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March 2018 - Bilateral

  • India-China Joint Group on Economic Relations meet discusses ‘Trade imbalance’ issue
    The India-China Joint Economic Group met in Delhi on 26th March. Union minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu and Chinese Commerce minister Zhong Shan deliberated on many aspects of bilateral trade including addressing the huge trade deficit that India has been trying to bridge. 

    India's trade imbalance has been a constant source of worry and was promptly taking up by India during talks. 

    Minister Suresh Prabhu exhorted his Chinese counterpart for greater market access for agricultural products like rapeseed, soyabean, basmati and non-basmati rice, fruits, vegetables and sugar. 

    India sought steps to facilitate Indian exports in areas including pharmaceutical & IT and IT Enabled Services. 

    On his part, Chinese Minister Zhong Shan welcomed Indian investment in China and promised to address the trade deficit between the two countries. 

    Chinese Minister also highlighted the important issues discussed in the meeting like two-way trade relations, preparation of an action plan, greater focus on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and e-dialogue. 

    China said that candid and effective discussions with India on trade relations can serve as the propeller for the growth not only between the two countries but in the entire region. India-China Joint Economic Group is the oldest and the most important dialogue mechanism between the two neighbouring countries. 

    India has time and again raised the issue of heavy trade imbalance with China and sought steps to facilitate Indian exports in areas including pharmaceutical and agricultural products and information technology services. 

    Trade deficit with China stood at 36.73 billion doller during April-October this fiscal. Burgeoning trade deficit with China can be attributed primarily to the fact that Chinese exports to India rely strongly on manufactured items to meet the demand of fast expanding sectors like telecom and power. 

  • Government signs $80mn loan agreement with ADB to help modernize Technical Education in Himachal
    Asian Development Bank, ADB and Government of India on 28th March signed 80 million dollar loan to help modernize Technical and Vocational Education and Training, TVET institutions and improve the skills ecosystem in Himachal Pradesh. 

    Joint Secretary in Department of Economic Affairs Sameer Kumar Khare signed the loan agreement from Indian side and Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, Kenichi Yokoyama signed on behalf of ADB. The Project will help seize this opportunity by providing support in developing relevant and good quality TVET programs thereby improving employment prospects of nearly 65 thousand youths by 2022. 

    The project will establish a polytechnic for women, six city Livelihood Centers and seven Rural Livelihood Centers, and upgrade 11 employment exchanges into model career Centers. 

  • India, China agree to a roadmap for addressing trade imbalance
    The two sides reaffirmed their aim to promote bilateral trade in the field of pharmaceuticals including resolution of issues of Indian pharma products exports to Chinese markets. 

    The eleventh session of the China-India joint-group on Economic Relations, Trade, Science & Technology held on 28th March was co-chaired by the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu and the Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China Zhong Shan. 

    The two Ministers while reaffirming and reiterating their commitments to promote a balanced and sustainable bilateral trade, agreed to continue to take forward the initiatives identified in the Five Year Development Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and India signed in September 2014. 

    The Chinese side noted India’s concern regarding the long existing trade imbalance and requests for market access of Indian products and services and expressed its commitment to address these concerns through the broad framework provided by successive JEGs and the Five Year Development Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India. 

    The Chinese side reaffirmed their commitment to accelerating the provision of market access for Indian agricultural products pertaining to non-basmati rice, rape-seed meals, soya-meals, pomegranate and pomegranate arils, okra, banana and other fruits and vegetables and bovine meat expeditiously. 

    The two sides reaffirmed their aim to promote bilateral trade in the field of pharmaceuticals including resolution of issues of Indian pharma products exports to Chinese markets. 

    The Ministers agreed to draw-up a medium and long term roadmap with action points and timelines for increasing bilateral trade between the two countries in a balanced and sustainable manner, as the two countries are the largest emerging economies of the world with 35% of the world’s population and around 20% of the world’s GDP but the relative volume of bilateral trade is less than 1% of global trade. 

    The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation within WTO, and other multilateral and regional frameworks, to maintain their common interest. Both the sides reiterated their commitment to rules based multilateral global trade. 

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attends 9th India-Japan Strategic Dialogue in Tokyo
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the 9th India-Japan Strategic Dialogue in Tokyo. After holding the strategic dialogue Sushma Swaraj said that Japan is welcome to join hands in India's flagship projects like smart cities. 

    She asserted that there is need to act tough on terrorism and terror financiers. 

    India and Japan concluded a Special Strategic and Global Partnership during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan in 2014. 

