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Govt plans meet to firm up India's stand on key issues at WTO mini ministerial

Feb 16, 2018

Ahead of the crucial mini ministerial meeting of 40 countries in March, the commerce ministry plans to hold discussions with industry, academia and former trade envoys on February 19-20 to firm up India’s position on key issues in the World Trade Organization. 
 
The exercise is being undertaken in view of the collapse of previous ministerial conference talks in December 2017 and to set the agenda for the upcoming meet, officials said. 
 
There will be a confluence of views from across sectors to discuss the state of play. It is a big stakeholder meet to know whether we need to recalibrate our position in WTO, said an official. Officials from other ministries, former commerce secretaries, ambassadors and legal experts will also participate in the meeting, which is also likely to be attended by chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian. 
 
 
New issues such as investment facilitation and e-commerce, and others such as MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) and gender would be taken up on day one while institutional issues such as dispute settlement and role of WTO secretariat and development issues would be discussed the next day. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



India to invest in Iran in Rupees amid sanction fears

Feb 16, 2018

India, for the first time beyond Bhutan and Nepal, will invest in a foreign country — Iran — through its own national currency Rupee to bypass any trouble arising out of impending US sanctions. 
 
 
PM Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are expected to put a mechanism in place for this purpose when they meet here on Saturday. 
 
Rouhani is expected to seek Indian investments across sectors from ports, railway network and SEZ when he meets the Indian leadership and address a business meet here on Saturday. India has decided to invest in its national currency in Iran, which will be first of its kind, beyond Nepal and Bhutan, persons familiar with the matter said. 
 
Rouhani arrived in Hyderabad on Thursday evening and will lead Friday prayers in a leading mosque in Southern Indian city before arriving in Delhi. Rouhani who has been to Hyderabad before in a different capacity was keen to revisit the city and connect with Iranian legacy there. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Exporters seek clarity on e-way bill on moving goods from dry to sea ports

Feb 16, 2018

Exporters have sought clarity from the government on the functioning of the eway bill when goods move from dry ports to sea ports for export and when they move between special economic zones within the same state. 
 
Exporters have shot off a letter to the finance ministry seeking clarity on a number of issues so as to avoid problems at a later stage at a time when the Reserve Bank of India pointed out that the implementation and refund delays under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime seem to have led to working capital constraints for companies, which in turn might have hurt their exports in October 2017. 
 
Days after the government deferred the roll out of the e-way bill due to technical glitches, exporters asked if any exemption in customs clearance would be given to goods when they move from inland container depots to ports on the lines of such relief given to imports. 
 
A similar leeway has been given to imports when goods move from ports, airports, air cargo complex and land customs stations to an inland container depot or a container freight station. This may be looked into so as to facilitate exports, said Ajay Sahai, director general, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO). 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Hassan Rouhani arrives in India today, visit to bolster India-Iran ties

Feb 16, 2018

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed a four-nation tour of West Asia and the Gulf region, India will play host to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani from Thursday.
 
Analysts view Rouhani’s visit as an outcome of India’s deft manoeuvring of new alignments in the volatile region which hosts about 7 million expatriate Indians, and is a source of valuable foreign remittances and energy for India.
 
Rouhani’s three-day visit is his first to India since he took office in August 2013. President Rouhani will be accorded a ceremonial reception on 17 February, an Indian foreign ministry statement said on Wednesday.
 
During the forthcoming visit of the President of Iran, both sides would review the progress achieved in bilateral relations and also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, it said. Besides his official engagements in Delhi, President Rouhani will also visit Hyderabad, it added.
 
A PTI report said Rouhani will meet intellectuals, clerics and leaders on Thursday and Friday. He will follow it up with an address to the congregation at the Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad after Friday prayers. Rouhani is also expected to visit historic sites in Hyderabad, including the Qutb Shahi Tombs at Golconda.
    
Source: Live Mint



In free trade U-Turn, Modi raises India's wall of import duties

Feb 16, 2018

Less than a month after he declared to the World Economic Forum that India was open for business, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised import duties to their highest in three decades, setting the stage for a protracted trade war. 
 
As he prepares to seek re-election next year, Modi has been ensnared by a global wave of protectionism that could threaten the foreign direct investments India needs to achieve double-digit growth. He has made it more expensive to import parts for automobiles, cameras, televisions, electricity meters and smartphones, risking trade disputes from allies like the U.S. and Germany to rivals like China. 
 
 
India has taken a dramatic protectionist turn, Richard Rossow, an Indian policy expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a note. The scale of India’s protectionist leap is surprising and likely to elicit a strong response from the United States and other major trading partners .
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Govt sees huge potential for organic farming in A&N islands

Feb 16, 2018

Andaman and Nicobar Islands has huge potential to scale up organic farming, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said today. 
 
Currently, organic farming is being taken up on a small scale in about 321 hectares of the Union Territory. 
 
The island has immense potential and is favourably placed for organic farming due to less use of chemical fertilisers and abundant species, Singh said in Port Blair. 
 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Important that India makes efforts to lower tariff, non-tariff barriers: US

Feb 16, 2018

India should make greater efforts to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers, the US said today, days after President Donald Trump criticised India for high import tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The remarks were made by State Department spokesperson while responding to a question on Trump's recent statements with regard to high import tariffs on motorcycles to India. 
 
 
It is important that India make greater efforts to lower tariff and non-tariff barriers, which will lower prices to consumers, promote the development of value chains in India, and contribute to India's objective to become a global competitor across a variety of sectors, a State Department spokesperson said. 
 
 
The President seeks to promote fair and reciprocal trade with all our trading partners, including India, the official said. 
 
We will continue to work to resolve the issues that are preventing the US-India economic relationship from reaching its full potential, the State Department spokesperson said in response to a question. 
 
Trump, during a discussion with members of the Congress over steel industry, early this week threatened to increase the tariff on import of Indian motorcycles to the US. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Centre to change base year for GDP, IIP to 2017-18

Feb 16, 2018

The government will change the base year to 2017-18 for the calculation of GDP and IIP numbers while for retail inflation the year will be revised to 2018, Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda said today. 
 
During 2018-19, the ministry is proposing to initiate steps to revise the base years of gross domestic product (GDP), Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) to accommodate and factor the changes that take place in the economic scenario of the country, the statistics and programme implementation minister said at a conference on budget provisions. 
 
implementation minister said at a conference on budget provisions. 
 
The statistics ministry has proposed the new base year for GDP and IIP as 2017-18 while for CPI it will be 2018. 
 
Gowda said the ministry will undertake various steps in the next fiscal beginning April that will improve the statistical system that will help meet the data requirements in the emerging socio-economic scenario. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Centre, states to discuss how to ensure MSP for farmers

Feb 16, 2018

The Centre will consult state governments early next month to set up a mechanism for protecting farmers' income when market prices fall below the minimum support price (MSP), Agriculture Secretary S K Pattanayak said today. 
 
A model law is also being prepared to ensure tenant cultivators get institutional credit and interest subsidy, he added. 
 
We will call a meeting of state governments early next month to discuss a mechanism so that farmers get MSP,Pattanayak told PTI on the sidelines of a conference on food security organised by the Vivekanand International Foundation. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



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