After five long years, India unveiled its second foreign trade policy this week. The announcement comes at a time when the country’s exports have been contracting for ten straight months. Commerce minister Anand Sharma said his focus would on generating employment and reviving exports.
The foreign trade policy includes tax breaks and other incentives for exporters until 2011 and projects a doubling of India’s exports by 2014.
The riches beneath the sea floor could become a bone of contention between India and its neighbours. Myanmar has written to the UN complaining that India has broken agreement between the two countries by unilaterally extended its maritime boundary. Countries in the region are trying to set expand their exclusive economic zones in the seas hoping to get access to the gas hydrates and other mineral wealth beneath the sea floor.
The government has decided to allow some chemists to sell the drug Tamiflu and its generic variants. Tamiflu can fight the H1N1 virus, which causes swine flu. Authorities have banned retail sales of Tamiflu up till now because they fear people will people will use the drug without prescriptions causing the swine flu virus to develop resistance to the drug.
Fortis Healthcare is set to acquire hospitals in Mumbai, Kolkatta and Bangalore. It will buy ten of them from Wockhardt Hospitals. The deal is valued at about Rs909 crore. Analysts say the acquisition will help Fortis expand beyond north India and help the founders on Wockardt Hospitals reduce their debt.
Bharti Airtel may be coming closer to a merger agreement with South Africa’s MTN. It’s offering shareholders of MTN a little over $13 billion in cash and shares for a 49% stake. For the deal to go through at least 75% of MTN shareholders must back it. But Bharti also has less room for maneuver because the South African currency the Rand has appreciated against the dollar since merger talks restarted in May.
NACIL, the company that runs Air India has written to the government asking it not to allow Kingfisher to operate on the Delhi to London route because it will add to the losses of Air India.
Also this week, more than 20,000 Air India employees went on a short hunger strike to protest the airline’s proposal to cut productivity-linked incetives.
The private operators of the Delhi and Mumbai airports are asking the government for clearance to hike their service fees by 10%. The service fee consists of various charges for which the operators bill airlines and passengers.
After at least two years of delays and protests by local farmers, South Korean steel-maker Posco says it will begin construction of its plant in Orissa in 2010. Posco says it expects to complete its land acquisition by the end of the year.
Tata Steel reported a consolidated loss of about Rs2,209 crore for the quarter ending 30 June. The company blames the economic downturn and a slump in its European operations.
Appliance makers say they expect people to buy more of their products between Ganesh Chathurthi in August and Diwali in October. One firm LG Electronics says it expects sales in the period to increase by as much as 30% over last year.
Some companies are using nostalgia to get customer attention. Bajaj Electricals is bringing back a commercial that has been off the air for more than ten years, Maggi is trying to evoke the past to sell its hot and sweet ketchup, and Garden Sarees is using its iconic advertisement with actress Lisa Ray.