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US must exercise care in verdicts on India's trade policies

Feb 14, 2014

The US must exercise care in rendering "unilateral verdicts" based on sectoral interests against India's trade policies, an eminent Indian-American economist here has said.

Arvind Subramanian, of the Peterson Institute for International Economics testifying before US International Trade Commission (USITC) on Indian trade practices and policies that have impact on American businesses, stressed on the need for adopting a forward-looking perspective.

"As this body deliberates on Indian trade and investment policies and delivers its findings, it should take account of the broader strategic setting. Trade policy does not operate in a vacuum. It is important to ensure that the US exercises care in rendering unilateral verdicts based on sectoral interests which carry the risk of punitive actions," Subramanian said.

"Moreover, it is important to adopt a forward-looking perspective. Elections loom in India and it is increasingly likely that there will be a new government eager to revive the Indian economy based on a more business-friendly approach. Ensuring that a positive start to that effort is not set back by adverse foreign judgements is critical," he said.

At a time when Asian security is in a great flux and the US has serious security interests and concerns in the region, it is important to strengthen ties with India with a view to building a strategic partnership, he argued.

The US and India, Subramanian said, individually and collectively, have a vital common interest and key role in ensuring China's peaceful rise.

"Thus, trade and economic relations between India and the US need a broad strategic framework for which this hearing should pave the conditions. This framework would include as critical elements embracing the principle of, and initiating preparatory work toward, a free trade agreement in the medium term," he said.

Srividhya Ragavan, Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, said that India's recent enactment and implementation of its patent law is fully in accord with the World Trade Organisation's Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

She said India has demonstrated its adherence to TRIPS and to non-protectionism and a national treatment regime by revamping its systems, instituting massive changes to further intellectual property rights and by establishing prudent IP standards that apply equally to both domestic and foreign companies.

Each of these standards remains in conformity with the TRIPS agreement and carefully calibrated to accommodate its national objectives within the scope of the flexibilities accorded under the TRIPS agreement, she said.

India has adopted, within the framework of allowable pluralism under TRIPS, a stronger definition of industrial applicability than the US, Ragavan said.

Source: The Economic Times

Consumers deserve access to safe food, without qty compromise: Hamburg

Feb 14, 2014

United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who is currently on an official tour of India, told government officials and industries in New Delhi that consumers across the globe deserved access to safe food and should get it without compromising on quality.

In an interaction with FnB News via e-mail, she said, “Fresh mangoes, bananas and other native fruit added a pop of colour and provided the backdrop while I rode along the busy streets of New Delhi.”

“En route to the first of several meetings with the Indian regulators, I could not help but marvel at the vibrant buzz of India's capital and the progress it has made since I travelled here years ago as a young woman,” Hamburg added.

“Since then, commerce has globalised rapidly, and now poses significant challenges to consumer safety as the number of products and suppliers entering the United States has increased. India is now the third-largest trade partner and the eighth-largest supplier of food to the United States,” she stated.

Hamburg said, “During my first official visit as USFDA commissioner, I met Indian government officials overseeing the country's health-related matters, as well as those overseeing the export of foods to the United States, and more than 200 countries around the world.”

“These meetings provided me an opportunity to discuss our shared vision to strengthen the quality of the foods exported from India to the United States. Ultimately, this vision is intended to enhance consumer confidence in these products both at home and abroad,” she added.

“As the two largest democracies in the world, our countries have enjoyed an enduring partnership and commitment to collaborate on initiatives designed to enhance both our economies and the lives of the people in our respective countries,” Hamburg stated.

She said, “While the USFDA would take appropriate action against any company that does not meet our requirements, we would also work with those companies to address their issues.”

“All the consumers deserve access to safe and affordable foods and they should not have to sacrifice quality to get that,” Hamburg reiterated, adding that officials at India's health and family welfare ministry shared this goal.

“Our organisations plan to collectively work together to improve the lines of communication between our agencies, and work diligently to ensure that the products being exported from India are safe and of a high quality,” she added.

“During my visit, I will also learn about the industries that produce products for the Unites States, and meet business leaders and reinforce our expectations that they meet our requirements to ensure that consumers here and around the world have access to safe and high-quality products,” Hamburg stated.

