The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement marks a new era in bilateral ties, with both nations calling the agreement a vehicle that would serve to enhance trade and investment flows and encourage freer movement of goods, services and professionals
Kuala Lumpur: India and Malaysia today signed a landmark pact that paves the way for freer flow of trade in goods and services, besides enhanced investment and economic cooperation between the two countries, reports PTI.
The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was signed by commerce minister Anand Sharma and his Malaysian counterpart Mustapa Mohamed and witnessed by prime minister Najib Razak and several leading captains of industry from both sides.
"The CECA will usher in a new era of much deeper economic cooperation. Indian premier Manmohan Singh is very supportive of this and a very good friend of Malaysia," Mr Najib said while standing behind the two seated ministers after the pact was inked.
The CECA marks a new era in bilateral ties, with both the ministers calling the agreement a vehicle that would serve to enhance trade and investment flows and encourage freer movement of goods, services and professionals between India and Malaysia.
India was Malaysia's 13th largest trading partner in 2010, with exports amounting to $6.5 billion and imports at $2.4 billion.
Indian investments in Malaysia were valued at $15.9 million, mostly in scientific and measuring equipment, fabricated metal products, furniture and fixtures.
This is the second trade pact India has signed in the past three days.
Mr Sharma inked a trade pact with Japan on Wednesday before flying in here last night.
The two countries envisage that with the CECA in place from 1 July 2011, bilateral trade will accelerate and touch at least $15 billion by 2015.
"The agreement is an ambitious one encompassing services, investment and trade and opening up various sectors for investment opportunities," Mr Sharma said at a press conference after inking the deal.
"The modest trade bilateral target of $15 billion by 2015 is doable and can happen sooner by the signing of CECA," Mr Sharma added.
He said Indian business houses have invested in the petroleum, synthetics, railways and IT sectors in Malaysia and the two countries were also working on projects in third countries.
He stressed that today Asia was the hub of economic activity and noted that the integration of Asian economies would help in realising developmental objectives.
The Malaysian trade minister said there were two factors which would push the CECA to greater heights-the direct impact of tariff reductions and the excitement and feel-good factor between the two countries.
The two ministers noted that signing of the deal would also facilitate the movement of skilled professionals.
Malaysia has also agreed to higher foreign direct investment (FDI) by Indian companies in the construction services and IT sectors.
Mr Mustapa said the negotiators had helped produce an agreement that had nine times more on the positive list than the negative list.
The Malaysian minister emphasised that India was a very important country for Malaysian businessmen, with trade between the two nations going up to $9 billion this year.
He said the impact of the CECA would extend beyond just trade and investment, projecting a huge increase in tourist arrivals.
The commercial is great fun to watch. The concern is that automobile advertising is getting edgier by the day and TVS Wego has pushed the recklessness envelope really hard, brazenly promoting unsafe riding
TVS Wego has a new commercial on air. And the promise is totally off-beat. It's that TVS Wego offers you great 'body balance'. Hmm. Strange. Wonder if most bike riders care for such a quality. Guess the client and its ad agency must have done a fair amount of market research to conclude this, so I suppose we'll have to accept it as a real need for bike riders.
The commercial itself is totally outlandish and wild, to say the least. Usually bikers chase down each other to demonstrate speed, handling and machismo. In this ad, they are hardly noticed. All the action happens between the two gals riding pillion on the bikes. They have an aerial catfight, so to speak. And go berserk on the bikes… as if in a competition… as they attempt to out balance one another.
So they wring, loop and gyrate their bodies. They flirt with their respective rider mates. They indulge in erotic movements. They even perform complex dance steps. In short, the girls play out the most bizarre stunts you can imagine. And all this, as the bikers themselves ride on coolly, unaware of all the tamasha happening behind their backs. There's even a shot of an aged couple in a car looking aghast, to complete the picture of irreverent madness.
Now here's the thing: The commercial is great fun to watch. And because it's completely whacko, one can watch it repeatedly without tiring. And that's the best proof of entertaining advertising. The girls pack in attitude and chutzpah, and the stunts are well executed. So, all well on that count. Some concern remains on the promise of body balance, but perhaps this fresh positioning will ensure TVS Wego gets a good ad recall.
However, I am beginning to observe that automobile advertising, quite clearly unchecked by the industry watchdog, is crossing the line on safety considerations, and commercials are going edgier by the day. Car ads often feature unsafe, reckless driving, and so do bike ads. And TVS Wego has pushed the recklessness envelope really hard, and is brazenly promoting unsafe riding.
I sincerely hope the young audiences enjoy the commercial, have a good laugh, and don't take things literally. By attempting these stunts to suss the bike's body balance. That could be a fatal trip. And no, I am not being the usual killjoy uncle out here—kids have been known to emulate ads. So guys, some balance please? Not just in the body, between fun and safety too?
The multilateral lending agency says unexploited renewable energy sources can generate cost-effective power for rural people, increase total supply and minimise losses. Commits $2 billion in funding over three years
A new World Bank report says that generating power locally and distributing it through existing facilities can help to bring electricity to more rural households in India that yet do not have access to power.
The report says that this model should be actively encouraged and implemented in areas where electricity supply is poor and people have to depend on diesel and kerosene. About 56% of rural households, or 400 billion people in the country, do not have access to electricity today.
"Though these kinds of projects are on a small basis, financial institutions and other private players should come forward to support it," said Ashish Khanna, senior energy specialist, South Asia Sustainable Development, World Bank.
The report, titled 'Empowering Rural India: Expanding Electricity Access by Mobilising Local Resources', is based on studies conducted in Maharashtra's Kolhapur district, where the state's unexploited renewable energy sources could harness substantial economic gains, not just for the rural people, but for the state, it said.
For instance, the report explains, an average rural household spends Rs11 per kilowatt hour to meet its lighting needs, which is higher than about Rs4.60/kWh for small hydro, Rs5.70/kWh for biomass and Rs6.10/kWh for wind power. It found that this model would also increase the supply of electricity per day from an average of 8-10 hours to day-long supply.
This decentralised system, which it calls distributed generation and supply (DG&S) franchises, is a cost-effective and feasible way to generate cost-effective energy in rural areas. It can not only increase supply and reduce costs for the consumer, but also reduce losses for the utility company and meet the goal of improving availability of electricity in rural areas.
Explaining the DG&S model, the report said that the DG&S operator invests in a small-scale (typically 1MW to 10MW peak capacity) local generation plant and also becomes a distribution franchisee of the utility for the designated area. Today, small hydro and biomass projects are more feasible in rural areas, whereas solar projects are feasible in urban areas as they contain complicated technologies, Mr Khanna said.
The rural franchisee in addition to distributing power and collecting revenues, also generates power locally and supplies to the franchised area. The local community benefits because certain minimum percentage of the generated power goes to the designated area and the balance is fed into the grid.
Mr Khanna said that the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has decided to provide about $2 billion through loans for renewable energy projects over the next three years. While the World Bank will fund government projects, IFC will finance private efforts.
The 1,500MW Nathpa-Jhakri hydro project in Himachal Pradesh was among the first renewable energy projects in the country that was funded by the Bank. It was developed by Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), a joint venture of the state and central governments. SJVN is supplying power to nine northern states and aims to commission a second mega hydro project in 2013.
Mr Khanna said the World Bank's loans outstanding to the overall power sector in the country are at $3.4 billion and the IFC's at about $1 billion.
"In the South Asia, many people don't have access to electricity and most of them are in India," said Inger Andersen, vice-president at the World Bank's Sustainable Development Network unit. "Such initiatives drawing on the involvement of the local community leads to socio-economic development in the area, thereby promoting inclusive growth."