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Trade & development

Trade and Development

Backgrounders

A brief history of the WTO

By Prabhash Ranjan

WTO

The principle of non-discrimination was meant to be the cornerstone of the World Trade Organisation and the multilateral trading regime. But ten years down the line,it is clear that the trade rules favour developed countries, and the promise of greater market access for developing countries has not been sufficiently realised.


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Related Articles

»The struggle for affordable medicines By Chan Park
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»Can multilateral trade work for the poor? By Robin Koshy
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»WTO negotiations and India's stand: Agriculture, NAMA and services By Abhijit Das
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Analysis

Corporate profits or the right to life?

By Aakash Mehrotra

EU-India free trade agreement

The EU-India free trade agreement will wipe generic, cheap, unpatented drugs out of the market, writes Aakash Mehrotra

After four years of negotiations, finally the EU-India free trade agreement seems to be on the table. The pact is going to be a big ticket for business. Giving the Indian perspective, Rajgopal Sharma from the Indian embassy in Brussels said this Free Trade Agreement (FTA) “is the most ambitious agreement that India is hoping to enter into as compared to the earlier FTAs with other countries”.

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Related Articles

»Farms or factories? By Darryl D'monte
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»SEZs: Stirring up a storm along the Indian coast By Manshi Asher
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»The Shenzhen Syndrome: Growth compromises equity By Aseem Shrivastava
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Features

A dubious GIFT

By Manshi Asher and Sayantoni Datta

Gujarat International Finance Tech City (GIFT), to come up in Gandhinagar, is being promoted as India's largest multi-services financial hub. To be built mostly on common grazing lands grabbed from surrounding villages and by panicking farmers into selling their agricultural land, it is yet another instance of how commercial interests are favoured at the expense of the poor.


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Related Articles

»How Mundra became India's Rotterdam By Manshi Asher
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»Inside the SEZ cauldron By Anosh Malekar
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»Goa: How the battle was won By Rifat Mumtaz and Madhumanti Sardar
Read More

Books & Reports

SEZ's Damp Quib

By Rashme Sehgal

A study by the Hazards Centre shows that only 19 of an approved 366 SEZs are functional. And within many of these, the number of manufacturing units actually set up and the number of people employed is much lower than expected.

A village elder, evicted from the village of Akalmegh in West Bengal in order to facilitate the creation of the Falta Special Economic Zone (FSEZ) located on the banks of the river Hoogly at Diamond Harbour, is still trying to pick up the threads of his life.

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News Scan

Govt assures speedy implementation of POSCO project

The government is moving in the heavy artillery in an attempt to ensure the country’s largest foreign direct investment project goes operational soon, despite continuing opposition from the people whose lands and livelihoods it imperils

The Indian government is determined to ensure that the South Korean steel giant Posco’s Rs 54,000-crore project in Orissa gets all regulatory clearances and gets started in the next few months. The plant is the largest foreign direct investment in the country.


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Related Articles

»Remove protection, demands US trade commission
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»Raigad farmers hail court verdict on Reliance SEZ
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»Tata unhappy with lack of clarity in Singur deal
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Intellectual Property Rights

Action plan to ease disease burden of developing world 

By Arti Malik

Despite the staggeringly disproportionate impact of disease on the developing world, pharmaceuticals develop drugs that have a potentially profitable market rather than drugs that are urgently required in poorer countries. Will this change with the World Health Assembly’s recent adoption of a global strategy to fill gaps in existing R&D and work towards drugs needed for diseases that affect developing countries?

With the floods in Bihar and Orissa comes the looming threat of disease that is often associated with natural catastrophes. In the event of limited medical resources and drug supplies, this again brings one’s attention to the public health situation in developing countries.

