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India's trade portal has become a source of inspiration for its neighbours, some of which have sought help from the country to set up similar online platforms. 


Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka have evinced interest in adopting the best practices of indiantradeportal. in, which makes available comprehensive regulatory and business information through a single window to promote international trade. 


"Our South Asian neighbours like our trade portal and want to learn more about sharing information on rules of origin, duties and incentives with exporters," said Ajay Sahai, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, which maintains the portal. 


He said that while Nepal and Bhutan are working on setting up their own portals on similar lines, Sri Lanka is still in the process of examining such a platform and making it sustainable. 


Officials said a high-level meeting is set to take place in Colombo in August to discuss trade portals in Asia. In South Asia, only India and Bangladesh have trade portals at present. Besides providing information, the trade portals being set up in Nepal and Bhutan will also benefit India since many consignments headed for the two neighbours are routed from the country. 


"India is a transit route for consignments going to Bhutan and Nepal, which are landlocked countries. So it is important to have information in a transparent manner," said Sachin Chaturvedi, director general of the external affairs ministry's think tank, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS). 


"Also, their trade portals will help in setting up a common documentation system that is required for implementing the trade facilitation agreement," he said. 


He said India should graciously support and reach out to the South Asian countries since it will improve its own cross-border trade. 


Source: The Economic Times

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi affirmed India's readiness to resume free trade agreement (FTA) talks with European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the two sides met on Friday to resolve major outstanding issues for an early resumption of negotiations and concluding a balanced agreement in a time-bound manner. 


"We had a stock taking meeting with them which went off very well... Our data is three years old and we will work on that. We will meet again after stakeholder meetings here," said an official in the know. 


The India-EFTA Trade & Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) negotiations had started in October, 2008. So far, 13 rounds of negotiations have been held at the level of chief negotiators. The last round of negotiations was held in November, 2013 and thereafter the negotiations had remained suspended. 


While the agreement is to have chapters on trade in goods & services, investment, IPR, competition, government procurement, among others, talks were stuck on IPR related issues such as data safety. 


"We will try to work in the contours already decided for the agreement," the official said. 


EFTA is limited to four countries - Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. These countries are not part of the European Union (EU) with which India is negotiating a separate trade agreement called the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement or BTIA. 


Source: The Economic Times

The aviation ministry has decided to shelve a proposal to raise the foreign investment limit in Indian airlines to 74%.


Foreign airlines are currently allowed to own as much as 49% in a local airline. The proposal to raise the foreign investment limit was part of the draft civil aviation policy, which is awaiting cabinet approval.


The aviation policy was sent to the Union cabinet for its approval on Friday. In it, the only point that was missing from the draft aviation policy sent earlier was the deletion of the proposal to raise the foreign investment limit by 2020.


“We had proposed we should go to—if possible—74% by 2020,” civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said in an interview on Thursday.


“The idea was to alert the industry that further liberalization four to five years down the line is possible. So the industry then has to gear up. You have to give sufficient time to them. But based on our feedback and everything we decided we don’t have to say so specifically. If the government wishes to revise its FDI (foreign direct investment) policy it can do it anytime. There is no reason to put the sector on notice,” said Choubey, who will soon complete a year in the aviation ministry and has been pushing for an integrated aviation policy.


The 2012 decision to allow foreign investment of up to 49% in airlines saw the Tata group launching Tata SIA Airlines Ltd with Singapore Airlines Ltd and low-cost airline AirAsia India along with Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd. Etihad Airways also bought a 24% equity stake in Jet Airways (India) Ltd.


The aviation ministry is confident that all the other 22 points made in the policy will be cleared by the cabinet.


These include proposals for new airlines to fly international routes before completing five years, regional connectivity and bilateral international rights.


The policy has long been in the making due to extensive stakeholder consultations. The airline industry has also been divided over many proposals. Old airlines don’t want relaxations that help newcomers while new airlines claim there is room for everyone to grow.


“We have successfully taken all the matters smoothly and we have taken it to the cabinet now. It has been officially sent to cabinet. Now it’s for the cabinet to take a call when they wish to take it up. The policy was moved to the cabinet on Friday night,” Choubey said. “It’s a very extensive work that we have done.”


The draft policy also drew objections from the ministries of foreign, home and finance and had to be ironed out in the last few weeks, according to another senior government official who declined to be named.


