Pawar to talk to state Govts on multi-brand retail FDI

Pawar to talk to state Govts on multi-brand retail FDI

New Delhi: Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday he would talk to state governments about the country opening up its multi-brand retail sector to foreign direct investment.

India’s retail sector is largely closed to foreign firms and favours small family-run stores, with 51% of FDI allowed only in the single-brand retail sector. Multi-brand retail is restricted to cash-and-carry or wholesale outlets.

Opening up the sector would ease massive supply bottlenecks that have contributed to keeping inflation stubbornly high in India, Asia’s third-largest economy.

Sugar exports decision

India is likely to take a decision on sugar exports after the second week of November, Pawar said.

Sugar prices are linked to an expected imminent decision by India on whether to approve exports, and any ruling against Indian exports could pressure prices higher, analyst Jonathan Kingsman said.

Demand for sugar in India, the world’s top sugar and second-biggest producer, peaks during Diwali (the festival of lights) which will be celebrated in the first week of November.

India is estimated to produce 25.5 million tonnes in 2010-11, sharply higher compared to 18.8 million tonnes produced a year ago, giving the country a surplus to ship.

Cotton exports policy

The government will review its policy on cotton exports in December, Pawar told the annual Economic Editors’ Conference on Wednesday.

“We will review the cotton export scenario in December," Pawar told reporters.

India, the world’s second-biggest producer and consumer of cotton, has allowed exports of 5.5 million bales (1 bale=170 kgs) in 2010-11.

Cotton exporters have been lobbying for more exports as output is higher this year with one leading exporter estimating the 2010-11 crop at a record 35 million bales.

Until Tuesday, India’s textile ministry had given permission to export 4.4 million bales.

India’s cotton marketing year runs from October to September.