The HINDU Notes – 29th June 2019 - VISION

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 29th June 2019

President Trump promises a ‘very big trade deal with India’
  •  Discusses terrorism, Gulf crisis with Modi on the sidelines of G-20 summit

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday held “very open and productive” talks on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on a host of issues ranging from trade disputes to the crisis in the Gulf. The two leaders also pledged to provide a “strong leadership” to the world to address pressing global challenges like terrorism.

  • Mr. Modi thanked President Trump for expressing his “love towards India” in a letter delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Delhi earlier this week.

  • The Prime Minister said India stands committed to further deepening economic and cultural relations with the U.S.

  • “The talks with @POTUS were wide ranging. We discussed ways to leverage the power of technology, improve defence and security ties as well as issues relating to trade,” he tweeted after the meeting.
  • Briefing reporters, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the meeting was “very open and productive.”

  • “The two leaders had a very warm discussion. President Trump congratulated the Prime Minister on his victory and Prime Minister, in particular, noted that Trump had sent a very warm letter to him through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” he said. Mr. Trump hinted before the talks that trade prospects were improving between the two countries.

  • “I think we were going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal,” Mr. Trump said at the beginning of the bilateral talks.

  • “I think we were going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal,” Mr. Trump said at the beginning of the bilateral talks.

  • A White House official said the two leaders had called on their teams to work on mutually beneficial trade solutions.

  • In a readout of the Trump-Modi meeting, the White House said the two leaders met to exchange perspectives on progress in the strategic partnership and develop new ideas to bring it to the next level.

  • The leaders acknowledged the breadth and depth of bilateral ties, including economic, trade, energy, defence and security, counterterrorism and space, it said.

  • “They reiterated their commitment to provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come.”

  • On Iran, the Foreign Secretary said Mr. Modi outlined India’s energy concerns as well as worries over threats to peace and stability in the region. He pointed out that although Iran supplies 11% of India’s energy, it has reduced oil imports from the sanctions-hit Gulf country.

  • “We have been able to sustain this position and we also had our diaspora in the region, we have energy requirements in the region, we have economic interest in the region, therefore, it is in India’s fundamental interest to maintain peace and stability in the region,” the Prime Minister was quoted as telling President Trump.

  • Mr. Modi also recalled that India has deployed some of its Navy ships in the region to protect the Indian-flagged vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz where oil tankers came under attack in the recent past.

  • “This was appreciated very much by President Trump and they had a brief discussion and the President expressed his hope that the oil prices will remain stable. He (Trump) talked about what the U.S. was doing to ensure that stability is maintained in the Gulf that oil prices were stable,” Mr. Gokhale said.

  • On the issue of 5G technology, Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump discussed the technical and business opportunities that this new area provides for cooperation between India and the US.
India got $1.81 bn FDI from China in five years
  • India has received $1.81 billion (about Rs. 12,474 crore) foreign direct investment from China between April 2014 and March 2019, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
  • The sectors which received maximum inflows include automobile ($876.73 million), electrical equipment ($152.5 million) and services ($127 million).
  • He also said the trade deficit declined to $53.57 billion in 2018-19 from $63 billion in 2017-18 with China. India received FDI worth $13.62 billion during the period from the U.S.

‘Move on electric vehicles is well-thought-out’
  • NITI Aayog official refutes charge that plan is ‘unrealistic’
  • Countering the industry’s claims that the NITI Aayog’s proposal for transition to electric vehicles (EVs) was “unrealistic” and “ill-timed”, the think-tank’s Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said it was a well-thought-out policy to capitalise on the “sunrise industry” and that two-wheeler makers should work with the NITI Aayog rather than paint an incorrect picture.
  • “We are trying to create a policy that will attract resources and investment. How does one attract investment without declaring a policy? Work with us rather than trying to paint us wrong and saying that the policy has not been thought through,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu . The NITI Aayog has proposed that only electric three-wheelers be sold in the country post March 31, 2023. Additionally, all new two-wheelers below 150cc sold after March 31, 2025, should be electric, it said.
  • Industry opposes
  • The industry has strongly opposed the recommendation, terming it impractical and cautioning that such a move would disrupt the automotive sector, which is already reeling under stress.
  • Reacting to the industry’s allegation that there had been no consultations, Mr. Kumar said this was completely wrong.
  • “We started this consultative process very actively in preparation of our mobility conference held last October. I have myself met so many industry people.”
  • Additionally, he pointed out, the figure of Rs. 70,000 crore-Rs. 80,000 crore cited by the industry as investment to move to BS-VI was primarily by the four-wheeler industry.
  • “At this point of time, we want to achieve policy clarity. Rather than going that route [BS VI], they can switch to this route [electric]. And if investments have been made, then they have five years to fully utilise these investments... Plus they can continue to export ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles,” he said.
  • About 90% of the two-wheelers now sold in the country are 150cc or below.
  • Massive imports likely
  • “This is a sunrise industry…If we don’t have a policy, no targets… then we are simply muddling through. As a result, there will be no domestic capacity and we will see massive imports as in the case of the electronics sector,” Mr. Kumar said.
  • In a recent meeting between the Aayog and the industry, “Everyone agreed that the transition to electric is in the national interest. Some players said 2025 was too short a time-frame, but when we asked them to give a time-frame, they said they can’t give one and the market should decide. If you are the dominant player and will continue producing ICE vehicles, how will the market decide,” Mr. Kumar said.
  • The Aayog’s Vice-Chairman added that when the industry was asked to give a road map, they said they would take four months to do so. “We said two weeks. We are not insisting on that. But we need a firm response. Even after recognising that the move is in the national interest, why is the industry not working with the government and instead trying to kill the policy?”

  • “We are willing to engage with the industry but not at the cost of national interest,” he stressed.

  • In the meeting last week, one of the major two-wheeler makers pointed out that we need to have proof of concept, but in the same meeting there were start-ups which pointed out that electric vehicles were already on the roads and there was sufficient proof of concept.

  • Asked if the Aayog may look at city-wise implementation, Mr. Kumar replied in the affirmative. “Yes, we are open to considering that but no one suggested it thus far. We have requested for a time-bound plan from the industry and we are waiting for it.”

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