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BPA to conduct major review of port transport and infrastructure connectivity

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BPA to conduct major review of port transport and infrastructure connectivity. Image: Pixabay
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The British Ports Association is today launching a major new review of UK port connectivity. This work will highlight to government and local authorities where post-Coronavirus investment in infrastructure can be concentrated in order to maximise economic growth and speed up the recovery. This will look at infrastructure outside of ports such as road and rail links but also broadening out to assess energy and digital capabilities.

The BPA is inviting ports to submit an inventory of required external improvements to connectivity infrastructure. This will be used to examine the progress made since the Department for Transport’s English Port Connectivity Study two years ago; broadening this out to all ports around the UK, as well as looking at digital connectivity, energy capacity, in addition to transport needs.

COVID-19 has demonstrated the resilience of the UK supply chain – as ports worked efficiently through the pandemic and kept the nation supplied, despite the economic downturn taking a toll on the sector, as it did with many others. However, now more than ever, it is critical to consider where government investment can be targeted to unlock growth and provide a boost to the economy. The BPA will be laying out the inventory of works before government to show how we can build a Britain stronger than ever before.

UK ports are commercially managed, operating strategically and financially independent of Government. With very few exceptions, UK port infrastructure investments are privately financed; investments are market-led and £1.7bn is currently in the pipeline around the UK. Ports ask for very little from the Government but do rely on public investment in external infrastructure to stay competitive.

Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy and Economic Analyst at the British Ports Association, who is leading the Review, said;

“At a time when the government needs to stimulate significant growth to rebuild from the economic crisis, the decision to invest in infrastructure is straight forward. Infrastructure investment of 1% of GDP has a multiplier effect which can lead to an increase of 2.6% in GDP over four years.

Studies have shown that if the UK fails to bring infrastructure up to the standard of other developed economies, this could create an annual loss to the economy of £90 billion by 2026; so, in reality, the UK cannot afford not to invest in infrastructure.

The BPA has previously welcomed the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda, but now we ask that they consider how to bring ports into this, especially given their economic significance in coastal communities.

We are inviting ports to send us an inventory of required public infrastructure improvements and upgrades, so we can highlight to the government where investment should be focused. These upgrades can relate to transport and digital connectivity, as well as other infrastructure requirements, such as increasing energy capacity in local networks, which will be key to facilitating Britain’s transition to net-zero by 2050.”

Hinterland transport links in particular is fundamental for the movement of goods and passengers. The UK’s motorway and trunk roads networks are managed by the various parts of central Government around the country, while local roads are owed and funded by local authorities. These last mile connections are often essential to ports but not always treated in a strategic way. Improved and increased rail access to the national network is also sought by many in the ports sector.

As the country moves towards net zero, electrification of infrastructure is becoming essential and separately as ports embrace the smart and invocation agendas they will need to be better better connected digitally.

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India and US in negotiations to make a trade deal

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India and US in negotiations to make a trade deal. Image: Pixabay
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India and the US are in negotiations to make a trade agreement. The  Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Piyush Goyal has invited the United States commercial enterprises to take the bilateral exchange to new heights. Addressing the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) via a digital convention, ShriGoyal stated that the 2 democracies percentage deep dedication with each other, on the Government, Business and those to people to people levels.

Both nations trust in free and fair trade and the United States is India’s biggest buying and selling partner. He said that going beyond trade, in this interconnected world, the two nations can be the resilient trusted partners in the global value chain.

He further indicated to the members of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum about the initiatives taken by the government to facilitate industry and investments. He said that a GIS-enabled land bank has been launched on pilot basis, with six states on board, which will help the investors in identifying the land and location. 

India is ready to sign an initial limited trade package, and it is upto the US to move ahead, he said. 

The US is eager for a deal in advance of its presidential elections in November and had indicated that a preliminary deal ought to encompass recuperation of the GSP advantages to India and marketplace entry for each other’s agricultural products. India has demanded exemption from excessive obligations imposed on steel , aluminium products and its farm products, even as the United States is looking to have a  market entry  for its farm production, merchandise and clinical devices. 

