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September 2017 - Bilateral

  • India, South Korea to work on upgrading free trade pact
    India and South Korea have agreed to work on upgrading the existing bilateral comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) to ensure better utilisation of the current provisions and expand the number of items covered under the pact. 

    Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and his South Korean counterpart Hyun Chong Kim also agreed to cooperate in the fields of standardisation and conformity assessment and developing mutual recognition agreements in a recent meeting in Seoul. 

    Indian businesses have not been able to satisfactorily utilise the CEPA with South Korea, which allows market access for large number of items duty-free or at low import duties, because of a number of issues including stringent rules of origin norms. 

    Both countries also want to expand the coverage of the CEPA. While India wants greater market access for a number of industries including IT, education and healthcare, South Korea is keen on more concessions for items such as steel, beauty products and household appliances

    South Korea is also likely to ease visa requirements to enable Indian teachers to teach in Korea under the English Program in Korea initiative. 

    The bilateral trade between South Korea and India, which stood at $16.8 billion in 2016-17 is skewed in South Korea’s favour with the country exporting goods worth $12.58 billion during the year. 

    To give a push to investments, the two Ministers agreed to consider favorably the requests made in the joint committee meeting related to investment cooperation between the two countries. 

  • India, Sri Lanka sign MoU to upgrade Thondaman Vocational Training Centre
    India and Sri Lanka on 20th September signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to upgrade Thondaman Vocational Training Centre at Hatton located in Nuwara Eliya district of the Island nation. The up gradation of the center will be done using a grant of around 9 crore rupees from the Government of India. The project includes construction of new infrastructure facilities as well as renovation of existing building. 

    The project also includes supply of machinery, equipment & tools for the new courses, furniture and vehicles. A total of 500 youth of Sri Lanka are expected to be trained as skilled workers with suitable skills catering to the job market annually with the completion of the project. 

    The MoU was signed by High commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Mr Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Mrs. R. Nadarasapillai, Secretary, Ministry of Hill Country and Community Development at an event in Colombo. This project is in line with Government of India’s efforts to assist and cooperate with government of Sri Lanka in the field of vocational training and skill development. 

  • India, Afghanistan exchange four pacts 
    India and Afghanistan on 11th September exchanged four pacts in areas of health, transport, space and new development partnership. The agreements were exchanged after delegation level talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani in New Delhi. 

    According to India’s external affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, India will continue to work with Afghanistan in its efforts to build a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive nation.
    • Development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran is being expedited and India will supply wheat to Afghanistan in coming weeks through Chahbahar port.
    • 116 new High Impact Development Projects would be jointly implemented to bring socio-economic and infrastructure development in Afghanistan.
    • India's focus will continue on building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development.

  • India, Belarus sign 10 pacts to expand cooperation
    India and Belarus on 12th September inked 10 pacts to expand cooperation in a range of areas and decided to explore joint development and manufacture of military platforms, giving a fresh momentum in bilateral ties. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Belarus President A.G. Lukashenko, during their extensive talks, also agreed to focus on ramping up economic engagement between the two countries, holding that there was a huge scope for boosting trade and investment. The pacts inked provided for enhancing bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas, including oil and gas, education and sports. 

  • India and Japan Pact for stem cell bank renewed
    India and Japan on 13th September renewed their research partnership for another five years to create a stem cell bank for patients needing transplantation, and also to explore translational research. 

    The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) will bring Japanese scientists on board and rely on Japanese research infrastructure to a large extent as it sets out to create an Indian human induced stem cell haplobank for patients requiring bone marrow transplantation. 

    Human induced stem cells are collected from an adult and tweaked to behave like pluripotent stem cells — the master cells that can produce any tissue that the body needs to repair itself. 

    Once realised, such a bank can be a perpetual source of tissues that can be inserted into a patient through bone marrow transplant. The scientific challenges to realise such a bank are formidable. 

    Such a bank is currently not existing in the world, though scientists are trying hard to create a functional bank since the breakthrough by Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka in 2006. Yamanaka, a professor at the Kyoto University, was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery in 2012. 

    The DBT already has a partnership with the Kyoto University on the induced human stem cell research. Two Japanese researchers were brought into Indian research programmes involving National Centre for Biological Sciences and Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, both in Bengaluru, K Vijayraghavan secretary in Department of Biotechnology said. 

