FTA/CEPA/Trade Pacts

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by LETHALFORCE, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200903270981.htm

    EU calls to expedite free trade deal with India

    Brussels (IANS): The European Parliament has expressed disappointment over the slow pace of negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India, EuAsiaNews reported.

    In a report adopted during a plenary session of the block in the French city of Strasbourg on Thursday, the members expressed disappointment with the slow pace of negotiations.

    The European Union (EU) and India launched negotiations on the FTA in 2007.

    The Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India would improve market access for goods and services, covering all trade, except for public procurement that New Delhi is not willing to include in the deal.

    British parliamentarian Sajjad Karim, who drafted the report, said he would like to see the agreement signed with India by the end of 2010.

    Trade between India and the EU is expected to exceed 70.7 billion euros (about $95 billion) by 2010 and 160.6 billion euros by 2015. Bilateral trade in services is expected to exceed 246.8 billion euros by 2015, the report said.

    The EU has urged India for a more open visa policy, with multiple entries and minimum one year duration, for the visiting business professionals in the country.
     
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  3. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

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    A good start... one needs to have a very good working relationship with the Europeans these days... together, they can arguably command as much political clout as the US and they are also doing trade with China...

    So, if we don't step in and take some of the slices of the cake, the Chinese will take everything away... NO TIME TO LOSE !!!

    Sign the agreement and get going with the Free Trading...
     
  4. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    FTA/CEPA/Trade Pacts : Indo-Japan to sign CEPA by year-end, Indo-EU FTA by December

    MADRID: India and Spain on Wednesday signed a trade agreement that is expected to boost bilateral ties in six crucial sectors. These are infrastructure development, renewable energy, agriculture, research and development, tourism, and cooperation in Latin America, where Spain has a sphere of influence. The focus is on technological exchange and tapping each other’s areas of expertise.

    The agreement was sealed in the presence of President Pratibha Patil and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and the respective government and trade representatives.

    Addressing a business meeting, Ms. Patil noted with satisfaction that bilateral trade was growing, crossing $ 4.5 billion.

    Spanish enterprises are known for executing large-scale infrastructure projects, she said, and invited them to make use of the opportunities India presents, in particular through small and medium enterprises.

    Addressing Indian mediapersons, Ashwani Kumaar, Minister of State for Industrial Policy and Promotion, described the presidential visit as highly successful. Three framework agreements were signed in the fields of renewable energy, agriculture and tourism on Wednesday.

    He said Spain’s FDI globally was worth over €100 billion. Of this, India accounts for only €320 million, while India’s investment in Spain was almost twice that.

    Nalin Surie, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, said the exchanges were free, frank and warm. “There is genuine interest in the Indian elections,” he said, adding that the fact that the President is a woman raised her profile considering the importance Spain accords to gender equality.

    Terrorism was a leitmotif and Mr. Zapatero was quoted as having told Ms. Patil: “Terrorism is a scourge which the 20th century has left [us], a legacy which has to be destroyed.”

    The Hindu : Front Page : India, Spain sign trade pact
     
  5. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India, Asean resolve differences over FTA

    India, Asean resolve differences over FTA



    India, Asean resolve differences over FTA
    Niharika Chandola & Rituparna Bhuyan / New Delhi May 28, 2009, 0:40 IST

    The last remaining differences between India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) on the ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on merchandise goods have been ironed out and the deal is ready for signing.


    Government officials said the Asean FTA, as well as a similar pact with South Korea involving free trade of goods, services and investment, could be signed on the sidelines of the summit of Asean nations, scheduled in October this year.

    Early this year, Asean demanded duty cuts twice a year if the treaty was to be signed in 2009. This was because, according to the original schedule, the FTA was to be signed in December 2008, with duty cuts being carried out in predetermined slabs placed at 12 months starting January 2009.

    Since the treaty could not be signed, Asean members wanted the first round of duty cuts to be implemented as and when the deal was signed in 2009, followed by the next round in January 2010, according to the original schedule. However, India declined to undertake duty cuts twice in a period of one year.

    “These differences have been sorted out now. India will undertake duty cuts only once in a period of 12 months,” said an official.

    The new arrangement on Asean FTA is likely to lead to the first round of tariff cuts being implemented a year later than the original schedule. Thereafter, the tariff cuts will be announced in various slabs (see table) every January.

