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  • Indian Society For Sustainable Agricultur
    In This NEWS Bulletin ******************************** 1. G-20 meeting on Doha round from Nov 15 2. India behind Bangladesh in poverty alleviation : IFPRI 3.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2007
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      In This NEWS Bulletin
      ********************************
       
      1. G-20 meeting on Doha round from Nov 15
      2. India behind Bangladesh in poverty alleviation : IFPRI
      3. Complete Doha talks before US polls: Merkel
      4. WTO talks close to conclusion: Nath
      5. India threatens EU with retaliatory action
      6. US gives thumbs-up to rupee rise, but wants stronger dollar
      7. Sri Lanka lures Indian retail investors into debt market
      8. Appreciating rupee fails to fuel imports in September
      9. German co eyes rural electrification market
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      G-20 meeting on Doha round from Nov 15
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Tuesday , November 06, 2007 at 1929 hrs IST
       
      Trade minister from the developing countries represented in the group – G 20 – is scheduled to meet in Geneva around November 15 to renew efforts toward closing the gap in the much-delayed Doha round of WTO negotiations. G-20 includes countries like India, Brazil, South Africa and China.
       
      "Ministers from G-20 will meet in Geneva on around November 15 and we expect a landing zone for the successful completion of the Doha Round," the deputy director-general of the World Trade Organisation, Harsha Vardhan Singh said at a round-table discussion organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in New Delhi on Monday.
       
      The prospect of a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) looked very bright with member countries engaging in serious negotiations in the last couple of months, he said and added that the next two months would be very crucial.
       
      Singh said in the wake of the ensuing US Presidential elections, WTO members were under a lot of pressure to complete at least the modalities for concluding the round by end of this year or early next year.
       
      He said that all concerns of the developing countries were being taken care of by the negotiators and modalities would soon be worked out. Modalities are basic and broad outlines agreed to by the members to give and seek market access by reducing the duties in line with the WTO mandate for opening world trade.
       
      Singh further said after modalities are worked out scheduling of priorities would take place for moving the negotiations further.
       
      "Everybody is showing flexibility and is engaging. The members are hoping to meet the deadline and are making efforts in a serious way. While process of convergence is not easy, one can see some forward movement," he said.
       
      Singh informed that the chairs of agriculture and non-agriculture market access (NAMA) committees may come out with revised texts on basis of some agreed consensus.
       
      The Indian commerce minister Kamal Nath had said at the Fortune Summit last week: "We are at the last mile. Where we are today, it is closer than ever before to closing the Doha Round. In the next two months, I hope we will be able to find some convergence in it."
       
      Singh said that while the text on agriculture did not see much resistance from the members, the draft on industrial products was rejected by over 100 nations.
      India had described the farm text as "a good basis for negotiations" but rejected the non-agricultural market access draft.
       
      "Apart from agriculture and NAMA, there can be some convergence in rules, trade facilitation and development," Singh said.
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      India behind Bangladesh in poverty alleviation : IFPRI
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Tuesday , November 06, 2007 at 2054 hrs IST
       
      Poverty alleviation programmes in India have not been able to create a balanced impact. There are still a large number of people living on less than 50 cents a day. Bangladesh has fared better than India in terms of poverty alleviation, according to a recent study of the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
       
      IFPRI found 162 million people of the world living on less than 50 cents a day and has termed them "ultra poor". It has divided the poor into three distinct categories – "subjacent poor" living on 75 cents to $ one a day, "medial poor" living on 50 cents to 75 cents a day and "ultra poor" living on less than 50 cents a day. There are 485 million "subjacent poor" and 322 million "medial poor" in the world.
       
      Analysing the household data for the period 1990-2004, the IFRI study "The World's Most Deprived" said that South Asia accounted for 12% of the world's poorest people ( 19.7 million). In India poverty alleviation has not gathered momentum, while in the neighbouring Bangladesh poverty rates relating to all the three categories of poor have fallen since the end of 1990s.
       
      The study conducted by the team leader, Akhter U Ahmed said ; "In India, the medial poor fared better than the subjacent poor and the ultra poor (marginally). Although Bangladesh achieved minimal poverty reduction from 1990 to 2004, it is remarkable that the ultra poor fared better than they would have had all those below the line fared equally, suggesting that the severity of poverty lessened in the country."
       
