Foreign law firms will soon carry out arbitration in India

Bar Council of India has agreed to the proposal, says commerce secretaryRajeev Kher   | Photo Credit: V_Sudershan

The Centre will in a phased manner soon open up India’s non-litigious services and international arbitration legal services to foreign law firms. The proposal for the reform will be put up for approval in early July to a Committee of Secretaries after which it will be taken up by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The Bar Council of India, which regulates the legal fraternity, and the Society of Indian Law Firms, which represents the interests of large law firms, have, in principle, agreed to the proposal,” Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told presspersons on Monday.

The government was keen on announcing the liberalised policy in January during the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama. However, the move was postponed after resistance from the domestic legal services industry.

After two years, India and the European Union will resume negotiations in August on the proposed Free Trade Agreement. “Both sides have agreed that negotiators must meet … The EU chief negotiator will be available for negotiations sometime in August,” he said.

Mr. Kher said the time to move on the proposed agreement was right as exports and imports with the EU were shrinking. “Textiles and leather sectors are taking a beating [in the EU markets]. So by reducing tariffs, you can get greater market access,” he said. India’s textile exports to the EU are about $3 billion a year.

The India-EU trade talks were launched in June 2007, but the agreement has missed several deadlines as the EU is not satisfied with India’s offers in areas such as government purchases, liberalisation in multi-brand retail, labour and environment-related norms and market access for automobiles and wines and spirits.

Centre seeking solution to WTO subsidy cap issue

Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told reporters here on Monday that India is striving to ensure that a permanent solution to the issue of the Centre’s minimum support prices to farmers breaching the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) permissible caps for subsidies is found by December 31.

Mr. Kher said that though India had already bagged immunity against action by other countries in case of breaches of the WTO caps, India still wants a permanent solution as only that will bring predictability and symmetry.

India is striving to get the issue included in the work programme for the next Ministerial meeting of the WTO scheduled to be held in December in Nairobi.

Ending months-long deadlock, the WTO’s General Council, the highest decision-making body of the organisation, had accepted India’s demand for extending the peace clause till a permanent solution is found for its food stockpiling issue.

This has enabled India to continue to procure and stock foodgrain for distribution to the poor under its food security programme without attracting action from WTO members even if it breaches the 10 per cent subsidy cap as prescribed by the multilateral trade body.

However, for a permanent solution to the food security issue, India’s stand has been that the WTO update the reference price of 1986-88 that is used in the formula for calculating the food subsidy cap or exempt schemes from the purview of subsidy caps.

Mr. Kher also said that India wants all the pending issue of Doha Round on the table at the Nairobi Ministerial.

The Doha Round of negotiations launched in 2001 has remained stalled since July 2008 due to differences between the rich and the developing nations mainly over subsidies given to farmers.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 4:00:04 PM |

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