Millennium Post

India to file 16 cases against US for WTO treaty breach

India will file 16 cases against the US for violating WTO treaties as certain programmes of the western country in the renewable energy sector are "inconsistent" with global norms, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.

"Yes," said Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha that "whether it is a fact that the government is going to file 16 cases against the US for violating WTO treaties". India, the minister said, believes that certain renewable energy programmes of the US at the sub-federal level are inconsistent with WTO provisions, particularly with respect to the obligation under GATT (General Agreement on Tariff and Trade) 1994, Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and/or TRIMS (Trade-Related Investment Measures) Agreement. In a separate reply, she said India has appealed before the WTO appellate body on the findings and recommendations of the dispute settlement panel.

To promote domestic manufacturing of solar cells and modules, which is one of the components of the National Solar Mission, India set domestic content requirement for a few of the programmes under the mission. In a separate reply, the minister said India continues to be placed on the priority watch list under the US Special 301 on account of US assessment of Indian intellectual property rights (IPR) protection being inadequate. "The Special 301 report issued by the US under their Trade Act of 1974 is a unilateral measure to create pressure on countries to enhance IPR protection beyond the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement," she added.

She made a point that the report which is an "extra territorial application" of the domestic law of a country is inconsistent with established norms of WTO. Last month, releasing its annual 301 Report, the US has said it will continue to put India and China on its priority watch list for IPR. 

Meanwhile, Parliament was informed that India is awaiting confirmation from the European Union (EU) to resume the negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement.

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a written reply to Rajya Sabha said India is willing to proceed with negotiations under India-EU Broad based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). "India is awaiting confirmation from the EU side to proceed with the negotiations," she said. The talks were started in June 2007 and so far 16 rounds of negotiations have been held.

"Due to some outstanding issue, EU withdrew from the negotiations in 2013," she said adding, two rounds of stocktaking meetings took place in January and February. India wants data security status, relaxations in movement of professionals, real market access in terms of sanitary and phytosanitary (norms related with plants and animals); and technical barriers to trade measures adopted in EU. The negotiations were expected in August, but they were deferred by India, expressing disappointment and concern over the EU banning sale of around 700 pharma products, clinically tested by GVK Biosciences. The negotiations for the proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement have witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on crucial issues.

Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, EU wants tax reduction in wines and spirits and dairy products and a strong intellectual property regime. pti

We've raised UK's tighter skilled worker norms at top level: Govt

 India has been consistently taking up the issue of tightening norms for skilled foreign workers with the UK at the highest level as it is seen to adversely impact Indian IT companies, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. The UK has been urged not to accept recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in the interest of the bilateral trade in services between India and Britain and its "adverse impact" not only on Indian IT companies but on the UK's own economy and competitiveness, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. 

She said the recommendations of MAC seem to be contrary to the spirit of the joint commitment made during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister last year. The UK has informed that the changes are not targeted at any particular country, she said. As per Nasscom's estimates, the Indian software industry is likely to incur an additional expenditure to the tune of 250 million pound, the minister said. "... This would impact their competitiveness in the market. This would also make many services expensive to consumers in the UK as well," she added.
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