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Small farmers to benefit from WTO pact
New Delhi, August 3
Farmers of the developing countries appear to have earned a fresh lease of life under a globally administered multi-lateral trading apparatus with India successfully leading a charge to incorporate key points the revised framework agreement of the WTO.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath gestures while addressing mediapersons during a press conference regarding the WTO framework agreement in New Delhi Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath gestures while addressing mediapersons during a press conference regarding the WTO framework agreement in New Delhi on Tuesday.
— PTI photo

States can’t ban pan masala, rules SC
New Delhi, August 3
The Supreme Court in an important ruling has held that the state governments cannot impose a ban on the manufacture and sale of gutka and pan masala under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act even if the move of the states was well intended.









EARLIER STORIES

 
Toyota opens gearbox plant
I will persuade Left to accept FDI limit hike: FM
Bangalore, August 3
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said he is confident of persuading the Left parties to drop their opposition to the increase in foreign direct investment limits in sectors like insurance, telecom, and civil aviation and stressed the importance of investment over subsidies for lifting living standards.
Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram talks with Senior Managing Director Toyota Motor Corporation Akio Toyoda
Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram (L) talks with Senior Managing Director Toyota Motor Corporation Akio Toyoda during the inauguration of the Toyota Kirloskar Auto Parts (TKAP) plant in Bangalore on Tuesday. — Reuters photo

Reliance accused of predatory tariffs
New Delhi, August 3
Cellular operators have accused Reliance Infocomm of offering predatory prices in Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu, and sought telecom regulator Trai’s intervention immediately.

UPA-Left panel discusses FDI cap today
New Delhi, August 3
The contentious issue of the hike in FDI cap in the telecom, civil aviation and insurance sectors and the soaring oil price are expected to figure in the first meeting of the UPA-Left coordination panel here tomorrow.

Mittal, Sarin among 25 powerful tycoons in Europe
London, August 3
Two prominent Non-Resident Indians — Arun Sarin and Lakshmi Mittal — figure among the 25 most powerful persons in business in Europe, a leading business magazine has said.

Oil firms stop new LPG connections
New Delhi, August 3
State-run oil firms have stopped issuing new domestic cooking gas connections in view of the surge in steel prices, which increases the manufacturing cost of cylinders.

Man Industries bags Rs 502 cr order
Mumbai, August 3
Man Industries (India) Ltd, a manufacturer of saw pipes (line pipes) and coating systems for high pressure oil and gas applications, has bagged two large orders worth Rs 502 crore from abroad and locally.

Remove steel anti-dumping duty: traders
New Delhi, August 3
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Punjab) today sought removal of anti-dumping duty on import of steel to safeguard consumers’ interest.

Corporate News

Nirma registers 1 pc increase in profit
New Delhi, August 3
Nirma Ltd has reported a marginal 1.1 per cent increase in net profit to Rs 60.64 crore for the first quarter of the year 2004-05 as against Rs 59.98 crore recorded for the same period of the previous year.

  • Indal

  • Sundaram

  • KEC

GRAPHIC: INDIA'S MARINE EXPORTS

A model displays gold rings at the opening ceremony of the third Bahraini Gold Exhibition in Amman A model displays gold rings at the opening ceremony of the third Bahraini Gold Exhibition in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday. The exhibition is held annually in the country and attracts gold lovers from all over the kingdom. — Reuters

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Small farmers to benefit from WTO pact
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
Farmers of the developing countries appear to have earned a fresh lease of life under a globally administered multi-lateral trading apparatus with India successfully leading a charge to incorporate key points the revised framework agreement of the WTO.

For the first time, a mechanism for special products (SP) and a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) has been enshrined in the agreement. It addresses the three key areas of concern —food security, rural development and livelihood security.

The new revised framework agreement could therefore give more leverage to India and other developing countries in terms of providing domestic support to agriculture.

The SSM would enable the country to take appropriate safeguard measures in the eventuality of a rising supply of imported farm products in the domestic market.

The issues relating to domestic support to agriculture have been put by the WTO into three boxes — amber box, the green box and the blue box.

The amber box mandates that subsidies that distort trade must be reduced; the green box, on the other hand, envisages that subsidies causing minimal distortion to trade can continue while the blue box envisions that all subsidies linked to production must be reduced.