  • India, Japan ink 15 agreements for enhancing bilateral co-operation
    India and Japan have signed 15 agreements for enhancing bilateral cooperation in several key areas including investment promotion, civil aviation, and science and technology. 
    According to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar
    • Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC) were signed in field of disaster risk management, skills development and other Economic and Commercial agreements were also signed.
    • MoC has been signed between the two countries which aims to cooperate and collaborate in the field of disaster risk reduction and to share the experiences, knowledge and policies on disaster prevention.
    • A MoC between Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and State of Gujarat has also been signed on Japan-India special programme for Make In India.
    • Under the India-Japan Act East a forum has been formed to enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in the North Eastern Region of India in an efficient and effective manner.
    • Two Memorandum of understanding (MoUs) were also signed in the field of sports exchange

  • Foundation for India's first bullet train project at Sabarmati Station ground
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe jointly performed the ground breaking ceremony of India's first-ever bullet train project at Sabarmati Station ground on 14th September. 

    Both the leaders also laid the foundation stone of High Speed Rail Institute to be set up at Vadodara where Japanese professionals would impart training to Indian engineers regarding the high speed rail project. 

    The Rs 600-crore high-speed rail training centre for the first bullet train project will be set up in Vadodara, This centre will come up inside the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) at Vadodara where more than 4000 enginees of High Speed Rail Corporation of India will be given training by Japanese professionals. Under the High Speed Rail Project, Sabarmati Railway station will also be renovated. 

  • India launches 'Operation Insaniyat' to help Bangladesh tackle Rohingya refugee crisis
    India has started Operation Insaniyat to provided assistance to Bangladesh in response to the humanitarian crisis being faced on account of the large influx of Rohingya refugees into that country from Myanmar. 

    External Affairs Ministry in a statement said that under it, relief material consisting of items including rice, pulses, sugar, salt, cooking oil, biscuits and mosquito nets will be provided to the affected people. 

    The relief material will be delivered in multiple consignments, and the first tranche will be brought to Chittagong by an Indian Air Force plane on 14th September. 

    The Ministry said, India has always responded readily and swiftly to any crisis in Bangladesh, in view of close ties of friendship between the people of India and Bangladesh. 

    It said, India stands ready to provide any assistance required by Government of Bangladesh in this hour of need. 

  • India, China to set up working groups to promote exports
    According to the Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, India and China have agreed to set up industry specific working groups for increasing exports with a view to bridge trade deficit with Beijing.
    • It has been agreed to set up industry specific working groups, to promote more exports from India.
    • China and India is going to discuss in In Manila, on the side lines of the fifth East Asia Summit (EAS) Economic Ministers' Meeting.
    • India's trade deficit with China narrowed marginally to 51.08 billion US Dollars in 2016-17 from 52.69 billion US Dollars in 2015-16.
    • India wants greater market access in China for its goods and services like IT and pharma products. The country has also insisted upon China to increase investments.

  • India Bilateral talks with China
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting a short while ago on the sidelines of the Xiamen BRICS summit. 

    The meeting is first substantive and structured bilateral between the two leaders after Doklam standoff. Both sides expressed willingness to work together for mutual good. Mr Modi told Mr Xi that India and China is each other's major neighbour and both the countries are world's largest and emerging countries. 

  • India slaps countervailing duty on some Chinese steel products
    India has slapped countervailing duty for a period of five years on certain Chinese flat steel products to guard domestic players from imports that are subsidized by the exporting nation. 

    The notification issued by the Ministry of Finance prescribes a total of 18.95% CVD on imports of Stainless steel flat products from China for the next five years. The decision to impose CVD was taken by the finance ministry after the DGAD's recommendation. 

    The commerce ministry's investigation arm, Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) in its probe had concluded that despite sufficient demand in India and capacities, the domestic industry has lost sales opportunities, which is a direct consequence of subsidized imports from China. 

    Besides, it will strengthen the ongoing efforts of Indian industry to move towards 100 per cent quality regime for better safety and health of users. The steel industry also hails the decision saying the move assumes significance as the sector is facing challenges due to cheap steel imports.


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