Archive for ‘Manufacturing’

01/04/2019

China manufacturing returns to growth in March: Caixin PMI

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s manufacturing sector unexpectedly returned to growth for the first time in four months in March, in a sign that government stimulus measures may be slowly gaining traction, a private business survey showed on Monday.

But growth in new domestic and exports orders was marginal, suggesting the economy will remain under pressure in coming months and will likely require more policy support before it can convincingly stabilize.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) expanded at the strongest pace in eight months in March, rising to 50.8 from 49.9 in February, above the neutral 50-mark dividing expansion from contraction on a monthly basis and the highest level seen since July 2018.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the reading for March would stay unchanged at 49.9. The surprise expansion seen in the Caixin survey echoed that seen in the official PMI released on Sunday, which also showed factory activity defying expectations for another contraction in March.

“With a more relaxed financing environment, government efforts to bail out the private sector and positive progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks, the situation across the manufacturing sector recovered in March,” Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, said in a commentary accompanying the data release.

China has made proposals in talks with the United States on a range of issues that go further than it has before, including on forced technology transfer, as the two sides work to overcome obstacles to a deal to end their protracted trade war, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

But sources close to the talks have stressed that a deal is by no means certain, and tit-for-tat tariffs on both sides have remained in place.

Zhang noted the employment situation improved significantly in March, a trend that may ease some government and investor concerns after the unemployment rate in urban areas for February rose to the highest since early 2017.

Caixin’s findings showed factories added headcount in March for the first time in 65 months, arresting a relentless spell of job shedding since October 2013. Some firms were hiring to support higher production and new business development, the release said.

New orders — an indicator of future activity — increased for the second month running, though the pace of growth was marginal. Output also grew for the second straight month.

New export orders expanded after contracting in the previous month. Though the rate of increase was fractional, Caixin said the broad trend appeared to have steadied in the first quarter.

Chinese manufacturers also signaled an improvement in pricing power in March, which could ease pressure on profit margins. Output charges edged up into expansionary territory and outpaced growth in input prices, reflecting reduced pressure from raw material costs.

“The producer price index might have risen faster year-on-year in March, and increased month-on-month, compared with a monthly decline in February,” Zhong added.

Optimism among businesses edged up to a 10-month high partly on expectations that market conditions, both at home and abroad, will improve, the statement said.

But purchasing activity declined for the third straight month, suggesting some firms remain cautious.
Economists at Nomura have forecast that China’s industrial production growth will moderate again in April and May after a brief rebound in March mainly due to last year’s low base.
Source: Reuters
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06/03/2019

China to make forced technology transfer illegal as Beijing tries to woo back foreign investors

  • Issue a key demand made by US President Donald Trump as part of the ongoing US-China trade war
  • China expected to pass new foreign investment law next week during National People’s Congress

26 Feb 2019

Foreign direct investment in China amounted to US$135 billion in 2018, an increase of 3 per cent from a year earlier, according to Chinese government data. Photo: EPA

Foreign direct investment in China amounted to US$135 billion in 2018, an increase of 3 per cent from a year earlier, according to Chinese government data. Photo: EPA
Beijing will make it illegal to force foreign investors to transfer their technology to Chinese partners while also lowering market barriers for foreign firms to enter the domestic market, a senior economic planning official said on Wednesday, highlighting an effort to lure overseas investment inflows.
China is expected to pass a new law next week intended to protect the interests of foreign investors, both as a response to demands from the United States that have formed part of the ongoing trade war negotiations, and to help shore up economic growth, which slowed last year to its lowest rate in 28 years.
Foreign investors will be allowed to set up ventures in which they have full ownership, instead of being forced into joint ventures with local partners, in more industries, said Ning Jizhe, a vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, in Beijing on Wednesday during the National People’s Congress.

But foreign investment into the world’s second biggest economy have slowed over last decade, which could deprive China of access to advanced technologies and marginalise the country in the development of future global supply chains.

Beijing is trying to lure more foreign capital and technology to support its plan to upgrade its manufacturing industries and boost the development of new, hi-tech sectors.

“China will roll out more opening-up measures in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing and service sectors, allowing wholly foreign-owned enterprises in more fields,” Ning said.

