India pulled out of RCEP as concerns not addressed: EAM S Jaishankar

India pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) last year as joining it would have resulted in fairly negative consequences for the country's economy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday.

In an address at an online discussion organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies, Jaishankar also forcefully pressed for reform of the United Nations, saying one or two countries must not be allowed to halt the process for their "perpetual gain".

On the proposed free trade agreement between India and the European Union, Jaishankar said New Delhi was looking for a "fair and balanced" pact.

Asked about the RCEP, the external affairs minister said India withdrew from it as a number of key concerns flagged by it were not addressed.

His comments came three days after 15 Asia-Pacific economies signed the RCEP agreement creating the world's largest free trade area.

"Essentially, we saw that a number of our key concerns were not addressed. We had to then take a call whether you enter a trade agreement if your major concerns are not addressed or do you take a call saying this is not in my interest," Jaishankar said during an online discussion organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies.

"We took a call that given the way it is currently, it is not in our interest to enter this agreement because it would have fairly immediate negative consequences for our own economy," he said.

The RCEP deal sealed on Sunday comprised 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of the bloc's dialogue partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

"Because you are negotiating does not mean you have to suspend your ability to calculate at the end of the negotiation. I think we made those calculations. Very frankly, what we did with regard to RCEP is not a generic position vis-a-vis trade," said Jaishankar.

India was part of the RCEP negotiations for nearly seven years. The unresolved issues included inadequate protection against import surge, lack of credible assurances to India on market access, non-tariff barriers and possible circumvention of rules of origin by certain countries.

Referring to the long-pending India-EU free trade agreement (FTA), Jaishankar said: "We want a fair and balanced FTA", but added that what is fair and balanced is a subject of negotiation.

"I recognise that an FTA with Europe is not an easy negotiation, probably in the world, it must be the most difficult negotiation. It is a very high standard FTA," he said.

The FTA talks have been stalled since May 2013, when both sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including data security status for the IT sector.

Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed agreement have witnessed many hurdles as both sides have major differences on crucial issues.

In his observations, Jaishankar also talked about "economic multipolarity" as well and how it changes for different countries.

"When I look at my trade accounts; my economic accounts, I actually have five big accounts which are the US, European Union, China, ASEAN and the Gulf. These five are the five economic poles around which much of my trade and my investment is organised," he said.

"For me to get the best out of it, in a multipolar world, there is a very simple rule of negotiation which is if you advance on any account, you advance on all accounts.

"So you constantly need to keep going forward, forward and forward, because the moment you fall back on an account, you fall back on all accounts," he said

On the United Nations, he said it was set up 75 years back and needs urgent reforms to reflect the realities of the world at present.

"Everything needs some kind of refreshing, updating, etc. We cannot let the interest of one or two countries which want to freeze one moment of the history for their perpetual gain to continue," he said. Jaishankar said allowing the "stalemate" to continue will harm the UN.

SOURCE: The Business Standard

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Swedish Sysav Group builds world’s first post-consumer automated textile sorting plant!

The Sysav Group – Sweden-based recycling specialist – has launched an automated industrial textile sorting plant that’s claimed to be the world’s first such plant for sorting post-consumer textiles.

The annual sorting capacity of the plant is 24,000 tonnes of textiles and thus it aims to revolutionise textile recycling industry of Sweden and create new market opportunities for textile waste.

The recycling machine is 30 metres long and is located at Malmö facility of Sysav.

The plant has been set up as part of the SIPTEX (Swedish Innovation Platform for Textile Sorting) research project.

The project is headed by the IVL Swedish Environmental Institute wherein a huge consortium will be working with it that consists of official authorities, research institutes and players from textile value chain.

It’s worth noting here that an average Swedish scraps 8 kg of textile every year, which is a massive weight of around 200 tonnes of waste textile a day. Needless to say, this huge wastage impacts climate adversely.

“The new SIPTEX facility will now scale up textile recycling processes and accelerate our efforts in this direction. It is a sustainable investment, both for Sysav and for the environment,” commented Peter Engström, CEO, The Sysav Group.


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Slowdown in G20 trade restriction measures as COVID-19 impacts world economy: WTO report

There is a slowdown in the number of trade restrictive as well as facilitative measures on goods implemented by G-20 member countries between mid-May and mid-October, due to the sharp decline in overall global trade since the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a WTO report.

