Key Highlights of Nirmala Sitharaman’s Bilateral Engagements on Sidelines of Partnership Summit 2015

Key Highlights of Nirmala Sitharaman’s Bilateral Engagements on Sidelines of Partnership Summit 2015

On the margins of the Partnership Summit held in Jaipur, Rajasthan during 15-17 January 2015, the Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (Independent Charge), Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman met a number of her counterparts from the participating countries as well representatives of international organizations.

In a meeting with H.E. Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, the Ministers exchanged views on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, Malaysia’s increasing investment in India and the India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Smt. Sitharaman also met H.E. Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the Minister for Trade & Industry of Ghana. They discussed bilateral trade relations and expressed hope that this would continue to grow. Smt. Sitharaman expressed satisfaction at the recent successful visit to India by the Vice President of Ghana in November 2014 for attending the CII World Economic Forum Summit. She noted the need to have the next round of the Joint Commission which will provide the necessary platform to take stock of economic and commercial ties. They also spoke of the next India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS). The Indian Minister also referred to training programmes offered by India under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme. Dr. Garbrah extended an invitation to Smt. Sitharaman to visit Ghana.

The Indian Minister met H.E. Mr. Tofail Ahmed, Minister of Commerce, Bangladesh. They had a frank and friendly discussion on several issues including bilateral trade, the renewal of the Trade Agreement between the two countries and opening of Border Haats, transit arrangements, India’s Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme for LDCs and trade infrastructure. Smt. Sitharaman also had a meeting with Ms. Gao Yan, Vice-Minister in the Ministry of Commerce of China. Smt. Sitharaman spoke of the important role of the two countries in many international forums such as the WTO and BRICS. While expressing satisfaction at the remarkable expansion of bilateral trade between the two countries, which stood at USD 65.90 bn in 2013-14, the Minister expressed concern at the growing trade deficit which was USD 36bn in the same period. The Minister said that India has global competitive advantage in niche engineering products, pharmaceuticals, cotton textiles, home furnishings etc. However these products have a limited presence in the Chinese market due to various issues related to tariff barriers, regulatory and other complexities which impede India’s exports. India also has concerns regarding market access for agricultural and pharmaceutical products. Also, Indian entities face several regulatory hurdles and other complex domestic certification requirements to bid for government tenders and government sponsored IT projects.

Smt. Sitharaman drew attention to the many opportunities for Chinese investment in India.

The Chinese Vice-Minister referred to the numerous interactions that had taken place in 2014 between the two countries, including the visit of the Chinese President to India, which had taken relations to a new stage. She expressed satisfaction at the in-depth discussion on India-China commercial relations at the 10th JEG meeting at the Ministerial level which took place in September 2014. The Vice-Minister acknowledged the trade imbalance and said that the Chinese government was keen on promoting imports into the country.

Smt. Sitharaman met H.E. Mr. Andrew Robb AO, MP, Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment. They had a productive discussion on taking the India-Australia CECA negotiations forward in a creative and constructive manner. On the issue of market access for Australian goods, both agricultural and industrial, Minister Robb said that they were looking at the premium end of the Indian market and would not be competing with domestic production, given the size of the Indian market, and the high costs of production coupled with far lower levels of production in Australia.

The Indian side said that there is considerable potential for Australia to scale up their investment in India very substantially, in areas including cold chain, bio-tech projects, marine sector, engineering and manufacturing sectors apart from mining and energy related projects.

Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman also met the Director General (DG) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and representatives of OECD, the Confederation of British Industry and the UK India Business Council. The Minister had a frank discussion with the DG, WTO, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo. The Minister appreciated the openness and flexibility shown by the DG in their earlier interactions. Observing that she was aiming to set the contours of the discussion in the months ahead, rather than the agenda, the Minister said that India strongly subscribed to the multilateral trading system and the WTO. The Minister emphasised that that there should be no differentiation made amongst developing countries as regards commitments to be undertaken or in the matter of special and differential treatment for developing countries. The Minister also said that the Doha mandate should not be re-opened; nor should there be any cherry picking of issues from the Doha Development Agenda or introduction of new issues that only served the commercial interests of a few developed countries. The Minister also said that a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes was critical and should be addressed on priority.

Referring to the commitment by WTO members to finalise a Work Programme on the rest of the Doha Development Agenda by July 2015 and the upcoming Tenth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015, Mr. Azevêdo said that pragmatism was needed in order to move forward and promised that he would do everything he could to help the WTO members to decide on the way forward.