China law to protect intellectual property, ban forced tech transfer
Since December, China has been rushing to draft legislation for a new foreign investment law, a key clause of which prohibits local government’s from forcing transfer of technology in return for being allowed to conduct business in their jurisdictions.
The National People’s Congress is expected to endorse the new 

“After passing the law, the government will take serious measures to obey and implement it,” Ning added.

He said that China will remove market entry restrictions for foreign investors to ensure that domestic and foreign firms “are treated as equals.”

Ning Jizhe, a vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission. Photo: EPA
Ning Jizhe, a vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission. Photo: EPA

However, the jury is still out whether Beijing’s promises of fair treatment, market access and protection for intellectual property rights will be enough to generate a steady inflow of hi-tech investment.

The US has long complained that China has been unwilling to implement previous commitments under the World Trade Organisation to open up its market – allegation Beijing denies.

Shen Jianguang, chief economist at JD Digits, an arm of Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com, said restrictions on foreign investment will exist in China despite the government’s promises.

China’s domestic market remains large and attractive for some foreign investors, he said.

“Foreign investors are still very interested in the Chinese market, if the openness of the economy is sufficient,” Shen added.

Source: SCMP

25/02/2019

Oscars 2019: The Indian sanitary pad makers’ story wins award

Sneh
Image captionSneh, 22, attended the awards ceremony where the film won an Oscar
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A film based on young women in an Indian village who make sanitary pads has won an Oscar for best documentary short. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey met with the women in their village before the ceremony.

Sneh was 15 when she started menstruating. The first time she bled, she had no idea what was happening to her.

“I was very scared. I thought I was sick with something very serious and began crying,” she told me when I visited her home in Kathikhera village not far from Delhi earlier this week.

“I didn’t have the courage to tell my mother so I confided in my aunt. She said: ‘You’re a grown woman now, don’t cry, it’s normal.’ It was her who told my mother.”

Sneh, now 22, has travelled a long way from that point. She works in a small factory in her village that makes sanitary pads and is the protagonist of Period. End of Sentence., a documentary that has been nominated for an Oscar. She will be attending Sunday’s ceremony in Los Angeles.

The film came about after a student group in North Hollywood used crowdfunding to send a pad-making machine – and Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi – to Sneh’s village.

Just 115km (71 miles) from Delhi, Kathikhera village in Hapur district is a world far removed from the glitzy malls and high-rises of the Indian capital. Normally, it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Delhi, but construction work on the highway slows it down to four hours for us. And the final 7.5km drive to the village from Hapur town is a crawl, on narrow winding roads lined with open drains on both sides.

The documentary is filmed in the farms and fields – and classrooms – of Kathikhera. Like in the rest of India, periods are a taboo topic; menstruating women are considered impure and barred from entering religious places and often excluded from social events too.

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Women making sanitary pads
Image captionSneh says that previously, menstruation was not discussed – even among girls
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With so much stigma surrounding the issue, it’s no surprise that Sneh had never heard of periods before she started getting them herself.

“It was not a topic that was discussed – even among girls,” she says.

But things began to change when Action India, a charity that works on reproductive health issues, set up a sanitary napkin manufacturing unit in Kathikhera.

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Women prepare the material for making sanitary napkins
Image captionThe women employees work from 9-5 six days a week
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The final product
Image captionA pack is priced at 30 rupees ($0.40; £0.30)
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In January 2017, Sneh was asked by Suman, a neighbour who works with Action India, if she wanted to work in the factory.

A college graduate who dreams of working for the Delhi police one day, Sneh says she was excited. After all, there were “no other job opportunities” in the village.

“When I sought my mum’s permission, she said, ‘ask your father’. In our families, all important decisions are taken by men.”

She was too embarrassed to tell her father that she was going to be making pads so she told him that she would be making children’s diapers.

“It was two months into the job that mum told him that I was making pads,” she laughs. Much to her relief, he said, “That’s alright, work is work.”

Today, the unit employs seven women, between 18 and 31 years of age. They work from 9-5, six days a week and are paid a monthly salary of 2,500 rupees ($35; £27). The centre produces 600 pads a day and they are sold under the brand name Fly.

