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UK, India To Start Formal Free Trade Agreement Talks Within Month

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UK, India To Start Formal Free Trade Agreement Talks Within Month

Boris Johnson’s office said it expects the deal preceding FTA talks to create over 6,500 jobs. (File)

London:

Britain and India will begin formal free trade deal talks later this year, the UK government said Tuesday, after they agreed an initial package to boost bilateral trade and investment.

With its massive population and growing economy, India has been high on London’s list of trade deal targets since Britain left the European Union last year.

Under a post-Brexit “Global Britain” strategy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is pivoting its foreign policy priorities towards the Asia-Pacific region, signing trade deals with countries including Japan and Singapore.

UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said India and Britain would start negotiations on an agreement “in the autumn”, following the announcement of a preliminary “Enhanced Trade Partnership” deal.

“We want to get these negotiations completed as soon as possible,” she told Sky News during a round of broadcast interviews touting the partnership package worth 1 billion ($1.4 billion, 1.2 billion euros).

“Of course, FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) take longer, this is the immediate gains that we can get for both countries, driving jobs here in Britain and in India,” Truss added.

She said both countries were looking for “early wins” reducing barriers to trade from an FTA, noting Britain wants tariffs lowered or removed on various exports to India, from cars to whiskey.

The comments come ahead of virtual talks between Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Tuesday.

That follows Johnson postponing for a second time an official visit to India last month, due to the worsening coronavirus situation.

‘Self-Reliant India’

The partnership announcement with India includes lower trade barriers for some UK exports such as fruit and medical devices.

It also includes investment in Britain by vaccine maker the Serum Institute of India, which could eventually see more of its inoculations made in the UK.

Johnson’s office said it expects the deal preceding FTA talks to create over 6,500 jobs.

But there are signs India may be reluctant to sign a more wide-ranging trade pact, as PM Modi pushes “Made in India” and “Self-Reliant India” agendas.

Last year PM Modi abruptly baulked at joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement among 15 Asia-Pacific nations, because New Delhi feared its agricultural, dairy and services sectors would be disadvantaged.

Former US president Donald Trump disparaged India as the “tariff king” for its duties on imported goods, hobbling trade talks despite his friendly relations with PM Modi.

Talks are due to resume between India and the EU on a free-trade deal later this month, eight years after 16 rounds of talks broke up in deadlock.

Trade negotiations are also reportedly set to resume with Canada soon after a gap of four years.

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Underwater Quake Shakes West Indonesia, No Tsunami Warning

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A strong undersea earthquake shook western Indonesia on Friday, but no tsunami warning was issued and no damage was immediately reported.

People were running from their houses,” said a local disaster mitigation agency official, Hiramo, who goes by a single name.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.6 quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) and was centered 257 kilometers (159 miles) south of Sinabang, a town on the east coast of Simeulue Island, which lies off the western coast of Sumatra.

No tsunami warning was issued by the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, and no casualties were immediately reported.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 271 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

Indonesia’s latest major earthquake was in January, when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 105 people and injured nearly 6,500, while displacing more than 92,000, in West Sulawesi province.

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here

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Pro-Palestine protesters attack man wearing Star of David necklace

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Footage from a Pro-Palestine protest in Manhattan, New York depicting a bloodied man wearing a Star of David necklace escaping the protestors went viral on social media on Tuesday. Allegedly, the victim made hateful comments to the protestors, which led to the protestors throwing a metal chair towards the victim’s face and then chasing him. It is not clear what such alleged comments might have been.

The video appears to depict a police officer escorting the victim, who has not yet been identified, with a bloodied face across the street. The incident took place on Tuesday evening.

The video showcases a pro-Palestine protestor woman accusing the victim of making hateful comments. “He said really hateful comments,” the woman says.

As a police officer tries to escort the bloodied victim to safety, someone can be heard shouting intensely ‘Run p***y’ as the man darts across the street, with several protestors carrying the Palestinian flag chasing them.

The bloodied man winds up in a local store as a woman repeats ‘f*** you’ towards him.

Reporter Elad Eliahu, who was covering this situation as it was unfolding, said that the NYPD riot squad managed to catch up to the alleged chair-thrower, but ultimately decided to let him go.

According to the NYPD’s statement to DailyMail.com, “Police observed a verbal altercation with a crowd of people. The complainant entered the crowd and was struck in the head with a metal chair by an unknown individual, causing a laceration to their head. “

‘The complainant was removed to Bellevue Hospital,’ the NYPD continued. ‘There are no arrests at this time.’

The NYPD confirmed that the investigation into the incident remains ongoing. 

Situation in Israel

According to the BBC, at least 103 people have been killed in Gaza and seven in Israel since violence between the two sides was renewed. Gaza authorities claim that at least 27 of those who have died were civilian children. However, Israel has said that many of the deaths were of Gaza militants or due to rocket misfires from Gaza. 

On Thursday, three rockets were fired from Lebanon into the sea off of northern Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). No group has claimed responsibility for those rockets yet.

Israel’s military said on Thursday that it hit several targets in Gaza, including intelligence buildings and homes, as well as businesses that were allegedly being utilized by militants.

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Russian-made Sputnik V launched by Dr Reddy, to cost Rs.995 per dose

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Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, the Indian partner of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said it has commenced Sputnik V’s India rollout, with the first doses being administered in Hyderabad on Friday on a limited basis.

Deepak Sapra,, the global head of Custom Pharma Services at Dr Reddy’s Lab became the first person to receive the Sputnik V shot at Hyderabad today.

According to the reports, the Hyderabad-based company said the Russian vaccine – Sputnik V would be priced at Rs 948 per dose with an additional 5% GST to be charged on it, putting the price at around Rs 995.4.

“As part of a limited pilot, the soft launch of the vaccine has commenced, and the first dose of the vaccine was administered in Hyderabad today on May 14, 2021. The imported doses of the vaccine are presently priced at an MRP of Rs 948 + 5% GST per dose, with the possibility of a lower price point when local supply begins,” the company said in its regulatory filing.

Further, the company also said that the first consignment of imported doses that landed in India on May 1, 2021, has received regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

The pharmaceutical company expects more consignments of imported doses in the upcoming months. In later months, the supply of the Sputnik V vaccine produced by the Indian manufacturing partners is also expected to commence. Currently, the Russian vaccine manufacturing company is working closely with its six manufacturing partners in India to fulfil regulatory requirements to ensure a smooth and timely supply.

“Dr Reddy’s will work closely with stakeholders in the government and private sector in India to ensure the widest possible reach of the Sputnik V vaccine as part of the national inoculation effort,” the Hyderabad-based pharma company said.

The rollout of the Sputnik V vaccine at market rates, without any subsidy or philanthropic rate slash, comes at a time when left-liberals are waging war against Indian-made vaccines over its alleged ‘higher costs’ while batting for much costlier foreign vaccines.

Propaganda against Indian vaccines

Ever since various pharmaceutical companies developed vaccines for Covid-19, the left-liberals, joining hands with the opposition parties, have launched a vested campaign against Indian companies. The left-liberals have been attacking the Indian origin Covaxin made by Bharat Biotech and SII’s Covishield over its prices while forcing both the government and manufacturers to slash the prices.

The left-liberals had accused Indian companies of making huge profits at the expense of common people by keeping the prices of their vaccines high. In realilty the Indian made vaccines are among the cheapest in the wolrd.

It is interesting to see how the opposition parties and its left-wing media ecosystem reacts to the roll-out of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines that cost around Rs.1,000, which is nearly costlier than the two Indian-made vaccines – Covaxin and Covishield.

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