      According to the study, like East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia achieved remarkable growth rates during 1990s (about 5%), however the region was less able than East Asia and the Pacific to convert this growth to reduction in poverty. The ultra poor benefited the least from progress in this region and those living in medial poverty benefited the most
       
      According to IFPRI, from 1990 to 2004, the number of people living on less than $ one per day in the world fell from 1.25 billion to 969 million or in other words poverty reduced from 2b.7% to 18%. By 2004, East Asia and the Pacific's share of the world's poor decreased by more than half to only 17% (169 million), South Asia's share increased to almost 50% ( 446.2 million) and Sub-Saharan Africa's share increased to 31% (298.2 million).
       
      East Asia and the Pacific met and exceeded the poverty Millennium Development Goals with the dollar-a-day poverty rate in the region falling from 29.9% in 1990 to 9.1% in 2004. In 1990, South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific had similar number of the people living on less than $ one a day, but by 2004, the latter had 307 million fewer. Between 1990 and 2004,the number of poor people decreased by a modest 33 million in South Asia and increased by about 2.4 million inLatin America and the Caribbean and by a staggering 58 million in Sub-Saharan Africa
       
      East Asia and the Pacific account for 5% of the world's ultra poor (8.8 million) and Latin America and the Caribbean account for 7% of the world's ultra poor (11.5 million). Sub-Saharan Africa is the home to three-quarters (121 million) of the world's ultra poor people and poverty is more severe here than in other parts of the globe.
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      Complete Doha talks before US polls: Merkel
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Tuesday , October 30, 2007 at 2310 hrs IST
       
      German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said India had a constructive role to play in the successful conclusion of the WTO's Doha Round talks and warned that the discussions would fail if the talks were to start after the forthcoming American presidential elections.
       
      "India will have a constructive role as we are working on the Doha Round. If we have to start after American elections we will fail. So we need to speed up and not lose momentum. Serious negotiations must start now," Merkel said at a meeting was organised by industry bodies Ficci, CII and Assocham here. Germany is the main constituent of the 27-member European Union and currently holds the G-8 presidency.
       
      Merkel, on her maiden visit to India, agreed that India needed to protect interest of its over 600 million farmers. She also asked India to help tackle global warming, adding that Germany would help India in energy efficiency, renewable energy, science and technology sectors, building roads and improving railroad services as well as in vocational training facilities.
       
      Merkel is accompanied by a 30-member delegation comprising the new chief of industrial conglomerate Siemens AG, Peter Loescher, and top executives from chemical company BASF and the Deutsche Bahn railroad firm.
      Meanwhile, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath has invited the German businessmen to invest in India.
       
      "The major sectors that have attracted investments from Germany since liberalisation are electrical equipment, transportation industry and metallurgical industries. Together, these sectors make up more than 40% of overall German investment in India. In fact, this momentum is being sustained and is even growing; since 2007, there have been more than 200 technical collaborations between Indian and German firms for industrial machinery alone," Nath said.
       
      He emphasised that today more than 240 Indian firms are already engaged in a business in Germany and the number is constantly growing. While two third of these firms belong to the IT-sector, the rest is spread across the textile industry, engineering industry, pharmaceuticals and automotive components.
      Nath underlined that the bilateral trade between India and Germany crossed 10 billion euros in 2006, which was a target that was supposed to have been met in 2010.
       
      He said Germany figured among the top 10 FDI destinations in India today, yet it accounts for 3.6% of the total flows that have come into the country so far. FDI inflows have more than doubled from $7.7 billion in 2005 to a record $19.4 billion in 2006.
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      WTO talks close to conclusion: Nath
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Tuesday , October 30, 2007 at 2320 hrs IST
       
      New Delhi, Oct 30 Maintaining that the Doha Round of WTO talks was at its "last mile", the government on Tuesday said global trade negotiators were "closer than ever before" to successfully conclude the tough talks by next year-end.
       
      However, India emphasised that to strike a deal it was not willing to compromise the interests of its 650 million subsistence farmers and the 300 million people who are living on less that a dollar a day. "Where we are today, it is closer than ever before to closing the Doha Round. I believe convergence can be found on industrial products in the next two months. We are also grappling with correcting the structural flaws in global trade," commerce minister Kamal
      Nath said at a conference organised by Fortune magazine here.
       
      "The US has its sensitivities on the farm subsidies. But other countries too have their sensitivities and they too have to be taken on board. I can negotiate commerce and show some flexibilities but I am not willing to negotiate subsistence farmers and livelihood security. In the last two months countries have put forward their last bit of flexibilities to reach a deal," Nath added.
       
      India, Brazil and other developing countries have been asking developed countries like the US and EU to cut trade distorting farm subsidies, while the US and EU have been seeking more market access from developing nations for their industrial products. His statement found an echo in finance minister P Chidambaram, who expressed concern over the growing protectionist tendency among some advanced nations in matters related to global trade.
       