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Related Articles

»Intellectual Property Rights are a privilege, not a human right By Dr B Ekbal
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»Are intellectual property rights fundamental human rights? By Prabhash Ranjan
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»'Anything that is worth copying is worth sharing': Prof Eben Moglen By V Sasi Kumar
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The struggle for affordable medicines

By Chan Park 

India, which amended its patent laws for TRIPS-compliance in 2005, introduced a clause to ensure that pharmaceuticals did not block the entry of low-cost generic drugs. A year ago this clause blocked Novartis' patent application for its anti-cancer drug Gleevec. Now, in a major case that will have a profound effect on the affordability of essential medicines in India, Novartis is challenging this unique Indian provision

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A brief history of the WTO

By Prabhash Ranjan

The principle of non-discrimination was meant to be the cornerstone of the World Trade Organisation and the multilateral trading regime. But ten years down the line, it is clear that the trade rules favour developed countries, and the promise of greater market access for developing countries has not been sufficiently realised

Read more...

Can multilateral trade work for the poor?

By Robin Koshy

Protectionism, self-reliance and village republics are not enough to lift 1.3 billion of the world’s poor out of absolute poverty. There is sufficient empirical evidence to demonstrate that trade can be a powerful catalyst for poverty reduction, that free trade with fairer policies will benefit the world's poor more than aid or charity. The problem is that World Trade Organisation negotiations and global trade are far from free and fair, with the balance skewed in favour of powerful trading blocs like the US and EU and against poorer nations

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WTO negotiations and India's stand: Agriculture, NAMA and services

By Abhijit Das 

From India's perspective it would be most crucial during the Doha negotiations to protect the interests of its farmers, even at the cost of foregoing benefits that might have otherwise been made in services and NAMA negotiations

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Trade on human terms

By Sherna Gandhy

The first Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2006 is a timely reminder that the hosannas to globalisation may be slightly out of tune: economic growth is not a magic mantra for development and poverty reduction

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The MDGs and the free trade mantra

By Rahul Goswami 

The Millennium Development Goals address targets and percentages without relating these to the effect of structural inequalities, denial of social justice, economic inequities and the imposition of adverse policies. How then can the MDGs usher in a just new world order?

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Building a global partnership for development

By Martin Khor

Goal 8 of the MDGs is about building a global partnership for development, an external economic environment that is favourable for development. From this perspective, the prevention of development-distorting rules, measures, policies and approaches should be the overriding concern of the WTO

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Protection for the rich; free play of market forces for the poor

By Parshuram Ray 

The most striking aspect of the farming crisis in India is that its severity is directly proportionate to the degree of integration with international trade and global markets

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Subsidising suicides

By Jaideep Hardikar 

Cotton has become a symbol of the inequities and distortions of global trade, demonstrating how agricultural subsidies in developed countries devastate farmers in developing countries

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Marginalising the marginalised

By Asha Bee Abraham 

The WTO erodes women's right not only to the security of a regular meal, but also involvement in decision-making around food production and agricultural development

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Huligamma and Big Mac

By Nandana Reddy

Does trade liberalisation affect investments in children's health and education? There is growing evidence that children from families denied livelihood security, and deprived of the most basic social benefits, are forced into child labour and a precarious existence in urban centres

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More media, less democracy

By Manfred Kops

This article explores the implications of attempts by the World Trade Organisation to include audiovisual media, especially broadcast programmes, into the General Agreement in Trade and Services (GATS) and thereby promote international free trade in audiovisual services

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What do women stand to gain from trade?

By Salma Maoulidi

Trade, trade and more trade. That seems to be the winning formula for economic success. But what does it mean for women in the East African region? How are their interests reflected in trading activities?

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Action plan to ease disease burden of developing world

By Arti Malik

Despite the staggeringly disproportionate impact of disease on the developing world, pharmaceuticals develop drugs that have a potentially profitable market rather than drugs that are urgently required in poorer countries. Will this change with the World Health Assembly’s recent adoption of a global strategy to fill gaps in existing R&D and work towards drugs needed for diseases that affect developing countries?

Read more...

Intellectual Property Rights are a privilege, not a human right

By Dr B Ekbal

Intellectual Property Rights should be subsumed to human rights, national interests and the preservation of genetic resources

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Are intellectual property rights fundamental human rights?

By Prabhash Ranjan

What are the implications of construing IPR as fundamental human rights?