    The India-South Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is also ready for signing, sources added.

    “Representatives from India and South Korea will attend the forthcoming Asean summit in Thailand and hence, both the deals could be signed there. Such high profile summits are favoured for announcing or inking deals,” the official said.

    Both the FTAs will need approval from the Union Cabinet before they are signed.

    The proposed India-Asean FTA has been delayed several times owing to differences over issues like that of restricted list of goods, duty cut in farm products like palm oil and norms related to value addition.

    Negotiations on the South Korean CEPA have been comparatively smoother, apart from some issues related to enhanced market access in services-related sector like healthcare.

    Both the free trade deals will be signed at a time when world trade is expected to shrink by 9 per cent in 2009.

    The trade deals will be the first ones to be signed during the present UPA regime, which in its earlier term had initiated about 15 negotiations on similar pacts with other countries and economic blocs like the European Union.

    “The FTA with Asean will lead to closer economic integration, taking the level of cooperation between both the sides several notches higher. Moreover, the CEPA with South Korea will get India locked into the growth dynamic seen in the region,” said Biswajit Dhar, director general, Research and Information System for Developing Countries.

    Asean, which accounts for nearly 11 per cent of India’s exports and 9 per cent of imports, is seen to have strategic importance for the country.
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    South Korea, India sign free trade agreement

    The Associated Press: South Korea, India sign free trade agreement

    South Korea, India sign free trade agreement
    By KELLY OLSEN (AP) – 1 day ago

    SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea and India signed an ambitious free trade agreement Friday that slashes tariffs, encourages investment and promotes exchange of skills in a bid to double fast-growing commerce between two of Asia's biggest economies over the next decade.

    South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and India's Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma signed what the two sides formally called a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, but which in reality is a free trade deal.

    "This is a historic occasion," Sharma said at a joint press conference with Kim.

    Kim said it was South Korea's first free trade accord with one of the fast-growing BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China. Sharma said it was India's first comprehensive trade agreement with a major economy.

    Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $15.6 billion dollars last year, according to South Korea, and has been steadily growing. In 2002, it amounted to just $2.6 billion.

    "We will be able to have access to one-sixth of the global market," Kim said, adding the agreement "will open a significant opportunity as well as strengthen our relationship with India into the future."

    Sharma said the economic relationship between the two countries "has enormous potential to grow" and could double over the next 10 years.

    "That's what we will be aiming at," he said. "This is just the beginning."

    The deal calls for abolishing or cutting tariffs for 90 percent of Indian goods in terms of value and 85 percent of South Korean products and increases investment opportunities, Seoul's Ministry of Strategy and Finance said in a statement.

    It also allows for greater human resources exchange between the countries, the ministry said, paving the way for Indian computer and software experts as well as English teachers to gain access to the South Korean market.

    "India has great competitiveness in terms of its IT professionals and so they will be able to come to Korea to contribute to the growth of the national economy in Korea," Kim said. "English teachers from India will be able to contribute to the development of education in Korea as well. "

    Major South Korean corporations such as Samsung Electronics Co., Hyundai Motor Co., LG Electronics Inc. and steelmaker Posco are already active investors in India.

    Negotiations for the deal began in February 2006.

    Though the agreement has been signed, several steps remain on the South Korean side for it to take effect, such as ratification by the National Assembly, according to the ministry. India, however, has completed all necessary procedures for the deal to take effect, the ministry said.

    The latest deal highlights South Korea's national strategy of aggressively pursuing free trade agreements.

    Seoul signed a free trade deal with the United States in 2007, though it has yet to be ratified by legislatures in both countries amid political sensitivities and suspicions regarding free trade among some lawmakers.

    Seoul also has a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and said last month it has concluded negotiations with the European Union.

    South Korea's biggest trading partners include China, the EU, the U.S., ASEAN and Japan
     
  7. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    ASEAN, India - Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)

    India to sign Asean free trade pact today

    India is set to ink a free trade pact with the 10-nation economic bloc of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Thursday. The pact will give India access to the trillion dollar market of Southeast Asia's 10 richest countries.

    India and ASEAN will ink the pact in Bangkok opening up the 1.7 billion consumer market in Southeast Asia.

    After six years of painstaking talks, the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) will be signed which will eliminate duties on 80 per cent of goods traded between the two over the next eight years.

    Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who is in Bangkok to sign the pact, said the agreement is well balanced and is in harmony with the India's Look East Policy.

    "I can say negotiations have been painstaking. The negotiators have ensured that our sensitive areas where we had concerns are fully addressed," Sharma said.

    When asked whether the concerns of plantation growers of South India have been addressed, Sharma said the whole debate of the CECA adversely impacting domestic planters was based on "uninformed" speculations.

    FICCI Secretary General Amit Mitra, who is accompanying Sharma, said, "This agreement will be a win-win situation for India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It takes care of the country's strategic interest in line with the Look East Policy."

    Under FTA, as many 489 items from agriculture, textile and chemicals have been included in the negative list, meaning these products will be kept out of the duty reduction.

    However, duty on products included in the sensitive list, including tea, coffee, spice and rubber, will be reduced by 2019. This has raised political resistance to signing of FTA.

    Planters in South Indian, especially Kerala, fear lower duty on plantation crops would lead to deluge of imports from ASEAN members like Indonesia, Malaysia, leaving the domestic procurers in a tight spot.

    After signing the agreement, next phase of negotiations will cover trade in services, a key area of interest for India.

    Sharma said "papers have been exchanged" between India and ASEAN to start negotiations on trade in services.

    India's Look East Policy is India's well thought out strategy to increase engagement of the country's north-east and eastern parts with the entire ASEAN block.
     
  8. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    India set to gain access to trillion-dollar ASEAN market, deal today - Hindustan Times

    India and 10-nation economic bloc ASEAN will ink a free trade pact in Bangkok today, which will open the 1.7 billion consumer market to each other.

    After six years of painstaking talks, the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) will be signed which will eliminate duties on 80 per cent of goods traded between the two over the next eight years.

    Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who is here to sign the pact, said the agreement is well balanced and is in harmony
    with the India's Look East Policy.

    "I can say negotiations have been painstaking. The negotiators have ensured that our sensitive areas where we had
    concerns are fully addressed," Sharma said.

    When asked whether the concerns of plantation growers of South India have been addressed, Sharma said the whole debate of the CECA adversely impacting domestic planters was based on "uninformed" speculations.

    FICCI Secretary General Amit Mitra, who is accompanying Sharma, said, "This agreement will be a win-win situation for India and the the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It takes care of the country's strategic interest in line
     
  9. NSG_Blackcats

    NSG_Blackcats Member of The Month OCTOBER 2009 Senior Member

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    India signs free trade pact with ASEAN​


    BANGKOK: India and 10-nation economic bloc ASEAN on Thursday inked a free trade pact in Bangkok, which will open the 1.7 billion consumer market to each other. After six years of painstaking talks, the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was signed that would eliminate duties on 80 per cent of goods traded between the two over the next eight years. Commerce minister Anand Sharma, who is in Bangkok to sign the pact, said the agreement is well balanced and is in harmony with the India's Look East Policy. "I can say negotiations have been painstaking. The negotiators have ensured that our sensitive areas where we had concerns are fully addressed," Sharma said.

    When asked whether the concerns of plantation growers of South India have been addressed, Sharma said the whole debate of the CECA adversely impacting domestic planters was based on "uninformed" speculations. FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra, who is accompanying Sharma, said, "This agreement will be a win-win situation for India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It takes care of the country's strategic interest in line with the Look East Policy." Under FTA, as many 489 items from agriculture, textile and chemicals have been included in the negative list, meaning these products will be kept out of the duty reduction.

    However, duty on products included in the sensitive list, including tea, coffee, spice and rubber, will be reduced by 2019. This has raised political resistance to signing of FTA. Planters in South Indian, especially Kerala, fear lower duty on plantation crops would lead to deluge of imports from ASEAN members like Indonesia, Malaysia, leaving the domestic procurers in a tight spot. After signing the agreement, next phase of negotiations will cover trade in services, a key area of interest for India. Sharma said "papers have been exchanged" between India and ASEAN to start negotiations on trade in services. India's Look East Policy is India's well thought out strategy to increase engagement of the country's north-east and eastern parts with the entire ASEAN block. The bilateral trade between India and ASEAN was to the tune of about USD 40 billion in 2007-08.

    Link
     
  10. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    ASEAN, India Sign Free Trade Deal

    ASEAN, India Sign Free Trade Deal

    Aug. 13, 2009

    [​IMG]


    BANGKOK: India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a free-trade agreement on Thursday expected to raise annual trade to 60 billion dollars within seven years, officials said.

