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NEW DELHI: The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) says results from its fourth quarter survey (January-March 2014) suggest "marginal improvement in growth [but it is] too early to call it a recovery."

The FICCI surveyed 330 manufacturers and associations from both large companies and SMEs covering 14 sectors - textiles, capital goods, metals, chemicals, petrochemicals, cement, electronics, automotive, leather and footwear, machine tools, food processing, textile machinery, paper and tire – with a combined turnover of over US$100 billion.

The survey noted that a slight improvement in the export outlook could be offset by "domestic factors [that] continue to be a major cause of concern." Respondents expect an upturn in leather, textiles and chemical production for the quarter while growth in automotive, capital goods and electronics will remain "sluggish".

ficciThe FICCI says export manufacturing remains positive and "seems to have improved as the percentage of respondents expecting higher exports has risen to 58 percent compared to 48 percent in Q3 and 52 percent in Q2."

Based on expectations in different sectors, the FICCI says seven out of 14 sectors were likely to witness less than five percent growth in Q4 with only leather and textile sectors growing more than 10 percent.

Commenting on the Indian economy, FICCI business leaders think sustainable development should be in the DNA of an organization and adoption of sustainable measures should not be seen as an expense but as an investment for the future.

Vipul Shah, president, CEO and chairman of Dow Chemical in India, said there was an unprecedented need for collaboration between business, government, academia and civil society. Noting the world needs solutions to challenges such as climate change, energy and water shortages, he suggested sustainable development is the answer.

Ranganath N K, CEO of Grundfos India, added: "Passion is the most important ingredient for achieving both sustainability and business excellence." Atul Jain, joint managing director of Jain Irrigation Systems, thought "inclusiveness" was the most basic requirement for sustainability because it leads to innovation and sustainable growth. Manish Sharma, managing director of Panasonic India, noted his organization is in the process of addressing the issues faced by the supply chain by creating, storing, saving and managing energy.

Ranganath's comments concide with a U.S. discrimination complaint to the World Trade Organisation that India is requiring solar power developers to use Indian-manufactured thin-film technology instead of U.S. equipment. Trade representative Michael Froman commented: "These types of 'localization' measures not only are an unfair barrier to U.S. exports, but also raise the cost of solar energy, hindering deployment of solar energy around the world, including in India."

According to the FICCI, some of its CEO members think "sustainability should be a way of life for companies, it does not need to be mandated."

Founded in 1927, the FICCI is India's oldest business association.

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