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US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky (left) toasts with China's Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng (right) after a signing ceremony in Beijing on Monday.
US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky (left) toasts with China's Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng (right) after a signing ceremony in Beijing on Monday. — AP/PTI
China, USA sign landmark WTO deal
BEIJING, Nov 15 — After 13 years of protracted negotiations, China and the USA signed a landmark agreement today paving the way for Beijing’s entry to the World Trade Organisation within this year. The agreement was inked here by Chinese Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky.
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‘Traditional drugs can’t be patented’
MUMBAI, Nov 15 — Patent laws are prospective and what is in public domain such as traditional Indian medicines cannot be patented, according to a top patent counsel with New York-based pharma major Pfizer Inc.

Conference on space applications begins
NEW DELHI, Nov 15 — The second ministerial conference on space applications for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific began here today with a call for greater regional cooperation and pooling of limited resources for drawing up a mutually beneficial space technology application programme.
Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Mr Murasoli Maran, inaugurating second ministerial conference on space application for development in New Delhi on Monday.
Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Mr Murasoli Maran, inaugurating the second ministerial conference on space application for development in New Delhi on Monday. — photo by Vijender Tyagi

India’s 7 pc growth rate may be highest
NEW DELHI, Nov 15 — India is likely to achieve the highest rate of GDP growth of 7 per cent in the world by 2000 followed by South East Asia 6.5 per cent, China 6 per cent as against the world growth rate of 3.5 per cent.

Ludhiana traders hold rally
LUDHIANA, Nov 15 — On a call given by the Industry and Trade Forum, the Punjab and Ludhiana Small-Scale Manufacturers Association, many traders and industrialists converged at the Vishwakarma Chowk, here today and held a rally against the “black laws” enacted through the latest amendment to the Sales Tax Act (1999).

Universal Music hikes stake in PolyGram
NEW DELHI, Nov 15 — Universal Music has increased its shareholding in its Mumbai-based subsidiary, PolyGram India, to 100 per cent having acquired from the Patel family their 49 per cent stake in the joint venture.

Bank scrips need fillip, says RBI Bank installs
ATM
Exim bank to open
credit line
 

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China, USA sign landmark WTO deal

BEIJING, Nov 15 (PTI) — After 13 years of protracted negotiations, China and the USA signed a landmark agreement today paving the way for Beijing’s entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) within this year.

The agreement which provides for a level-playing field to western firms in the world’s biggest consumer market, was inked here by Chinese Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky.

According to diplomats, China still has some way to go before gaining entry to the WTO, despite the deal it has reached with the USA.

“It would take a miracle for them to be in this year, let alone in time for Seattle,’’ said one envoy close to the talks, referring to a WTO ministerial meeting in the U.S. city from November 30 to December 3.

With today’s U.S.-China agreement, diplomats said, a major hurdle had been removed to bringing Beijing into the now 135-member body in the next few months.

But they pointed out that although Japan had also said it had completed negotiations, the European Union and Canada still had to wrap up an accord with China settling all concerns they have on letting it in under the WTO umbrella.

Additionally, many major developing countries who would also have to agree are nervous about having to open up their markets to Chinese goods, as well as the effect China’s accession might have on their own exports to industrialised economies.

A further delay would certainly come in completion of the WTO entry procedures which demand that China produce a detailed listing of all tariffs and conditions it would apply to a vast range of goods and services, the sources said.

The European Union said it shared many U.S. concerns on China’s entry to the WTO but needed more talks with China on issues of particular European interest.

“We are currently in contact with the U.S. side to verify what exactly the results of the negotiation were,’’ European Commission spokesman Anthony Gooch said after the US China deal.

The USA said China had agreed to reduce its average import duties to 17 per cent from 22.1 per cent under an agreement signed on Beijing’s accession to the WTO.

To complete its 13-year quest to join the WTO, which sets global trading rules, China must also reach market-opening agreements with the European Union, Canada and other members.

“About 80 per cent of the deal to be concluded with China for its accession is common to the EU and to the USA, but we would have to verify how much was achieved by the USA,’’ Mr Gooch said.

“This agreement is a major step forward in bringing China into the WTO and a profoundly important step in the relationship between the USA and China,” Clinton said on an official visit in Ankara.

“I am pleased to say that the USA and the People’s Republic of China have now successfully concluded a strong accession agreement for China to enter the WTO” Clinton told US Embassy employees at the Ankara Hilton.Top


 

‘Traditional drugs can’t be patented’

MUMBAI, Nov 15 PTI) — Patent laws are prospective and what is in public domain such as traditional Indian medicines cannot be patented, according to a top patent counsel with New York-based pharma major Pfizer Inc.

