Demonetisation has had no affect on bilateral relations: US envoy

Dec 15, 2016 0

Kolkata–Demonetisation has not in any way affected bilateral ties between Washington and New Delhi, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said here on Wednesday.

Verma said regarding demonetisation of the higher value currency notes, US had an understanding both of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fight against corruption as also the hardship that it has caused the people.

Richard_Verma“Demonetisation has had no impact on bilateral relations between our two countries. We understand what the Prime Minister is trying to do in cracking down on corruption. We also understand the hardship it has caused to the people,” Verma said at the Press Club, Kolkata.

“We understand the effect on people’s day to day lives,” he said.

Asked whether the US mission was also inconvenienced due to the cash shortage, Verma said: “We want to be part of the solution.

“We work well with Indian ministry of external affairs, and the PM’s office. We have very excellent working relation with the ministry.”  (IANS)

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Legislation providing for India’s recognition as major defence partner clears US Congress

Dec 8, 2016 0

New York–A legislation providing for recognition of India as a major defence partner of the US cleared the US Congress on Thursday and now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s approval.

The National Defence Authorisation Act approved by the Senate includes a provision, “Enhancing defence and security cooperation with India”, that requires the defence Secretary to take steps to recognise India as the major defence partner of the US.

Last week, the House of Representatives had approved the legislation, which is essentially the defence budget.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar greets United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter during his visit to New Delhi on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. (Photo credit: Dept. of Defense/via IANS)

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar greets United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter during his visit to New Delhi on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. (Photo credit: Dept. of Defense/via IANS)

The final passage in the Senate took place the day Defence Secretary Ashton Carter was in Delhi to discuss with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar the implication of the designation for India-US cooperation in defence.

“The designation of a ‘Major Defence Partner’ is a status unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with that of the US’ closest allies and partners,” a joint statement issued after their meeting said.

In May the House passed the amendment to the defence finance bill for closer cooperation with India.

But a similar amendment initially failed in the Senate the next month. It was not specifically directed against India as the Senate dropped several pending amendments.

But later in June, the Senate adopted by voice votes an amendment to the bill “to authorise military-to-military exchanges with India”.

The final compromise version of the legislation ironing out the differences in the House and Senate bills was hammered out by armed services committees of the two chambers and was unveiled late last month with the provision for India to be a major defence partner.

Overall, the bill allocates $618.7 for defence. Obama will either sign the bill or veto it, but the bill has enough votes in Congress for a potential veto to be overturned.

Provisions like the one on major defence partner status for India are usually inserted into budget bills by members of the Congress advocating them as they would have the effect of laws and can be adopted faster without having to go through the full legislative process that includes lengthy reviews and debates.

Two separate bills, the US-India Defense Technology and Partnership Act introduced in the House in March, and the Advancing US-India Defense Cooperation Act in the Senate in May, stuck in the legislative process.

Both bills are pending in their respective foreign affairs or relations committees and are unlikely to be taken up in the remainder of the currents of the Congress that ends on January 3 next year. (IANS)

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US for improving connectivity between India and neighbors: Envoy

Dec 3, 2016 0

Agartala–The US government is keen to develop connectivity between India and its neighbours in the Bay of Bengal region and its adjoining areas to boost economies, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said here on Saturday.

“During my visit to the northeastern states, I have discussed with the governments of the region about connectivities, trade, economy and commerce, energy related issues,” said Verma, who has since Monday visited five of the eight northeastern states – Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura, and met Chief Ministers and other stakeholders to discuss various economic and bilateral issues.

Richard_VermaTalking to reporters here, he said that the northeastern region of India has huge resources and potentiality and these must be utilised for the economic development of the region.

“A two-day connectivity summit would be held in Kolkata on December 14-15. We have invited all the northeastern states of India and few other neighbouring countries to participate in the event to boost the connectivity, trade and economy,” he added.

“The US government is exploring ways to build better linkage with India especially the resource rich northeastern region through trade, education, infrastructure or innovation. Currently over 500 US companies are working in India and we are keen to work more with India in diverse sectors.”

Before returning to New Delhi, he visited a 726 MW power project commissioned by state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at Palatana in southern Tripura, 65 km south of here.

“The US-based General Electric Company has supplied the turbines for the power project,” he said, adding that the US is keen to collaborate more with India in science and technological sector.

In Tripura, the US envoy visited famous Tripura Sundari temple and the state museum besides India-Bangladesh border at Akhaura and witnessed the beating the retreat ceremony jointly conducted by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and Boder Guards Bangladesh.

Verma is accompanied by the US Consul General in Kolkata and other officials.

An US Consulate media official said that this visit was part of the ambassador familiarisation tour through northeast India and during this trip, he underscored several key aspects of the strong US-India partnership.

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Demonetisation “important, necessary” against corruption: US spokesperson

Dec 1, 2016 0

Washington– Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s action to demonetise high value currency was “an important and necessary step” to crack down on “corruption and tax dodging,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner has said.

