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2017 January - Bilateral Issues

  • Indian Railways signs $5-lakh pact with UNESCO for Darjeeling railways : The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is all set to receive a major conservation boost with the Indian Railways signing a fund-in-trust agreement worth $5,33,332 to enable UNESCO develop a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) and a framework for an effective management system for it. 

    Signing the agreement in Darjeeling, union railway minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu described it as a historic moment and said Indian Railway was committed do everything possible to perverse the priceless heritage of the DHR that was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1999. 

  • India, UAE sign 14 agreements : India and the UAE on 25th January inked 14 agreements in various areas including in defence, maritime transport, comprehensive strategic partnership, shipping, agriculture and allied sector, trade, oil storage management, energy efficiency, road transport and highways and prevention and combating human trafficking. 

    The agreements were signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. 

    Speaking about India UAE ties in the economy, the Prime Minister said India regards UAE as an important partner in India’s growth story. The two countries are among each other’s top trading partners with a well-balanced bilateral trade of about 50 billion dollars in 2015-16. UAE is among the top investors in India in terms of foreign direct investments. 

  • India, UAE acknowledge common threat posed by terrorism to peace & security : India and UAE on 26th January reaffirmed their deep commitment to building a comprehensive strategic partnership to elevate their multifaceted ties to an even higher level. In a joint statement issued at the end of the three day visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged the common threat posed by terrorism to peace and security. 

    The two sides agreed to coordinate efforts to counter radicalization and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and perpetrating acts of terrorism. 

    The two sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in the fields of law enforcement, anti-money laundering, smuggling of fake currency, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal migration, Cyber security, renewable energy, climate change and other transnational organized crimes. 

    The UAE side acknowledged the opportunities offered under the 'Make in India' initiative for joint production of defence equipment in India and also for the procurement of defence material. The two leaders reviewed the progress in realizing the 75 billion dollar target for UAE investments in India's plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure development. 

  • India, Mauritius sign MoU for cooperation in Agriculture : India and Mauritius on 16th January signed n Memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of Agriculture and cooperatives. The MoU will enable the two countries to collaborate in Dairy and fisheries sector, which will benefit thousand of Mauritius people. 

  • World Bank agreed to fund Nagaland Health Project : India has signed a financing agreement with World Bank for 48 million dollars for Nagaland Health Project. About six lakh people will directly benefit from the Health Project with improvements in higher-level facilities as well as system-wide investments. 

    The objective of the project is to improve health services in Nagaland. Communities in targeted locations will benefit from project activities at the community and health facility levels. The Financing Agreement was signed by Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Raj Kumar and Genevieve Connors who is the Acting Country Director, of World Bank, India. 

  • Cabinet approves MoU between India, Serbia : Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between India and Serbia for promoting cooperation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics. 

    The Cabinet also gave its ex-post facto approval to the MoU between India and Vietnam in the field of Cyber Security. The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation for exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of cyber security-related incidents between the two countries. 

    Cabinet has also approved MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport and Highways sector and cooperation in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises and Innovation. 

    An MoU on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency between India and the United Arab Emirates was also cleared by the Cabinet. It will pave way for recognition of maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, training documentary evidence and medical fitness certificates for seafarers. 

  • Cabinet approves Trade Agreement negotiations with Peru : Union Cabinet has approved holding negotiations for Trade Agreement with Peru on trade in goods, services and investment. A Joint Study Group between the two countries was constituted to explore the possibility for entering into trade agreement in January 2015. Both sides concluded the Joint Study Group Report in October last year and agreed to carry forward the discussions over the issue. 

  • MoU on cooperation on Youth matters : Cabinet approved MoU on cooperation on Youth matters between India and Russia. Exchange programmes in the field of Youth Affairs between the two countries will help in promoting exchange of ideas, values and culture amongst Youth through establishment of people-to-people contacts and in consolidating friendly relations between the two countries. 

    The selections for participation in exchange programmes shall be done in an objective and transparent manner and the outcomes of the programmes under the MoU shall be open for public scrutiny. Exchange programmes will help in developing international perspective among the Youth and expanding their knowledge and expertise in the areas of Youth Affairs. 

  • India, UAE hold first strategic dialogue meeting : The first meeting of Strategic Dialogue between India and United Arab Emirates was held in New Delhi. During the meeting, the two sides discussed various issues ranging from cooperation in the areas of trade and investments to expanding the bilateral cooperation to new areas including energy security, defence and security and information technology and space. 

