Goyal seeks deeper trade ties with US, Tesla to double auto parts import from India - Business Guardian
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Goyal seeks deeper trade ties with US, Tesla to double auto parts import from India

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Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday met with the United States Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai and held bilateral discussions to further deepen the India-US trade and investment ties along with convergence on key WTO issues for a favourable outcome at the MC13. The WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) will take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Ministers from across the world will attend to review the functioning of the multilateral trading system and to take action on the future work of the WTO. The Conference will be chaired by Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

A significant leg of the Minister’s tour is the visit to the Tesla factory unit in Fremont and interaction with the senior executives of the Tesla group amidst growing speculation of Elon Musk’s India entry. The electric vehicle giant is on its way to double its components imports from India, signalling the growing importance of auto component suppliers from India in the Tesla supply chain. Moreover, Indian engineers and finance professionals working at senior positions in Tesla are already contributing to the company’s  journey to transform mobility.

Tesla has been exploring the possibility of establishing a manufacturing plant in the country, in lieu of customs duty concessions. Tesla also aims to source components worth around USD 1.9 billion from India in the current year, compared to USD 1 billion in 2022, Goyal had said in September. The Government has rolled out production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for advanced chemistry cell (ACC) battery storage and the auto, auto-components, and drone industries, with substantial financial allocations.

Goyal also met with Korea’s Minister of Trade Dukgeun Ahn, and Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong with the talks focused on potential collaboration under the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), ways and means of further enhancing bilateral trade and commerce linkages, matters related to WTO, and other issues of mutual interest. During the interaction with his Singaporean and South Korean counterparts, the Minister suggested expedited conclusion of the review of AITIGA and CEPA respectively.

Participating in an investors roundtable organised in collaboration with USISPF and Indiaspora, the Minister held wide ranging discussions with the participants and highlighted the various steps taken by the Government to improve the ease of doing business in India. The meeting was attended by venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from a wide spectrum of industry in the US, including energy, manufacturing, logistics, technology.

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Cola, Beverage, Ice Cream makers expect Sales Skyrocket as temperature soars

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As temperatures rise and a heatwave settles in, FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) and dairy companies are gearing up for increased sales of cola-based fizz drinks, juices, mineral water, ice creams, and milk-based beverages. They have ramped up production and stocked up to meet the expected surge in consumer demand.

Executives from beverage and ice cream companies are launching new products to align with changing consumer preferences. Additionally, they are heavily investing in promotions and expanding distribution channels for the upcoming season.

The firm which owns brands as — Pepsi, 7up, Mirinda, Mountain Dew, Slice, Gatorade & Tropicana, has launched campaigns taking on board leading stars such as Ranbir Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna, Hrithik Roshan, Mahesh Babu, Kiara Adani and Nayanthara to woo consumers.

PepsiCo, a major player in the beverage industry, is optimistic about its brand portfolio’s performance during the summer months. They have launched campaigns featuring popular celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan to attract consumers.

Dabur India expects a robust summer season, particularly for its beverage and glucose product lines. They are strengthening inventory and expanding production capacity at their plants to meet the anticipated demand surge.

Coca-Cola India is also increasing production and distribution as summer approaches, aiming to stay connected with consumers during this critical period.

The India Meteorological Department predicts prolonged heatwaves between April and June, further reinforcing companies’ preparations for increased demand.

Havmor Ice Cream, now under LOTTE Wellfood Co, anticipates continued momentum in the ice cream category due to the expected warm weather. They are expanding production capacity and introducing new flavors to meet growing demand.

Meanwhile, Mother Dairy Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd plans to launch 30 new products, focusing on ice cream and yogurt categories, to meet the anticipated 25-30% surge in consumer demand.

Baskin Robbins India, through its master franchise Graviss Foods, is prepared to meet consumer expectations with strategic innovations and new plant capabilities. They are introducing new flavors and formats to cater to the increasing demand for high-quality ice cream products in the market.

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India to grow 7 % in FY24, 7.2 % in FY25, driven by robust investment, services exports

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The 2024-25 growth estimate is, however, lower than 7.6 per cent projected for the 2022-23 fiscal. The ADB’s growth forecast for FY25 is in line with projections made by the RBI.

