Washington: US trade representative Susan Schwab said on Tuesday that discussions in the Doha round of trade talks are accelerating, but cautioned that it is too early to tell if negotiators can reach a breakthrough in coming weeks.
“We definitely have picked up the pace. There is definitely a sense of momentum ... Does that translate into a successful outcome in the next several weeks? I think it’s too early to tell,” Schwab said.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is pushing to wrap up the talks by the end of 2007, but there are no visible signs yet that leading players—the US, the European Union, India and Brazil—have resolved wide differences over agricultural tariffs and subsidies. Last week, WTO chief Pascal Lamy visited Washington to lobby for a swift conclusion to the round. Reuters
Iran-Pak-India pipeline gets World Bank nod
Islamabad: Despite US reservations over the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, the World Bank has described it as a win-win deal and expressed readiness to fund the $7 billion project.
Evincing interest in financing the project, World Bank’s vice-president Praful Patel said here that the Bank has not been approached by Pakistan formally or informally but it is ready to fund it if approached.
“IPI gas pipeline project is a win-win project for Pakistan and India, besides being good and quite feasible in catering to the energy needs of Pakistan and India,” he said.
He said the Bank also supports the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project. PTI
SEZ landowner rehab policy sent to GoM
New Delhi: The policy for mandatory rehabilitation of landowners displaced by industrial projects and SEZs might get delayed as it has been referred to a group of ministers (GoM).
The Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy has been drafted by the rural development ministry. The GoM is expected to look into critical aspects of the issue such as an out-of-court settlement of small land acquisition disputes or an independent tribunal to deal with such cases. PTI
Karnataka farmers to get crop loan waiver
Bangalore: The Karnataka government, on Wednesday, announced waiver of short, medium and long-term loans up to Rs25,000 to all farmers and extended the deadline for availing the scheme to 31 May from the earlier date of 30 April.
The announcement by deputy chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa of the Bharatiya Janata Party has come following intense pressure from coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular), which insisted that all farmers get crop loan waiver up to Rs25,000.
The measure will impose an extra burden of Rs 300 crore on the state exchequer. PTI
Fresh PIL against OBC quota filed in SC
New Delhi: A fresh petition, filed by Citizens for Equality, a charitable trust with professors from Jawharlal Nehru University as its trustees, was today moved in the Supreme Court challenging the controversial law enabling 27% quota for OBCs in elite educational institutions. A bench headed by justice B.N. Agrawal tagged it with several petitions that have already been listed for hearing on 8 May before a bench headed by justice Arijit Pasayat. PTI