    The meeting was co-chaired by Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar, and his UAE counterpart Dr. Anwar Gargash. The meeting provided a timely opportunity to prepare for the forthcoming State visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi as a Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations, 2017. 

  • PM Modi, French Foreign Minister discuss defence, terrorism : Seeking to give a greater momentum to the Indo-French strategic relationship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Marc Ayrault on 8th January discussed a wide spectrum of issues, including defence and terrorism. 

    During the talks between Mr. Modi and Mr. Ayrault on the sidelines of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Bengaluru, both leaders had considerable discussions on international terrorism of which the two countries are victims. 

    The two leaders also discussed about the cooperation in civil energy with specific reference to Jaitapur nuclear plant. Noting that India has various defence needs. India needs submarines, fighter aircrafts, helicopters and everything was discussed all of these.

  • Overseas Indians can participate in flagship programmes of India, says President Mukherjee:  Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has called upon the overseas Indian community to participate in the flagship programmes of Government of India. He addressed ceremony of 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in Bengaluru on 9th January.

    Mr. Mukherjee said NRIs can contribute in flagship programmes like Make in India, Start up India, Clean India and they should share knowledge and cultural heritage of India and in the country they reside. He expressed concern over the plight of temporary migrants in the Gulf region and in South East Asia. Also, Pitched for upgrading of skills and talents

    On the occasion, Mr Mukherjee conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards on 30 eminent NRIs for their contribution to different fields. They include Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal, Member of European Parliament Neena Gill, Former Finance Minister of Trindad and Tobago Winston Chandrabhan Dookeran, Antwerp Indian Association, Indian social and cultural centre, Dubai.

    The President also released book of selected speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which outlines a new vision of India’s foreign policy. The theme of this year's Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was “Redefining engagement with Indian Diaspora”

  • India, Rwanda to enter solar alliance : Indian Prime Minister holds bilateral meetings with more than 10 global leaders on the sidelines of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit; PM meets President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, Both countries sign agreement on Forensic Sciences Cooperation and Rwanda's accession to the International Solar Alliance.

    Rwanda became the 25th partner of the Prime Minister's initiative, International Solar Alliance, through which relations will be further strengthened. India will provide solar power to 35 schools in rural Rwanda. Cooperation in hydropower, vocational training centers, irrigation projects, Zero tolerance in the fight against terrorism and increasing people to people contacts, were also discussed. 

    The Prime Minister met Agriculture Minister of Israel, Uri Ariel and sought collaboration in tapping Israeli expertise in irrigation projects. Prime Minister also met Japanese Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko. Japan is India's old friend and reliable investment and trade partner. 

  • France supports India's membership of UNSC : French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Marc Ayrault met PM Narendra Modi and reiterated support for India's membership of NSG and candidature as a permanent member in a reformed and expanded UN security council.

    Seeking to give a greater momentum to the Indo-French strategic relationship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Marc Ayrault discussed a wide spectrum of issues, including defence and terrorism. The two leaders also discussed about the cooperation in civil energy with specific reference to Jaitapur nuclear plant.

  • India, Kenya sign agreements in area of agriculture : India and Kenya on 11th January signed agreements in the area of agriculture which were inked after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Moid and Kenyian President Uhuru Kenyatta in New Delhi. 

  • $100 million Line of Credit to Kenya: India on 11th January announced 100 million US dollars Line of Credit to Kenya for agricultural mechanization after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

    Mr. Modi said the two sides will encourage industry and business in both countries to take lead in exploiting opportunities in healthcare, tourism, IT, agriculture and energy. The Prime Minister said, the Joint Working Group will meet early which will focus on cyber security, counter terrorism, combating narcotics trade, human trafficking and money laundering.

  • India & Sri Lanka sign MoU to construct 3,000 rain water harvesting systems : India and Sri Lanka on 13th January signed MoU to construct 3000 rain water harvesting systems at a cost of 30 crore Sri Lankan Rupees in northern Jaffna District. The MoU was signed by Mr. Arindam Bagchi, Acting High Commissioner of India in the presence of Hon. A. H. M. Fowzie, State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, of Sri Lanka.

    The project envisages construction of rainwater harvesting systems for 3000 households in selected divisions of Tamil majority Jaffna District. The scope of the project also includes training of the households on operation and maintenance of the systems. This grant project was approved by Government of India in response to a request received from the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation of Government of Sri Lanka. 

