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Swaraj pushes India-GCC Free Trade Agreement

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New York: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) whose nations she said were “an extended part of our neighbourhood”, in a move to further cement ties with the Arab world.

At the meeting here on Wednesday, Swaraj called for the early finalisation of the India-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Agreement and making the India-GCC Framework Agreement operational.

Foreign ministers of Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Oman along with GCC Secretary General Rashid Al Zayani attended the 9th ministerial-level meeting.

Briefing reporters, External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup said that Swaraj invited the GCC nations to participate in the ‘Make in India’ campaign, in particular the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridors.

She also called for turning the buyer-seller relationship in the energy sector into a “mutually beneficial investment partnership” that involves both upstream and downstream operations.

Security issues and the threat posed by terrorism also figured in the discussions. She urged them to work for an early conclusion of the Comprehensive International Convention on Terrorism.

The GCC is India’s largest trading partner with $137.7 billion trade in 2014-15, up from 5.5 billion in 2001. More than 50 percent of India’s oil and gas come from the GCC countries that host 7 million Indian nationals.

 

(With inputs from IANS)

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Trump Set To Meet With Automakers

Trump to Meet with Carmakers on Trade, Pollution

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One of the main reasons explaining Trump's unpopularity was reviews in mass media, according to the head of communications of White House.
One of the main reasons explaining Trump's unpopularity was reviews in mass media, according to the head of communications of White House. VOA

President Trump plans to meet next week with leaders from U.S. and foreign carmakers on trade and changes to emission standards.

“When the White House wants to meet with us about our sector and policy, we welcome the opportunity,” Alliance of American Automobile Manufacturers spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist said Wednesday.

The time and agenda of the talks are still to be announced. But the car builders want to make their concerns about possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement known to the president.

FILE - Employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., work on the assembly of a Passat sedans, July 12, 2013.
FILE – Employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., work on the assembly of a Passat sedans, July 12, 2013. VOA

They are also expected to talk about Trump administration plans to revise strict Obama-era emission standards for U.S. cars and light trucks.

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., are suing the administration over the plans, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of breaking the law.

“This is about health. This is about life and death,” California Governor Jerry Brown said Tuesday. “Pollutants coming out of tailpipes does permanent damage to children. The only way we’re going to overcome this is by reducing emissions.”

Brown accused Trump of wanting people to buy more gasoline and create more pollution.

The lawsuit argues the EPA acted arbitrarily and violated the Clean Air Act when it decided emission standards were too high.

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses a lawsuit filed by 17 states and the District of Columbia over the Trump administration's plans to scrap vehicle emission standards during a news conference, May 1, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif.
Gov. Jerry Brown discusses a lawsuit filed by 17 states and the District of Columbia over the Trump administration’s plans to scrap vehicle emission standards during a news conference, May 1, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. VOA

In 2012, former president Barack Obama ordered emission standards to be raised to about 21 kilometers per liter of gasoline by 2025. The goal was to cut pollution and make cars and small trucks more energy efficient.

The EPA is seeking to freeze fuel efficiency requirements at 2020 levels until 2026.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt said last month that Obama’s decision was politically based and the emission standards Obama set were too high and did not “comport with reality.”

Also Read: UN Requests Trump Not to Quit Iran Deal

Pruitt said his EPA will set fresh standards so new cars that use less gas and are safer than older models will be affordable.

But environmental groups said the American public overwhelmingly supports the stricter standards.  (VOA)

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