Chinese Defence Minister leaves for key Sri Lanka visit

China has also invested heavily in Sri Lanka, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, and including the island nation of 21 million people on its “One Belt, One Road” mission to create a modern-day “Silk Road” across Asia. The ministry, in a short statement, said Deputy Naval Chief Su Zhiqian would accompany Chang. It gave no other details. China’s Defence Ministry said in December that China would hold its first military drills with Nepal in 2017.In 2014, Sri Lanka allowed a Chinese submarine and a warship to dock at its port in the capital Colombo, prompting concern in New Delhi. Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan left on Sunday for official visits to Sri Lanka and Nepal, the Defence Ministry said, trips that could unnerve neighboring India, according to the Reuters news agency.China is vying to increase its influence in Nepal, which serves as a natural buffer between China and India, challenging India’s long-held position as the dominant outside power in the landlocked nation. India, which has a festering border dispute with China, has looked at the latter’s strategic ambitions in South Asia and in the Indian Ocean with some nervousness.China has close defense ties with India’s long-time rival Pakistan, and has been getting closer to Bangladesh and the Maldives too. Chinese warships now increasingly drill in the Indian Ocean too, as Beijing becomes more confident about projecting power far from its shores. (Colombo Gazette) read more

UN predicts world food import bill to fall to fiveyear low amid

Source: FAO Food Outlook – Biannual report on global food marketsDespite a slight reduction in global harvests expected this year – with a 1.5 per cent decline in cereal production from last year’s record output – “exceptionally high” levels of existing stocks will offset the pressure, according to the FAO’s report. The reduction in cereal production remains nearly five per cent above the average of the past five years.Dairy prices fell the most, buoying imports in Africa, while the abolition of the European Union’s (EU) milk quota system was also one of the main drivers of the 6.7 percent monthly drop. Sugar, cereals and vegetable oils prices also declined. By contrast, meat values rose in April, which was their first increase since August 2014.Food Outlook also includes a special feature focusing on price volatility, highlighting a need to investigate whether volatility has returned to normal or not. Food price index | Food commodity price indices “The world food import bill is forecast to reach a five-year low in 2015,” says Food Outlook, a biannual publication by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) focusing on developments affecting global food and feed markets. “Currency movements and macroeconomic developments may have important implications for markets again in 2015-16.”The Food Price Index, a trade-weighted database that tracks and aggregates on a monthly basis the prices of cereals, meat, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar on international markets, reflected that decline, with a 1.2 per cent overall drop in April from March. The index reached 171 points, its lowest level since June 2010 and 19.2 per cent less than a year ago.Food Outlook says international food prices are likely to stay under downward pressure due to large supplies, low freight rates and a strong US dollar, with import volumes of the five commodities little changed or even rising. The reduction in import bills is likely to benefit low income countries. read more