The WTO’s latest Trade Monitoring Report on G20 trade measures also said that although world trade had already been slowing before the pandemic, merchandise exports in nominal US dollar terms fell 21 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year.

The report “shows a slowdown in the number and coverage of trade restrictive and trade-facilitating measures on goods implemented by G20 countries between mid-May and mid-October 2020”, it added. It was primarily as a result of the sharp decline in overall global trade since the COVID-19 outbreak, it said.

WTO Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah said that while the number of new trade-restricting measures was modest, the fact remains that restrictions that have accumulated since 2009 are weighing on over a 10th of G20 imports.

“Now, more than ever, G20 governments must continue to work together,” Agah said.

G20 members include India, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the US.

SOURCE: The Financial Express

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Brexit creates jobs for customs staff in eastern Europe, India

The Road Haulage Association, a lobby group, has estimated that the U.K. needs an extra 50,000 customs agents to cope with the added Brexit workload.

UK companies are turning to cheaper overseas labor to complete their post-Brexit customs paperwork, creating jobs in countries such as Romania and India due to a shortage of trained staff in Britain. Anticipating a surge in demand for its services, Xpediator Plc, which handles freight flows for international companies, has been hiring workers in Romania. Dave Gladen, the firm’s group marketing manager, says the country has a deep pool of expertise in the EU’s customs rules because it only joined the bloc in 2007.

“It’s allowed us to get some great expertise, and obviously there’s a lower cost,” Gladen said in a telephone interview. “Salaries for customs clearance representatives in the U.K. have just escalated crazily.”

Britain’s logistics industry is having to find creative ways to be ready for a wave of bureaucracy that will hit on Jan 1., when commerce between the U.K. and its largest trading partner will be subject to new paperwork even if the two sides reach a free-trade agreement. Hundreds of millions of extra customs declarations will be required on goods crossing the border annually, at an estimated cost of 13 billion pounds ($17 billion).

Metro Shipping Ltd., which moves goods for some of Britain’s largest retailers and automotive companies, has taken on 17 extra staff in Chennai, India in recent weeks specifically to handle Brexit-related work. The Birmingham, England-based firm expects it will have to handle an extra 120,000 customs declarations annually.

“There’s nowhere near enough skill-set here to cover it,” said Grant Liddell, business development director at Metro, which stopped taking on new clients for Brexit in August because it was at capacity. “We have really geared up,” he said, noting he could hire six or seven staff in India for the price of one employee in the U.K.

For the government, a shortage of customs agents is one of the biggest threats that could disrupt trade with the EU after the end of the Brexit transition period. If companies don’t have the right paperwork, goods risk being held up at the border, potentially causing traffic chaos. Alternatively, businesses may decide not to trade with the EU at all if they cannot file the appropriate documents.

Officials are trying to mitigate the problem by offering grants to businesses to train customs staff, though success has been limited: of the 84 million pounds made available, less than a third had been paid out as of Oct. 16, according to the National Audit Office.

The Road Haulage Association, a lobby group, has estimated that the U.K. needs an extra 50,000 customs agents to cope with the added Brexit workload. The government has repeatedly declined to put a figure on how many have been trained.

SOURCE: The Financial Express

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Corsight AI launches real-time facial recognition technology that accurately identifies individuals even with face coverings

Corsight AI, a facial recognition technology provider, has announced the introduction of its facial recognition technology that has the capability of identifying individuals on watch list even under the most challenging conditions.

The facial recognition technology will be able to overcome common issues such as face coverings and harsh environments, at an unmatched speed and accuracy.

This technology is much needed today as wearing masks has become an important aspect of everybody’s life.

The company’s facial recognition technology leverages the use of Autonomous AI exceeding the human brain’s ability to register and accurately identify individuals, regardless of whether they are wearing a protective face mask or other covering.

It also eliminates factors like low-light or extreme weather conditions, photos taken at acute angles or of large crowds to deliver the most accurate results.

The technology is camera and hardware agnostic and can be easily integrated with any existing security system.

Corsight’s facial recognition technology is one of the most compressive and accurate detection systems available in the market.

In today’s time, all the individuals are generally required to wear a protective face covering while in public, which causes difficulty for the existing facial recognition technologies resulting in incorrect identifications.

With the commercial availability of Corsight’s facial recognition technology, accurate facial recognition is possible, regardless of whether a person is wearing a protective face covering or not.


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