India’s agriculture exports (including marine and plantation products) have beaten the pandemic registering a growth of 17.34 per cent to $ 41.25 billion in 2020-21, a top commerce ministry official said on Thursday.
Speaking to the media, commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan said that excellent growth of Agri exports in FY21 has come after it remained stagnant for the past three years (USD 38.43 billion in 2017-18, USD 38.74 billion in 2018-19 and USD 35.16 billion 2019-20).
In rupee terms, the increase is 22.62 per cent with exports during 2020-21 amounting to Rs 3.05 lakh crore as compared to Rs 2.49 lakh crore during 2019-20.
India’s agricultural and allied imports during 2019-20 were USD 20.64 billion, and the corresponding figures for 2020-21 are USD 20.67 billion. Despite COVID-19, the balance of trade in agriculture has improved by 42.16% from USD 14.51 billion to USD 20.58 billion.
For agriculture products (excluding marine and plantation products), the growth is 28.36% with exports of USD 29.81 billion in 2020-21 as compared to USD 23.23 billion in 2019-20. India has been able to take advantage of the increased demand for staples during the COVID-19 period.
Huge growth has been seen in export of cereals with export of non-basmati rice growing by 136.04% to USD 4794.54 million; wheat by 774.17% to USD 549.16 million; and other cereals (millets, maize and other coarse gains) by 238.28% to USD 694.14 million.
Other agricultural products, which registered a significant increase in exports as compared to 2019-20, were oil meals (USD 1575.34 million -growth of 90.28%), sugar (USD 2789.97 million – growth 41.88%), raw cotton (USD 1897.20 million – growth 79.43%), fresh vegetables (USD 721.47 million – growth 10.71%) and vegetable oils (USD 602.77 million- growth 254.39%) etc.
The largest markets for India’s agriculture products are the USA, China, Bangladesh, UAE, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran and Malaysia. Exports to most of these destinations have registered growth, with the highest growth being recorded for Indonesia (102.42%), Bangladesh (95.93%) and Nepal (50.49%).
Export of spices like ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, saffron etc., which have known therapeutic qualities, has also grown substantially. During 2020-21, export of pepper increased by 28.72% to USD 1269.38 million; cinnamon by 64.47% to USD 11.25 million; nutmeg, mace and cardamom by 132.03% (USD 189.34 million vs USD 81.60 million); and ginger, saffron, turmeric, thyme, bay leaves etc. by 35.44% to USD 570.63 million. Export of spices touched the highest ever level of around USD 4 billion during 2020-21.
The organic exports during 2020-21 were USD 1040 million as against USD 689 million in 2019-20, registering a growth of 50.94%. Organic exports include oil cake/meals, oil seeds, cereals and millets, spices and condiments, tea, medicinal plant products, dry fruits, sugar, pulses, coffee etc.
Exports have also taken place from several clusters for the first time. For instance, export of fresh vegetables and mangoes from Varanasi and black rice from Chandauli has taken place for the first time, directly benefitting farmers of the area. Exports have also taken place from other clusters viz. oranges from Nagpur, bananas from Theni and Ananthpur, mangoes from Lucknow etc. Despite the pandemic, export of fresh horticulture produce took place by multimodal mode and consignments were shipped by air and sea to Dubai, London and other destinations from these areas. Handholding by the Department for market linkages, post-harvest value chain development and the institutional structure such as FPOs, enabled North East farmers to send their value-added products beyond the Indian borders.
Cereal exports have done well during 2020-21. The country has been able to export to several countries for the first time. For example rice has been exported to countries like Timor-Leste, Puerto Rico, Brazil, for the first time. Similarly wheat has been exported to countries like Yemen, Indonesia, Bhutan and other cereals have been exported to Sudan, Poland Bolivia.
India’s forex reserves rise by over $3 bn
India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $3.074 billion during the week ended June 11.
According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement, the reserves increased to $608.081 billion from $605.008 billion reported for the week ended June 4.
India’s forex reserves comprise foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs), and the country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
On a weekly basis, FCAs, the largest component of the forex reserves, edged higher by $2.567 billion to $563.457 billion.
