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US Government keen to develop Connectivity between India and its Neighbours to Boost Economies, says US Ambassador to India Richard Verma

The US government is exploring ways to build better linkage with India especially the resource-rich northeastern region

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North-east area of India, Wikimedia
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Agartala, Dec 3, 2016: The US government is keen to develop connectivity between India and its neighbours in the Bay of Bengal region and its adjoining areas to boost economies, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said here on Saturday.

“During my visit to the northeastern states, I have discussed with the governments of the region about connectivities, trade, economy and commerce, energy-related issues,” said Verma, who has since Monday visited five of the eight northeastern states – Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura, and met Chief Ministers and other stakeholders to discuss various economic and bilateral issues.

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Talking to reporters here, he said that the northeastern region of India has huge resources and potentiality and these must be utilised for the economic development of the region.

“A two-day connectivity summit would be held in Kolkata on December 14-15. We have invited all the northeastern states of India and few other neighbouring countries to participate in the event to boost the connectivity, trade and economy,” he added.

“The US government is exploring ways to build better linkage with India especially the resource-rich northeastern region through trade, education, infrastructure or innovation. Currently, over 500 US companies are working in India and we are keen to work more with India in diverse sectors.”

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Before returning to New Delhi, he visited a 726 MW power project commissioned by state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at Palatana in southern Tripura, 65 km south of here.

“The US-based General Electric Company has supplied the turbines for the power project,” he said, adding that the US is keen to collaborate more with India in science and technological sector.

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In Tripura, the US envoy visited famous Tripura Sundari temple and the state museum besides India-Bangladesh border at Akhaura and witnessed the beating the retreat ceremony jointly conducted by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and Boder Guards Bangladesh.

Verma is accompanied by the US Consul General in Kolkata and other officials.

An US Consulate media official said that this visit was part of the ambassador familiarisation tour through northeast India and during this trip, he underscored several key aspects of the strong US-India partnership. (IANS)

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WHO Outlines A Plan To Stop Illicit Tobacco Sales

The WHO reports seven million people die prematurely every year from tobacco-related causes.

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tobacco, WHO
This Way Tobacco Smoke Can Affect Your Heart. Pixabay

Parties to a new global treaty to combat the illicit sale of tobacco products have taken the first steps toward cracking down on this multi-billion dollar trade. At a three-day meeting at the headquarters of the WHO in Geneva they have outlined a plan to shut down the lucrative black market trade in tobacco.

A global tobacco treaty (Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products) entered into force on September 25, with 48 countries joining the new protocol, which is part of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC). Two-thirds of the parties have enacted or strengthened national legislation aimed at tackling illicit trade in tobacco products.

Parties attending the meeting have set up a working group to create a monitoring system to track and trace the movement of tobacco products. They hope this global information sharing system will be up and running by 2023.

WHO
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, VOA

Head of the FCTC Secretariat, Vera da Costa e Silva, says illicit trade accounts for one in 10 cigarettes consumed. She says these cigarettes are low-priced and more affordable for young people and vulnerable populations. She says this results in increased consumption of the toxic product by these groups.

She told VOA the black market in tobacco thrives in both rich and poor countries, but it is a much bigger problem in developing countries.

“In the streets of developing countries, you can see all over the world sales of illicit trade of tobacco products. They are openly in their markets…. When it comes to the distribution, this is linked to street sales, to bootlegging as well through borders and even to sales to and by minors. That is a real problem of illicit trade in tobacco products,” she said.

tobacco, WHO
This is a diagram of R.J. Reynolds’ Eclipse cigarette, which featured a carbon tip that was lit, heating the tobacco instead of burning it. The product did not do well during market tests; it was rebranded as Revo but still failed to catch on with consumers. The product is no longer listed on the company’s website. VOA

Da Costa e Silva said this flourishing illegal trade undermines tobacco control policies and public health. She said it also fuels organized crime and increases tobacco profits through tax evasion, resulting in substantial losses in governments’ revenues.

Also Read: New Heated Tobacco to be Regulated As Other Tobacco Products

She said studies show governments lose $31 billion in taxes annually from the illegal trafficking in tobacco products.

The WHO reports seven million people die prematurely every year from tobacco-related causes. (VOA)