India, Italy to form joint defence panel

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy, Mr. Paolo Gentiloni being received by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, at the Ceremonial Reception, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on October 29, 2017.   -  PIB

To step up dialogue between defence firms in both nations

India and Italy have decided to strengthen their defence ties with greater dialogue and interaction between defence firms on both sides even as the ₹3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper scam has taken yet another turn.

During a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, both sides decided to establish a Joint Defence Committee to enhance and encourage a “structured dialogue” between Indian and Italian defence firms, according to the joint statement.

The committee will be meeting in the first half of next year, which will either take place in New Delhi or in Rome, the statement said.

The main idea behind establishing the committee was to “avoid” incidents such as AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam and lend greater clarity in government policies, especially in the area of defence, sources told BusinessLine.

Court seeks ED response

In a parallel development, the Delhi High Court on Monday sought response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a bail plea filed by a woman director of one the Dubai-based firms that were involved in the alleged money laundering AgustaWestland scam.

Gentiloni, who is on a two-day visit here, also expressed the interest of Italian firms to participate in defence manufacturing in India under ‘Make in India.’ The two sides will also discuss, in the appropriate working group, the draft Technical Agreement on Sharing of White Shipping Information between the Navies, the joint statement said. Sources said that both sides also discussed the issue of resuming talks for an India-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA), officially known as the Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).

A high-powered business delegation, which was accompanying the Italian PM, also discussed with India what their expectations were from the pending FTA, talks for which began a decade ago.

Chief trade negotiators from India and EU are meeting next month to revive the talks, sources said.

“The leaders expressed their shared commitment to strengthening the economic partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards an early resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU BTIA,” the statement said.

Both leaders also discussed the progress in additional protocol amending the bilateral agreement to avoid double taxation.

Published on October 30, 2017

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