Choubey declined to comment on the specifics, saying, “When you try to build consensus in certain aspects you decide to go for consensus, in certain items you decide okay this is something I can accept and this is something I cannot accept. In stakeholders consultations, we have accepted some, others we have not been able to accept.”


Choubey indicated the contours of the draft policy won’t change much.


“The issues are the same. I would not say there will be earth-shaking revelations because these things were there in the draft policy also,” he said, adding that on each of the 22 points, the ministry has given its “unequivocal” opinion of what it is seeking and why.


The aviation secretary said he is hopeful the policy won’t be delayed any further or be referred to a group of ministers for consultations.


“We have done such extensive due diligence that I don’t expect it to become a googly,” he said, adding, “Normally these things don’t get delayed.”


Source: LiveMint

Members of the US-India Business Council have already invested $28 billion in India since September 2014 and another $45 billion is in the pipeline, Council Chairman John Chambers told Prime Minister Narendra Modi here. 


"In September 2014, USIBC members indicated an investment figure of $41 billion that was likely to be invested over a 2-3 year period. Today I'm happy to announce that in less than two years, about 20 percent of USIBC members have already invested $28 billion," Chambers said. 


"In next 2-3 years, we will see this pace accelerating -- again with 20 percent of our members indicating that USIBC members are on track to invest an additional $45 billion, which is a conservative estimate," he added. 


Chambers met Prime Minister Modi just after his roundtable with USIBC members, which included the top brass of companies like PepsiCo, Master Card, Warburg Pincus, Lockheeed Martin, Boeing, Westinghouse, Intelsat, Emerson and 8Minute Energy. 


The prime minister also presented the USIBC Global Leadership Awards to Dilip Shangvhi of Sun Pharmaceuticals and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. 


According to Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson for India's foreign office, the prime minister outlined the strengths of Indian economy and its talented workforce to the chief executives and discussed with them the prospects for solar energy and digital connectivity. 


Later at a gala in his honour, Modi lauded the contributions of the Indian diaspora in the US and said a partnership between the American capital and innovation, with Indian human resources and entrepreneurship can prove a powerful combination. 


He also used the platform to emphasise that emerging economies also have a legitimate wish list for the rich nations. "It is very important for us that developed countries also open their markets, not only to goods from countries like India but also to services," said Modi. 


"India is much more than a market. India is a reliable partner. It is a source of high quality scientific, engineering and managerial talent," he said, adding: "We are encouraging foreign and domestic investors to set up high quality and efficient manufacturing facilities." 


On his part, he also promised disciplined macro economic policies, gender justice and empowerment, social security net and inclusive growth, while assuring that major steps had been taken to curb corruption, which was one of the main concerns and constraints in India. 


"This brings me to an achievement that I think even our worst critics do not dispute," he said at the gala, where a host of top US political figures joined the business leaders to toast Modi. 


Source: The Economic Times

Charoen Pokphand Foods , Thailand's largest meat producer, aims to begin supplying chicken to KFC and McDonald's Corp in India within the next few months as part of a push into a market that could become one of its biggest.


CP Foods plans to invest at least $400 million in India over the next 20 years and recently opened a food-processing plant in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The company is best known in India for its Five Star Chicken outlets.


Sanjeev Pant, senior vice-president of the food business of CPF (India) Pvt Ltd, the company's Indian unit, said he was in talks with multiple fast-food chains in India, including McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc's KFC.


Asked when he expected to partner with these chains as a supplier, he said within "the next three months or so."


Pant was speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference in Bengaluru to mark the launch of the company's packaged foods business in India.


CPF is the flagship unit of Charoen Pokphand Group, controlled by Thailand's richest man, Dhanin Chearavanont.


It has been seeking to shift its focus from the domestic market to exporting chicken products to Japan and Europe to help offset weak domestic demand and lessen the impact of a weaker economy at home.


For India, the investment comes amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" push to attract foreign direct investment by making it easier to do business.


India's domestic packaged food market is set to increase to $50 billion by 2017 from about $32 billion in December, according to a survey by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India.


CP Foods should be able to grow its revenue in India by at least 20 percent to 25 percent over the next few years, Pant said, in line with his expectations for the entire Indian packaged foods market.


As part of its expansion, CP Foods has invested $18 million in the Andhra Pradesh plant, which has capacity to produce 20,000 tonnes a year of chicken and 1,000 tonnes of other products.


Pant said the company would focus on popularising its brand name in southern Indian cities over the next three to five years, before considering expanding into other regions of the country.


Source: Reuters