      "Although through globalisation of trade in recent years, our exports have grown on an average 20% in a year, but there are some aspects that worry us," he said, adding while tariff barriers were being reduced, non-tariff barriers are being erected.
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      Govt threatens EU with retaliatory action
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Tuesday , October 30, 2007 at 2309 hrs IST
       
      The government on Tuesday dismissed allegations of use of child labour against local suppliers of clothing retail major GAP as a motivated campaign on part of the rich nations and threatened Europe of possible retaliatory measures.
       
      The local suppliers to GAP had denied all such allegations regarding of child labour and have informed the Centre that their plants have been subjected to vigorous inspections by the overseas buyers, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said adding that India would treat such motivated campaigns as non-tariff barriers resorted to by rich nations.
       
      "The biggest suppliers have informed us that GAP officials have seen their plants and applauded their manufacturing practices," Nath said at the Fortune Global Forum here.
       
      "We are seeing increasing efforts, particularly driven by European Union-based NGOs, to show India in bad light. I am seriously concerned over these motivated campaigns. There would be pressure on the Indian government to take retaliatory measures. I have written to the European Trade Commissioner about these and that we are treating this as a non-tariff barriers," he added.
       
      Following allegations that its Indian suppliers employed children in their manufacturing facilities, GAP withdrew garments sourced from Indian from its stores in Europe and the US. According to the government's information, GAP has about 200 suppliers in India, out of its total 2,000 suppliers worldwide.
       
      Recalling that he had brought up the issue with the trade ministers of the Netherlands and Finland, Nath said, "In the case of NGOs from Netherlands, it was later found that the evidence provided was computer simulated images. This is absolutely false. I seriously condemn this."
       
      Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) secretary general D K Nair told FE that earlier there were efforts by NGOs based in the EU and the US, on behalf of their industries, to target even reputed exporters and curtail increasing exports from competitive countries like India and China.
       
      He said the government along with CITI and the affected Companies would take up the matter with the NGOs to find out if these were really a part of the social agenda or trade agenda. "If it is found that the reports are part of the trade agenda and that the study is backed by their industries, the affected Indian company can file a suit against the NGOs and the foreign industries claiming damages. If the action comes from the governmental level, then India can approach the WTO's dispute settlement panel by pointing out such non-tariff barriers. The battle will be fought by the government and the industry together," he explained.
       
      "Over a decade ago, there were allegations from Germany about the Azodyes being used by the Indian textile industry. Then came the allegation by some NGOs in the US that Indian rayon skirts were a fire hazard," he said.
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      US gives thumbs-up to rupee rise, but wants stronger dollar
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Tuesday , October 30, 2007 at 2321 hrs IST
       
      New Delhi, Oct 30 Lauding India's flexible rupee exchange rate, US treasury secretary Henry Paulson said on Tuesday he was in favour of a "stronger dollar" while making a case for market-determined valuation of currencies.
       
      "I am strongly committed to a stronger dollar, which is the intent in the US," he said here on Tuesday at a forum of global CEOs organised by the Fortune magazine.
       
      He said China still had some work to do to get to a market determined yuan exchange rate. "Look at the way this country (India) has allowed the rupee's value to be set based on economic fundamentals," Paulson said, adding in case of India the economic growth was good and inflation was under control.
       
      The Indian currency has risen nearly 12% against the dollar in 2007 and about 14% in the last one year, making exports costlier and imports cheaper. The RBI has not directly intervened with the exchange rate, although the government has recently put in some restrictions to moderate burgeoning capital inflows.
       
      The country has seen foreign institutional investments (FII) surge to a record $17 billion this year. In October alone, FIIs have pumped in nearly $8 billion. In order to stem capital inflows, the government has modified certain aspect of its external commercial borrowings (ECB) policy and most recently barred FIIs from issuing PNs in the derivatives segment.
       
      Paulson toned down his comments on the recent curbs imposed by the Indian government on PNs and said, it was important that rules be transparent and flexible. The government had imposed these restrictions on PNs arguing that it was not a transparent route of foreign investment.
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      Sri Lanka lures Indian retail investors into debt market
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Thursday , November 01, 2007 at 0134 hrs IST
       
      New Delhi, Oct 31 Indian investors, planning to invest overseas, have the option of investing in the Sri Lankan debt market as it has recently opened the treasury bills (TBs) market to foreign retail investors.
       
      Sri Lanka's central bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said here on Wednesday that in late January Sri Lanka offered up to 5% of the total TBs worth $400 million, to foreign investors. These bills are of one-year maturity and carry 16-17% rate of return, he said.
       