After a slew of upgrades in growth projection , the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday raised India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for fiscal year (FY) 2024 from 6.7 per cent to 7 per cent and 7.2 per cent in FY2025, attributing the robust growth to public and private sector investment demand, gradual improvement in consumer demand and strong services sector.

The 2024-25 growth estimate is, however, lower than 7.6 per cent projected for the 2022-23 fiscal. The ADB’s growth forecast for FY25 is in line with projections made by the RBI. Strong investment drove GDP growth in the 2022-23 fiscal as consumption was muted, the ADB said and expects India to affirm its position as a major growth engine within Asia, driven by strong investment, recovering consumption, and gains in electronics and services exports.

While in the rest of developing Asia, faster growth will be driven by domestic demand and some improvement in semiconductor and services exports, including tourism. Stronger growth in South Asia and Southeast Asia will offset lower growth in other subregions. “Notwithstanding global headwinds, India remains the fastest growing major economy on the strength of its strong domestic demand and supportive policies,” said ADB Country Director for India Mio Oka. “The Government of India’s efforts to boost infrastructure development while undertaking fiscal consolidation and provide an enabling business environment will help in increased manufacturing competitiveness to augment exports and drive future growth,” said Oka.

With inflation moderating to 4.6 per cent in FY2024 and easing further to 4.5 per cent in FY2025, the ADB suggests monetary policy may become less restrictive, which will facilitate rapid offtake of bank credit. Demand for financial, real estate and professional services will grow while manufacturing will benefit from muted input cost pressures that will boost industry sentiment. Expectations of a normal monsoon will help boost growth of the agriculture sector. The report lauds the government’s focus on fiscal consolidation, with a targeted deficit of 5.1 per cent of GDP for FY2024 and 4.5 per cent for FY2025, which will enable the government to reduce its gross marketing borrowing by 0.9 per cent of GDP in FY2024 and create further room for private sector credit.

India’s current account deficit will widen moderately to 1.7 per cent of GDP on rising imports for meeting domestic demand. Foreign direct investment will be affected in the near term due to tight global financial conditions but will pick up in FY2025 with higher industry and infrastructure investment. Goods exports will also be affected by lower growth in advanced economies but pick up in FY2025 as global growth improves.

On the regional front, growth in developing Asia will remain healthy at 4.9 per cent in 2024 and 2025, despite a slowdown in China. In fact, while growth in the PRC will decline from 5.2 per cent in 2023 to 4.8 per cent this year and 4.5 per cent next year, it will accelerate in the rest of developing Asia—from 4.8 per cent in 2023 to 5.0 per cent this year and 5.3 per cent in 2025. The slowdown in the PRC will be driven by the weak property market and amplified by fading domestic consumption growth after last year’s reopening.

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EU, India to jointly promote start-ups in battery recycling technologies for EVs

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As part of a broader effort to promote sustainable agenda, foster innovation and forge stronger economic relations between the European Union and India, the EU and India on Tuesday launched an expression of interest (EoI) for start-ups working in the area of battery recycling technologies for electric vehicles (EVs). The collaboration aims to enhance the cooperation between European and Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups in the clean and green technologies sector.

The intended exchange of knowledge and expertise will be instrumental in advancing the circularity of rare materials and transitioning towards carbon-neutrality in both India and the EU. This initiative takes place under the India-EU Trade & Technology Council (TTC) announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, at their meeting in New Delhi on April 2022.

The initiative provides a platform for Indian and EU startups in the field of EV battery recycling technologies to pitch their innovative solutions and engage with Indian/European venture capitalists and solution adopters. Twelve startups, six each from India and the EU will be selected and get a pitching opportunity during the matchmaking event, scheduled during June 2024. Six finalists (three from the EU and three from India) will be selected following their pitching presentations and awarded the possibility to visit India and the EU, respectively.

