India implements FTA on goods with Indonesia

New Delhi: Taking its free trade agreement (FTA) with the 10-nation Asean bloc a step further, India has implemented a free trade pact with Indonesia that slashes import duties on thousands of products, like seafood, chemicals and apparel, reports PTI.

In turn, Indonesia will also slash import duties on Indian goods.

Now that the trade pact with Indonesia has come into force, the agreement signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) bloc in 2009 has become functional with six member countries.

Besides Indonesia, the other five countries with which India has operationalised FTAs are Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

While India and the Asean grouping signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on goods in August, 2009, it was to be separately notified by New Delhi for each member country.

The notification bringing the FTA with Indonesia into force from 1st October was issued by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).

A commerce ministry official said FTAs with the remaining four Asean members of Asean — Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines — are also expected to become functional in the coming months.

Indonesia accounted for $11.7 billion out of total bilateral trade of $44 billion between India and Asean countries in 2009-10.

India and Asean are also engaged in negotiations to broadbase the FTA by liberalising the services and investment regime.

Commerce ministry officials said talks for the proposed pact on services and investments were at an advanced stage.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit Vietnam to participate in the India-Asean Summit later this month.


India, China see Dubai as best business location: Study

Dubai: Indian and Chinese firms see Dubai as the leading business centre in the Gulf region, but negative perceptions regarding occupancy costs still remain, reports PTI quoting a new report.

The report, 'Retreading The Silk Road', by Cushman and Wakefield Middle East (C&W), was based on feedback from the firm's agency division which suggested that commercial leasing by companies from South Asia and Asia Pacific has been on the rise.

C&W conducted a series of interviews with Chinese and Indian companies already established in Dubai as well as with those companies considering setting up in the region.

According to the report, across the board, Chinese and Indian companies believe that Dubai offers the best business environment as a result of its location, as well as its superior infrastructure and transport links in comparison with its regional peers.

However, there remains a perception in the market that Dubai is as expensive and overcrowded as it was in the boom years of 2006-2008.

Despite being part of much larger organisations, the majority of businesses are currently operating small satellite offices, with limited space requirements and minimal head-count.

Kausuv Roy, executive director Cushman & Wakefield India, said, "When Indian companies talk to us about setting up an office in the Gulf, Dubai is naturally uppermost in their minds because it meets their needs, offering a friendly business environment, a large expatriate population and historic trade links with South Asia.

"We therefore anticipate an increased number of enquiries for office space to come out of India in the coming period."

Michael Atwell, head of C&W's Middle East operations, said, "Indian and Chinese companies are quite clearly looking at Dubai as the ideal strategic location for their regional business activities. However, it is vital that the city's landlords offer the flexibility and support that these new entrants, who are taking a cautious approach to regional expansion, require.

"Although rents in areas like DIFC remain relatively high, Dubai now offers improved affordability for those looking to set up operations and the city must work harder to challenge any misconception."

The companies interviewed cover a range of sectors - financial services, professional services, IT, leisure and tourism, industrials and manufacturing.


MF industry beats quarter-end blues; AUM rise 3.7%

New Delhi: The country's mutual fund (MF) industry shrugged off the quarter-end withdrawal jitters for the first time since June 2009, with the assets under management rising 3.7% in September, reports PTI.

The industry's average assets under management (AUM) rose by Rs25,721 crore, or 3.74%, in September compared to last month. The combined average AUM of 39 fund houses stood at Rs7,13,280.78 crore at the end of the September quarter.

The last time the industry witnessed an increase in AUM on a quarter-ending month was in June 2009.

The industry's assets had grown by over 5% month-on-month in June last year.

Usually the MF industry witnesses some redemption pressure at the end of every quarter on the back of hefty pull outs by the banks and corporates.

Analysts said huge inflow into the debt and money market schemes helped the industry record gains at the end of September quarter.

The country's largest fund house Reliance MF saw an addition of Rs3,237 crore, or 3.1%, to its average assets at over Rs1.07 lakh crore, data by the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) showed.

The assets of the second largest fund house, HDFC MF, increased to Rs93105.58 crore, a rise of Rs2,927 crore or over 3% over the last month.

At the end of September, the asset base of ICICI Prudential MF stood at Rs69,727.52 crore and UTI MF at Rs67,617.72 crore. While, UTI MF's AUM increased by Rs3,445 crore, ICICI Pru MF managed to add only Rs959 crore.

September is the second consecutive month when the mutual fund industry witnessed an increase in its AUM.

The industry had witnessed a decline in their asset base for two months — June and July — on account of withdrawal by corporates and banks.

The other fund houses that saw an increase in its AUM include SBI MF (7%), Kotak Mahindra MF (6.9%), Tata MF (9%) and Franklin Templeton MF (5.7%).

However, some funds like Deutsche MF, Shinsei MF and Baroda Pioneer MF saw a dip in their monthly AAUM for September.


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