Similarly, the value of the country’s gold reserves rose by $496 million to $38.101 billion.
However, the SDR value slipped by $1 million at $1.512 billion.
But, the country’s reserve position with the IMF inched higher by $11 million to $5.011 billion.
BharatPe in talks to raise $250M led by Tiger Capital: Report
Fintech major BharatPe, that hit a new high with 106 million monthly transactions in UPI in March this year, is reportedly raising nearly $250 million in its next funding round led by Tiger Global.
TechCrunch on Friday reported, citing sources, that the fresh funding will take the company’s valuation to about $2.5 billion.
When reached, the company declined to comment at the moment.
The financial services company last month raised Rs 50 crore in debt from Northern Arc Capital, one of the leading digital debt finance platforms. This was the sixth round of debt financing in 2021.
In January, the company had raised Rs 200 crore from three top debt companies in the country — Alteria Capital, InnoVen Capital and Trifecta Capital, having later raised additional capital from ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.
“We have considerably ramped up our lending business in the last year and have set an ambitious target of facilitating disbursals to the tune of $1 billion to more than 10 lakh merchants by the end of current fiscal (FY22),” Suhail Sameer, Group President, BharatPe, had said.
The fintech company has already facilitated disbursals of over Rs 1,600 crore to more than 2 lakh merchants since the launch of the lending vertical.
As per a recent report by ACI Worldwide and Global Data, India has outpaced the US and China to become the world’s biggest real-time digital payments market, driven by P2P as well as merchant payments.
BharatPe said it is committed to help small merchants and kirana store owners grow their business with a range of fintech products for them.
Finance Ministry refutes reports of alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland
The Union Finance Ministry on Saturday said that increase in deposits of Indians in Swiss Banks could be on account of increase in business of Swiss bank branches located in India and raised Inter-bank transactions, rather than due to an increase in alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland.
It, however said that Swiss Authorities have been requested to provide the relevant facts along with their view on possible reasons for increase or decrease in deposits so that facts could be presented in correct perspective.
Certain reports suggested that that funds of Indians in Swiss Banks have risen to over Rs 20,700 crore (CHF 2.55 billion) at the end of 2020 from Rs 6,625 crore (CHF 899 million) at the end of 2019, reversing a 2 year declining trend. It has also been stated that this is also the highest figure of deposits in the last 13 years.
“Reports allude to the fact that the figures reported are official figures reported by banks to Swiss National Bank (SNB) and do not indicate the quantum of much debated alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland. Further, these statistics do not include the money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of third-country entities,” the Ministry statement said.
The statement added that the customer deposits have actually fallen from the end of 2019 in a Swiss Banks. The funds held through fiduciaries has also more than halved from end of 2019. The biggest increase is in “Other amounts due from customers”. These are in form of bonds, securities and various other financial instruments, the finance min statement said.
The ministry also ascribed various other reasons for increase in deposits and not possibly on account of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents. It said that that increase in deposits may be on account if increase in deposits owing to the business of Swiss Bank branches located in India or Increase in Inter- bank transactions between Swiss and Indian Banks. Also, it could be due to capital increase for a subsidiary of a Swiss Company in India or increase in the liabilities connected with the outstanding derivative financial instruments.
The government has issued clarifications in wake of widely held position that it has curbed generation of black money in the economy or unaccounted funds of Indians stashed abroad. The fresh tax agreements reached between India and certain perceived tax havens has introduced certain instruments to prevent round tripping of funds and generation of black money.
It is pertinent to point out that India and Switzerland are signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC) and both countries have also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) pursuant to which, the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is activated between the two countries for sharing of financial account information annually for calendar year 2018 onwards.
Exchanges of Financial Account information in respect of residents of each country have taken place between both countries in 2019 as well as 2020. In view of the existing legal arrangement for exchange of information of financial accounts (which has a significant deterrent effect on tax evasion through undisclosed assets abroad), there does not appear to be any significant possibility of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks which is out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents, the finance ministry said.
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