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Need to have fairer, more equitable terms in trade relations: Piyush Goyal

Jan 22, 2020

Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said India is working on ways to have fairer and more equitable terms in its trade relationships with various countries.
 
Speaking here at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020, the commerce and industry minister also called for greater cooperation among various nations to realise the huge growth prospects in the Indian Ocean region and also for tackling the important issue of climate change.
 
Goyal said the RCEP in its present form was clearly an unworkable agreement.
 
'Any pact needs to take into account several factors. India is grappling with a huge trade deficit, particularly with China and many other nations in the region,' he said.
 
For the first time, India demonstrated that trade cannot be dictated by diplomacy, Goyal said, referring to India's decision to pull out of the RCEP.
 
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has had to factor in several diversities among partners, but India has serious concerns about climate change and is seeking greater cooperation on fair terms, he asserted.
 
Goyal was speaking at a Strategic Outlook session on 'The Indian Ocean Rim'.
 
'We are like a pivot for the Indian Ocean and we believe this region has huge potential. At the same time, India is very much concerned about the issue of climate change.
 
'Going forward, the entire grouping around the Indian Ocean will play a very important role, while keeping in mind fair and equitable distribution. India also expects greater cooperation among various nations on climate change,' he said.
 
Goyal further said, 'We in India are also working on how to put in place more equitable terms in our trade relations with various countries.'
    
Source: The Economic Times



Government Committed To Doubling Farmers Income By 2022 Through Various Schemes: Union Agriculture Minister

Jan 22, 2020

Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar said that agriculture is very important for the country as there is a large population engaged in agriculture. He stated that strengthening agriculture and the rural economy will strengthen India so that the country can face challenges victoriously. The government is also committed to realizing the Prime Minister's vision of doubling farmers income by 2022.
 
He said that government is committed to strengthening the economy and infrastructure of rural areas so that every facility is available to villagers at their door-step. He lauded the efforts of farmers, Agricultural Scientists and the Central and State Governments for achieving self sufficiency in foodgrains, horticulture and animal husbandry. He suggested that the disparity between small farmers and big farmers should be bridged and benefits of technology and various schemes should reach the small and marginal farmers.
 
The minister told the audience the greatest challenge in present times is to provide farmers the correct price for their produce. For this the Prime Minister has envisioned e-NAM (Electronic National Agriculture Market) that envisages a pan-India e-trading facility for agricultural commodities through integration of existing APMCs. Market integration through e-platform facilitates transparent and competitive bidding by enabling inter-mandi trade of the agricultural produce thereby giving advantage to the farmers for better price discovery. Presently 585 markets across 16 states and 2 Union territories have been integrated on e-platform. It is expected that 415 other mandis will soon be integrated. On this portal more than 1.65 crore farmers and 1.27 lakh traders have registered. Through this platform trading of Rs. 91000 crores has already taken place and in the near future it is expected to reach 1 lakh crores.
 
Strengthening the e-NAM platform and making it reliable is the constant effort of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. The Minister said that it is priority of the government that small farmers in large numbers join this platform. On strengthening Agri- Logistics the Minister suggested that Agri- Logistics starts with harvesting. Along with harvesting cleaning, grading, segregating, quality inspection, packaging and marketing have to be done so that the journey from production to consumer is completed. The workshop addressed all these problems that farmers face and the suggestions given by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
    
Source: Business Standard



ASEAN Secretariat invites India for meeting on RCEP in Bali

Jan 22, 2020

The ASEAN Secretariat has invited India to participate in a meeting called in Bali on February 3 and 4 on RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) agreement to sort out the concerns of New Delhi, an official said.
 
India at a meeting in November last year in Bangkok decided to withdraw from the mega free-trade agreement as its concerns were not addressed adequately by the RCEP. 'India has received the invitation for the meeting but it has not yet taken any decision on this,' the official said.
 
The RCEP, comprising the 10-member ASEAN bloc and six other countries — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, is engaged in negotiations for a free-trade pact. Japan had earlier indicated that efforts were on to make India join the ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying all member countries of the grouping were committed to address New Delhi’s concerns.
 
Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue earlier in the month, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said India had not closed its doors on the RCEP and would carry out a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate its merit. 'Where the RCEP is concerned, we have to look at cost and benefit. We will evaluate its economic and trade merit. We have not closed our mind to it,' he said.
    
Source: The Hindu



Brazil to be first country to sign new investment protection agreement with India

Jan 22, 2020

Brazil will be the first country to sign the new investment protection agreement with India, when Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro visits India starting Friday. Bolsonaro is the chief guest of India’s Republic Day this year.
 