J Trevor Lumb, Assistant General Patent Counsel with Pfizer Inc, told the Indo-US Joint Business Council meeting here today that India can attract multinational investment and foster growth of its domestic industry “only if it has a strong intellectual property rights (IPRs) regime in place.”

However, he sought to allay fears about traditional Indian medicines being patented by multinational companies (MNCs) by stating that since the patents law were prospective, they did not attract applications for patents from foreign companies.

“The key factor which weighs heavily with MNCs before they take a decision to invest in another country is protection of patents,” Lumb said at an investment summit organised by the Council.

In the absence of product patents, MNCs are chary about introducing the latest drugs in the Indian market as their inventions could get easily replicated, he observed.

Pointing to the meteoric growth of the software industry due to the upgradation of copyright laws in the country, he called for similar initiatives in regard to patents so that it could nurture and harness the pool of scientific talent.

Lumb sought to dispel fears that patents would make drugs expensive by saying that prices of existing medicines would not be affected and that only new medicines might become costly due to the 20-year patent protection afforded under TRIPs.

Workshop on IPRs

NEW DELHI: Asian and African nations should forge alliances to protect traditional intellectual wealth and biological diversity in the globalised world, Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Panja said on Monday.

Multinational firms were exploiting intellectual wealth and biodiversity from the two continents to claim property rights for development and inventions, Panja said at a two-day workshop on intellectual property rights (IPRs) here.

This was clearly piracy which had to be fought jointly by countries from Asia and Africa, Panja told a workshop for Asian and African countries organised by the government of India and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Developing countries with limited resources found it difficult to pursue IPRs piracy cases in courts and with patent authorities in western countries, he added.

India with sustained efforts was able to successfully stall efforts by multinational companies to claim patent for Basmati rice and turmeric in the USA, Panja said.

Stressing the need to revamp legal infrastructure for IPR and documentation of homegrown knowledge, Panja said it would help provide legal protection for the country’s intellectual wealth and recognise domestic efforts to improve upon traditional IPs.Top




 

India’s 7 pc growth rate may be highest

NEW DELHI, Nov 15 (UNI) — India is likely to achieve the highest rate of GDP growth of 7 per cent in the world by 2000 followed by South East Asia 6.5 per cent, China 6 per cent as against the world growth rate of 3.5 per cent.

The Assocham projections on growth for 2000-01 indicate that while the economic recovery in East and South East Asia can have a positive spin-off for India, the expected slowing down of the US economy can hurt India’s export trade.

The Assocham note states that the Asian economic crisis initiated a phase in which global economic growth had slowed during the period 1997-99. However, current projections suggest that in 1999-2000 there is a recovery of economic growth.

World GDP growth, which had declined from 4.5 per cent in 1997 to 2.5 per cent in 1998 and possibly 2.3 per cent in 1999, is forecast to improve to about 3.5 per cent in 2000. The growth prospects for world trade are also positive. Top



 

Conference on space applications begins
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 15 — The second ministerial conference on space applications for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific began here today with a call for greater regional cooperation and pooling of limited resources for drawing up a mutually beneficial space technology application programme.

“The main challenge in the coming years is to have an equitable access to space technology development and applications to ensure mutual benefit sharing between the countries in the region”, the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr Murasoli Maran, said while inaugurating the three-day preparatory meeting of senior officials preceding the ministerial meeting.

The primary objective of the conference is to provide a forum for policy planners to exchange perspectives and information and prepare a blueprint for regional cooperation for space application.

The conference is being held under the aegis of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Indian Department of Space.

Inaugurating a science symposium held with the conference, Union Minister for Science and Technology M.M. Joshi called for developing appropriate systems to assist management of natural disasters which were a recurring phenomenon in the region.Top


 

Ludhiana traders hold rally
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 15 — On a call given by the Industry and Trade Forum, the Punjab and Ludhiana Small-Scale Manufacturers Association, many traders and industrialists converged at the Vishwakarma Chowk, here today and held a rally against the “black laws” enacted through the latest amendment to the Sales Tax Act (1999).

The rally was addressed by Mr Harish Khanna, President of Industry and Trade Forum, Punjab, in which representatives of about 24 trade and industrial associations participated.