    "The signing today is a good sign of the extended trade between ASEAN and India," said Porntiva Nakasai, commerce minister of Thailand, which holds the 10-member regional bloc's rotating chairman ship.

    "The agreement comes at an appropriate time taking into account the current world economic crisis," she said in a statement.

    The agreement has been hailed as a milestone following years of tough negotiations between ASEAN and India, its seventh-largest trading partner. It covers billions of dollars in trade and a market of 1.7 billion people.

    The signing came ahead of a meeting in Bangkok this weekend of finance ministers from ASEAN and its regional partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

    Trade between ASEAN and India totaled 47 billion dollars last year but would rise to 60 dollars billion under the pact, Dow Jones newswires quoted Thai Commerce Ministry spokesman Krisda Piampongsant as saying.

    The Southeast Asian bloc of about 550 million people is forging free trade pacts with key regional economies, including China and India, to ensure it does not become economically sidelined.

    ASEAN itself aims to achieve a single market and manufacturing base by 2015.

    - AFP /ls


    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific_business/view/448668/1/.html
     
  11. ajay_ijn

    ajay_ijn Regular Member

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    if IT is not included in the agreement then which Indian industries can take advantage of this FTA?
     
  12. GokuInd

    GokuInd Regular Member

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    India-ASEAN FTA

    The CPI(M) screaming with horror - as anticipated

    The Hindu : National : CPI(M) opposes free trade pact with ASEAN

    CPI(M) opposes free trade pact with ASEAN

    Sandeep Dikshit

    NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the Free Trade Agreement with the ASEAN, signed by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma in Thailand on Thursday, reflected the “misplaced priorities” of the Congress-led government at a time of global recession and worsening agrarian situation.

    The FTA was signed without any discussion in Parliament about its possible impact, the CPI(M) said in a statement.

    The gradual elimination of tariff, from January next year, on 80 per cent of the goods traded between India and the ASEAN countries would be harmful for domestic industries, agriculture and fisheries, which have already been affected by the economic slowdown. This would have an adverse impact on the economies of the States, particularly Kerala’s.

    The claim by the Centre that excluding some items from the list of tariff concessions would address the sensitivities in agriculture and other sectors, did not hold water, the CPI(M) said.
    Import duties

    The sharp cuts in import duties in the future would affect the livelihood of a large number of people in the country, said the statement.

    The CPI(M) called on the government to act immediately and take appropriate measures to protect the interests of those who will be affected by this agreement.

    It also demanded a White Paper explaining the impact of this agreement on India and wanted the issue to be discussed in Parliament.
     
    Tshering22 likes this.
  13. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=12&theme=&usrsess=1&id=264804

    Sharma calls on Thai PM

    ; Statesman News Service
    NEW DELHI, 14 AUG: After the signing of the historic Asean-India free-trade agreement in Bangkok yesterday, the commerce minister, Mr Anand Sharma, today called on the Thai Prime Minister, Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva, and later held discussions with the Thai commerce minister, Ms Porntiva Nakasai, and the industry minister, Mr Charnchai Chairungrueng.
    Mr Sharma extended an invitation to Ms Nakasai to attend the informal ministerial meeting on the Doha Round of WTO to be held in New Delhi on 4-5 September. The signing of this agreement signals India’s firm commitment to its ‘Look East’ policy of building upon its historical links with the countries of the Southeast Asian region, according to a Press release issued by the Indian Embassy in Thailand.
    India-Asean trade stood at around $40 billion during 2007-08 making Asean the fourth-largest trading partner of India (after EU, USA and China). The India-Asean trade has grown rapidly in recent years (27 per cent CAGR since 2000). The signing of the India-Asean free-trade agreement will give a further impetus to the trade and investment linkages between India and Asean.
    The agreement also provides for bilateral safeguard mechanism to address sudden surge in imports after the agreement comes into force. Asean is a major trading partner for India and accounts for about 10 per cent of its global trade. In the last financial year, bilateral trade between India and Asean was more than $40 billion. India and Asean have set an ambitious target of achieving bilateral trade of $50 billion by 2010.
    The current agreement comes into force from 1 January 2010 and would help achieve this target. Mr Sharma arrived in Bangkok yesterday. He is leading a high-level official delegation which includes the commerce secretary, Dr Rahul Khullar, and a 10-member business delegation from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci). Shortly after his arrival the minister delivered a keynote address at a business seminar ~ ‘Enhancing Trade and Investment: India-Thailand’ organised by Ficci and the Embassy of India.
     
