology, and skill development.

The pact in the area of disaster risk management, entered into between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan, aims to cooperate and collaborate in the field of disaster risk reduction, an official statement said.

It said the understanding in the field of skill development looks to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of Japanese language education in India.

The one titled ‘India-Japan Investment Promotion Road Map’ envisages enhanced Japanese investments in India while the ‘Japan-India special programme for Make In India’ is on bilateral cooperation towards infrastructure development in the Mandal Bechraj-Khoraj region in Gujarat.

There was exchange of RoD (Record of Discussions) on civil aviation under which Indian and Japanese carriers can now mount unlimited number of flights to selected cities in both countries.

There was an agreement to establish a joint exchange programme to identify and foster talented young scientists from both countries to collaborate in the field of theoretical biology.

The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the Department of Biotechnology and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Science & Technology (AIST) seeks to promote research collaboration between these institutions in the field of life sciences and biotech, the statement said.

The India Japan Act East Forum, among the agreements signed, seeks to enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in India’s North Eastern region in an efficient and effective manner, it said.

There were four agreements in the field of sports, including one to facilitate and deepen international education cooperation and exchanges between both Sports Authority of India and Nippon Sport Science University, Japan.

Source: NDTV

CBDT signs 4 more APAs with taxpayers in August

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signed four more advance pricing agreements (APAs) in August with Indian taxpayers as it looks to reduce litigation by providing certainty in transfer pricing.

The four APAs entered into during August, 2017 pertain to various sectors of the economy like telecom, banking, manufacturing and education, an official statement said today.

“Out of these four agreements, three are unilateral and one is a bilateral,” it said.

According to the statement, the bilateral APA is for international transactions between an Indian company and a UK-based company and this is the eighth bilateral APA with the United Kingdom and 13th overall (the other five being with Japan).

With the signing of these four agreements, the total number of APAs entered into by CBDT has reached 175, the statement said, adding, “this includes 162 unilateral APAs and 13 bilateral APAs.”

Besides, in the current financial year, a total of 23 APAs (2 bilateral and 21 unilateral) have been signed till date, the statement noted.

The APA provisions were introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014.

The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance.

The statement pointed out that since its inception, the APA scheme has been well-accepted by taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 800 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed so far in five years.

Noting that the progress of the APA scheme strengthens the government’s resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime, the statement said the Indian APA programme has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner.

 

Source: Times of India