The action was “designed to target illicit cash proceeds from corruption and tax dodging,” Toner said at the Department’s daily briefing on Wednesday in answer to a reporter’s question.

The discontinuation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was, “we believe, an important and necessary step to crack down on this – illegal actions or illicit actions,” he said.

 State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, that the demonetisaiton of Rs 1,000 and 500 notes was “designed to target illicit cash proceeds from corruption and tax dodging.” He was sanswering a reporter\'s question at the daily State Department breifing. (Photo credit: State Department/via IANS)

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, that the demonetisaiton of Rs 1,000 and 500 notes was “designed to target illicit cash proceeds from corruption and tax dodging.” He was sanswering a reporter\’s question at the daily State Department breifing. (Photo credit: State Department/via IANS)

Toner did acknowledge that “it was an inconvenience” for Indians and Americans in India requiring “a little bit of adjustment”.

He viewed the demonetisation as part of a series of actions taken by the Modi government over the last two years to “reduce black market money”.

“I think it also included a four-month amnesty for tax evaders in India, which resulted in, I think, the disclosure or declaration of billions of dollars in hidden assets,” he said.

He was referring to the Modi government’s Income Declaration Scheme earlier this year. It brought out Rs 65,250 crore (or about $9.6 billion) held by 64,275 people, according to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (IANS)

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M777 deal a major step forward in Indo-US relations, says US envoy

Dec 1, 2016 0

New Delhi– United States Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Thursday called the M777 artillery deal as a major step forward in the US-India defence relationship.

“As major defence partners, the United States and India remain committed to enhancing military modernisation efforts and building a security partnership based on trust, transparency and shared interests,” Ambassador Verma said in a statement on the M777 agreement.

“Indian industry will partner with the US defence subsidiary of BAE Systems to locally assemble, integrate and test the howitzers, supporting Prime Minister Modi’s Make-in-India campaign,” he said.

Richard Verma

Richard Verma

Out of 145 guns, BAE will deliver 25 guns and the rest 120 will be assembled in India by Mahindra.

India on Wednesday signed Letter of Agreement and Acceptance (LOA) with the US to purchase 145 M777 ultra-light artillery guns through the foreign military sale (FMS) route.

The 155mm/39 calibre gun, with maximum range of 30 km, is manufactured by the BAE Systems and can be transported through helicopter or aircraft.

The ultra light howitzer is being purchased primarily to deploy on mountains in eastern China border. This will provide the much-needed fire power to the Indian Army in the mountains.

“This deal marks a major step forward in the US-India defence relationship and supports jobs in both our countries,” Verma was quoted as saying in the statement. (IANS)

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India, US resolve tax disputes worth Rs 5,000 crore

Nov 17, 2016 0

New Delhi– India and the US have resolved over 100 cases of tax disputes involving Rs 5,000 crore under the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) and have finalised the terms and conditions of the first bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (APA), an official statement said on Thursday.

The bilateral meeting between India and the US to discuss the tax issues was held in Washington D.C. in the last week of October, 2016.

“During the meeting, 66 MAP cases relating to transfer pricing issues and 42 MAP cases relating to treaty interpretation issues were agreed to be resolved successfully. The total amount that was locked up in dispute in these cases is approximately Rs 5,000 crore and these cases were related to assessment years ranging from AY 1999-2000 to AY 2011-12,” the Finance Ministry said in the statement.

india-us-flag“The discussions in the meeting were focussed on resolving MAP cases pending for a long time and to achieve significant developments in bilateral APA process,” the statement said.

“The resolved cases pertain to various issues like transfer pricing adjustments made to the international transactions in the nature of payment of royalty, payment of management fees, cost contribution arrangements, engineering design services, contract R&D services, investment advisory services, marketing support services, software development services, IT enabled services etc.,” it said.

Treaty interpretative issues in the nature of presence of Permanent Establishment (PE) in India and profit attribution to such PEs, disputes pertaining to royalty income v/s business income of foreign companies, etc. were also discussed, the ministry added.

During the meeting, the competent authorities of India and the US also finalised the terms and conditions of the first ever bilateral APA between the two countries.

Though India started its bilateral APA process with the US by accepting applications from the Indian taxpayers from FY 2012-13, the US started the process only in February 2016 by accepting applications from US taxpayers.

Within a short span of eight months, the agreement has been reached, the ministry said.

“The speedy resolution of cases and agreement on bilateral APA due to effective mechanism of development of mutual trust and cooperation between the competent authorities of two countries would be a positive factor in creating a conducive atmosphere for investments and business by US companies in India,” it said. (IANS)

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US probe will not impact Indian drug firms: Fitch

Nov 11, 2016 0

Chennai– The probe by the US Department of Justice into the suspected price cartelization in the pharmaceutical industry will not have a major impact on the Indian drug firms, Fitch Ratings said on Friday.

In a statement Fitch Ratings said: “The ongoing probe by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) into suspected price collusion in the pharmaceutical industry is unlikely to have a significant impact on Indian pharma firms.”

Citing news reports, Fitch said while the probe is likely to include more generic drugs, the situation is still evolving amid the current political environment in the US.