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'Anything that is worth copying is worth sharing': Prof Eben Moglen

By V Sasi Kumar

Eben Moglen, principal proponent of the free software movement, believes that there is an inherent relationship between free software and free culture. Each is interdependent and enables the other

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Copyright: Keeping a balance between public and private interest

By Achal Prabhala

The copyright system is meant to promote access to knowledge in the public domain, not to restrict it. The proposed amendments to the Indian Copyright Act 1957, however, may land us with an ever-growing list of restrictions

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Reconsidering the pirate nation: Notes from South Africa and India

By Lawrence Liang and Achal Prabhala

Trade losses to software manufacturers due to piracy are as high as $125 billion. We need to interrogate why piracy of software, books, music etc exists as a market phenomenon. Could it be an organic market reaction to the exclusion of consumers by copyright industries?

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Property and rights: Owning ideas, fish and forests

By Manoj Nadkarni

All debates about property - whether it's water, medicines or a piece of music - revolve around two fundamental questions: who should have the rights to own and benefit from the property; and what should those rights consist of?

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The advent of patent raj

By Ammu Joseph

The third amendment to the Indian Patents Act, if passed in its present form, is likely to adversely affect the availability, accessibility and affordability of medicines - three important components of people's right to health. The public campaign against the proposed legislation is heating up

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Shoot, share and create: Looking beyond copyright makes sense in film

By Lawrence Liang

Why documentary and alternative filmmakers in India should start licensing their works under an 'open content' license

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The Patents (Amendment) Ordinance, 2004

The full text of the ordinance promulgated by the Indian government on December 26, 2004

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Objections to the Patent Amendment Ordinance

The Patent Amendment Ordinance passed by the Indian government on December 26, 2004, seriously compromises people's ability to access affordable medicines, states the Affordable Medicines and Treatment Campaign

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TRIPS: A tale of the shrinking ocean called 'public domain' (An El Nino in the info age)

By Vishwas H Devaiah

The world is at war over the ownership of 'intangible ideas'. The war is being waged between the developed and developing worlds. The major aggressors in this battle are giant business corporations and nations belonging to the industrially advanced world, which are attempting to combat stiff competition from industrially developing nations of the global South. But whose knowledge is it anyway? This section demystifies the debate over GATT, TRIPS, the WTO, and more.

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Medha Patkar, Bengali artistes protest against Nandigram

West Bengal's intelligentsia rallies behind fasting Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and other human rights activists, boycotting a state-organised film festival and staging a blockade in Kolkata

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Land can't be acquired for public and private use: SC

The Supreme Court’s ruling on land acquisition notifications not being able to espouse both a public and private purpose may have ramifications for the West Bengal government’s controversial acquisition of land in Singur for the proposed Tata Motors car manufacturing plant

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Corporate profits or the right to life?

The EU-India free trade agreement will wipe generic, cheap, unpatented drugs out of the market, writes Aakash Mehrotra

EU-India free trade agreement

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Farms or factories?

By Darryl D'Monte

At a heated debate in Delhi recently, Union Commerce Secretary G K Pillai presented the government's justification for SEZs. But the central question remained unanswered: how can India's 630 million farmers transition to other occupations?

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SEZs: Stirring up a storm along the Indian coast

By Manshi Asher

The SEZ issue is being highlighted as a farmers' issue, with a rehabilitation policy being worked out for those who will lose their land. But with 80% of approved SEZs in coastal states, what about the thousands of fisherfolk who will lose livelihoods based on the sea, estuaries and coastal systems?

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The Shenzhen Syndrome: Growth compromises equity

By Aseem Shrivastava

China's Shenzhen has workers slaving for 9-14 hours a day at less than minimum wages, 500,000 child labourers, and a crime rate nine times that of Shanghai. Is this the economic model Indian policymakers want to emulate, especially at a time when China itself has discredited and abandoned its SEZ policy?

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The Shenzhen Syndrome: Will India repeat China's mistakes?