  • Fishermen issue: India, Sri Lanka for long-lasting solution : India and Sri Lanka have expressed confidence for finding a long-lasting solution to the issue of fishermen between the two countries. The ministerial meeting held in Colombo on 2nd January reached an understanding to ensure that there was no physical harm or loss of life while arresting fishermen for poaching into each other’s waters. 

    The talks co-chaired by Union Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh and Sri Lankan fisheries minister Mahinda Amaraweera, was participated by senior officials from both countries. 

    A joint communiqué issued after the meeting said that bottom trawling, practiced mainly by fishermen from Tamil Nadu, will be phased out in a graded time-bound manner. Sri Lankan side agreed to consider the request from Indian side to immediately release the fishing vessels in each other’s custody. 

    Both sides also decided to operationalise a hotline between the two coast guards and to set up a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to release the fishermen in each other’s custody. The next meeting of Joint working group has been scheduled for 6th of April. 

  • Cabinet approved MoU with Portugal on Cooperation in Agriculture : Cabinet approves signing of Agreement for cooperation in field of Agriculture & allied sectors between India & Portugal. The agreement covers various activities in these fields which include exchange of scientific and technical information, trade in plants and plant products, exchange of information in phytosanitary issues, training programmes, seminars and visits of experts and consultants. 

    The Agreement provides constitution of a Joint Working Group comprising of representatives from both countries. Its task would be to monitor the implementation of the present MoU and making concrete proposals for agriculture cooperation and develop guidelines and priorities for future cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. 

  • Cabinet approves transfer of land for 2nd Diplomatic Enclave : The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the transfer of 34.87 Hectare land in Sector 24, Dwarka, New Delhi from Delhi Development Authority to Land and Development Office for the purpose of the Second Diplomatic Enclave. 

    Currently, there is one Diplomatic Enclave in Chanakyapuri, where land has been allotted to the Embassies by L&DO. Ministry of External affairs has expressed need for more land for allotment to Diplomatic Missions/ International Organizations for building their Chanceries/ Embassies in Delhi. 

    In another decision union cabinet has approved signing and ratifying an Agreement related to customs between India and Uruguay regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters. 

  • India & Kazakhstan sign protocol to amend existing Double Taxation : India and Kazakhstan on 6th January signed a protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention between the two countries signed on December, 1996 for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. 

    The protocol provides internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters. The information received from Kazakhstan for tax purposes can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorization of the competent authority of Kazakhstan and vice versa. 

  • Approval to MoU between India and Kenya : The Union Cabinet has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kenya on bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. Decision in this regard was taken at the Union Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. 

    The MoU covers various activities in the field of agriculture and allied sectors which include agricultural research, animal husbandry and dairy, livestock and fisheries, horticulture and natural resource management. 

    It also includes post-harvest management and marketing, irrigation farming systems development, soil and conservation, water management and integrated watershed development integrated pest management, agricultural plant, machinery and implements, sanitary and phytosanitary issues. It provides for constitution of a Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising of representatives from both countries to develop detailed cooperation programmes and monitor implementation of this MoU. 

  • 7 agreements signed between India and Portugal : India and Portugal on 7th January exchanged seven agreements in different fields, including defence cooperation, agriculture, renewable energy and marine research. The MoUs were signed after bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa in New Delhi. 

    The Prime Minister said the MoU on defence cooperation signed will help harness strengths of both nations. He said expansion and deepening of trade, investment and business partnerships is a shared priority for both the countries. He recalled the contribution of Mr. Costa's father, Orlando Costa in enriching Goan and Indo-Portuguese literature. 

    On the occasion, the two leaders jointly released commemorative stamps issued by the postal departments of India and Portugal. These stamps depict Dandiya and the Portugese dance form of Pauliteiros. Prime Minister Modi gifted Mr. Costa his father's novel, translated to English. Mr. Costa, in turn, gifted Portugese football player Christiano Ronaldo's jersey to Mr. Modi. 

  • India, Singapore sign 3rd protocol for amending DTAA : India and Singapore have signed the 3rd protocol for amending Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). Earlier India had amended the DTAA with Mauritius and Cyprus. Mr. Jaitley said 2016 has been historic as these double taxation avoidance agreements will block the routes to evade taxations. 

    The Minister said from 2019, Switzerland will start giving India real time information on investments by Indian entities in that country in 2018.


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