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had also visited India in September 2017. Bilateral relations have been strengthened in diverse sectors in recent years. India and Japan have a strong cooperation in the areas of nuclear energy, defence and science and technology. 

    According to official figures, Japanese FDI in India during 2016-17 was 4.7 billion US dollars, an increase of 80 per cent over the year of 2017. 

    In 2016-17, India-Japan trade reached USD 13.61 billion, showing a decrease of 6.21 per cent over 2015-16, when the total bilateral trade was USD 14.51 billion. 

    India’s export to Japan for 2016-17 was USD 3.86 billion, whereas India’s import from the East Asian country for 2016-17 was USD 9.76 billion. 

  • India and Pakistan have mutually agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises 
    India and Pakistan have mutually agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises. 

    According to the foreign ministries, of both countries, India and Pakistan have mutually agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises, in line with the 1992 'Code of Conduct' for treatment of Diplomatic or Consular personnel in India and Pakistan. 

    The Code provides for "smooth and unhindered functioning" of the diplomatic and consular officials of the two countries in conformity with the international laws without violating their privileges and immunities. 

    The Code also says that the two countries should not resort to intrusive and aggressive surveillance and actions such as verbal and physical harassment, disconnection of phone lines and et cetera. 

    Earlier this month, India had asked Pakistan to ensure safety and security of its officials working at the Indian mission in Islamabad, saying they continue to face harassment and intimidation. 

  • India and EU sign an agreement on sharing earth observation data from each other's satellites
    India and the European Union (EU) have signed an agreement that will enable them to share earth observation data from each other's satellites. 

    The pact was inked in Bengaluru on 18th March by Philippe Brunet, Director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence, on behalf of the European Commission, and by Scientific Secretary, PG Diwakar. 

    The Copernicus programme provides a wide range of applications like climate change, land, ocean and atmosphere monitoring as well as support in forecasting, management and mitigation of natural disasters. 

    Under this arrangement, Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO will share data from its earth observation satellites. 

    The European Commission will provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections from data hub to data hub. This will provide both the sides, the data on climate change, weather forecasting and natural disasters. 

  • India hands over last diesel railway locomotive engine to Myanmar
    India on 19th March handed over the 18th and last diesel railway locomotive engine to Myanmar, thus executing a key project ahead of time as part of efforts to boost ties with the neighbour. 

    These 18 locomotives are fitted with microprocessor control-based system, attaining a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and are customised for Myanmar Railways. The locos have been built by the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. 

    A Railway Ministry official said as per the agreement schedule, all locomotives were to be delivered by September, 2018. They have been delivered six months ahead of the schedule. 

  • Indian Navy to host Bilateral Exercise 'Varuna' with French Navy
    The Indian Navy and the French Navy have conducted bilateral maritime exercises since May 1993. Since 2001, the exercises have been named VARUNA and there have been fifteen editions of the same till date. The last edition of VARUNA was conducted off the French Coast in April 2017. 

    The conduct of VARUNA and the special impetus on taking this Navy-to-Navy cooperative engagement forward was reiterated in the Joint Statement made by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France, on the 10th of March 2018. 

    In 2017, VARUNA was conducted in three sea areas in the European waters. This year too VARUNA-18 would be conducted in three sea areas, namely, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and South Western Indian Ocean. 

    The first phase, being conducted in the Arabian Sea, will see the participation of a French submarine and frigate Jean de Vienne from the French side. 

    The Indian Naval participation will include the destroyer Mumbai, frigate Trikand with their integral helicopters, IN submarine Kalvari, P8-I and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft, as well as the Mig 29K fighter aircraft. 

    The VARUNA series of exercises have grown in scope and complexity over the years and provide an opportunity to both Navies to increase interoperability and learn from each other’s best practices. 

  • India, China agreed to strengthening cooperation 
    India and China have agreed to explore the possibility of strengthening cooperation through exchange of visits and institutionalized dialogue mechanisms in order to promote better understanding and cooperation between the two defense forces. 

    During the meeting of 11th round of the Working Mechanism on Consultation and Coordination for India-China Border Affairs in New Delhi on 21st March, both sides exchanged views on ways to improve border management. 

    India underlined that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas is an important pre-requisite for further development of bilateral relations between the two countries. 

    Various confidence building measures aimed at further enhancing the level of mutual trust and understanding between border personnel were discussed. 

    The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary (East Asia) in Ministry of External Affairs, Pranay Verma while the Chinese delegation was led by Director General of Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yi Xianliang. 

    The Working Mechanism on Consultation and Coordination, was established in 2012 as an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas. It also aims at exchanging views on strengthening communication and cooperation, including between their border security personnel. 