  14. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    Something for Kolkata to cheer about ! :)

     
  15. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    A historic agreement- Editorial-Opinion-The Economic Times

    A historic agreement
    15 Aug 2009, 0304 hrs IST, ET Bureau

    The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and 10 Asean nations is a historic one for many reasons. First, the agreement marks India’s first real entry into a formidable regional trade bloc. India is perhaps one leading emerging economy which has not got the strategic benefit of being part of a big trade bloc. In the absence of a larger multilateral agreement fructifying at the WTO, it was important India got access to some big regional market. The 10 Asean economies, which import $936 billion worth of goods and services annually, provide India a great market access opportunity. Of course, a growing Indian economy presents a great opportunity for Asean exports too. Indeed, all FTAs are based on a healthy quid pro quo. At a larger level, this also marks the culmination of India’s efforts over the past decade to frame a durable Look East policy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been particularly emphatic about the role an India-Asean FTA could play in forging such a policy which had strong cultural, economic and political components. Indeed, many Asean economies had been keen that a rising economic power like India joined the Asean grouping and played a key role, besides China, in creating a larger Asian economic union, in the long run. The India-Asean FTA must be seen in this perspective.

    Other big powers in the region such as China and Japan had already inked FTAs in goods and services with the Asean nations. India came very close to signing the Asean deal last year but negotiations had got stuck on just a few products like coffee, tea, pepper and palm oil, the main items Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia were interested in exporting to India. The farming community, especially in Kerala, was not in favour of free imports of these items. However, the FTA provides adequate safeguards for these items on which duties will be brought down only gradually to 35-50% by 2019-20. This seems reasonable as India is already a net importer of edible oil and has zero duty at present on palm oil. Overall, 80% of all goods will become duty-free by 2016. The minimum 35% value addition norm will prevent trade diversion. India needs to quickly seal an agreement in services too, where it has a big advantage. All in all, this is a great opportunity for India.
     
  16. ajay_ijn

    ajay_ijn Regular Member

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    will Free Trade Agreements with ASEAN and Korea benefit India?

    we have recently signed FTAs with ASEAN, South Korea and still have talks going on with gulf countries and EU etc.

    It is being said that FTAs with ASEAN will benefit them more than Indian Industry. services trade agreement is going to negotiated seperately so its limited to manufacturing and agriculture.

    I couldn't exactly figure out which sectors of Indian Industry will greatly benefit from this FTA? instead the only thing which is being talked about is the concerns voiced by Kerala and products like Coffee, veg oil etc.

    if Industry is not competetive enough not only they will go out of business but this is going to further widen the trade deficit with ASEAN. For ASEAN, Indias growing consumer market is very attractive.
     
  17. sky

    sky Regular Member

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    i have a concerns of cheap consumer gooding flooding the indian market that said ,its good to see us finding new openings for trade so close to home..
     
  18. I-G

    I-G Tihar Jail Banned

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    India, Nepal sign new trade treaty

    India, Nepal sign new trade treaty
    PTI 22 August 2009, 11:34am IST


    NEW DELHI: India and Nepal on Saturday reached a new trade treaty and an agreement to control unauthorised trade, particularly from a third country,
    aimed at widening the bilateral economic engagement.

    The trade treaty, which has been negotiated for the last two years, aims at enlarging the scope of the existing institutional framework, under which India gives duty-free access to its market to goods manufactured in Nepal.

    However, the trade treaty and the agreement to control unauthorised trade would be formally signed later, an official said.

    The agreements were initialled by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar and Nepalese Secretary of Commerce and Supplies Purushottam Ojha here.

    External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Nepalese Minister of Commerce and Supplies Rajendra Mahto were also present on the occasion.

    The new pacts will replace the existing arrangements since 1991, extended from time to time.

    The agreements were initialled on the last day of the five-day visit of Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

    The bilateral trade takes place generally in Indian currency barring for a few items. Indian rupee is legal tender in Nepal and is freely convertible.

    The trade between the two countries was USD 1.8 billion in 2008-09 (April-February).

