Govt lifts curbs on industrial urea imports
The commerce ministry today notified the decision to do away with restrictions on imports of industrial and technical grade urea, a move aimed at improving ease of doing business and checking diversion of urea.
Earlier, the imports were permitted through state trading enterprises – Indian Potash Ltd, MMTC and STC.
“Industrial Urea/Technical Grade Urea is being made freely importable with Actual User condition,” Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.
India’s urea imports went up 23 per cent to 87.49 lakh tonnes last fiscal on higher demand.
The country, which is among the world’s top three consumers of urea, had imported 70.88 MT of the fertiliser in 2013-14.
Commerce Ministry liberalises sales of preferential quota sugar
The Commerce Ministry on Tuesday liberalised the sales of preferential quota sugar to the European Union (CXL quota) and the United States (TRQ quota), effectively allowing all exporters and not just State Trading Enterprises (STEs) to avail of the benefits of the quota subject to a quantitative ceiling that will be reviewed notified by the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) periodically. The quotas essentially allow a quantum of exports to these markets at low tariffs. Additional imports of the sweetener beyond the quota are subject to additional tariffs. The Indian Sugar Exim Corporation would earlier export sugar under this system.
“The change in the policy of the preferential sugar quota will enable all sugar industries in the country to export sugar subject to a minimal requirement of registration from APEDA or DGFT,” said the Ministry in a statement.
Traders will have to furnish details of exports to the Additional DGFT, Mumbai, as well as Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Developnent Authority (APEDA). A certificate of origin, if required, will be issued by the former.
The quota for the EU is presently 10,000 tonnes while that for the US is 8,000 tonnes.
Tata Steel faces strike in UK as unions give notice of polling for industrial action
Tata Steel has come one step closer to facing a strike in the UK, with the unions giving the steel company official notice about their intention to begin balloting thousands of members for industrial action next month.
Unions are urging their members to vote for “strike action and action that is short of strike action,” following the failure of talks on “unnecessary and unjustified” plans to close the company’s defined benefit pension scheme.
Ballot papers will be posted to union members on May 6, and the ballot is expected to end on May 29. Three unions — Community, GMB, and UCATT — gave notice of the plans on Monday, while the fourth, Unite, is expected to give notice in the next few days.
In a statement, Roy Richhuss, Chair of the National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee, said that the unions had had no choice but to go ahead with the ballot. “Unfortunately there is no sign of Tata showing any willingness to work in a collaborative and co-operative spirit and re-enter meaningful discussions with trade unions about the future of the British Steel Pension Scheme.”
He said that Tata had rejected the unions’ “constructive offer” to discuss changes to the scheme.
Unions estimate that the scheme had around 143,000 members at the end of last year, including just over 17,000 employees, with assets of around £13.6 billion at the end of November.
“We have made it clear to the unions that our door remains open,” said a Tata Steel spokesperson, adding that the company remained committed to providing employees with competitive future pension provision.
According to Tata Steel, it had tabled proposals to the national officers of unions whereby the final salary scheme would remain open to future accruals subject to a number of modifications. “As agreement with the trade unions on these proposals could not be reached, the company has initiated a 60-day statutory consultation period with scheme members on the proposal to close the scheme,” said the spokesperson.
“The consultation process provides opportunities for employees to comment on the proposals and to suggest alternatives that they wish the company to consider, other than the proposal of closure to future accrual.”
Over the past few years, British firms have been closing final salary pension schemes, which are based on income at the time of retirement, and place the responsibility of paying pension income directly on the employer, moving employees onto defined contribution schemes (these move the investment risk onto employees), in a bid to cut costs.
London P&I Club issues recommendations on bauxite cargoes
The London P&I Club has issued a list of recommendations to owners contemplating the carriage of bauxite cargoes in the wake of renewed concerns about the dangers of cargo mis-declaration and potential liquefaction.
In the latest issue of the Club’s StopLoss Bulletin, Dr Martin Jonas, of international marine consultant and surveyor Brookes Bell, notes that grades of bauxite containing a high proportion of fines capable of retaining significant moisture are potentially at risk of liquefaction, resulting in cargo shift which may cause the capsizing of the carrying ship. Such cargoes are classed as Group A under the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code and should only be loaded if their moisture content is less than their transportable moisture limit (TML). The IMSBC Code does not explicitly identify bauxite as a potential Group A cargo, with the result that shippers may wrongly declare Group A bauxite as Group C, and may not provide the required TML and moisture certification.
Emphasising that shipowners should be alert to potentially mis-declared bauxite cargoes, the Club has made a number of recommendations to its members. These include a warning that any cargoes which possess flow properties when wet, or which contain a high proportion of fine particles, should be considered as Group A. Moreover, any wet or damp cargoes which appear on visual inspection to contain a significant proportion of fine particles should be tested for flow properties prior to loading, even if shippers have declared them as Group C.
The Club recommends that Masters, officers and crew should conduct frequent and regular can-testing in accordance with the method set out in the IMSBC Code, and says that, in the event of a failed can test or the presence of splatter marks on bulkheads and/or pools of free water, loading should be suspended until the cargo has been properly tested in a laboratory for flow characteristics.
Among other things, the Club also recommends that Group A bauxite cargoes should only be loaded with prior authorisation from the applicable competent authority, and in compliance with the detailed IMSBC Code regulations for sampling, testing and declaration of such cargoes.
This post was written by Atlantic Admin