Prominent among those present were Jagdish Rai Monga. B.S. Chana, Narinder Setia, Ajit Singh Chhabra, Roop Lal Narang. Munshi Ram Malhotra, Kewal Krishan Gupta, Rajinder Datta, Surinder Singh Sidhora, S.P. Singh Shahpuri, Raj Kumar Lekhi, Amarjit Singh Kumar, Ramesh Bhalla and Anoop Saggar. Top



 

Bank scrips need fillip, says RBI

MUMBAI, Nov 15 — The RBI has for the first time included stock market behaviour of bank scrips in its annual review of the banking sector concluding that bank stocks needed a fillip in view of their need to raise capital from the primary market.

“The secondary market has to provide more varying investors’ perception, liquidity and depth for the traded (bank) scrips,” RBI said in its review report for 1998-99.

During ,1998-99, bank scrips listed on stock exchanges showed a significant decline in their prices, affecting market capitalisation and market turnover of the scrips.

On March 31, 1999, shares of eight public sector banks (PSBs) and that of 17 private sector banks were listed on the NSE. RBI has restricted its analysis to movements on the NSE.

PSB scrips which declined significantly included those of Bank of Baroda (54.5 pc), State Bank of Travancore (54.4 pc), Bank of India (52.4 pc) and SBI (23.6 pc).

Private sector bank stocks whose market performance was affected included Bank of Rajasthan, Federal Bank and HDFC Bank, the report said.

The battering the scrips got in the secondary market was attributed to their poor performance in general and the concern of the market over their non-performing assets.

Shares of some private banks such as IndusInd Bank were traded at a marked discount to its issue price. The market cap of all trade bank scrips on the NSE was Rs 19,561 crore in 1998-99 compared to Rs 28,332 crore in 1997-98. Top


 

Universal Music hikes stake in PolyGram
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 15 — Universal Music has increased its shareholding in its Mumbai-based subsidiary, PolyGram India, to 100 per cent having acquired from the Patel family their 49 per cent stake in the joint venture.

As part of its long-term commitment to Indian artistes and the Indian record industry, Universal has recently secured the FIPB approval to invest $ 10 million in India.

PolyGram India has also been renamed Universal Music India following the recent name change clearance from the Indian authorities and as a result of the merger of Universal and PolyGram.

Vijay Lazarus continues to be the President and MD of Universal Music India.Top



 

Bank installs ATM
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Nov 15 — Bank of Punjab today installed an ATM at its Nawanshahr branch which has shifted to a more spacious premises on the Banga road. The ATM will provide a facility of 24 hours cash withdrawal and deposit to not only account holders of this branch but to all ATM card holders of the bank.

The bank will shortly introduce Maestro Debit Cards along with Cirrus ATM Cards for which the bank has tied up with Master Card International, according to a bank release here.Top


 

Exim bank to open credit line

NEW DELHI, Nov 15 (PTI) — The Government today announced a slew of measures, including the opening of a $ 10 million credit line by the Exim bank and signing of an agreement on quarantine and plant protection with Romania to boost bilateral trade.

Commerce and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran said the opening of the credit line and signing of MoU by Romanian Exim bank with its Indian counterpart would create the necessary environment for enhanced bilateral cooperation.

Addressing the 14th session of India-Romania joint commission here, Maran said both countries were also in the advanced stages of concluding an agreement on maritime transport.Top


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CMs’ meet
NEW DELHI, Nov 15 (TNS) — Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha will inaugurate a conference of Chief Ministers and Finance Ministers of all States and Union Territories here tomorrow. The meeting will discuss, among others, rationalisation of central sales tax and state sales tax, finalisation of modalities and time-frame for the introduction of value added tax (VAT) by state governments, implementation of uniform floor rates of sales tax by States and UTs.

Home PCs
NEW DELHI, Nov 15 (TNS) — Helwett-Packard India today announced introduction of a new range of pavilion home PCs and expansion of retail outlets. HP India aims to increase sales of its home PCs by more than 200 per cent. The company will open 60 new retail outlets in increase the number to 120 in 40 cities, said Mr Ravi Aggarwal, Vice-President.

SBI plan
CHANDIGARH, Nov 15 (TNS) — SBI today launched the Customer Service Improvement Plan at its ADB and Mandi area, Hoshiarpur branches with a view to compete with private and foreign banks.

Pentafour Soft
CHENNAI, Nov 15 (PTI) — Pentafour Software today declared an interim dividend of 16 per cent for the current financial year. The dividend will be payable on the enhanced share capital of Rs 39.94 crore subsequent to the 1:1 bonus issue, a company release said here adding that for the bonus shares, it would be on a pro-rata basis. The record date for the dividend was January 1, 2000.Top



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