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.

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

Gujarat’s foray into B2B ecommerce gives big push to small units

Gujarat government has entered into B2B ecommerce space as it allowed UK-based cloudbuy.com to develop B2B marketplace for accelerating its growth in state business by supporting SMEs and larger organisations via digitalisation.

According to a top official from the industry department, the state plans to give a digital push to the SMEs and large organisations from Gujarat via Business to Business (B2B) ecommerce.

However, Dhananjay Dwivedi, secretary, department of science and technology, Government of Gujarat, said the company had entered into a MoU with the state government.

“Any other ecommerce company that can support business in Gujarat can also come” he added.”With B2B trading opportunities being much bigger and faster now, the businesses of Gujarat will immensely benefit both in terms of revenue growth and reaching out to a far wider audience here in India and globally,” said Nilesh Gopali, cloudBuy, Country Head – India.

He also confirmed that cloudBuy.com has not received any exclusivity from the state government for developing state-focused B2B ecommerce platform.

According to the company, the creation of this new emarketplace will create many jobs within Gujarat through the creation of technical centres to help businesses upload and optimise their content.

Each company that registers for the marketplace will be given the opportunity to list their company details along with products and services online, promoting their business to a much wider audience. cloudBuy.com would also provide full access to support system and reporting to maximise their growth through ecommerce sales.

It would also provide fulfillment services like logistics providers and financial institutions through partners on the platform making it easier for businesses to transact. Accessibility for all users through cell phones on a secure platform will enhance the user experience ensuring trades online.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/57611242.cms

India ranks 130th in ease of doing business index

India continues to rank low at 130th position in terms of ease of doing business, with the country seeing little or no improvement in dealing with construction permits, getting credit and other parameters.

In the World Bank’s latest ‘Doing Business’ report, India’s place remained unchanged from last year’s original ranking of 130 among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters. However, the last year’s ranking has been now revised to 131 from which the country has improved its place by one spot.

The government has been making efforts to further improve the ease of doing business and aims to bring the country in the top 50.

Expressing disappointment over no change in India’s ranking in the World Bank’s index on ease of doing business, Indian government regretted that the report did not take into consideration 12 key reforms undertaken by the government.

When it comes to ‘distance to frontier’ — a measurement of the gap between an economy’s performance and the best practice score of 100 — India’s score has improved to 55.27 this year from 53.93 last year.

India is the only country for which the report has a box dedicated to its ongoing economic reforms.

The list of countries in the Doing Business 2017 is topped by New Zealand while Singapore is ranked second. It is followed by Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, the UK, the US, Sweden and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Neighbouring Pakistan is ranked 144th in the list.

On the basis of reforms undertaken, the top 10 improvers are Brunei Darussalam, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

A record 137 economies around the world have adopted key reforms that make it easier to start and operate small and medium-sized businesses, the report said.

Developing countries carried out more than 75 per cent of the 283 reforms in the past year, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for over one-quarter of all reforms, it added.

“What we have seen is a remarkable effort on the part of the government to implement business reforms. It looks like we are going to have to wait for another year or so. But the direction of change is fundamentally a very significant one,” Global Indicators Group Director Augusto Lopez-Claros told PTI in an interview.

The rankings are based on ten parameters — starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

India has improved its ranking with respect to various areas. In terms of getting electricity, the country’s position has jumped to 26th spot from 51st place last year.

When it comes to trading across borders, the ranking has moved up one place to 143, and in enforcing contracts the rise is of six spots to 172nd position.

However, with respect to starting a business, the ranking has slipped four places to 155th spot and in the case of dealing with construction permits by one rank to 185th.

As per the report, India’s ranking in terms of protecting minority investors dropped to 13th place from 10th position last year.

With regard to getting credit, the ranking has fallen by two places to 44.

Explaining as to why India’s reform efforts is not being reflected in the ease of doing business report, Lopez-Claros said it very often takes some time for the reforms implemented by governments about the regulatory environment to be felt on the ground by the business community.

Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project said that there were in fact improvements this year.