Source: FnB News

Partnership with India is broad, strong: US

Jan 24, 2014

"The bottom line is that this (India-US) partnership is broad and it is strong," Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom on Thursday said as she brought the message from US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
"India's Republic Day reminds us of the strength of India's democratic institutions and traditions," Higginbottom said in her address at a reception organized by Indian Ambassador to US S Jaishankar, ahead of the January 26 celebrations.
"And it also reminds us of the strength of the ties between our people and our governments, as we often say, we have a strategic partnership between the oldest and the largest democracies in the world," Higginbottom said.
"We have a broad range of joint efforts and shared interests that keep propelling us forward," Higginbottom said, bringing the message of US President. "Our space cooperation has given Indian farmers better weather forecasts; our homeland security dialogue has made our countries safer from terrorist attacks and our health initiatives have enhanced our ability to detect dangerous pathogens that threaten all people,” she said.
"Our work on climate and energy issues has generated billions in funding for clean initiatives; our close cooperation on education brings faculty and researchers from India into US universities, and facilitates scholarly exchanges; and our strong trade and investment ties fight poverty and drive growth in both countries," Higginbottom said.
"We have reached close to USD 100 billion in bilateral trade each year, numbers that we expect to see increase in the coming years," Higginbottom said. "Beyond our bilateral relations, we are strong partners in building an international framework to underpin continued peace and prosperity," she added.
"Our regional dialogues, including US-India-Japan trilateral exchange and ASEAN Regional Forum, have helped develop a shared vision for stability in Asia and the Indian and Pacific Oceans," Higginbottom said, asserting that she has no doubt that "this relationship will continue to grow" for the benefit of all people of the two countries.
In his brief remarks, Jaishankar too exuded confidence of the relationship being back on track after brief period of tense moments between the two countries following the arrest of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York in December on charges of visa fraud and misrepresentation of facts.
"I have been associated with this relationship for more than three decades. During these three decades, I have seen the transformation in this relationship. I am convinced that given our political convergence, our economic co-operation, shared values and ideals that we can take this relationship to still higher levels," Jaishankar said referring to the transformation in the bilateral relationship between the two countries in the past few decades.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry had met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Manteaux on the sidelines of the international meeting on Syria in Switzerland. This was the first high-level contact between the two countries after the Devyani episode.
"I think the fact that the Secretary sat down with his counterpart to discuss the whole range of issues we deal with India on is a sign that the relationship is moving forward and that we have a lot of work to do," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference.
"We are trying very hard to move past this. And I know the Secretary believes that as well. So again, we'll keep having discussions with the Indian government when they raise them, but we are very focused on moving the relationship forward," she said in response to a question.
The event among others was attended by top officials of the Obama Administration including Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal and several others from the Pentagon.

Source: Jagran Post

Rose export market gives good returns to growers ahead of Valentine’s Day

Jan 22, 2014

Florists seem to be the busiest people today. As India starts shipping roses this weekend for Valentine's Day, rose growers are happy, as the prices have hardly dipped over the last three years due to the growing love of Indians as well as foreigners for Indian roses.

The export of roses for Valentine's Day usually takes place between January 25 and February 10. Pune and Bangalore ship a few crore stems to Europe, Japan and other countries annually. According to statistics with Agricultural and Process Food Export Development Authority ( APEDA), flower exports are growing at over 15 per cent per annum. However, it is not just the export market that gives rosy returns to growers.

Indians, especially big and small corporates, have developed a love for roses. "Many small companies have come up near Bhopal in the last five years, which regularly use roses and other flowers. The use of bouquets at meetings and during welcome or farewell functions have become common," said wholesaler Rakesh Asini of Ashok Flower Merchants, who has increased his purchase of roses from Pune by at least 50 per cent over the last few years.

Pandit Shikare, an agricultural graduate and owner of Rujul Agro located at Talegaon near Pune, is a farmer-exporter. "Giving bouquets has become common today and roses form its main component. There is so much demand for roses that sometimes it leads to shortage. The domestic market demand is also growing consistently.

"Rose prices never came down in 2013," said Shikare. The average rose price received by grower-exporters during the Valentine's Day week is aboutRs 10/stem. Love for roses is not restricted to only the big cities. "I have customers from smaller towns and even villages, who are ready to spend Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 for roses during weddings," said Shikare.

Red roses are most in demand during the Valentine's Day week and their price depends upon the length of the stem -- the longer the stem, the higher its price.Due to the promising returns, protected rose cultivation has been increasing rapidly in areas around Pune, Satara, Kolhapur and Nashik. Kolhapur-based Shrivardhan Biotech has started preparations from December for producing about 18 lakh stems of roses for the Valentine day's week.

Source: Economic Times