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Women making sanitary pads
Image captionThe centre produces 600 pads a day
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Women making sanitary pads
Image captionMost women in the village used to use old clothes when they got their periods, now 70% use pads
“The biggest problem we face is power cuts. Sometimes we have to come back at night to work when the power is back to meet the targets,” Sneh says.

This little business, run from two rooms in a village home, has helped improve feminine hygiene. Until it was set up most women in the village were using pieces of cloth cut out from old saris or bedsheets when they had their period, now 70% use pads.

It’s also de-stigmatised menstruation and changed attitudes in a conservative society in ways that were unimaginable just a couple of years ago.

Sneh says menstruation is now discussed openly among women. But, she says, it’s not been an easy ride.

“It was difficult at the start. I had to help my mother with housework, I had to study and do this job. Sometimes during my exams, when the pressure became too much, my mother went to work instead of me,” she says.

Her father, Rajendra Singh Tanwar, says he is “very proud” of his daughter. “If her work benefits the society, especially women, then I feel happy about it.”

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Sneh with her father
Image captionRajendra Singh Tanwar says he’s proud of what Sneh (left) has done
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Sushma Devi
Image captionSushma Devi’s husband does not want her to work there – but she won’t give it up
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Initially, the women faced objections from some villagers who were suspicious about what was happening at the factory. And once the film crew arrived, there were questions about what they were doing.

And some, like 31-year-old Sushma Devi, still have to fight daily battles at home.

The mother-of-two says her husband agreed to let her work only after Sneh’s mother spoke to him. He also insisted that she finish all the housework before going to the factory.

“So I wake up at 05:00, clean the house, do the laundry, feed the buffaloes, make dung cakes which we use as cooking fuel, bathe, and make breakfast and lunch before I step out. In the evening, I cook dinner once I get back.”

But her husband is still unhappy with the arrangement. “He often gets angry with me. He says there’s enough work at home, why do you have to go out to work? My neighbours too say it’s not a good job, they also say the salary is low.”

Two of Sushma’s neighbours had worked at the factory too, but left after a few months. Sushma has no intention of doing the same: “Even if my husband beats me up, I will not give up my job. I enjoy working here.”

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Members of Action India and some of the factory workers
Image captionAction India, a charity that works on reproductive health issues, set up the manufacturing unit two years ago
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In the documentary, Sushma is heard saying she’d spent some of her earnings to buy clothes for her younger brother. “If I’d known this was going to go to Oscars, I would have said something more intelligent,” she says, laughing.

For Sushma, Sneh and their fellow workers, the Oscar nomination has come as a big boost. The film, which is available on Netflix, is nominated in the Best Short Documentary category.

As Sneh prepares to leave for Los Angeles, her neighbours are appreciative of the “prestige and fame” she has brought the village.

“No-one from Kathikhera has ever travelled abroad so I’ll be the first one to do so,” she says. “I’m now recognised and respected in the village, people say they are proud of me.”

Sneh says she had heard of Oscars and knew they were the biggest cinema awards in the world. But she had never watched a ceremony, and certainly didn’t think that one day she would be on the red carpet.

“I never thought I would go to America. Even now I can’t fully process what’s happening. For me, the nomination itself is an award. It’s a dream that I’m dreaming with my eyes open.”

Source: The BBC

24/05/2017

India’s electric vehicles push likely to benefit Chinese car makers | Reuters

India’s ambitious plan to push electric vehicles at the expense of other technologies could benefit Chinese car makers seeking to enter the market, but is worrying established automakers in the country who have so far focused on making hybrid models.

India’s most influential government think-tank unveiled a policy blueprint this month aimed at electrifying all vehicles in the country by 2032, in a move that is catching the attention of car makers that are already investing in electric technology in China such as BYD and SAIC.

The May 12 report by Niti Aayog, the planning body headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recommends lower taxes and loan interest rates on electric vehicles while capping sales of petrol and diesel cars, seen as a radical shift in policy.

India also plans to impose higher taxes on hybrid vehicles compared with electric, under a new unified tax regime set to come into effect from July 1, upsetting car makers like Maruti Suzuki and Toyota Motor.

The prospect of India aggressively promoting electric vehicles was a “big opportunity”, a source close to SAIC, China’s biggest automaker, told Reuters.

