India to soon implement FTA with Indonesia, Cambodia

New Delhi: India will soon implement the free trade agreement (FTA) in goods with two more Asean countries - Indonesia, Cambodia - by slashing duties on hundreds of products including seafood, chemicals, apparel and tyres.

In turn, the two countries will also slash import duties on hundreds of Indian goods.

The agreement, to be operationalised with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 1st January, is already functional with four members -Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

"Indonesia and Cambodia have completed the internal approval process of the pact. They have formally informed commerce minister Anand Sharma in Vietnam. Both will issue a notification in this effect with in a week," a senior commerce ministry official said.

Mr Sharma had on 27th August attended the India-ASEAN Economic Ministers Meet in Da Nang in Vietnam.

The remaining four - Laos, Philippines, Brunei and Myanmar - members would take some more time to implement the pact, the official said.

Though Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia account for more than 90% of India's trade with ASEAN countries, the remaining seven are also important markets, he added.

India-ASEAN trade in goods was $45 billion in 2008-09.

The two sides aim to increase their trade to $50 billion by the end of 2010.

They are also engaged in advanced negotiations to widen the base of the trade pact by including services and investments.

The services sector has emerged as an important area for export earnings and India is looking at expanding trade with the ASEAN in areas like banking, insurance, health, accountancy, architecture and engineering.

The ASEAN countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.


Macquarie Capital appoints Sanjay Agarwal as head of equity capital markets

Macquarie Capital said it appointed Sanjay Agarwal as its head equity capital markets (ECM) in India.

Mr Agarwal who has more than 11 years of financial services experience will be based in Mumbai. Earlier he was working with Edelweiss Capital Ltd where he was involved in a large number of fund raising exercises and structuring innovative products, Macquarie said in a release.


Parliamentary panel peeved about environmental delays to coal projects

New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has expressed shock over the delay in forest clearances to 59 coal projects, hurting production targets by companies, engaged in coal mining reports PTI.

"The committee is shocked to observe that the inordinate delay in getting forest and environment clearances has been badly affecting the coal production target by the coal companies," said the standing committee on coal and steel.

The committee is constrained that as many as 59 coal projects have been held up for want of forest clearances, it said adding, "The committee deprecate that the (coal) ministry has failed to act as a facilitator on behalf of coal companies for getting necessary clearances from different agencies."

The country's largest producer, state-owned Coal India, which accounts for more than 85% of the domestic production, has already lowered its coal production target for the 2011-12 to 486 million tonnes from 520 million tonnes earlier mainly in view of such delays.

Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, in a report on status of implementation of the recommendations of the committee said,"...It is a fact that forestry clearances are getting unduly delayed..."

However, he said, these issues have been taken up at highest level and both the coal and forest ministries are meeting frequently to resolve the issues.

"Further, the issue of forestry clearances is also being addressed at the level of Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to resolve the pending issues concerned with different ministries.

The coal and mines ministries are at loggerheads on the issue of classification of coal mining belt into 'go' and 'no-go' areas which saw the ministries of coal and environment locking horns.

As per such a classification, about half of the coal bearing forest area of nine coalfields has been declared no-go area, due to which, the coal ministry says, the country could see a coal shortage of 500 million tonnes in next few years.

Mr Jaiswal had earlier expressed hope that, "A solution is expected before Coal India's initial public offer is launched." CIL is slated to launch its four-day public offer on 18th October.

The issue is billed to be India's biggest till date and may raise up to Rs15,000 crore.

Last month, after PMO's intervention, a high-level inter-ministerial panel had recommended that mining can be allowed in as many as 77 coal blocks that were made no-go affair by the environment ministry.

Now, as many as 126 blocks are in the 'no-go' area against the earlier 203.


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