“In any case, we expect the impact to be minimal for Indian pharma, given the already-high price-based competition across most categories over the past few years and the reasonably diversified generic portfolios of Indian pharma companies,” Fitch said.

The antitrust investigations which began about two years ago have attracted investor attention recently, with news of the likely expansion of the investigation into more generic drugs and the first charges being filed possibly by end-2016.

The probe has focused on a few high-priced complex generic drugs so far, which attracted prosecutors’ attention due to considerable price increases amid the ongoing policy focus on limiting healthcare costs in the US.

Indian pharma exports to the US are focused mainly on simple generics, competing with a substantial set of competitors offering similar post-patent products.

Indeed, the high level of direct competition along with channel consolidation has caused downward pressure on prices, leading to deflationary trends in many generic drugs.

“Overall, we expect the regulatory environment in the US to remain supportive for generics-focused pharma,” Fitch added.

This is in light of the underlying policy focus on containing healthcare costs and steps to enhance drug affordability such as faster Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) approvals under Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (GDUFA), which will increase the availability of economically priced generic alternatives, said Fitch.

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India-based Forus Health forays into US market with its affordable eye screening device

Nov 10, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Bengaluru-based medical devices company Forus Health Pvt. Ltd. has on Thursday taken its affordable eye screening device 3nethra classic to the US market, the company said in a statement.

3nethra is a technology innovation which helps in screening common eye problems which can lead to blindness. It is simple, portable, rugged and can be operated by a minimally trained technician.

“Preventable blindness is a global problem and this move has brought us a step closer to addressing it worldwide,” said K. Chandrashekhar, CEO, Forus Health.

“Our presence in a developed market like the US will strengthen our position and ability to reach more people across the globe,” Chandrashekhar added.

The company also made some high-level appointments to oversee the US operations — Cliff Wright as Executive Vice President-North America and Armond T. Dantino as Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for North American Operations, the statement said.

Forus Health officially launched the non-mydriatic camera into the US market at the recently concluded American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in Chicago.

Earlier this year, the Bengaluru-based startup also got the approval from FDA.

Started in 2010, Forus Health sold over 1,200 classic undus cameras in 26 countries around the globe.

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India Inc. seeks policy continuity under Trump

Nov 9, 2016 0

New Delhi–Besides congratulating Republican Donald Trump as US President-elect, India Inc. hopes key policies that have bought the two countries closer in recent years will continue under him, with better access to Indian skilled labour and merchandise.

“We hope challenges relating to mobility of skilled labor, market access for pharmaceutical products from India and for financial services institutions and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) will be addressed,” CII said in its reaction.

“It would also be important for critical dialogues such as the US-India Strategic and Commercial dialogue, CEO Forum, Trade Policy Forum, etc., to continue charting pathways to augment our partnership,” it said.

The chamber also sought to drive home the point that it was under a Republican President, George W. Bush, that the US-India civil nuclear agreement was activated in 2005. It brought the two countries into a geo-strategic and economic collaboration and partnership.

Sunil Kanoria

Sunil Kanoria

Assocham said apprehensions linked to Trump would certainly prove wrong and India Inc. looks forward to taking the bilateral economic engagement to a greater level under the new administration.

“We saw a different Trump who as President-elect of the US sounded so conciliatory and sober, promising a fair deal with the rest of the world,” Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) President Sunil Kanoria said in a statement.

“His words appeared so convincing that the financial markets which were nervous in the beginning recovered quite a ground rightly hoping that the Republican inmate of the White House has a great plan for America up his sleeve.”

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) reacted in a similar vein.

“The election of Donald Trump comes at a time when relations between India and the US are witnessing a paradigm shift marked by significant convergence on strategic perspectives and enhanced economic engagement,” the chamber said.

“Ficci is confident that under the presidency of Donald Trump we will do even better and touch higher trajectories of growth in our bilateral ties and economic cooperation.” (IANS)

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US-based computer hardware firm OWC enters India

Nov 8, 2016 0

New Delhi– US-based computer hardware company OWC on Tuesday announced that it will bring a range of upgrades and solutions for Apple Macintosh users to the Indian and southeast Asian markets.

OWC APAC Private Limited, a 100 per cent subsidiary of OWC, will work closely with Mac enthusiasts as well as Mac communities. The company plans to reach out to end users by using various platforms with OWC products and services, while maintaining strong channel ecosystems.

“India will be the hub for us for all southeast Asian markets and we see a great and sustainable business opportunity for us here in the long run,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, OWC, in a statement.

OWC will introduce its SSD lineup for MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Pro.

OWC “Envoy Pro” mini is uniquely designed with USB 3.0 connectivity.

Other products, which have Thunderbolt platform connectivity, USB-C Dock connectivity and Thunderbolt 2 RAID Storage products are already scheduled to be launched in India soon.

“The company would invest extensively in the India market in terms of setting up offices, mapping regional requirements and addressing local customer service,” said Ankoor B Sarkar, Executive Director, OWC APAC.

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