Announcing the visit, the MEA spokesperson said, it 'is expected to further enhance and strengthen the multi-faceted ties between India and Brazil.'
 
Bolsonaro has been at the centre of global ire over the forest fires in the Amazon, which many have accused of being deliberately lit to clear grazing and agricultural ground. The populist Bolsonaro has engaged in a verbal skirmish with French president Emmanuel Macron, and more recently, with Hollywood star Leonardo di Caprio over the fires.
 
 
But in India for four days, Bolsonaro and Modi are expected to focus on bilateral ties rather than the multilateral, which they engage in frequently, at Brics, IBSA and G-4.
 
Bolsonaro is believed to be bringing with him a large business delegation of over 50 companies spanning agro-processing to defence. For India, it will be important to sign the new model investment pact with Brazil. The Modi government had scrapped investment treaties with 50 international partners in 2018, but its new model text has found virtually no takers. Incidentally, the new text is similar to those by Brazil and Indonesia, but have been almost rejected by European countries and even Australia, as offering too little protection.
 
Brazil has signed the international solar alliance but not yet ratified the treaty. This will form part of the conversations between the two sides. India is also hoping for more technology and partnerships on bio-ethanol since Brazil is virtually a world leader here. The Brazilian defence company Embraer is said to be scouting for new business in India as well.
 
    
Source: The Times Of India



Indo-Bangla relationship 'model' for neighbourhood ties: Envoy

Jan 22, 2020

Describing the Indo-Bangla relationship as a 'model' for neighbourhood ties, Dhaka's newly-appointed envoy to India Muhammad Imran on Tuesday vowed to enhance regional collaboration focusing on security, connectivity and economic cooperation on a win-win basis.
 
Imran, who succeeds late ambassador Syed Muazzem Ali whose five-year tenure as Bangladesh high commissioner to India expired last month, made the remarks while presenting his credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind here.
 
The Bangladeshi envoy assumes office at a delicate time with three ministerial visits from Dhaka cancelled in the wake of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and apprehensions over the National Register for Citizens (NRC).
 
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday had termed the CAA and NRC as 'internal matters' of India, but at the same time said the act was 'not necessary'.
 
Welcoming the new envoy, Kovind said India wants to see Bangladesh become more vibrant in social and economic development, a statement from the Bangladesh High Commission said.
 
India has a special relation with Bangladesh and it attaches highest priority in making that relationship stronger, Kovind was quoted as saying.
 
The president said he looks forward to stronger and deeper cooperation between India and Bangladesh in all aspects, especially in security, connectivity and people-to-people contact.
 
'India is happy to be a partner of Bangladesh in the joint celebrations of birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the golden jubilee of Bangladesh''s War of Liberation and 50 years of establishment of diplomatic ties,' Kovind said.
 
Imran, in turn, said the India-Bangladesh relations have reached an exceptional level and are described as a 'model' for neighbourhood relations thanks to the dynamic leadership of prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi.
 
The envoy assured the president that he would ceaselessly endeavour to achieve his government's goal to further expand and consolidate the bilateral cooperation, the statement said.
 
Bangladesh remains grateful to the government and people of India for extending their all-out support to the 1971 War of Liberation, Imran said.
    
Source: Outlook India



India committed to develop connectivity with neighbours

Jan 22, 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said improving cross border connectivity is an important aspect of India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy and his government is committed to develop relations with countries in the region in areas like trade, culture and education.
 
Modi inaugurated with his Nepal counterpart K P Sharma Oli the second Integrated Check Post at Jogbani-Biratnagar built with Indian assistance to facilitate trade and people’s movement through  video link.
 
The first ICP was built in Raxaul-Birgunj in 2018.
 
Modi said better connectivity becomes more important in case of India-Nepal relations as the two countries are not simply neighbours but also tied with history, culture. nature, families, language, development and many more threads.
 
He said the Indian government is committed to develop better transportation facilities with all the friendly nations and it is working on road, rail and transmission projects in Nepal. The integrated check posts at major border points between India and Nepal are facilitating bilateral trade.
 
Both prime ministers witnessed the progress in India-assisted post-earthquake housing projects in Nepal.
 
Prime Minister Oli thanked India for its efforts and said that with stable and majority governments in both countries all pending issues can be resolved through dialogue. 'My government remains committed to working closely with the Government of India towards this end,' said Oli over the video-link.
 
He also extended an inviation to Modi to visit Nepal.
    