He said, the trade deal has challenges but also a number of opportunities. This could be a foundational exchange deal on the way to deepen our engagement going forward.

 

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India ranks first in number of organic farmers and Sikkim becomes first state in the world to become fully organic

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India ranks first in number of organic farmers and Sikkim becomes first state in the world to become fully organic. Image: Pixabay
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As the global pandemic situation continues the demand for access to good quality food is on the rise and it’s a high priority to India. In a very recent official statement from the government, India ranks first within the number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming. Also Sikkim became the first state in the world to become fully organic and other states such as Tripura and Uttarakhand have similar goals.

With the aim of aiding farmers to adopt organic farming and improve remunerations, government had introduced two dedicated programs specifically Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) were launched in 2015 to encourage organic farming. 

The major organic exports from India are flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice and pulses, which were instrumental in driving an rise of nearly 50% in organic exports in 2018-19, touching Rs 5151 crore. 

Modest commencement of exports from Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland to UK, USA, Swaziland and Italy have proved the potential by increasing volumes and expanding to new destinations because the demand for health foods increases.

Both Mission Organic Value Chain Development and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana are promoting certification under  Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) respectively targeting local and international markets. 

Before making a purchase a consumer should look for the logos of FSSAI, Jaivik Bharat / PGS Organic India on the produce to ascertain the organic authenticity of the product. This can be a very important element of an organic produce. 

Presently, the commodities with highest potential include ginger, turmeric, black rice, spices, nutri cereals, pineapples, medicinal plants, buckwheat, bamboo shoots, etc. Supplies of organic produce has started from the north eastern region including for Mother Dairy from Meghalaya, Revanta Foods and Big Basket from Manipur. 

The organic e-commerce platform www.jaivikkheti.in is being strengthened for directly linking farmers with retail as well as bulk buyers. Infusion of digital technology in a much bigger way has been a major takeaway during the pandemic period.

Indian organic farmers will soon be reinforcing the top place in the global agriculture trade. 

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Retail imports to see lowest annual total in four years

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Retail imports to see lowest annual total in four years. Image: Pixabay
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Imports at major U.S. retail container ports during 2020 are expected to see their lowest total in four years as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy continues, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“The economy is recovering but retailers are being careful not to import more than they can sell,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Shelves will be stocked, but this is not the year to be left with warehouses full of unsold merchandise. The more Congress does to put spending money in consumers’ pockets and provide businesses with liquidity, the sooner we can get back to normal.”

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.61 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in June, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 4.9 percent from May but down 10.5 percent year-over-year. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

July was estimated at 1.76 million TEU, down 10.2 percent year-over-year. August is forecast at 1.81 million TEU, down 7.3 percent; September at 1.69 million TEU, down 9.5 percent; October also at 1.69 million TEU, down 10.4 percent; November at 1.59 million TEU, down 5.8 percent, and December at 1.56 million TEU, down 9.6 percent.

Those numbers would bring 2020 to a total of 19.6 million TEU, a drop of 9.4 percent from last year and the lowest annual total since 19.1 million TEU in 2016. The first half of 2020 totaled 9.5 million TEU, down 10.1 percent from last year.

August is expected to be the busiest month of the July-October “peak season” when retailers rush to bring in merchandise for the winter holidays. But with retailers ordering less merchandise, the month’s total would be the lowest peak for the season since 1.73 million TEU in 2016 and falls far short of the 1.96 million TEU peak in 2019. Peak season usually includes the busiest month of the entire year, but this year that was likely January’s 1.82 million TEU.

“This year, peak season seems to have been thrown off by the coronavirus pandemic along with just about everything else we consider normal,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “We’ve probably already had our busiest month. And with the pandemic taking a hit on the economy ever since then, peak season is likely to be a disappointment by comparison.”

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