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India economy & business news in brief for Feb 23: Modi visits own constituency Varanasi for new projects

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi waves to people while being showered with flower petals as he arrives at a public event to inaugurate and launch several development projects, in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Friday, February 23, 2024. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

HERE are news in brief on Indian economy and business for Friday, February 23, 2024:

Prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated and laid the foundation of several projects worth more than Rs 13,000 crore (£1.2 billion) in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. According to an official statement, these projects include multiple roads, a cooking-gas bottling plant, a milk-processing unit, and a silk fabric printing common facility centre for weavers. For the textiles sector of the holy city, Modi laid the foundation stone of a National Institute of Fashion Technology and that of a new medical college and the National Centre of Ageing at Banaras Hindu University. The PM inaugurated also laid the foundation stone of Sant Ravidas Museum on the occasion of seer Sant Ravidas’s 647th birth anniversary.

India does not ‘rush’ into any free trade agreement (FTA) if the pact is not equitable, balanced, and fair for the country, Its commerce and industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said. He said that the ground realities in India have changed now and the offers made by partner countries in these agreements are “not at all” comparable to what India is offering to the world. At present, negotiations for FTAs with the UK, Oman, and the four-nation European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are nearing conclusion. EFTA members include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The minister also said that India should never rush for trade negotiations as they are going to impact it for years to come.

The manufacturing sector needs to contribute a quarter to India’s economic growth amid its ambition of becoming a $30-trillion economy by 2030 and a developed country (Viksit Bharat), Mahindra & Mahindra Group managing director and CEO Anish Shah said on Friday. Sharing his perspective on the role industries and enterprises will have to play in accelerating national growth and economic prosperity at the third ‘Ideas of India Summit 3.0’ in Mumbai, he also said over the next seven years, Indian gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to add as much to the global GDP as the entire European Union combined.

Successful conclusion of India’s proposed trade agreements with the UK, Oman and four European nation bloc EFTA (European Free Trade Association) will reflect its commitment to trade liberalisation and economic integration at a time when the whole world is turning protectionist, according to a report. Economic think tank Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) said the free trade agreements (FTAs) have become pivotal instruments for India’s economic expansion and integration into the world market. These nations and the bloc are eager to finalize these agreements before India’s upcoming general elections, GTRI said, adding the talks are on the verge of conclusion.

India’s foreign exchange reserves, reported by its central bank — Reserve Bank of India — on Thursday fell to $616.10 billion (£486 billion) as of February 16. This marks a $1.13 billion (£891.4 million) decrease from the previous week, following a larger decline of $5.24 billion (£4.13 billion) the week prior, making it the lowest in two months. The last time reserves were lower was on December 15 at $615.97 billion (£485.9 million). Fluctuations in reserves stem from currency valuation changes and asset transactions, with RBI intervening solely to curb rupee’s exchange rate volatility.

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA on Thursday said it will close down its store in the Mumbai R City Mall in India’s financial capital by the middle of this year due to limitations of layout, design, and location. Spread across 70,000 square feet, the store was opened in June 2022 and offers a limited selection of IKEA goods, the statement said. “IKEA has taken a strategic business decision to discontinue its IKEA R-city operations by mid this year and consolidate its Mumbai operations to IKEA Worli, IKEA Navi Mumbai, and online presence,” it said. The IKEA R-city store was launched as one of the new-format small store.


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