“There are four areas of improvement this year in India getting electricity, trading across border, enforcing contracts and paying taxes,” Ramalho told PTI.

India’s ranking is based on the study of the system in the two cities of Mumbai and New Delhi.

“The reason why there is no real movement in the ranking is more to do with the fact that other countries are also moving. In absolute terms India, does improve significantly.

There aren’t many countries that improved more than India in terms of absolute number,” Ramalho said.

The ‘Doing Business’ project provides objective measures of business regulations for local firms in economies and selected cities at the sub-national level.

The World Bank is emphasising that countries pay attention to what it calls “distance to frontier” which is an absolute metric, Lopez-Claros said.

“There has been actually substantial increase in the last 12 months in India by couple of percentage points, which is quite large,” he noted.

Source: http://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/india-ranks-130th-in-ease-of-doing-business-index/story/238944.html

Brexit to hit eurozone growth, says IMF

The International Monetary Fund has cuts its economic growth forecasts for the eurozone in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

The eurozone is expected to grow by 1.6% this year and 1.4% in 2017. Before the referendum the IMF had predicted growth of 1.7% for both years.

The IMF also revised down its 2018 growth forecast to 1.6% from 1.7%.

It said medium-term growth prospects for the 19-member bloc were “mediocre” due to high unemployment and debt.

Mahmood Pradhan, deputy director of the IMF’s European Department, said the outlook could worsen if drawn-out negotiations between the UK and the EU led to a continuation of recent trends in financial markets – where investors have shunned riskier assets.

“If that risk aversion is prolonged, we think the growth impact could be larger and at this point, it is very difficult to tell how long that period lasts,” he said in a conference call.

The revised 2017 figure was the IMF’s “best case” scenario, assuming a deal was struck that allowed the UK to retain its access to the EU’s single market, Mr Pradhan said.

However, if the UK decided not to maintain close ties with the EU and chose to rely on World Trade Organization rules, there could be “major disruptions,” he said.

Mr Pradhan added it was “very, very early days to have any strong sense of confidence” about what the eventual relationship between the UK and EU would be.

In the medium-term, challenges such as high unemployment and persistent structural weaknesses in the euro area would continue to weigh on growth, the IMF said.

“As a result, growth five years ahead is expected to be about 1.5%, with headline inflation reaching only 1.7%,” the report said.

It also said that as the euro area was such a big player in world trade, any slowdown could have an impact on other economies, including emerging markets, but it expected this to be “limited”.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36743862

US, Europe combined infra spending less than China’s

Despite a crying need for better infrastructure, investment in it has actually fallen in 10 major economies since the financial crisis, including the US, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute. Meanwhile, China is still going gangbusters on roads, bridges, sewers, and everything else that makes a country run.

“China spends more on economic infrastructure annually than North America and Western Europe combined,” according to the report published Wednesday.

Economists around the world have been arguing that now is a great time to invest in infrastructure because interest rates are super-low and the global economy could use the spending jolt. “Is anyone proud of Kennedy airport?” Harvard University economist Lawrence Summers likes to ask.

The MGI report cites 10 countries where infrastructure spending fell as a share of gross domestic product from 2008 to 2013: the US, UK, Italy, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. The study counts 11 economies, but that’s because it lists the European Union as a separate entity.

In contrast to the widespread declines, the institute says, infrastructure spending grew as a share of GDP in Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Turkey, South Africa and China. The chart from the MGI report shows China’s strength in infrastructure spending. Its bar is the highest. There’s such a thing as too much infrastructure spending, of course. At current rates of investment, China, Japan, and Australia are likely to exceed their needs between now and 2030, the McKinsey & Co-affiliated think tank says. To fund more public infrastructure, the report favours raising user charges such as highway tolls, among other measures.

To encourage more private investment in infrastructure, MGI argues for increasing “regulatory certainty” and giving investors “the ability to charge prices that produce an acceptable risk-adjusted return.”

 

Source:  http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/us-europe-combined-infra-spending-less-than-china-s-116061600030_1.html