  • 7th India-Egypt Joint Commission meeting led by EAM SushmaSwaraj and Sameh Shoukry was held in New Delhi
    7th India-Egypt Joint Commission Meeting led by EAM SushmaSwaraj and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was held in New Delhi. 

    Both the sides reviewed the progress in the areas of political, trade & investment, S&T, cyber security, capacity building, security, space and culture. 

    India and Egypt as two of the world's oldest civilisations have enjoyed cordial relations based on commonality of views on regional and international issues. 

  • India offers 100 million dollar credit to Mauritius for defence procurement
    India has offered a 100 million dollar Line of Credit, LoC, to Mauritius for defence procurement to help its security capacity. 

    India also agreed to sell a Multi-Purpose Offshore Petrol Vessel to the island nation, which will be financed through the LoC announced on 12th March

    It will also have a five-million-dollar grant component in addition to the LoC. Press Secretary to the President, Ashok Malik said the Line of Credit is a big step in India's defence cooperation with Mauritius. 

    Earlier, both the countries signed four MoUs to further strengthen bilateral cooperation. 

    These agreements are in the fields of education, health, culture and civil services. The MoUs were exchanged in the presence of President Ram Nath Kovind and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in Port Louis. 

    Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth described the bilateral relations as beyond governments. 

    The two leaders also held delegation-level talks. President Kovind visited the Apravasi Ghat World Heritage site and took a tour of the museum where he laid a wreath in memory of the Indian indentured labourers. 

  • India, Madagascar sign umbrella agreement in defence sector
    India and Madagascar have signed an umbrella agreement in the field of defence. Under the agreement, both the countries will explore various ways of co-operation in the field of defence. An amended air service agreement was also signed to support efforts towards improving connectivity between the two countries. 

    Both the countries will have a co-sharing agreement with Air Seychelles through Air India and Air Madagascar. 

    This was announced by President Ram Nath Kovind after delegation-level talks with his Madagascar counterpart in Antananarivo on 14th March

    Mr Ram Nath Kovind said, he exchanged views with his Malagasy counterpart on Indian Ocean region and they acknowledged the need for maintenance and stability in the area. 

    He said, they agreed that terrorism poses a grave threat to humanity and the two countries should work together to develop a strong global response to this menace. 

    The President said, India has offered a Line of Credit worth 80.7 million dollars for agriculture development and farm mechanization. He also expressed happiness that India is offering more favourable category one terms and conditions for this concessional loan to Madagascar. 

    He said, India recognises the importance of agriculture in Madagascar's national development of the plan and is ready to assist in this key sector. Mr Ram Nath Kovind announced a donation of 1000 tonnes of rice and a cash grant of 2 million dollars towards multiple calamities relief in Madagascar. He said, education and training are other important areas of cooperation with Madagascar. 

  • India and France exchange 14 agreements
    India and France exchange 14 agreements in key strategic areas including defence, maritime security and technology following bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron

    Both the leaders hold joint press briefing highlighting joint vision for Indian Ocean. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated the warmth of relations between the two countries. 

    Both countries entered agreements in various fields including curbing illicit trade in narcotics, agreement on migration and Mobility Partnership, Agreement to facilitate mutual recognition of academic qualifications, Technical Co-operation in the field of Railways, creation of Permanent Indo-French Railway Forum, logistic Support between Armed forces, Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Cooperation for Urban Development, exchange and reciprocal protection of Classified or protected information, Space Research & Co-operation, Industrial way forward agreement in Nuclear Field, Marine Hydrography and Cartography, Credit Facility Agreement worth 100 billion Euro for Smart Cities and Solar Energy. 

    The agreements were exchanged in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting French President Emmanuel Macron. PM Modi appreciated France's commitment for Make in India programme. Besides, he also stressed that people to people contacts play important role to strengthen this bond. 

  • India-China bilateral trade hits historic high of USD 84.44 billion in 2017
    The India-China bilateral trade has reached 84.44 billion US dollar in 2017, is an historic high. A rare novelty of the bilateral trade otherwise dominated by the Chinese exports was about 40 per cent increase of Indian exports to China in 2017 totalling to 16.34 billion dollar, data of the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed. 

    The bilateral trade in 2017 rose by 18.63 per cent year-on-year to reach 84.44 billion US dollar. It is regarded as a landmark as the volume of bilateral trade for the first time touched 80 billion dollar, well above the USD 71.18 billion registered IN 2016. 

