Current Affairs 2017 - April

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US places India once again on IPR ‘priority watch’ list

The US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office has once again placed India on the ‘priority watch’ list in this year’s Special 301 report despite the country rolling out National IPR Policy last year. India has been placed in ‘priority watch’ list owing to USTR’s view that India has not made adequate changes in its intellectual property (IP) laws and regulations. India has been placed on the ‘Priority Watch List’ for decades now and is likely to remain in the ‘Priority Watch List’ category for having inadequate IPR laws and patent protection.

Background

Out-of-cycle review (OCR) of the India’s IPR regime by the USTR was started under the Obama administration in which both American, as well as Indian firms and other stakeholders, submitted their reviews on India’s IPR laws.

In May last year, India rolled out a National IPR Policy to address the concerns of the US trade bodies. The policy was drafted confirming to the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Similar to USTR’s Special 301 Report, India is being ranked poorly in the IPR index being done by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC).

USTR

United States Trade Representative (USTR) is an agency that is part of the executive office of the President of the US. USTR creates an annual Special 301 list since 1989. USTR places those countries that have either national laws or regulations that detrimentally affect U.S. trade or the rights of IP holders on this list. USTR places these countries in three categories. The most egregious violators are featured as Priority Foreign Countries (PFC), serious offenders are featured on the Priority Watch List (PWL), and less serious offenders in the Watch List (WL). The Special 301 list has continuously placed India most often as a PWL country.

Analysis

Under World Trade Organisation jurisprudence, the legality of the unilateral actions by the US over other sovereign countries remains questionable. To cater to its needs, the US tries to bring about a change in a country’s domestic IP law by adopting mechanisms like the Special 301 list. It is an extraterritorial application of the domestic law of a country and is not reasonable under the overall WTO regime.

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Kazakhstan opens consulate in Chennai

Kazakhstan has opened its honorary consulate in Chennai. The consulate will cover the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. It will be headed by well-known businessman Suraj Shantakumar. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan has expressed confidence that the establishment of the consulate in Chennai, which is a major industrial centre would promote the potential for economic cooperation in a number of areas like IT industry, engineering, tourism, transport infrastructure, as well as agricultural production.

Background

Among the countries that constituted former USSR, Kazakhstan has emerged as the second largest economic partner for India. Kazakhstan is natural resources, minerals, oil and gas and chemical products. It is the largest exporter of Uranium to India. The prospectus of cooperation looms large in several areas. Recently, there was a meeting between the special working groups on textiles from the two countries in Kazakhstan. The bilateral trade between the two countries was around 618 million USD in 2016. India exports pharmaceuticals, tea, tobacco, and engineering equipment to Kazakhstan and imports oil products, metals and natural minerals from that country.

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India Cyprus inks four agreements

India and Cyprus have signed four agreements following delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in New Delhi. The two sides discussed various bilateral and regional issues and agreed on the need on the part of all countries to act decisively against those countries that shelter and sustain violence factories in their regions. The two sides also called for the need for early reforms of the United Nations Security Council. Cyprus reiterated its support to India’s bid for inclusion a permanent member in the UNSC.

Cyprus will also award its highest civilian honour, the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III, on President Pranab Mukherjee.

Agreements

Both the countries signed:

  • An executive programme on culture, education and scientific cooperation for the years 2017 to 2020.
  • A work plan under a programme of cooperation in agriculture for the period 2017-2018.
  • Agreement on cooperation in the area of merchant shipping.
  • Agreement to boost air services between the two countries.

India-Cyprus ties

Cyprus is the eighth largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative foreign direct investment of about $9 billion in areas such as financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics. The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between both the countries was revised in 2016.

Diplomatic ties between India and Cyprus were established in 1962. Cyprus got the support of India during its struggle for independence from British colonial rule. Bilateral trade between both the countries stood at EUR 76.5 million in 2015. The major commodities exported by India to Cyprus are organic chemicals, vehicles & accessories and iron & steel. India’s main imports are aluminium and its products, wood pulp, machinery, boilers, engines, and plastic.

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