No change in foreign equity norms in retail, aviation: Minister

No change in foreign equity norms in retail, aviation: MinisterNew Delhi, Nov 6 : Commerce Minister Anand Sharma Friday said there would be no review of present policy on foreign direct investment in the retail and aviation sectors.

The statement comes after S. Robson Walton, chairman of global retail giant Wal-Mart, met him and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently to push for removing the restriction on foreign direct investment in organised multi-brand retail.

"This is not a time to revisit the norms. I have met representatives from Wal-Mart. They are very happy and plan to open more chains," Sharma told reporters at a joint briefing with visiting European Union Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton.

"This will help farmers get more remunerative prices and generate jobs," he said.

India currently does not allow any foreign equity in multi-brand retail, while up to 51 percent overseas capital is permitted for single-brand chains.

This apart, foreign companies extending logistical and warehousing support are allowed 100 percent stake in Indian ventures.

Asked if the cap on foreign equity in domestic carriers would be raised or foreign airlines allowed to buy stake, Sharma said he was not aware of any such proposal. If brought to his ministry's notice, it would take a view on the matter in consultation with the Department of Industry Policy and Promotion.

The minister said the 10th India-European business summit was meant to discuss trade and business agreements, and that issues relating to climate change and child labour would be discussed at another forum.

On the issue of banning job visas for Chinese contractual workers, Sharma said the decision was limited to unskilled labour and not skilled people like engineers.

"It's not that we are targeting any country but we have to understand that we too have a huge population of unskilled labourers, and we cannot encourage that (visas to casual overseas workers) as it will affect our job market," he said.

Responding to India's concerns over confiscation of generic medicines produced by Indian companies in Europe, European Union Trade Commissioner Ashton said: "We have no intention to stop consignments of generic medicines. Our officials have met and will meet again to sort out the differences."(IANS)

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