By Aseem Shrivastava

From the mid-'80s, China experienced a 'zone fever' much like India's, with millions of hectares of agricultural land being transferred to infrastructure and industrial use. But Beijing woke up in time to the dangers of the speculative bubble thus created and acted to conserve arable lands

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Leasing land instead of buying it

By Aseem Shrivastava

Could the Magarpatta model in Pune be a way out of the SEZ impasse? Here farmers have leased - not sold -- 400 acres of farmland to developers who are paying them a royalty in perpetuity, besides giving them new housing in the township and various kinds of supply contracts

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Beware of the bulls

By Aseem Shrivastava

With the huge influx of foreign capital into Indian realty, real estate might replace IT/BPO as the lead growth story in the Indian economy in the years to come. Are India's farmlands set to become a global casino, asks Aseem Shrivastava

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Adjust kar lenge: The new SEZ policy?

By Aseem Shrivastava

What do the latest changes in the Special Economic Zones policy mean?

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WTO Doha Round: India falls in line

By Devinder Sharma

India appears to be backtracking on its earlier tough stand of insisting that massive agricultural subsidies in developed countries be removed, in order to push through the stalled Doha Round of trade negotiations

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Industrialisation as if people mattered

By Aseem Shrivastava

The viewpoint rapidly gaining ground in India is that labour must inevitably transfer from agriculture to industry and services, as happened in the now developed countries. But there are three strong reasons why a replication of these processes in an Indian setting is unlikely, even impossible

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Industrialisation or environmental colonialism?

By Aseem Shrivastava

Forty-five steel plants are on the anvil in the small state of Orissa alone. Thousands of acres of land are being taken over. The people of Orissa have not asked for this industrialisation. In fact, they are opposing it. So who is the break-neck industrialisation in the state for?

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Retail blitzkrieg

By Devinder Sharma

A US study has established increasing poverty in states where Wal-Mart has expanded operations. But in India, not a single independent study has examined the impact of organised retail on 12 million small shopkeepers, 40 million hawkers and 200 million small farmers

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SEZs: A catalogue of questions

By Aseem Shrivastava

Can a few "treasure islands" take shelter from the nation's Constitution in the guise of economic growth?

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A dubious GIFT

By Manshi Asher and Sayantoni Datta

Gujarat International Finance Tech City (GIFT), to come up in Gandhinagar, is being promoted as India's largest multi-services financial hub. To be built mostly on common grazing lands grabbed from surrounding villages and by panicking farmers into selling their agricultural land, it is yet another instance of how commercial interests are favoured at the expense of the poor

Read more...

How Mundra became India's Rotterdam

By Manshi Asher

An account of how the Mundra multi-product SEZ has steamrolled ahead over the last few years, clearing forests and environmental hurdles along the way

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Inside the SEZ cauldron

By Anosh Malekar

Our correspondent reports on the “historic” referendum in 22 villages of Raigad district, Maharashtra, where on September 21 over 6,000 landholders voted against the acquisition of their lands for an SEZ. The farmers insist they want to continue farming. But will they hold out when the compensation package is upped? And will the promised waters from the Hetavane dam flow into their fields before they sell out?

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Goa: How the battle was won

By Rifat Mumtaz and Madhumanti Sardar

Recently, Goa became the only state in India to openly declare that no more Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would be set up on its territory. This was a result of relentless pressure from almost the entire state -- villagers, educated middle class, professionals, activists, the church and media

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Farmer suicides rampant in MP, Chhattisgarh too

By Sushmita Malaviya and Jinendra Singh

A study by the Madras Institute of Development Studies puts the number of farmer suicides in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh at well over 2,000 a year. But both state governments are choosing to ignore the facts. In this report, farmers tell their own story

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The SEZ versus the 'unrewarding' small farm

By Aseem Shrivastava

Kakinada farmer Narasimha Murthy's 5-acre farm supports 50 people, each living on around Rs 800 a month, more than twice the official rural poverty line.Why would farmers like him in 16 villages in Andhra Pradesh want to give up this livelihood for the Kakinada SEZ? What does the SEZ offer them anyway?