“For a newcomer, this is a good chance to establish a modern, innovative brand image,” the source said, although they added the company would need more clarity on policy before deciding whether to launch electric vehicles in India.

Earlier this year SAIC set up a local unit called MG Motor which is finalising plans to buy a car manufacturing plant in western India. A spokesman at SAIC did not comment specifically on the company’s India plans.

Warren Buffett-backed BYD already builds electric buses in the country, while rival Chongqing Changan has said it may enter India by 2020.

BYD said in a statement the company would have “a lot more confidence” to engage in the Indian market if the government supported the proposed policy. The company said it would look at increasing its investment in India but did not give details on how it would expand its business and market share.

HIGH COSTS

While the Niti Aayog report has not yet been formally adopted, government sources have said it was likely to form the basis of a new green cars policy.

If so, India would be following similar moves by China, which has been aggressively pushing clean vehicle technologies. But emulating China’s success could be tough.Electric vehicles are expensive due to high battery costs, and car makers say a lack of charging stations in India could make the whole proposition unviable.

The proposed policy focuses on electric vehicles, and is likely to also include plug-in hybrids. But it overlooks conventional hybrid models already sold in India, such as Toyota’s Camry sedan, Honda Motor’s Accord sedan and so-called mild hybrids built by Maruti Suzuki.

Hybrids combine fossil fuel and electric power, with mild hybrids making less use of the latter.

In doubling down on electric power India would be shifting away from its previous policy, announced in 2015, that supported hybrid and electric technology.

That could delay investments in India, expected to be the world’s third-largest passenger car market within the next decade, according to industry executives and analysts.

“All these policy changes will affect future products and investments,” said Puneet Gupta, South Asia manager at consultant IHS Markit, adding that most car makers would need to rethink product launches, especially of hybrids.

ECONOMIC GAP

Mahindra & Mahindra is the only electric car maker in India but has struggled to ramp up sales, blaming low buyer interest and insufficient infrastructure.

Pawan Goenka, managing director at Mahindra said the company was working with the government and other private players to set up charging stations in India. Mahindra was also focusing on developing electric fleet cars and taxis, Goenka said.

The cost of setting up a car charging station in India ranges from $500 to $25,000, depending on the charging speed, according to a 2016 report by online journal IOPscience.

While the proposed policy suggests setting up battery swapping stations and using tax revenues from sales of petrol and diesel vehicles to set up charging stations, it does not specify the investment needed or whether the government would contribute.

“For full electric vehicles, the economic gap remains huge and the charging infrastructure needed does not exist,” said a spokesman at Tata Motors. The company makes electric buses and is working on developing electric and hybrid cars.

DELAYED PLANS

Most automakers have focused on bringing in hybrid models that are seen as a stepping stone to electrification. Toyota recently launched its luxury hybrid brand Prius in India, while Hyundai Motor plans to debut its Ioniq hybrid sedan next year.

Maruti’s parent Suzuki Motor, along with Toshiba and Denso, plans to invest 20 billion yen ($180 million) to set up a lithium ion battery plant in India which would support Maruti’s plan to build more hybrids.

But the apparent sharp shift in policymakers’ thinking in favor of electrification is forcing automakers like Toyota and Nissan Motor to seek more clarity before finalising future products for India, while Hyundai may delay new launches.

Toyota, the world’s No. 2 carmaker by sales, had planned to have a hybrid variant for all its vehicles in India, but the company’s future launches would now depend on the new policy, said Shekar Viswanathan, vice chairman of its Indian subsidiary.

Nissan, which plans to launch a hybrid SUV later this year, said in a statement it was waiting for more clarity before deciding whether to bring electric cars to India.

A plan by Hyundai to launch at least three hybrid cars in India in 2019-2020 would likely to be delayed, said a source.

Hyundai did not comment on queries related to delays.

“If the government will be aggressive on electric vehicles and not support other technologies, companies will need to rethink investments,” said an executive with an Asian carmaker.

Source: India’s electric vehicles push likely to benefit Chinese car makers | Reuters

22/05/2017

India announces policy for strategic partnerships in defence | Reuters

India on Saturday finalised a policy that would allow local private companies to work with foreign players to make high-tech defence equipment, in a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid to cut reliance on imports.

