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June 2018 - Bilateral

  • India, Seychelles ink six agreements in several fields
    India and Seychelles have signed six MoUs to further expand bilateral ties between the two sides. These include areas of naval cooperation, cyber security, culture, development projects among others. 

    The MoUs were exchanged in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Seychelles President Danny Faure after the two leaders held bilateral and delegation level talks in Hyderabad House. 

    The Indian Prime Minister said that India is ready to provide assistance under special grants to Seychelles in civilian infrastructure projects. PM Modi announced that India would help Seychelles in enhancing its defence capability and maritime infrastructure. 

    In another important step towards India's commitment to augment Seychelles' defence assets and capability, Prime Minister Narendra Modi handed over replica of Dornier Aircraft to President of Seychelles. 

    Earlier, Seychelles President was accorded ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the visting dignitary. 

    Seychelles president said that the relationship between the two countries is excellent and his presence here is to take this relationship to newer heights. 

  • China to cut import tariffs on soybean, other products from India, Asia nations
    China will cut import tariffs on soybean and some other goods from India and four other Asian nations from July 1, China's Cabinet announced, amidst a looming trade war with the US. 

    China will reduce tariffs on soybean imported from India, South Korea, Bangladesh, Laos, and Sri Lanka from the current three per cent to zero, official media quoted the decision by State Council, China's Cabinet. 
    Imported products such as chemicals, agricultural products, medical supplies, clothing, steel and aluminium products from these countries will also enjoy certain tariff reductions, the state-run China Daily website reported. 

    The State Council's announcement came amidst tariff spat between world's two largest economies, China and the US, following pressure by US President Donald Trump to cut down USD 375 billion deficit in the bilateral trade. The US is a major supplier of soybeans to China. 

  • Sushma Swaraj hands over second Dornier aircraft to Seychelles President Danny Faure
    Aiming to take the defence ties to a newer height, the second Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft was handed over to visiting President of Seychelles Danny Faure. 

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj handed over the aircraft worthiness certificate, while Mos MEA Gen VK Singh handed over symbolic keys to the Seychelles President. Later the Union Minister flagged off the Dornier aircraft. 

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurates heads of missions meet in New Delhi
    External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on 30th June inaugurated the ninth Heads of Mission Conference that will see all Indian ambassadors and high commissioners deliberate on key foreign policy issues and goals. 

    The three-day annual conference was themed Unprecedented Outreach: Unparalleled Outcomes. 

    The government is likely to brief the top diplomats on economic reform initiatives and measures taken for improving ease-of-doing business in India so that these aspects can be highlighted on the global stage. 

    The conference comes at a time when India is monitoring several important global developments including sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia and Iran, and China’s new assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. 

  • President Ram Nath Kovind holds Bilateral meetings with the Greek Leaders
    The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, who is on a State visit to Greece began his formal engagements on June 18, 2018. He met his counterpart, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Mansion where he was accorded a ceremonial welcome prior to the meeting. 

    During his meeting with the Greek President and the delegation level talks, President Ram Nath Kovind emphasized the age-old civilizational ties between the two nations. 

    President Ram Nath Kovind highlighted India’s commitment to promote trade and investment engagement between the two nations. He stated that bilateral trade between the two countries of US dollar 530 million was below potential and more efforts must be made to expand and diversify trade between the two countries. He informed the Greek delegation that India had accepted the invitation to participate in the prestigious Thessaloniki International Fair, 2019 as the “Honoured Country”. 

    After the delegation level talks, the President also met the Prime Minister of Greece Mr Alexis Tsipras and the two leaders discussed different issues of mutual interest to both nations. Later, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Leader of Opposition of the Hellenic Republic also called on the President. 

    During the day, three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed- (i) the MoU between Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and National Quality Infrastructure System/Hellenic Organization for Standardization on Cooperation in the Fields of Standardization; (ii) MoU between Foreign Service Institute (FSI), India and Diplomatic Academy, Greece on Cooperation in Diplomatic Training and (iii) the Programme of Cultural Cooperation for the year 2018-2020. 

  • External Affairs Minister calls on Presidents of European Commission, European Parliament
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with President of European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani in Brussels on the leg of her four-nation tour. Sushma Swaraj arrived in Belgium from Luxembourg on the last leg of her four-nation tour. Earlier, she had visited France and Italy. 

    India and the EU are strategic and natural partners with common values, he said. Earlier Sushma Swaraj called on Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel and discussed ways to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, fintech and digital and space sectors. 

  • Seychelles parliament blocks planned Indian naval base on Remote Island
    Seychelles parliament will not ratify a pact allowing India to build naval facilities on one of the archipelago's islands. 

    The two countries signed an agreement in January to build military facilities on the remote island of Assumption, but the project quickly attracted criticism from opposition members of the tiny Indian Ocean nation's parliament and lead to public protests. 

    Opposition lawmakers had argued that allowing India access to Assumption, which is near a busy shipping route, would be surrendering territory to another country and joint management of the facility with India undermined the 115-island nation's sovereignty. 

    The scrapped 20-year pact entailed building an airstrip and a jetty as India steps up a contest with China for influence in the Indian Ocean. Last year China inaugurated its first overseas military base in Djibouti, near one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, heightening Indian insecurities and pushing it to gain a foothold in the region. 