Source: United News of India



Agri produce trading touches Rs 91,000cr mark on e-NAM platform

Jan 22, 2020

Agriculture produce worth Rs 91,000 crore has been traded through the e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform so far and the figure will soon reach Rs 1 lakh crore, the government said on Tuesday.
 
The agriculture ministry on Tuesday organised the first national consultative workshop on strengthening agri-logistics in e-Nam here.
 
At present, 585 mandies (agri-markets) across 16 states and two Union Territories have been integrated on the e-platform. It is expected that 415 other mandis will soon be integrated.
 
'On this portal more than 1.65 crore farmers and 1.27 lakh traders have registered. Through this platform trading of Rs 91,000 crore has already taken place and in the near future it is expected to reach 1 lakh crores,' an official statement said.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, 'Agriculture is very important for the country as there is a large population engaged in agriculture.'
 
He stated that strengthening agriculture and the rural economy will strengthen India so that the country can face challenges victoriously. The government is also committed to realizing the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers income by 2022.
 
Tomar said the government is committed to strengthening the economy and infrastructure of rural areas so that every facility is available to villagers at their door-step.
 
He said the disparity between small farmers and big farmers should be bridged and benefits of technology and various schemes should reach the small and marginal farmers.
 
The minister said the greatest challenge in present times is to provide farmers the correct price for their produce.
 
e-NAM scheme envisages a pan-India e-trading facility for agricultural commodities through integration of existing APMCs. Market integration through e-platform facilitates transparent and competitive bidding by enabling inter-mandi trade of the agricultural produce thereby giving advantage to the farmers for better price discovery.
 
Tomar said the government is committed to strengthen the e-NAM platform and will ensure that small farmers join this platform.
 
On strengthening agri-logistics, he said: 'Along with harvesting cleaning, grading, segregating, quality inspection, packaging and marketing have to be done so that the journey from production to consumer is completed.'
    
Source: Outlook India



West Bengal to produce 10% higher potatoes this year

Jan 22, 2020

West Bengal is expected to produce 105 lakh tonnes of potato this year which is 10% higher than last year. This was indicated by Tarun Kanti Ghosh, president of West Bengal Cold Storage Association at its 55th annual general meeting held in Kolkata today.
 
Mr Ghosh said that even though delayed sowing of seeds due to untimely rain has resulted in 2% to 3% of less sowing, production of potato in the current year was expected to be around 105 lakh tonnes.
 
Domestic consumption in West Bengal being 65 lakh tonnes and the balance crop is needed to be marketed outside the state, Ghosh said.
 
Commenting about the situation of cold storages in the state, Ghosh said that since extension of storage period for potatoes beyond November has become common experience for almost every year, it is required to include the the quantum of additional rent for extended storage period in the notification for periodical rent revision. He also suggested for enhancement of quantity of locally developed seeds and encouragement and support from the West Bengal for cultivation of export quality potato.
 
In view of periodical rise in input cost and cost of capital for cold storage, Ghosh demanded raising of cold storage rent to Rs 180 per quintal because cold storage rent in other potato producing states varies from Rs 200 to Rs 250 per quintal. Further, he suggested that cold storage rent calculation should be based on 90% storage capacity instead of 100% storage capacity as utilization of 100% capacity is rarely experienced.
 
He insisted that the current storage capacity offered by the store units in West Bengal is enough for preservation of potato produced in the state and in view of reduction in demand for potatoes from West Bengal in states like Jharkhand and Bihar, the available storage capacity of the state needs to be restricted to the current level for at least five years.
    
Source: The Economic Times



Startups, research institutes set to revolutionise farming.

Jan 22, 2020

Research institutions and startups in the region are set to revolutionise the agriculture sector by deploying artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT). To transform the farming sector, companies and research organisations have published more than 200 patents in smart agriculture and crop sciences space in the past five years. Many of these patents are under examination to be granted.
 
Organisations such as Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Centre of Innovative and Applied Bio-processing (CIAB), Chitkara University and Chandigarh group of Colleges hold Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over a diverse range of latest technology. Also, companies like Agnext Technologies, Pindfresh, Osaw Industrial Products and Fare Labs Pvt Ltd are involved in new age farming technology.
 
The PAU has recently filed a patent over the technology to reduce moisture over grains and bacteriological food-testing kits. Technologies like these will help in coping up with post-harvest losses and storage issues. Chitkara University has developed and filed a patent for the real-time monitoring of crops. Chandigarh University and Chandigarh Group of Colleges are also in the race for protecting and delivering such technologies.
    
Source: Tribune India



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