The representative from OECD expressed support to the Make in India initiative launched by the Government of India and offered the services of OECD at the Central and State level to promote this agenda.

The Minister held talks with UKIBC and CBI to lay the agenda for the next meeting of JETCO in London on 19-20 January 2015.

In discussions with the Director Generals of WIPO and UNIDO, the Minister stressed on the strengths of the Indian IPR regime and said that the draft of a new IP Policy had been circulated to stakeholders recently. The Indian judiciary is strong in protecting and upholding intellectual property rights. The Indian Government is keen to bring greater clarity and transparency to assure foreign participation under the Make in India initiative.

DG UNIDO Dr. Li Yong expressed keenness of UNIDO to design and implement the new Country Programme to support the Make in India initiative. He promised cutting edge technologies under the aegis of UNIDO, especially for the MSME sector.


COAS Felicitates National Bravery Awardees


        General Dalbir Singh, COAS felicitated the National Bravery Awardees at South Block on 20 Jan 2015.  The awardees included 24 children (8 girls including 2 posthumously and 16 boys including 2 posthumously) from across the country. They will be honoured on 25 Jan 2015 by Hon’ble President of India and will also from part of 26 Jan 2015 Republic Day Parade. The COAS congratulated them and stated that they were a symbol of courage, motivation & inspiration for the children of the country.


Government initiatives on Tiger Conservation & Forest Management yield impressive results – Shri Prakash Javadekar

Tiger Population in India increases to 2226; increase by 30.5% since the last estimate

Minister releases Status of Tigers in India Report 2014

Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forests& Climate Change has said that Government initiatives to streamline Tiger Conservation along with effective Forest Management and Community Participation had led to increase in the number of tigers.All around involvement of all stakeholders had helped enhance the number of tigers from 1706 in 2010 to 2226 in the latest estimates. This increase in Tiger Population was a testimony of the success of various measures adopted by the Government. These measures related to Special Tiger Protection Force, Special Programme for Orphan Tiger cubs, efforts to control poaching and initiatives to minimize Human-Animal conflict and encroachment. India was willing to donate Tiger cubs to international community and play a key role in the global Tiger Conservation efforts.The Minister stated this while inaugurating the two day meeting of the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Tiger States and Field Directors of Tiger Reserves, here today.

Shri Javadekar further stated that the successful Tiger Conservation practices in the country could be adopted and practiced by the international community as a step towards sustainable forest management.Shri Javadekar lauded the efforts of the Tiger ReservesManagement and Project Tiger Team for the achievement.

The Third Round of country-level Tiger Assessment employing refined technology of double sampling using camera traps hadrecorded an increase in tiger population. The midvalue of the snapshot assessment using the same methodologyin 2006 was 1411. In 2010 the Tiger population was 1706 and in 2014 it stood at 2226 with an increase 30.5 % since the last estimate. A total of 3,78,118 sq.kms of Forest Area in 18 Tiger States was surveyed, with total of 1540 unique Tiger Photo captures. As per the survey, Tiger population has increased in Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. The third round of independent Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves has shown an overall improvement in the score of 43 Tiger Reserves from 65% in 2010-11 to 69 in 2014.

The Economic Valuation of 6 Tiger Reserves carried out for the first time provided qualitative and quantitative estimates of benefits accruing from tiger reserves. These included ecological, economic, social and cultural services. The assessment of Forest Cover Change in Tiger Landscape of Shivalik-Gangetic Plain has indicated an improvement of forest cover in core areas of Tiger Reserves.

The Minister released various Reports on the status of Tiger population in India namely Report on All India Tiger Estimation 2014, Report on Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves -2014, Compendium on Status of Tiger Reserves, Report on Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves, Report on Assessment of Changes Forest Cover in Tiger Reserves (Shivalik- Gangetic Plain Landscape), and Report on Corridors: Connecting Tiger Population for Long term Conservation. Shri Javadekar also distributed NTCA awards for Excellence in various categories.
Key Highlights of Nirmala Sitharaman’s Bilateral Engagements on Sidelines of Partnership Summit 2015 Key Highlights of Nirmala Sitharaman’s Bilateral Engagements on Sidelines of Partnership Summit 2015 Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 8:16 PM Rating: 5

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