  • India-South Korea bilateral trade touched $20 bn in 2017: Prime Minister Narendra Modi 
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27th February said bilateral trade between India and South Korea in 2017 reached $20 billion, the first time in six years. 

    Modi also said that he wondered how South Korea, a country of the size of Gujarat, could make such economic progress. He has spoken in India-Korea Business Summit. Modi also said South Korean companies are appreciated for their innovation and strong manufacturing capability. 

    Speaking on the investment of Korean companies in India, the Prime Minister said: "South Korea ranks only 16th in FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) equity inflows to India. India offers a lot of potential for the Korean Investors with its huge market and enabling policy environment." 

    Modi further added that more than 90 per cent FDI approvals have been put on automatic route. There is practically no requirement of government approval for investments in manufacturing sector except for the defence sector, Modi said. 

  • Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank approves $1.5-bn in loans to India for infrastructure projects
    Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved $1.5 billion in loans to India for infrastructure-related projects in 2018. China plans to invest more than $100 billion through its Belt and Road scheme to build highways, rail lines, ports and other infrastructure linking Asia, Europe and Africa. 

    The funds would be used for investment in India's energy, roads and urban development projects, and the bank will examine allotting more funds for such projects next year, D. 

    J. Pandian, AIIB's chief investment officer, said AIIB's loans include a $200 million commitment to India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to spend on roads, housing and urban development, and the bank will let the Indian government decide how to use that money. 

    Energy-related projects will primarily be focused on renewables, Pandian said, without providing additional details. 

    China-backed lenders are taking a more hands-off approach to overseas development financing, unlike western banks whose financing often comes with social and environmental strings and strengthens the voice of non-profits. 

    AIIB wants to encourage the transition to renewable energy but is not against investments in coal-related projects, unlike most of its peers who have campaigned against further investments in coal. 

    Any foreign investment in renewables is crucial for India, which needs at least $125 billion in investments to complete its ambitious target of adding 175 GW in clean energy by the end of 2022. 

  • India, Jordan sign 12 agreements in Defence, Health and Cultural Exchange
    India and Jordan have inked 12 agreements in areas including Defence, Health and Cultural Exchange Programme. 

    The other MoUs include cooperation between Prasar Bharati and Jordan TV Cooperation and Indian Institute of Mass Communication and Jordan Media Institute (JMI). 

    The MoU between Prasar Bharti and Jordan TV provides for cooperation in the fields of exchange and co-production of programs, training of personnel and further coordination. 

    The pacts were inked after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and King of Jordan Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein in New Delhi on 1st March. The two leaders discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations. 

  • India, Bangladesh, Russia sign pact for Rooppur atomic plant
    Indian companies can now participate in construction and installation works in the "non-critical" category for the Rooppur nuclear power plant in Bangladesh, Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom said. 

    The Rooppur project is the first initiative under an Indo-Russian deal to undertake atomic energy projects in third countries. This will also be the first time Indian companies will be able to participate in a nuclear power project abroad. 

    According to Rosatom, India, Bangladesh and Russia signed an agreement to this effect. The Memorandum of Understanding, signed in Moscow, sets a framework for interaction of Russian contractor, and Indian and Bangladeshi experts in the implementation of works related to the project. 

    On the Indian side, the memorandum was signed by Pankaj Saran, the Indian ambassador to Russia. 

    Nikolay Spassky, Rosatom's deputy director general for international relations, and S M Saiful Hoque, Bangladesh's ambassador to Moscow, signed the pact for their countries. India has a nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia and Bangladesh. 

  • India, Vietnam sign three agreements
    India and Vietnam sign three agreements after bilateral talks between Prime Minister Modi and visiting President Tran Dai Quang. Both the countries pitch for stronger bilateral business ties. The dignitary accorded ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan. 

    New Delhi's Act east policy is gaining momentum with each passing day. Vietnam's President who is on a three-day visit to India meet Prime Minister Modi at Hyderabad House. Both sides discussed a range of issues including cooperation in the field of defence. 

    Both the sides exchanged three agreements. One Economic and Trade Cooperation, another was a Work Plan for the years 2018-2022 between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam and last one on MoU on Cooperation between the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, India (GCNEP) and the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM). 

    During the press statements, Prime Minister Modi said both sides will jointly work for an open, independent & prosperous Indo Pacific area where sovereignty and international law is respected. He said that there is a new energy in India Vietnam ties and this will bring stability in the region. 

    India and Vietnam trade has increased despite global slowdown. India and Vietnam also agreed to increase defence co-production

    Vietnam’s president said that New Delhi and Hanoi have agreed to continue cooperation on multilateral forums.
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