US lawmakers introduce legislation in Congress to help India join APEC

A group of influential US lawmakers have introduced a Bull in the Congress asking the US President Barack Obama administration to help India join the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The legislation has been introduced by Matt Salmon, Chairman of the House Sub-committee on Asia and the Pacific.

As per legislation

  • India’s membership to the APEC would provide it a constructive forum to glean insight from other Asian countries that have already taken significant steps to advance their economies.
  • Indian Government is striving for major economic reforms to open India’s markets, improve trade volume, and facilitate his growing population’s need for continued job growth.
  • US-India partnership is vital to the US strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe. Economically prosperous India benefits the US’ strategic goals in Asia.

About Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

  • APEC is regional economic forum comprising of 21 member countries accounting nearly half of the world’s trade and about 57 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
  • It was established in 1989 in order to leverage the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific region’s economies and promote free trade in the region.
  • Headquarters: Singapore.
  • 21 Members are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russian and Vietnam.
  • India’s Position: India is having observer of APEC since 2011 and has applied for membership. However some countries have objected to granting membership to India as it does not border the Pacific Ocean, which all current members do.

DIPP notifies 49% FDI under automatic route in Insurance and Pension sector

The Union Commerce and Industry Ministry has notified foreign direct investment (FDI) upto 49% in insurance and pension sector will be under automatic route.

In this regard, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has issued official notification to liberalise its FDI policy in insurance and pension sector.

However, FDI above 49% will be subject to approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Prior to this, only up to 26% FDI was permitted through the automatic approval route in insurance and pension sector.

Union Government in 2015 had increased the FDI cap in insurance and pension sector to 49% from 26%, respectively. But it was subject to the condition that ownership and control remains with the Indian promoter at all times.

Thus, existing guidelines on Indian management and control will have to be verified by the respective regulators, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

Presently there are 52 insurance companies operating in India, of which 28 are in general insurance and 24 are in life insurance business. FDI into the country has grown by record 40% to $29.44 billion during April-December 2015.