The policy, whose finer details are still to be formalised, will initially allow the entry of private companies into the manufacture of submarines, fighter aircrafts and armoured vehicles through foreign partnerships, a statement issued by the Defence Ministry said.”In future, additional segments will be added,” the statement said.

Industry experts have said that delays in finalising procurement policies have undermined India’s efforts to get local, largely inexperienced, companies to tie up with foreign manufacturers, a necessary step if domestic firms are to utilise the latest technology.

Prime Minister Modi has vowed to reverse India’s dependence on imports by building a local manufacturing industry. The government is forecast to spend $250 billion on modernisation of its armed forces over the next decade.The policy, announced on Saturday, would allow Indian companies to partner with global defence majors “to seek technology transfers and manufacturing know-how to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains,” the statement said.

Foreign manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems and Saab are looking to India as one of the biggest sources of future growth.

Source: India announces policy for strategic partnerships in defence | Reuters

22/05/2017

China, Russia formalize Shanghai venture to build wide-body jet | Reuters

China and Russia on Monday completed the formal registration of a joint venture to build a proposed wide-body jet, kickstarting the full-scale development of a program that aims to compete with market leaders Boeing (BA.N) and Airbus (AIR.PA).

State planemakers Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL] and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC) said at a ceremony in Shanghai the joint venture would aim to build a “competitive long range wide-body commercial aircraft”.

COMAC, which is increasingly looking to break the hold Boeing and Airbus have over the global commercial jet market, successfully completed the maiden flight of its home-grown C919 narrow-body passenger jet earlier this month.

“The long-haul, wide-body passenger jet is a strategic project for China and Russia, followed closely by the two governments,” said Guo Bozhi, general manager of COMAC’s wide-body department.

COMAC and UAC first announced the twin-aisle jet program in 2014 but the project has so far been slow to materialize.

In November, the firms said they had set up a joint venture in Shanghai and unveiled a mock-up of the wide-body jet, based around a basic version that would seat 280 and have a range of up to 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles).

UAC president Yuri Slyusar said the firms were aiming to complete the wide-body jet’s maiden flight and first delivery between 2025-2028. He added the plane would look to take 10 percent of the market from the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350.

Previously, the firms had been aiming for a maiden flight of the jet in 2022 and delivery from 2025 or later.

While the target is tough, it is more realistic than recent aircraft programs that have sought results in 5-7 years and then come in late, industry analysts said. COMAC’s first homegrown jet, the ARJ-21, obtained permission to enter domestic service more than 10 years behind its original schedule.

COMAC and UAC hold equal shares in the joint venture.

Last July, Boeing forecast the world’s airlines would need 9,100 wide-body planes over 20 years to 2035, with a wave of replacement demand to come between 2021-2028.China has plowed billions of dollars over the past decade into a domestic jet development program as it looks to raise its profile in the global aviation market and boost high-tech manufacturing at home.

Source: China, Russia formalize Shanghai venture to build wide-body jet | Reuters

05/05/2017

China’s first big passenger plane takes off for maiden flight – BBC News

After about 90 minutes in the air the plane landed safely back at Pudong airport in Shanghai.

China’s first large domestically made passenger aircraft has completed its maiden flight, mounting a major challenge to Boeing and Airbus.

After about 90 minutes in the air the plane landed safely back at Pudong airport in Shanghai.

The plane is a key symbol of Beijing’s soaring ambitions to enter the global aviation market.

The jet by state-owned firm Comac has been planned since 2008 but the flight was repeatedly pushed back.For Friday’s maiden flight, the plane carried only its skeleton crew of five pilots and engineers and took off in front of a crown of thousands of dignitaries, aviation workers and enthusiasts.

Ahead of the flight, state television said the plane would fly at an altitude of only 3,000 metres (9,800 feet), some 7,000 metres lower than a regular trip, and reach a speed of around 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour.

The C919 is designed to be a direct competitor to Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus A320.

It’s estimated that the global aviation market will be worth $2tn (£1.55tn) over the next 20 years.

China’s new pride of the skies

Robin Brant tours the C919

  • The C919 is a single-aisle twin-engine plane with a capacity to seat up to 168 passengers.
  • It will have a range of between 4,075 and 5,555km (2,532 – 3,452 miles).
  • According to Chinese media, it will cost around $50m, less than half of a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320.

