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India-Aus trade to exceed $16 bn by 2010: ASSOCHAM

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 05: The upcoming visit of Australian Prime Minister John Howard to India, is expected to boost prospects of India-Australia two-way trade to 16 billion Dollars by 2010 from the current level of 7.5 billion Dollars, according to projections made by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

The trade surplus will remain in Australia's favour even by 2010 as there exists a substantial difference between India's imports from Australia against its exports. As per the latest estimates, India's imports from Australia are estimated to be 6 billion dollars against exports which have been estimated at 1.5 billion dollars.

The major items that India imports from Australia include gold, coal, diamond, copper ores and wool, an ASSOCHAM release said.

India's exports to Australia include gems and jewellery, metal machinery and instruments, cotton yarn, fabrics and made-ups and readymade garments. As per the findings of ASSOCHAM, gold is Australia's main export to India which at current level is valued at over 2.5 billion dollars. Australia supplies 25 per cent of India's gold requirement which will go up manifold as India will keep preferring Australian gold because of its qualitative superiority.

Australian coking coal worth 1.2 billion dollars is used in more than 50 per cent of steel produced in India and India's power sector has been lobbying hard to import coal from Australia because its coal has low ash content and is deemed fit for generating power. The government has already reduced import duty on coal from 5 per cent to 0 per cent purely because of the reason that India will in future liberally import coal from Australia to generate power to meet its growing energy needs. As per the estimates of the Chamber, Australia coal exports to India will form a major trade basket of India's imports from Australia in future.

He said the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is continuing to charge higher levies from them despite a steep reduction announced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Mr Ramachandran said operators have been asked to pay the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) on a per minute basis even as the telecom regulator had introduced the new system of ADC to be calculated on a revenue share basis effective from March one.

He said the circular of BSNL on February 28, which is the implementation paper of the new plan, goes against the spirit of the OneIndia tariffs envisioned by the Communications and IT Minister Dyanidhi Maran as also the new IUC and ADC regime introduced by TRAI.

The various areas of concern, Mr Ramachandran said have been listed in a letter to BSNL whichurged for their consideration and ''urgent corrective action,''. The Intra circle carriage charges is at the rate of 30 per minute instead of 20 per minute as specified by TRAI. IUC Regulation of 23.2.2006 has prescribed no change in intra circle carriage.

In Para 2.4 of the Circular, BSNL states that transit charges of 19 paise will not be applied, but it appears that the same is being applied in some cases.

Further, in some cases it appears that BSNL has waived the 19 paise but instead applied a carriage charge of 30 paise.

On ADC, Mr Ramachandran said TRAI has prescribed that it will be recovered/collected as a percentage of gross revenues (for all calls except ILD calls). However, it appears that ADC continues to be charged on a call by call basis in some cases, he said.

As per TRAI, rural revenues of Cellular Mobile Service Providers, (CMSPs) are to be excluded while calculating ADC. However, the February 28, 2005 BSNL circular applies this exclusion only to Basic service operators (BSOs).

On billing the COAI chief said the circular should be amended to reflect billing reciprocity as directed by TDSAT. There should also be separate trunk groups for national and international roaming subscribers The TDSAT order dated 21.9.2005 directed that there should be no ADC on roaming calls and hence too, there is no requirement to have separate trunk groups for national and international roaming subscribers.

He said in the new IUC regime, a per minute ADC is payable only for incoming and outgoing ILD calls. ''In the light of the above serious flaws in the circular of February 28, 2006, it is urgently requested that the implementation of the same be stayed till the anomalies pointed out above are redressed,'' Mr Ramachandran said.


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