    India, Nepal sign new trade treaty - India - NEWS - The Times of India
     
  19. 1.44

    1.44 Member of The Month SEPTEMBER 2009 Senior Member

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    Prachanda's had signaled Nepal ties with China would have taken precedence over it's relations with India.Nice to see the new PM isn't channeling his spirit
     
  20. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    http://www.ptinews.com/news/243099_-Trade-treaty--securing-Indian-aid-key-achievements-

    'Trade treaty, securing Indian aid key achievements'


    STAFF WRITER 19:40 HRS IST

    Shirish B Pradhan

    Kathmandu, Aug 22 (PTI) Describing his maiden India tour as "highly satisfactory", Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal today said the finalisation of a new bilateral trade treaty was one of the "major achievements" of the visit.

    "The visit has helped to further strengthen bilateral relations and expand mutual cooperation and trade," he told reporters after arriving at the Tribhuvan International Airport here after completion of his five-day official trip.

    India has pledged to provide huge financial assistance to Nepal for different projects including those relating to roads, security, and for completion of various pending works, the premier said.

    "The finalisation of the trade treaty and the pledge of grant assistance by India were major achievements of the visit," the 56-year-old said.
     
  21. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | India gifts Nepal a Vizag window to West

    India gifts Nepal a Vizag window to West

    JAYANTH JACOB

    [​IMG]
    Nepal commerce and supplies
    minister Rajendra Mahato (left) with
    Indian external affairs minister SM
    Krishna in Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)


    New Delhi, Aug. 22: India agreed to let Nepal use its port at Visakhapatnam for transit traffic of cargo as the landlocked Himalayan nation’s Prime Minister concluded his five-day visit with another seaside window to the outside world.

    Nepal has so long been using Calcutta port to ship goods to the West but wanted access to another port to expand its market in the developed world.

    Among the other “major achievements” of Prime Minister Madhav Nepal’s visit were mechanisms to boost bilateral trade and investment, two check posts for better border management and new rail links.

    Both sides agreed that the two foreign secretaries would discuss the 1950 friendship treaty between the neighbours, though there was no major movement on the proposal to review the 59-year-old pact because of the lack of political consensus in Nepal.

    “The two Prime Ministers directed the foreign secretaries to discuss and review the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship and other bilateral agreements with a view to further strengthening the bilateral relationship,” said a joint statement on the visit.

    The Nepal Prime Minister later told reporters at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan airport that his maiden trip to India had been “highly satisfactory”, a PTI report said.

    “The visit has helped to further strengthen bilateral relations and expand mutual cooperation and trade,” the agency quoted him as saying.

    The trip, he said, had “added a new dimension to the existing bilateral relations between the two countries” and helped create an atmosphere of “trust and mutual understanding”.

    In Delhi, sources said the talks focused on commerce and investment and access to the Andhra Pradesh port. Although the Visakhapatnam port is on the east coast and farther from western markets compared with ports on India’s west coast, it is closer to Nepal’s Birganj dry port by about 600km than, say, Mumbai port.

    So, officials said, Nepal’s ministry of commerce and supplies pitched for Visakhapatnam for movement of goods to and from key western markets like the US and the European Union.

    Now, most of the cargo Nepal imports is transported through a broad-gauge line that links Calcutta and Raxaul, in Bihar, on the Nepal border. At Raxaul, the cargo is unloaded and sent to Birganj by road or through a metre-gauge link. Nepalese exports take the reverse route.

    The port in Mumbai, about 1,900km from Birganj port, also did figure in the talks as Nepal kept in mind future expansion in trade, and officials said Delhi had agreed to consider the request.

    Both sides agreed that the inter-governmental committee at the level of commerce secretaries should look into boosting investments and industrialisation in Nepal. The two commerce secretaries will meet within two months.

    The neighbours also signed a revised Treaty of Trade and Agreement of Cooperation to Control Unauthorised Trade.

    For better border management, India agreed to soon start construction of two integrated check posts at Birganj-Raxaul and Biratnagar-Jogbani at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore.

    For improved rail connectivity, two cross-border links will be constructed with Indian help along the border.

    One of them, 18km long, will be between Jogbani in Bihar and Biratnagar in Nepal. The other, a 51km link between Jayanagar in India and Bijalpura in Nepal, will involve conversion from metre to broad gauge and an extension of the route to Bardibas, Nepal.
     

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