The objective is to identify, support and promote startups dedicated to advancing the field of battery recycling technologies for EV and facilitate cooperation, potential trade avenues and, customer relations and exploring investment avenues for the shortlisted startups. This will, under India-EU TTC Working Group 2, offer Indian startups/SMEs an exclusive platform to demonstrate their expertise in battery recycling technologies. It provides a chance for Indian innovators to establish strategic alliances with their counterparts in the EU, accelerating the development of advanced battery recycling techniques focused on waste minimization and resource sustainability.

It will also harmonise efforts with EU innovators to jointly develop battery recycling solutions that drive industry expansion. The TTC was first announced by European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and Modi in April 2022 and established on 6 February 2023, allowing both sides to tackle challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology, security and deepen cooperation in these fields. Establishing India-EU TTC is a key step towards a strengthened strategic partnership for the benefit of all people in India and the EU.

The TTC is a key forum to deepen the strategic partnership on trade and technology between the two partners. The TTC will help increase EU-India bilateral trade, which is at historical highs, with €120 billion worth of goods traded in 2022. In 2022, €17 billion of digital products and services were traded.

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Expectation of better demand conditions in Q1 FY25 lifts manufacturers’ sentiments

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The business expectations index of the survey remains firmly in growth terrain at 127.2 in Q1 of 2024-25.

The Indian manufacturing sector is optimistic on demand conditions in the April-June (Q1) of the new financial year 2024-25, with a strong community of the industry reporting better demand conditions in their assessment of production, order books, capacity utilisation and overall business situation for Q4 (January-March) of FY24.

This is despite expectation that cost pressures from raw materials and salary outgo are likely to persist during April-June 2024. Though respondents expected some moderation in growth of selling prices and profit margins in synchrony with their expectations for demand conditions, according to a recent Reserve Bank of India’s Industrial Outlook Survey of the Manufacturing Sector for Q4 (January-March) of 2023-24.

In all, 1,354 companies responded in this round of the survey, which was conducted during January-March 2024. While there was improvement in employment situation vis-à-vis the previous quarter, input cost pressures increased during Q4 FY24 but the pace of rise in remuneration, however, moderated. Sentiments on overall financial situation and availability of finance remained positive, with some improvement vis-à-vis the previous survey round.

The manufacturers polled lower rise in selling prices and assessed some deterioration in profit margins. The business assessment index for the manufacturing sector increased marginally to 114.2 in Q4 FY 2023-24 from 113.9 in the previous quarter. The business expectations index of the survey remains firmly in growth terrain at 127.2 in Q1 of 2024-25. For the July-September (Q2) of FY2024-25, manufacturers remain optimistic on production, capacity utilisation, order books, employment conditions and overall business situation even as input cost pressures are expected to continue till end-2024 and selling price is anticipated to uphold during Q2 and Q3 of 2024-25.

The RBI’s survey of the quarterly order books, inventories and capacity utilisation (OBICUS), conducted during Q4 FY 2023-24 and covering 813 manufacturing companies shows that at the aggregate level, the capacity utilisation (CU) in the manufacturing sector increased to 74.7 per cent in Q3 FY24 from 74.0 per cent in the previous quarter.

The value of new orders received by the responding companies during Q3 FY24 remained close to that in the previous quarter. On an annual (y-o-y) basis, however, the value of new orders increased by nearly 10 per cent. The finished goods inventory to sales ratio increased marginally in Q3 FY24 from its level in the previous quarter while the raw material inventory to sales ratio remained stable.

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Realme targets top spot in Rs 15-25k segment with P series launch

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Realme India aims to garner the highest share in the Rs 15,000-25,000 mobile phone segment this year with the launch of a new portfolio of devices under the P series, a senior company official said.

While sharing the plans on the P series, Realme India’s business strategy lead, Tarini Prasad Das, told reporters that in 2024, the company aims to achieve 50 million smartphone sales cumulatively under its partnership with Flipkart.

“We aim to lead the Rs 15,000-25,000 smartphone segment this year overall with the launch of the P series. The P series itself is expected to lead the segment,” Das said.

Realme is among the top five smartphone brands in terms of volume market share. The company had a 12 percent market share in 2023.

The company plans to launch the P series in the second week of April in the sub-Rs 20,000 price range.

Das said that both offline and online sales contribute equally to the overall business of Realme, and the company is looking to consolidate its leadership in the Rs 15,000-25,000 segment with the P series.

