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July 1st, 2009

Sharma, Mandelson agree on need to resume WTO talks

Anand Sharma with Lord Peter Mandelson in London

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Mr. Anand Sharma and his British counterpart Lord Peter Mandelson have agreed on the need for early resumption of stalled global trade talks.

Mr. Sharma, who spent a day in London on June 22, met Lord Mandelson for their first meeting since taking over his new portfolio.

The two ministers had "very constructive talks" and agreed on the need to resume the Doha Development Round of talks based at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva.

"With all the work already done on Doha, they talked about the need to finish the job," the sources said. "The idea is that what is on the table should be taken up and taken forward. The job should be completed," they added.

Sharma has signalled India's readiness to return to the negotiating table after talks collapsed last year as the U.S. refused to lower its huge farm subsidies and India stuck to proposals designed to safeguard the livelihoods of its poorest farmers.

India, which has led the large number of developing countries at the WTO, highlighted what are called Special Safeguard Mechanisms (SSMs) and Special Products (SPs) that it says can protect farmers from trade liberalisation.

SSMs are designed to protect farmers in developing countries from sudden and unforeseen rises in imports of agricultural commodities.

SPs are lists of agricultural products that are seen as important for food security and rural development, and every country is allowed to draw up individual lists of such products on which they can maintain high tariffs.

Mr. Sharma, during visits to Washington and London, said negotiators should start with the two draft document that are on the table - one on agriculture and the other on manufacturing.

Lord Mandelson, who was the European Trade Commissioner when the WTO talks collapsed last year, said in June that he hoped the election of the new governments in India and the U.S. would help break the logjam in trade talks. "I would hope that stronger Indian position would and could be matched by a comparably stronger position and approach taken up by the United States," Lord Mandelson said.

The two leaders met again in Paris on June 25 at a ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which addressed key policy responses to restore financial stability and long-term growth in the backdrop of the current financial and economic crisis.

India is not a member of the OECD but has been invited to the meeting along with key non-members Brazil, Chile, China, Estonia, Indonesia, Israel, Russia, Slovenia and South Africa.

Isle of Man hosts first ever zero-emissions race

TT Team Agni Motors and HC Mr Shiv Shankar

Electric motorbikes are replacing fossil fuel driven two-wheelers and are showing off green technology at speeds of up to 70 mph. At the recent Isle of Man's famous TT circuit held on June 12, fifteen all-electric motorbikes from six countries fought it out in the world's first ever zero-emissions race. The teams from India, Britain, the United States, Germany, Austria and the Isle of Man - a combination of commercial and universitybased teams - tested the bikes that they designed and built to showcase the future of green motorbike technology.

The bikes, all battery-powered, completed a tough 37.73 mile Isle of Man mountain circuit in what was dubbed the TTX Grand Prix (TTXGP). In the Best Buy Pro Class, the India/U.K.- based team, Agni, with rider Rob Barber came in first.

In the Open Class, the second and third places were secured by the U.S.- based 'Barefoot Motors' with rider Chris Petty, and 'Team Tork' from India with rider John Crellin, respectively. Tork, from Pune University, was the first university team to cross the finish line competing against five other universities from around the world.

In attendance was High Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee who paid an informal visit to the island to meet the Indian teams taking part in the TTXGP. Chief Minister Tony Brown, MHK, welcomed Mr. Mukherjee to join the celebrations at the world's first zero-carbon motorcycle race.

Mr. Mukherjee toured the TT paddock and grandstand area with the Chief Minister Brown to speak to representatives from Team Agni and Team Tork.

TTXGP organiser Azhar Hussain, Tourism Minister Martyn Quayle, MHK, and Environment Minister John Shimmin were also in attendance to outline the collective vision for the future of clean emissions motorsport.


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India Business Forum launched in UK

Countries have to work together to face financial problems. Priorities have to be fixed. All major economies without exception are shrinking and the WTO projection show a clear 11 percent fall in global trade. It is time to take initiatives to create confidence," said Mr. Anand Sharma, India's Minister of Commerce & Industry. He was speaking at a conference on 'Managing Global Crisis' organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in London on June 23.

Talking about the repercussions of the global financial downturn, Mr. Sharma said that the world had witnessed crazy market borrowings and lending, leading to a situation of "socialisation of losses" where even those who had not even the remotest connections to the financial situation had to pay a price.

Speaking about India's relative cushioning from the severity of the crisis, Mr. Sharma said that this had been possible because of more conservative rules followed by the Reserve bank of India and the Security & Exchange Board of India.


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