GS Paper III –International Relations, Indian Economy.

Europe keen on resuming trade talks

What’s Happening-
Warning that the impasse in the India-European Union free trade negotiations could also hurt investment into India, the Members of the European Parliament “Delegation for Relations with India” urged the government to consider a six-month extension of bilateral investment treaties until the FTA or the comprehensive BTIA (Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement) negotiations are restarted.

Key Points discussed were:

  • The delegation, one of three with senior officials from the EU and European Parliament visited India, met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss their concerns.
  • Nearly 11 months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Brussels and spoke about the issue, EU diplomats say there has been no movement on the BTIA/FTA talks that were suspended in 2013 after 16 rounds of negotiation.
  • One of the problems is the termination of the bilateral investment treaties by India.

Need for urgency:

  • The officials said there was a need for a “greater sense of urgency”, given that BITs with most EU countries would lapse within the first half of 2017.
  • The Bilateral investment treaty with The Netherlands, a country that is home to the second largest population of people of Indian origin in Europe, after the UK, lapsed on November 30, and the rest are expected to follow shortly.
  • We are hoping for at least an extension.
  • Even Indians settled in the Netherlands are concerned about the trade relationship.
  • However, while the EU is keen for either negotiations to be started as soon as possible.
  • In the wake of US President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Asian countries and leave the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP) in limbo should worry India as well.

Background-
BIT:
A bilateral investment treaty (BIT) is an agreement establishing the terms and conditions for private  by nationals and companies of one  in another state.
This type of investment is called  (FDI).
BITs are established through .
FTA:
Free-trade agreement (FTA) involve cooperation between at least two countries to reduce trade barriers –  and  – and to increase trade of  and services with each other.

GS Paper II – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s
interests.

India seeks Vijay Mallya’s custody under MLAT

What’s Happening-
Indian agencies sought help in securing the custody of businessman Vijay Mallya, at a meeting with their British counterparts, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) for his prosecution in a money laundering case against him.

Key Points discussed were:

  • At the Enforcement Directorate’s instance, the Union Home Ministry has forwarded to the External Affairs Ministry a request for the “transfer” of Mr. Mallya from London to India under Article 11 (1)(d) of the 1995 treaty.
  • Mr. Mallya faces criminal proceedings by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED in two major cases of default of bank loans of ₹9,000 crores.
  • He flew out to London last March and refused to come back despite court intervention.
  • His diplomatic passport was cancelled and non-bailable warrants issued against him.
  • He has been declared a proclaimed offender.
  • The CBI is also expected to raise the issue of its request for the extradition of Mr. Mallya, following a clearance from a Mumbai special court.
  • CBI agency has filed a chargesheet against him, senior functionaries of the Kingfisher Airlines and some IDBI officials.

Background-
A mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) is an  between two or more  for the purpose of gathering and exchanging  in an effort to enforce  or  laws.
Modern states have developed mechanisms for requesting and obtaining evidence for criminal investigations and prosecutions.
When evidence or other forms of legal assistance, such as witness statements or the service of documents, are needed from a foreign sovereign, states may attempt to cooperate informally through their respective police agencies or, alternatively, resort to what is typically referred to as requests for “mutual legal assistance.
Assistance may be denied by either country (according to agreement details) for political or security reasons, or if the criminal offence in question is not equally punishable in both countries.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 16