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Stalemate at Singur

By Aparna Pallavi

A year after 1,000 acres of land were acquired by the West Bengal government, Singur is quiet but simmering. "We are land people, we live on land and with land," say locals in this update. Only 300 of the 1200 landowners have accepted compensation

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The growing revolt against disposability

By Aseem Shrivastava

With governments backing out of land acquisition for SEZs, the land mafia is taking over. But resistance is growing too. In Jhajjar district of Haryana, where a 25,000-acre SEZ is planned, a Kisan Jagrukta Samiti is protesting actively

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'India is the last giant market left in the world; protect it'

By Rashme Sehgal

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is poised to enter the Indian market. Campaigner Wade Rathke warns against the predatory practices of Wal-Mart, whose business model, he says, is notorious for driving out competition and slashing labour costs

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Protecting vanilla farmers against global cartels

By N P Chekutty

Set up to protect the interests of vanilla-growers in India, Vanilco is a model for farmers who face volatile market conditions and monopolies within the market

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R&D-shy Indian firms may trip over drugs patents

By Biswajit Choudhury

India is introducing new patent laws that will stop its drugs industry from making cheap versions of patented drugs. What this means for India's poor, and other developing countries dependent on India for inexpensive medicines, is uncertain. What is clear, though, is that India's companies are unlikely to start developing new drugs themselves - the cost is just too high

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Beware, the term 'sustainable development' has been hijacked

Sustainable development has become a mantra for big business and multinational corporations. Worse, it has unwittingly opened the door to the gradual hijacking of the environmental movement by so-called 'corporate realists'

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Western cow vs Southern farmer: The absurdity of inequality

By Devinder Sharma

Around 1.5 billion marginal farmers in the developing world live in virtual penury. Simultaneously, 1.5 billion cattle in the industrialised world are reared in luxury, with a cow in the developed world receiving subsidies that amount to almost twice the annual income of an average Third World farmer

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SEZs: Damp squibs?

By Rashme Sehgal

A study by the Hazards Centre shows that only 19 of an approved 366 SEZs are functional. And within many of these, the number of manufacturing units actually set up and the number of people employed is much lower than expected

Read more...

Govt assures speedy implementation of POSCO project

The government is moving in the heavy artillery in an attempt to ensure the country’s largest foreign direct investment project goes operational soon, despite continuing opposition from the people whose lands and livelihoods it imperils

Read more...

Remove protection, demands US trade commission

A new report by the US International Trade Commission argues that India’s agricultural tariffs are keeping out American exports, that such obstruction is a concern to the USA, and that removal of these tariffs could result in a leap of up to 60% in US agricultural exports to India

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Raigad farmers hail court verdict on Reliance SEZ

Farmers and activists in Raigad district, Maharashtra, were in a jubilant mood last weekend as they welcomed a Supreme Court verdict that makes it almost impossible for Reliance Industries to set up its SEZ on their land

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Tata unhappy with lack of clarity in Singur deal

The Tata Motors small car project in Singur may yet be moved out of West Bengal as the company expressed its dissatisfaction over certain ambiguous aspects of a compromise deal that was hammered out after hours of hard bargaining

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Trade talks collapse again in Geneva

The Empowered Group of Ministers on SEZs will be considering a proposal next week that will make it easier for developers to acquire land

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Govt considering dilution of SEZ acquisition

The Empowered Group of Ministers on SEZs will be considering a proposal next week that will make it easier for developers to acquire land

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First 'Kisan SEZ' planned by Indian fertiliser co-op in Nellore

At a time when farmers protests have thwarted the ambitions of several corporate houses, both Indian and foreign, to set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs), a new agri-processing SEZ in Andhra Pradesh has forestalled controversy by making farmers direct stakeholders in the venture

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Indian govt will not impose SEZs on Goa

The Indian commerce ministry has averted yet another confrontation between civil society and the State over Special Economic Zones (SEZs), and a face-off with the Goa government, by reversing its stand on the latter's decision to rid the state of SEZs

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Rally against land acquisition, displacement, on Kalinganagar anniversary

Participants in the Mahasamavesh, organised to mark the second anniversary of the police firing in Kalinganagar, in Orissa, where 13 tribals lost their lives while opposing construction of a wall for the proposed Tata steel project, vowed to continue their struggle to protect their land and livelihood sources

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