Commerce minister Anand Sharma presented India’s second foreign trade policy on Thursday. The policy comes at a time when exports have been contracting for ten consecutive months. Sharma admitted that announcing the policy during the economic downturn was a daunting task, but said his focus was on reversing the decline in exports.
The foreign trade policy includes tax breaks and other incentives for exporters until 2011 and says India’s exports can double by 2014
India’s first foreign trade policy was announced in 2004, and was supposed to be presented every five years. But this year’s policy will be followed by a revision in two years.
India will now allow restricted sales of the drug Tamiflu, which can fight the H1N1 or swine flu virus. Government-approved chemists will be able to sell Tamiflu and its generic variants from the second week of September. 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.
Scientists in the US say they have discovered the biggest threat to the ozone layer. Writing in the magazine Science, they say levels of nitrous oxide better known as laughing gas are double those of the CFC-11, which is one of the gases considered most harmful to the ozone layer.
A new report from an expert group is recommending the government create stimulus packages for sectors of the economy that are creating jobs and retaining employees. The report, which is sponsored by the International Labour Organization, is also calling for a nationwide minimum wage and easier micro credit for small businesses. The expert group that made the report consisted of trade unions, employers, and government officials.
In corporate news, Bharti Airtel may be coming closer to a merger agreement with South Africa’s MTN. It’s offering shareholder of MTN a little over 13 billion dollars in cash and shares for a 49% stake. For the deal to go through At least 75% of MTN shareholders must back the deal for it to go through. But Bharti also has less room for maneuver. Its ability to sweeten the deal has reduced because the South African Rand has appreciated against the dollar since merger talks restarted in May.
The festival season may be profitable season for some companies. Appliance manufacturers are saying 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. Consumer spending accounts for about 60% of India’s economy.
After at least two years of delays South Korean steel-maker Posco says it will begin construction of its plant in Orissa in 2010. The project had been delayed after local farmers, who feared losing their livelihoods, protested. Posco says it expects to complete its land acquisition by the end of the year.
Markets rose modestly on Thursday. The Sensex went up by 11 points closing at 15,781, while the Nifty rose just 7 points ending trade at 4,688.