“Developing countries will have the flexibility to designate an appropriate number of product as special products and a special safeguard mechanism will be established for use by developing country members,” the revised framework agreement says.

This is a major departure from the past where the developed countries had maintained a standardised yardstick for agriculture across all countries even though there is a major structural disparity in the farm economies of both the worlds.

Developed countries have agreed to reduce domestic support to agriculture by 20 per cent in the first year as a down payment in the first year itself.

This is important as the huge subsidies given by the developed countries to their farmers were distorting prices.

The revised framework agreement has also accepted the principle of less-than-full reciprocity. This would allow developing countries to reduce tariffs by a lesser degree than the developed countries.

“This will allow us to meet the needs of import even though we ensure that imported farm products do not flood the Indian market”, Mr Nath said.

The phased reduction in domestic support (20 per cent in the first year) is also expected to reduce the price differentials of farm products. For Indian farmers with small landholdings this is an encouraging move.

A reduction in government-sponsored subsidies (including elimination of export subsidies by an end date) for farmers of developed countries would mean that they would not be able to keep the prices artificially low and would have to gradually match the prices prevailing in the developing countries.

With the price differentials between the developed and developing markets expected to gradually even out, the domestic farmers of India may be somewhat protected from being swamped by imported products.
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It’s a success: Kamal

India today said the WTO Framework Agreement reached at Geneva after tough negotiations has ensured that the country’s concerns over food security, livelihood security and rural development are more than adequately addressed.

Claiming significant gains in protecting India’s interest in agriculture, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said: “We have succeeded in making developed countries agree to eliminating all export subsidies which distorted prices globally.”

He said yet another major gain for developing countries was the developed nations agreeing to reduce domestic support by 20 per cent in the first year. — PTI
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BJP panel to study it

The Bharatiya Janata Party today announced it has set up a high-level committee comprising three former ministers to examine whether WTO Framework Agreement will help India and whether the UPA Government has made any compromises in agreeing to the pact signed in Geneva last weekend.

The committee will comprise former Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, former Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley and former Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie.

Earlier, Mr Jaitley said the Geneva agreement was “disturbing” while Mr Kamal Nath advised him to “carefully read the Framework Agreement.” — UNI
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States can’t ban pan masala, rules SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 3
The Supreme Court in an important ruling has held that the state governments cannot impose a ban on the manufacture and sale of gutka and pan masala under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFAA) even if the move of the states was well intended.

“The state Food (Health) Authority has no power to prohibit the manufacture for sale, storage or distribution of any article, whether used as an article or adjunct thereto or not used as food,” a Bench of Mr Justice K G Balakrishnan and Mr Justice B N Srikrishna held.

A notification issued by a state government under the PFAA to ban any food product or material used in it could not sustain even if well intended as “it is necessarily a legislative act and therefore there was no question of complying with the principle of natural justice in this regard,” the Court said.

It said the power of banning an article of food or an ingredient used in it on the ground that it was injurious to health, “belongs appropriately to the Central Government to be exercised in accordance with the rules made under section 23 of the Act, particularly sub-section (1A)(f).”

Quashing the notifications issued by Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to ban the manufacture and sale of gutka and pan masala, the court said: “If that were so, then every executive act could masquerade as a legislative act and escape the procedural mechanism of fair play and natural justice.”

But the court said if the government intended to ban any product considered injurious for health, it could be done through a Parliamentary legislation.
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UPA-Left panel discusses FDI cap today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The contentious issue of the hike in FDI cap in the telecom, civil aviation and insurance sectors and the soaring oil price are expected to figure in the first meeting of the UPA-Left coordination panel here tomorrow.

CPI leader A. B. Bardhan told reporters that some budgetary proposals, which the Left parties had been critical of, would come up for discussion at the meeting.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the Budget had proposed to raise the FDI limit in civil aviation to 49 per cent from 40 per cent, telecom to 74 per cent (from 49 per cent) and insurance to 49 per cent (from 26 per cent).