Without revealing the specifications of P series smartphones, Das said that it will focus on performance, design, better display, and charging facility in the target segment.

“We have exclusively partnered with Flipkart for the P series. We aim to achieve the 50 million sales milestone on Flipkart with the launch of the new P series this year,” Das said.

Realme captured the top spot on Flipkart in the price band of Rs 20,000-30,000 in February 2024 with a 29.2 percent share, as per the Counterpoint February 2024 trend report.

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Modest growth of 3.14 % in retail sales, PVs dip 6 %, 2W & 3Wsoar: FADA

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In FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively.

Despite election uncertainties, economic concerns and intense competition, the two wheeler and 3W segments showcased positive sentiment in March retail sales, especially in the premium and EV segments even as the Indian auto retail sector posted a modest growth of 3.14 per cent yoy in March 2024, with passenger vehicles sales showing a decline of 6 per cent, tractors showing a decline of 3 per cent and commercial vehicles facing a slump of 6 per cent respectively. However, in FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively, the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) said on Monday.

Heading into FY’25, FADA projects growth amidst a mix of optimism and challenges. The vehicle retail data of FADA for March’24 and FY’24 shows a surge in electric vehicle sales amidst expiration of the FAME 2 subsidy on 31 March with the 2W electric vehicles share jumping to 9.12 per cent for the first time. There was positive sentiment in 3W segment which demonstrated growth driven by the increasing acceptance of EVs, showing an optimistic trend despite potential challenges from election uncertainties and policy changes. Manish Raj Singhania, notes that the 2W segment demonstrated resilience and adaptability, with EV sales surging due to the expiration of the FAME 2 subsidy on March 31st. “This led to a notable boost in the 2W-EV market share to 9.12 per cent. “Positive market sentiment was supported by seasonal events, improved vehicle supply, and financial incentives. Despite facing market volatility and intense competition, the industry is strategically evolving, particularly in the premium and EV categories, signalling a bright future.” said Singhania.

In FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively. The 2W segment benefited by enhanced model availability, the introduction of new products and a positive market sentiment, alongside the burgeoning EV market and strategic premium segment launches. The growth in the 3W segment was driven by the introduction of cost-effective CNG fuel options, new EV models, expanding city landscapes, demand in last mile mobility in urban centres resulting in strong demand, marking a new industry benchmark. The PV segment’s growth was propelled by improved vehicle availability, a compelling model mix and significant contributions from the SUV segment, which now claims 50 per cent market share.

The auto is projecting an optimistic outlook in FY’25, focusing on new product launches, especially in EVs and leveraging economic growth, favourable government policies and expectation of good monsoon to fuel demand, despite facing challenges like competition and the need for strategic market engagement. The 3W segment showed an encouraging sales trend hitting an all-time high retail, driven by the growing acceptance of EVs. The introduction of EV autos and loaders positively impacted the retail environment. Although faced with election-related uncertainties and concerns over policy changes, such as free bus travel for women, the overall outlook for the sector remains upbeat, supported by the quality of vehicles and strong market demand.

The PV sector encountered challenges, with a m-o-m decrease of 2 per cent and a yoy fall of 6 per cent The downturn was influenced by heavy discounting and selective financing further affected by economic worries and the electoral climate. Nonetheless, positives such as improved vehicle availability, increased stock levels and new model launches did stimulate demand in certain areas. The impact of election activities and changes in festival dates also played a role in sales dynamics. The near-term outlook of FADA notes concern over decline in consumer sentiment among urban Indians and warns that the automotive sector faces a nuanced challenge. Given the continued inflationary trend without any relief in finance rates, these prospective buyers may continue to hesitate. Heading into FY’25, the auto industry is poised for growth amidst a mix of optimism and challenges.

The excitement around new product launches, particularly electric vehicles, sets a forward-looking tone. Manufacturers are gearing up with better supply chains and an array of models to meet diverse consumer demands. Economic growth, favourable government policies and an anticipated good monsoon are expected to fuel demand, especially in rural areas and the commercial vehicle sector, which is closely linked to infrastructure projects and economic activity.

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