  • India, Cuba agree to enhance cooperation in biotechnology, renewable energy
    India and Cuba have agreed to enhance cooperation in biotechnology, renewable energy and traditional medicine as President Ram Nath Kovind held wide-ranging talks with his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel to further cement the strong bilateral ties. 

    Ram Nath Kovind, who arrived in Havana on the last leg of his three-nation tour which also took him to Greece and Suriname, commenced his engagements Havana by paying tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. 

    Leter, Ram Nath Kovind met his counterpart Diaz-Cane. 

    Cuba also reiterated support for India's candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. President also addressed the University of Havana on 'India and the Global South'. 

  • US government clears sale of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to India for $ 930M
    US government has approved a deal to sell the Indian military six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for 930 million dollars. 

    The agreement has been passed to the US Congress for approval and if no US lawmaker raises an objection, the contract will go ahead. 

    Boeing and Indian partner Tata have begun to produce Apache fuselages at a plant in India, approval concerns a direct sale of finished products from the US manufacturers. 

    In addition to aircraft, the contract includes night vision sensors, GPS guidance and hundreds of Hellfire anti-armour and Stinger air-to-air missiles. 

  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurates 1st office of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in Hanoi, Vietnam
    Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated the first office of leading defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited in Hanoi, reflecting India's deepening military cooperation with Vietnam. 

    The fourth Vietnam-India defence industry meeting was held on 13th June. Nirmala Sitaraman has said India is looking forward to expand its footprint in defence production and this is the best time to come vietnam with the technologies India have. 

    She also held extensive talks with her Vietnamese counterpart during which both sides explored ways to further deepen military cooperation. 

  • India, US agree to hold talks to address trade & economic issues
    India and the US have agreed to hold comprehensive talks to address trade and economic issues. The decision in this regard was taken during a series of meetings, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu had with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. 

    At the conclusion of his two-day trip to the US, Mr. Suresh Prabhu told a group of Indian reporters in Washington, that New Delhi and Washington will now work together to expand bilateral trade. 

    The Minister said, India will send an official team within next few days to work out the details and initiate a comprehensive negotiation on all issues concerning trade and economic relationship between the two countries. 

    Acknowledging that both sides have trade and tariff issues with each other, Mr. Suresh Prabhu said officials will hold talks on all of them. 

    President Donald Trump, in a press conference in Canada's Quebec City during the G7 summit, took a swipe at India along with the world's other top economies and accused New Delhi of charging 100 per cent tariff on some of the US' goods. 

  • Union Cabinet apprises of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on technical cooperation
    Signed between India and Denmark in the field of Sustainable and Smart Urban Development
    Union Cabinet was apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Denmark on technical cooperation in the field of Sustainable and Smart Urban Development in April this year (2018). It was also apprised of the similar MoUs signed between India and United Kingdom and between India and France. 
    Signed between India and The Netherlands in the field of Spatial Planning, Water Management and Mobility Management 
    The Cabinet was informed about the MoU signed recently between India and The Netherlands on technical cooperation in the field of Spatial Planning, Water Management and Mobility Management. 
    Signed between India and Oman in the peaceful uses of outer space The Cabinet was also apprised of MoU signed between India and Oman on Cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space in February 2018 at Muscat. 

  • SCO Summit 2018: Indian rice finds road to China; two nations sign protocol
    India on 9th June signed a protocol with China for rice export of both Basmati and non-Basmati rice varieties in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

    Under the protocol, Indian rice exported to China would have to comply with Chinese quarantine laws and regulations. The Indian department of agriculture will ensure that the rice exported is free of six identified pests which are of concern to China. 

    Each batch of rice which is being exported has to be accompanied by a certificate issued by the agriculture ministry saying that it complies with China's phytosanitary requirements. 

    The certificate would also give the place of origin of rice in India. The department of agriculture, cooperation and farmer welfare under the ministry of agriculture would ensure the required phytosanitary conditions during storage and processing. Such conditions are to be ensured during the rice plantation. 

    The protocol will remain in force for three years, with automatic extension of three years unless one of the sides decides to terminate or amend it two months before the expiry. 

    In March, China had agreed to give a commitment to accelerate market access for Indian non-basmati rice, rapeseed meals, soya meals, pomegranate and pomegranate arils, okra, banana and, other fruits and vegetables, and bovine meat. 

    China had also agreed to resolution of issues of Indian pharma products exports from India. Over 240 pharmaceutical applications from Indian exporters were pending with China. 

    India, in turn, had agreed to accelerate the provision of market access to Chinese pears, tagetes (marigold) seeds and apple. 

    It in May 2017 put restraints on import of these products after sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) concerns. Prior to this, India had been importing about $70 million worth apples and $30 million pears. 

    The two countries are the largest emerging economies of the world with 35 per cent of the world’s population and around 20 per cent of the world’s GDP but the relative volume of bilateral trade is less than 1 per cent of global trade
    Sign on Brahmaputra River
    India and China also signed an agreement to share Brahmaputra water data during flood season and exporting non-basmati rice to China. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit beginning 

    Prime Minister Modi reached Qingdao, the Eastern Chinese coastal city to attend the SCO summit. This will be India’s first participation as a full member of the 8 nation SCO grouping which includes India, China and Russia as its members.
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