The Left parties would also take up the issue of interest rates to be given to three crore EPF subscribers. This comes in the wake of the Central Board of Trustees of the EPFO deferring thrice a decision on the contentious EPF rate.
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Toyota opens gearbox plant
I will persuade Left to accept FDI limit hike: FM
Sridhar K. Chari
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 3
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said he is confident of persuading the Left parties to drop their opposition to the increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) limits in sectors like insurance, telecom, and civil aviation and stressed the importance of investment over subsidies for lifting living standards.

The FDI policies are in line with the Common Minimum Programme of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and India was capable of absorbing two to three times the current levels of FDI, he told reporters here. “The Left parties have reservations, but I think I can convince them.”

Earlier, speaking after inaugurating an export-oriented transmission unit of Toyota Kirloskar Auto Parts in Bidadi, near here today, he said. “There are parts of India that are of the first world. There is another part of India, which lives in third world standards. We will bridge this, not by words but by deeds; not by subsidies but from investment; not by rhetoric but by technology. We will bridge this gap not by remaining in an island, but forging partnerships.”

The government expected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to be around 6.2 per cent and 7.4 per cent this fiscal year, he stated. “In the background of 8.2 per cent growth last year, growth in the region of 6.2 per cent and 7.4 per cent is perfectly acceptable,” he stated.

Industry grew by 7.5 per cent during the first quarter ended June, as against 5.3 percent during the corresponding period last year, in which “a broad manufacturing sub-group recorded growth of 10 per cent.” In fact, in this year’s first quarter, six core sectors of electricity, coal, steel, cement, crude oil and petrol recorded a 5.4 per cent growth as against 4.7 per cent during the corresponding period in the previous fiscal. Exports during this first quarter grew by 28 per cent, while imports jumped by 30 per cent and foreign exchange reserves stood at $ 120 billion.

The country was emerging as a major auto components exporter and India’s auto sector output last year was worth $ 6.7 billion with exports touching $ 1 billion and total investment crossing $ 3.1 billion.
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Reliance accused of predatory tariffs

New Delhi, August 3
Cellular operators have accused Reliance Infocomm of offering predatory prices in Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu, and sought telecom regulator Trai’s intervention immediately.

In a letter to Trai Chairman Pradip Baijal, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has said tariffs for pre-paid subscribers in Chennai and Tamil Nadu circles, for national and inter-circle calls, have been reduced to an extent, non-complying with Trai’s prescribed IUC regime.

Trai has already once dismissed COAI’s allegation against Reliance, saying, “Differential tariffs in the retail segment were permissible and the service provider must be able to meet the IUC expenses on weighted average basis.”

But, COAI has once again petitioned Trai, citing reasons that the authority had applied different yardsticks in the case of Reliance for dismissing the charges, sources told PTI.

“We are perplexed to note that the authority has applied different yardsticks for different service providers on the issue of weighted average IUC charges,” the COAI letter said. — PTI
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Mittal, Sarin among 25 powerful tycoons in Europe

London, August 3
Two prominent Non-Resident Indians — Arun Sarin and Lakshmi Mittal — figure among the 25 most powerful persons in business in Europe, a leading business magazine has said.

Mr Arun Sarin (49), Chief Executive Officer of Britain’s Vodafone, the world’s largest wireless company, is named as the seventh while steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, chief of LNM, is listed 15th among Europe’s Power25 — the most powerful people in business, according to the latest issue of Forbes.

Vodafone last year generated $ 15 billion in free cash flow, although it recorded a net loss for the year of $15.3 billion, on revenue of $56.8 billion, the magazine said.

“The CEO for just a year, Mr Sarin, spent the first part of his career in Silicon Valley at Airtouch, InfoSpace, and former Baby Bell Pacific Telesis Group. He is a part of the Indian diaspora that is rising to lead banks and tech companies in Europe and the US. But Mr Sarin has the major challenge of bringing life to long-awaited 3G broadband service for mobile phones,” the magazine said.

Mr Lakshmi Mittal (54), truly global steel producer, commands a $ 12 billion steel empire that stretches from a former state-owned steel mill in Kazakhstan through Europe and Africa to operations in the US, Forbes said.