The plane still relies on a wide array of imported technology though, it is for instance powered by engines from French-US supplier CFM International.

Orders have already been placed for more than 500 of the planes, with commitments from 23 customers, say officials, mainly Chinese airlines. The main customer is China Eastern Airlines.

Europe’s aviation safety regulator has started the certification process for the C919 – a crucial step for the aircraft to be successful on the international market.

China has had ambitions to build its own civil aircraft industry since the 1970s, when leader Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing, personally backed a project.

But the Y-10, built in the late 1970s, was impractical due to its heavy weight and only three of the aircraft were ever made.

Source: China’s first big passenger plane takes off for maiden flight – BBC News

16/02/2017

India and Russia seek to revive stalled helicopter venture | Reuters

India and Russia are nearing a joint venture to make light helicopters in India, reviving a plan announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015.

Delhi needs to replace hundreds of ageing utility helicopters deployed along its Himalayan border with China as well as in the disputed Kashmir region.

This means an initial order of 200 Kamov-226 helicopters, of which 140 will be built in India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build a domestic defence industrial base and cut imports, is expected to be increased.

And final documents relating to the $1 billion Kamov deal involving Russian Helicopters, Rosoboronexport and India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has been submitted to Putin, HAL’s chief T. Suvarna Raju, told reporters on Wednesday.

While India has sealed deals with the United States for 22 Apache attack and 15 heavy lift Chinook helicopters at total cost of about $2.5 billion, plans to buy Russian helicopters and fifth generation fighter aircraft have been dogged by problems.

“There are issues between parties, but these are being tackled,” Sergey Goreslavsky, deputy director general of Rosoboronexport, said at India’s biggest air show in the southern city of Bengaluru.

A team will assess the Indian manufacturing facilities over the next few months. “We are keeping our fingers crossed about launching production this year,” an executive at Russian Helicopters said.

The executive, who did not want to be named, said the joint venture will be modelled along the lines of Brahmos, the India-Russia entity producing supersonic missiles, which which military analysts say are among the deadliest in their class.

Russia was long the main supplier of military equipment to India, but Delhi has turned to France, Israel and increasingly the United States for supply of hardware in recent years.

U.S. aerospace and defence firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing have both offered to set up production lines in India to make combat planes.

Source: India and Russia seek to revive stalled helicopter venture | Reuters

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03/02/2017

Apple Is Set to Make in India, State Official Says – India Real Time – WSJ

In a potential boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, tech giant Apple Inc. is nearing a deal with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. to start making products in the southern state of Karnataka, a senior state official said.

“The contractual agreement between the two companies is on the verge of being signed,” the Karnataka government official who has direct knowledge of the matter said.

The first phase of assembling iPhones will likely start as early as the end of March, and further expansion is expected over the next two to six months, the official said.An Apple spokeswoman said the company has nothing to share beyond a statement it made last week, which said: “We appreciate the constructive and open dialogue we’ve had with [the] government about further expanding our local operations.”

A Wistron spokeswoman declined to comment. The company has a factory in the southern Indian city of Bangalore where it makes smartphone components, and has sought permission from the state authorities to expand the facility with additional power supply and fire-fighting facilities, the official said.

“What we are given to understand is that Apple is awaiting a final word from the government of India regarding tax and tariff concessions sought by the company, before signing up the contractual agreement,” the official said.

Making goods such as the iPhone locally may help the Cupertino, Calif., company to open its own stores in India, in turn building its brand in a country where it has less than a 5% share of a booming smartphone market.

Karnataka’s Information and Technology minister, Priyank Kharge, welcomed Apple’s proposal to consider Bangalore, also known as Bengaluru, as the location for potential manufacturing.