      Cabraal said the response from foreign investors was overwhelming, as the entire quota was subscribed within a few days and the central bank was considering to hike this limit to 10% in the near future.
       
      The governor said going forward Sri Lanka would offer more options of investment to foreign investors including those from India.
       
      The Reserve Bank of India has recently doubled the overseas investment limit for individuals to $200,000 a year.
       
      In India, as part of the roadshow to raise $500 million in Sri Lanka's debut sovereign bond issue, he said the issue was oversubscribed 3.2 times despite negative publicity that the country has been getting.
       
      "We got only BB minus rating from Fitch and B plus rating from S&P and we are not satisfied with the rating. We are working to get a better rating. But the fact that we got a huge response from international investors shows that they have confidence in the fast-growing Economy," he said.
       
      Sri Lanka's Economy has grown only by 6.25% during the first half of 2007, slower than the 7.8% recorded in the corresponding period last year.
      The slow growth has been attributed to high international oil prices, adverse weather conditions and the unsettled security situation.
       
      Cabraal said Sri Lanka would welcome banks, including those from India to enter the microfinance sector and help in building infrastructure. He also said India and Sri Lanka were fast-tracking their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), by including services and investment to their existing free trade agreement on goods.
       
      The CEPA would also comprise a pact on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion as well as reduction in the negative list in the FTA and relaxation of rules of origin. On a common currency for the South Asian region and the consequent economic unity, Cabraal said, "It is too early to talk about it now."
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      Appreciating rupee fails to fuel imports in September
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Thursday , November 01, 2007 at 2343 hrs IST
       
      Despite a rising rupee is making imports cheaper, imports into India have slowed down in September, While imports in rupee terms in September declined 10.51% to Rs 69,456 crore, from Rs 77611 crore in September 2006, in dollar terms September's imports were $17.21 billion, just an increase of 2.31% over $16.82 billion in the same month a year ago.
       
      What is more interesting is that non-oil imports during September this year were $11.71 billion, 0.15% lower than $ 11.73 billion in September 2006.
       
      Commerce secretary GK Pillai told FE that the import-intensive sectors had been left with little money in hand for imports, as banks have tightened credit and increased interest rates. He added that rupee appreciation had, in fact, resulted in several textile factories being shut, leading to job losses.
       
      Compare this to cumulative value of imports for the period April-September 2007, which was $10.92 billion (Rs.446420.86 crore) against $8.7 billion (Rs.399815.04 crore), a growth of 25.51% in dollar terms and 11.66% in rupee terms over the same period last year. Also, non-oil imports during April-September, 2007 were $77.8 billion, 34.13% higher than $58 billion in April-September 2006.
       
      But commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said the fall in non-oil imports in September did not reflect a slowdown in industrial growth.
       
      Importers say that prior to the festival season last year, imports of consumer items had gone up drastically and that since last year's inventories were still being held up, there was no need for fresh stock to be imported. Rajiv Kumar, director and chief executive of ICRIER said, "This is just an abnormal blip and nothing should be made of it. One has to wait for the next few months to get a better picture".
       
      Federation of Indian Export Organisations president GK Gupta said, "This does not augur well and our manufacturing growth may slip in the next few months. The slow down in import will lead to slowdown in manufacturing activity since no industry would be replacing the imported inputs with domestic ones. This, because the price difference between the imported and the domestic items would be close to 20%, that is 15% on account of rupee appreciation and 4-5% due to inflation".
       
      Meanwhile, despite nearly 13% rupee appreciation since this January which has hurt many an exporter, shipments during September were $12.79 billion, 19.26 % higher than $10.73 billion during September, 2006. In rupee terms, exports touched Rs 51, 621.52 crore, 4.31% higher than Rs 49486.28 during Sept 2006. Exports for April-September, 2007 was $72.28 billion as against $ 60.98 billion , registering a growth of 18.52% in dollar terms and 5.34% in rupee terms during the same period last year.
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      German co eyes rural electrification market
       
       
      ASHOK B SHARMA
      Posted online: Friday , November 02, 2007 at 0044 hrs IST
       
      New Delhi, Nov 1 Germany-based renewable energy solution provider Conergy is all set to tap the Indian market. The Germany listed company will provide solutions for equipment based on solar and wind energy.
       
      The company is looking at a tie up with the ministry of new and renewable energy.
       
      "There are over 80,000 villages without electricity and 25,000 of them are so remote that proving electric connectivity would be very difficult. So, providing electricity through solar or wind power would be more feasible," Jan Hartzel, director, corporate marketing, told FE.
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