“LNM is now the world’s second-largest steel manufacturer after Arcelor of Luxembourg, and Mr Mittal is still hunting for more acquisitions. His indispensable work tool — a private jet that clocks 3,50,000 miles each year,” it said. — PTI
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Oil firms stop new LPG connections

New Delhi, August 3
State-run oil firms have stopped issuing new domestic cooking gas (LPG) connections in view of the surge in steel prices, which increases the manufacturing cost of cylinders.

“The steel cost has gone up by from Rs 17,000 per tonne to Rs 28,000 per tonne whereas the security deposit per connection has been static at Rs 650 per cylinder. We cannot sustain operations like this,” a senior official of Indian Oil Corp, the country’s largest retailer, said.

The official, however, clarified that the stop order was only temporary. — PTI
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Man Industries bags Rs 502 cr order

Mumbai, August 3
Man Industries (India) Ltd, a manufacturer of saw pipes (line pipes) and coating systems for high pressure oil and gas applications, has bagged two large orders worth Rs 502 crore from abroad and locally.

Ramesh C. Mansukhani, Chairman, Man Industries, told reporters here today that out of Rs 500 crore, the major order has come from Iran.

It has received a Rs 65 crore order from the NTPC and a Rs 65 crore order from Indian Oil Corporation. The total length of the pipeline is 500 km. The order would be executed this fiscal. — UNI
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Remove steel anti-dumping duty: traders

New Delhi, August 3
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Punjab) today sought removal of anti-dumping duty on import of steel to safeguard consumers’ interest.

“Import from China would attract 30 per cent anti-dumping duty while the normal import duty on steel alloy stands at 15 per cent, taking the total impact to 45 per cent,” the chamber said in a release here.

In the case of steel imports from Russia, alloy attracts 35 per cent duty and non-alloy 30 per cent. The existing provision of anti-dumping duty has made it impossible to import steel from two main traditional sources China and Russia. — PTI
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Corporate News

Nirma registers 1 pc increase in profit

New Delhi, August 3
Nirma Ltd has reported a marginal 1.1 per cent increase in net profit to Rs 60.64 crore for the first quarter of the year 2004-05 as against Rs 59.98 crore recorded for the same period of the previous year.

The net sales for the April-June quarter rose 10.97 per cent to Rs 634.83 crore from Rs 572.03 crore in the same quarter of the previous year, a company release said. Depreciation charge for the first quarter of this fiscal rose to Rs 42.59 crore from Rs 31.12 crore.

Earnings per share are Rs 7.63 as against Rs 7.56 of the previous period.

Interest cost increased to Rs 8.99 crore from Rs 7.94 crore.

Nirma has decided to set up a cement-manufacturing unit with 1.2 million tonne per annum (TPA) capacity at an estimated cost of Rs 400 crore.

It also plans to set up coke manufacturing unit having capacity of 1.5 lakh TPA and a 30 MW captive power plant at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore.

Indal

Indal, an Aditya Birla group company, today announced an over 60 per cent rise in net profit to Rs 40.80 crore in the first quarter of the current fiscal coupled with a handsome 36 per cent rise in its export.

The total sales of the aluminium major also rose by 8 per cent to Rs 410.62 crore in the Q1 as compared to Rs 380.90 crore in during the same period last fiscal when the net was Rs 25.50 crore.

The company said its performance in the first quarter of the year was the best ever in terms of sales and profits which has been driven by fundamental improvements across all operating parameters.

Sundaram

Sundaram Fasteners Limited (SFL) has recorded total sales of Rs 231.39 crore, for the first quarter ending June 2004.

As the financial results for the Q1 included the results of TVS Autolec Limited, which was amalgamated with the company, the results could not be compared with previous year, a company release here said.

Export sales for the period was Rs 59.64 crore during this period, it said, adding that the operating margins were under strain due to continuous pressure on domestic selling prices, the steep hike in the cost of inputs.

The net profit after tax for the period was Rs 11.57 crore, the release added.

KEC

KEC International Ltd has reported a net profit of Rs 10.12 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2004, as against a loss of Rs 2.57 crore in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

Net sales during the reporting quarter rose to Rs 243.85 crore as compared to Rs 127.56 crore in the same quarter of 2003-04, the company said in a release today.

The company has an order book position of over Rs 2,300 crore and is engaged in executing orders in various countries. — Agencies
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