“Apple’s intentions to manufacture in Bengaluru will foster cutting edge technology ecosystem and supply chain development in the state, which are critical for India to compete globally,” Mr. Kharge said in a statement Thursday.Apple is looking to ramp up revenues in India as sales stagnate in China, long an engine of growth. India should soon overtake the U.S. as the world’s second-largest smartphone market after China. Smartphone shipments in India grew 18% last year, compared with just 3% globally, according to Counterpoint Research.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook in a call with analysts this week confirmed the company is “in discussions” to open retail stores in the country, and said Apple intends to “invest significantly in the country and believe it’s a great place to be.” (http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2017/02/01/what-tim-cook-said-about-apples-big-plans-for-india/)

Last week, a team of executives led by Priya Balasubramaniam, an Apple vice president, met with senior Indian government officials in New Delhi as well as state officials in Karnataka to discuss the firm’s proposals. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-nears-deal-to-manufacture-products-in-india-1485340934)

Under Mr. Modi, India has been eager to attract foreign investment and create the manufacturing facilities and jobs the country needs to sustain long-term growth.

Source: Apple Is Set to Make in India, State Official Says – India Real Time – WSJ

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05/10/2016

Transforming lives in India’s manufacturing hubs – BBC News

By day she works as an assistant engineer, leading a team of 10 in a car factory manufacturing parts for Renault-Nissan Alliance vehicles.

The Make in India scheme aims to make the country a global manufacturing hub

Like hundreds of thousands of people across India, Sujitha‘s journey from an under-developed village in India’s south to the outskirts of the city of Chennai (Madras), has transformed her life.

“My native place is a small village called Kizhattur. There is not even proper transport over there,” says Sujitha. “Because I grew up in that situation, I knew that I had to study hard and find a job.”

And she did just that – albeit against the wishes of her family who wanted her to marry and settle down.Sujitha secured a diploma and when Renault-Nissan advertised a position for a junior engineer five years ago, she jumped at the opportunity.”I can’t even imagine what I would be doing if I did not work in this factory. Perhaps I would be in the village doing small jobs on the farm,” she says. “I would just about make ends meet.”

Detroit of Asia

Nissan and Renault are two of several international carmakers that have set up shop outside Chennai in the last 10 years.

Nearly a fifth of all cars made in India are produced in the area around Chennai in Tamil Nadu state

Today the area, known as the “Detroit of Asia”, is a thriving manufacturing hub where cars are produced for export as well as for the domestic market.India makes about 24 million vehicles a year, nearly a fifth of them in this region of Tamil Nadu state.

“We have seen a number of other car manufacturers establish plants in the state and that has helped us attract and help local suppliers relocate and set up in Tamil Nadu itself,” says Colin Macdonald, managing director of Renault-Nissan.

“Since 2010, we had about 15% of our suppliers in the Tamil Nadu area. We are now operating with 60% of our Indian suppliers in Tamil Nadu. So from an employment perspective, this is huge.

“High unemployment

Creating jobs is central to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Make in India campaign, an effort to promote inclusive growth in the country.Modi has promised foreign players he will make it easier to do business in India.

But more than two years after taking power, and after introducing a raft of policies, unemployment rates are at a five-year high.According to a recent government survey, about 77% of Indian households have no regular wage or salaried person, and so for many, life is not improving fast enough.

Domestic market growth

Despite that, success in places like Chennai is a sign that India remains appealing to foreign companies.Now that the area has become an auto hub, cost-effective raw materials can be sourced. With the port less than 100km away, it is easy to import parts and export products back out. Labour is cheap too.

Several car companies have set up shop on the outskirts of Chennai. Workers here are seen at Ford’s plant in Chengalpattu

The growth of the domestic market only adds to India’s appeal.”Today, only 20 in 1,000 people in India own a vehicle but we expect that to grow dramatically in the next five years and we expect the market to be five million cars by 2020, making India the third biggest market on the planet,” says Colin Macdonald.

A matter of pride

For Sujitha Rajendrababu, owning a car one day has become more of a reality than a dream.

“What I had dreamed of becoming in the future was made true by this job. I do not know how to express this.”

The daughter of a farmer, she has already used the money she has earned to buy a fridge, a TV, some jewellery and even a holiday around India. But her ambitions don’t stop there.

“My long-term goal is to become the manager of the stamping shop. I don’t only want to be the manager of the stamping shop, but of this organisation as well.”

And she wants the same for other people just like her.

“A lot of people in my village ask me if I can help them find jobs for their children. That makes me feel proud.”

Source: Transforming lives in India’s manufacturing hubs – BBC News

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