It is time that the Indian Commerce Minister arranges to send a trade delegation to Iran and attempts to secure contracts for supplying rails, wagons, locomotives besides offering to do rail-road contracts
Originally conceived and proposed by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who took the initiative to sign an MOU with the then President of Iran, Mohammed Khatami, more than a decade ago, this joint venture now approved by Premier Narendra Modi to invest some $86 million (or about Rs520 crore) in the development of Chabahar is a welcome sign in establishing further our firm relations with that country.
According to the available information in the press, which were covered in these columns earlier, the Chabahar port is just 76 kms away from Gwader Port in Baluchistan, being developed and under the supervision of China.
This proposed investment in Chabahar port would be a joint venture with the Indian side represented by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust with the Iranian Port and Maritime Organisation. This will cover the cost of equipping two berths within the next 12 months, one as a terminal for containers and the other to meet general multipurpose cargo needs. Once completed, this will facilitate the cargo movement not only within Iran through its own rail and road networks, but also make it possible for India to send its goods to Afghanistan via Zaranj, which is 883 kms away.
In fact, as early as 2009, not long ago though, India had assisted Afghanistan in building this Zaranj-Delaram road, which connects the well-known Afghanistan garden highway, which covers the cities of Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Additionally, if rail-road extensions are planned and laid now, it would make it possible for Indian goods to access CIS countries as well.
This development in Chabahar could bring Iran closer to India in enabling her to export gas and urea and, facilitate import of essential goods like rice, soya, and pharmaceutical and engineering products from India.
It is time that Indian Commerce Minister arranges to send a trade delegation to this country and attempt to secure contracts for supplying rails, wagons, locomotives besides offering to do rail-road contracts. Our interest to increase trade with Iran must include setting up gas based industries like production of urea for them to export to India and to utilise their rupee account for joint ventures in setting up related industries in India, which could be again fertilisers, and guaranteeing to get required food grains, if necessary on a barter basis.
Our relationship with Iran needs to be strengthened by greater trade and mutual visits.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
Consumer protection law passed by Congress four years ago is finally picking up steam
Four years after Congress passed the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA), the consumer protection law is finally picking up steam.
On the heels of Washington becoming the first state to file a lawsuit under ROSCA, the FTC has taken its first action alleging violations of the 2010 statute. In a complaint filed Oct. 7, the agency alleges that a group of marketers in Nevada and California made upwards of $32 million over a four-year span in part by engaging in deceptive marketing practices designed to purposely withhold important billing information from consumers.
“They not only deceived consumers about the effectiveness of their products, but also repeatedly debited consumers’ accounts without their approval,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
In addition to unsupported weight-loss claims, the lawsuit alleges that Health Formulas, LLC and others fail to clearly disclose the full material terms of their “free” trial offers advertised online and elsewhere as only costing the price of shipping and handling, which is typically $6.95 or less. What’s not adequately communicated to consumers, the lawsuit alleges, is that by signing up to try a green coffee bean extract or another dietary supplement, consumers are also enlisting in a “continuity membership program” that ships products to them every month at additional costs — some as high as $210 per month. Often, consumers don’t realize they’re being billed until they see the charges on a credit card or bank statement. The company also failed to give consumers an easy way to stop the charges.
Known as negative-option offers, these types of shady transactions are exactly what ROSCA was designed to protect online shoppers against. The law requires that all material terms — such as those recurring charges in a negative-option offer — be clearly disclosed before a consumer is charged in an Internet transaction.
“It’s an arrow in our quiver,” John Andrew Singer of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said of ROSCA in August, after the agency opted not to expand its own rule on negative-option offers in favor of waiting to see “the full effects” of ROSCA. He noted the agency had introduced other protections since its negative option rule was first established in the 1974, including the Telemarketing Sales Rule (which the FTC alleges the marketers also in this case violated) and Dot Com Disclosures.
TINA.org reached out to the FTC for comment on its first action with ROSCA but the agency declined to offer judgment on the case or how it anticipates using ROSCA in the future. We wondered if the ubiquitous nature of dietary supplements online may lead to more lawsuits filed under ROSCA.
Two days after the FTC filed its complaint, a U.S. district court ordered that the defendants in the agency’s lawsuit temporarily halt business. The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction as well as a yet undetermined amount of restitution for consumers.
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