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India agrees to lower tariff on palm oil imports from Indonesia to 45 per cent

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India has agreed to reduce import duties on Indonesian processed palm oil to 45 per cent bringing about parity with imports from Malaysia.

The decision was taken by India in a meeting between Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukota on the sidelines of the 51st ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this week, according to the Commerce Ministry.

In response to this, Indonesia has offered market access for India to export raw sugar by lowering the standard requirement for imported refined crystal sugar to a level that the country could find possible to meet, according to Lukita who spoke to the media in Bangkok. Indonesia has offered to lower the standard of International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA) for imported refined crystal sugar, from 1,200 to 200.

Gold exports

In addition to the RBDPO export duty, Jakarta has also urged New Delhi to eliminate the trade barriers for gold exports. India has agreed to assess the barriers for Indonesian gold exports, including the pre-requisite bank guarantee required for exporting the yellow metal.

India had imposed a 45 per cent tariff for Malaysian palm oil exports under the India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation, while the export duty on palm oil under the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement was set at 50 per cent.

Interestingly, the Director-General of Trade Remedies in India has recently recommended an increase in the rate of customs duty by 5 per cent on imports of two varieties of palmolein oil originating in Malaysia for a period of 180 days to safeguard the interest of the domestic industry. The Finance Ministry is deliberating on the recommendation.

Bilateral trade

Indonesia’s exports to the country in 2018 were recorded at $13.7 billion and imports at $5 billion.

Indonesia’s main exports to India comprise coal, with exports reaching $5.37 billion in 2018, palm oil and its derivatives, $3.56 billion, natural rubber, $429.2 million, and copper ore and concentrate, $414.9 million.





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Fed’s Bostic says ‘we won’t have to do anything’ on interest rates

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Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic became the latest central banker to advocate a hold on interest rates, telling CNBC that he doesn’t see a need to change given current conditions.

Despite the market pricing in up to two cuts this year, Bostic said that unless there’s a significant shift in economic performance, the Fed should stay put.

“There are many different scenarios about what’s going to happen between now and say June or July. My baseline expectations are that the economy is not going to see rising risks and it’s going to stay stable, so we won’t have to do anything,” he told CNBC’s Steve Liesman during a “Squawk Box” interview.

“But my focus is on today and what we know today and what we know next week as the data comes in. If we see more weakness than expected, then I’d be open to moving. But that’s not my expectation,” he added.

Bullard, Clarida also see no cuts

Though he is not a voter this year on the Federal Open Market Committee, Bostic gets input into the decision-making process.

Earlier Friday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard also told CNBC he does not see a likelihood of a cut, and both speakers come a day after Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida also told the network that he’s not anticipating a change.

Markets, though, are not on the same page.

Traders in the fund funds futures market are indicating a 54% chance of a rate cut by June and a 59% probability of two moves by the end of the year, despite consistent statements from Fed officials indicating otherwise. Markets fear that the coronavirus could continue to spread and dent global economic growth, necessitating a further easing on policy beyond the three cuts the Fed implemented in 2019.

Like Bullard, Bostic said he expects the coronavirus to be “a short-term hit” to the economy.

“I have no impulses really to think that we need to do anything differently with our policy stance than we are doing today,” Bostic said.

The Fed currently targets its benchmark overnight borrowing rate in a range between 1.5%-1.75%. The FOMC has kept the rate steady the past two meetings after last year’s cuts.



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