US files complaint against India in WTO

 WASHINGTON (AFP): The United States late Wednesday lodged a complaint against India over indications the country has underreported its price support for grains. Both the underreporting and the excess price support would violate the rules of the World Trade Organization, the US Trade Representative and Agriculture Department in a joint statement. "Based on US calculations, it appears that India has substantially underreported its market price support for wheat and rice." And it appears the amount "far exceeded its allowable levels of trade distorting domestic support." Under WTO rules, all members are required to file an annual notification of what products are imported or exported by state companies. Then any member may make a counter-notification if "it feels that a notification by another Member is either incomplete or incorrect." The US counter notification, filed May 4, was the first ever for the global trade body. "The United States expects our trading partners to comply with the reporting requirements they agreed to when joining the WTO," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.

"India represents a massive market," added US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, "and we want greater access for US products, but India must be transparent about their practices."

US officials cited issues with calculations of the amount and value of production as well as with currency conversions.

 PTDC MD calls on Iranian ambassador

 ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) managing director Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor Khan has called on Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost in Pakistan. During the meeting, he briefed Iranian ambassador about his recent visit to Iran and meetings with senior government officials about promotion of tourism between the countries, said a press release. He said that tourism related issues were discussed in these meetings. Managing Director PTDC said that tourism is a sector where people of one country meet people of other countries and relationships and links increase. Iran's ambassador Mehdi Honadoost said that Iran values its relations with Pakistan, adding that both brotherly countries are enjoying very cordial relations. Ambassador said, “By promotion of tourism, we can bring our nations more closer and we may create more employment opportunities to alleviate poverty. Through this, the message of love, brotherhood and peace can be conveyed to the world.”

He announced that soon after Ramazan, a high level Iranian delegation will visit Pakistan and during this time the agreement will be finalised for the tourism sector.

 Unabated oilseed imports hitting forex reserves: PEW president

ISLAMABAD (INP): The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Thursday said government policies have reduced the area under cultivation of oilseeds which is being counterbalanced through enhanced imports, draining forex reserves. The policy designed to benefit few influential individuals has reduced the interests of farmers in cultivation of oilseed, it said. Dr Murtaza Mughal, president PEW, said that the import of oilseeds has increased from 7.5 lakh tonnes to 31 lakh tonnes over the last five years because it suits an influential lobby. On the other hand, the unabated imports have resulted in reducing oilseed production by 2.5 lakh tonnes in the last few years. Dr Murtaza Mughal said that the government has increased duty on import of soybean oil by 32.6 percent in the budget which has increased its price. The decision will encourage the import of oilseed to five million tonnes in the next twelve months, hitting exchequer, masses, and farmers.

The government will have to bear the loss of around twenty billion rupees in one year on account of reduced duties and taxes on import of oilseed while the masses will also pay an additional amount of twenty billion for cooking oil.

Minister lauds ICAP's role in budget making

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): A series of post-budget seminars were held by Northern Regional Committee (NRC) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) in various cities including Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Multan and Peshawar. These seminars were attended by more than one thousand chartered accountants, financial experts and industry stakeholders. These events were attended by Federal Minister for State of Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal as chief guest on two of these events in Lahore and Faisalabad. Afzal stated that ICAP-FBR Coordination Committee presented budget proposals to FBR chairman and officials for the first time which resulted in incorporation of many good suggestions of ICAP in the budget. He added that the govt received very useful recommendations from ICAP. FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa also lauded ICAP efforts in preparation and presentation of budget proposals. ICAP President Riaz Rehman explained the institute's efforts to assist the federal govt in various matters.