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UK to Strengthen Economic Ties with India

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DELHI – British finance minister George Osborne and foreign secretary William Hague kick off a two-day visit to India today that will aim to strengthen economic ties between the two countries and enhance bilateral cooperation in defense and infrastructure development.

The visit by two of Britain’s most senior government ministers is the first since Narendra Modi and the BJP took office last month and the latest in a recent series of high-profile visits to the country.

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MoF Releases New Foreign Exchange Rate for Imported and Exported Goods

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India’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has released new guidelines regarding the rate of foreign exchange for calculating customs duties on goods being imported and exported from the country.

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India to Implement FATCA

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DELHI – In line with an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) concluded “in substance” with the United States in April, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) have announced India’s timeline for full Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) implementation as the act comes into effect today.

Under FATCA, participating foreign banks and financial institutions are required to report the offshore accounts and assets of U.S. citizens and foreign firms in which U.S. taxpayers hold substantial ownership.

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India and Pakistan Move to Liberalize Trade Ties

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DELHI – India’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman will discuss a new roadmap for trade liberalization with Pakistani Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan next month.

Easing visa restrictions, eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade, promoting mobile connectivity and opening additional banking channels between the two countries are expected to be among several key issues the two ministers discuss on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Ministerial Council in Bhutan on July 24.

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India Extends Excise Duty Cuts on Vehicles and Capital Goods

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DELHI – India’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has officially extended existing duty concessions on several items including vehicles, capital goods and consumer durables to December 31, 2014.

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Key Aspects of India’s Corporate Social Responsibility Mandate Clarified

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DELHI – The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) released a new circular last Wednesday that clarifies certain aspects of India’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) mandate.

General Circular No. 21/2014 (dated June 18, 2014) clarifies a number of aspects of the CSR mandate, including specifying items that can be included under Schedule VII of the Companies Act and what can and cannot be considered a CSR expenditure.

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India’s Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC) Releases First Report

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DELHI – India’s Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC) has submitted its first report to Finance Minister Jaitley suggesting a variety of changes to India’s tax administration framework.

Constituted in August 2013 under the leadership of economist Dr. Parthasarathi Shome, the TARC is charged with identifying key areas for improvement in India’s tax system. In its first report released last month, the commission suggested merging the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) with the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), broadening India’s use of the Permanent Account Number (PAN) system, improving services to taxpayers and ending retrospective taxation, among other measures.

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India Reviewing Cyprus Tax Treaty to Reduce Withholding Tax Issues

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DELHI – After classifying Cyprus as a “notified jurisdiction” last November and suspending double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) benefits, India may soon revise its DTAA with Cyprus and restore a 10 percent withholding tax rate in light of recent progress in tax information sharing.

Since the two countries signed a DTAA in 1994, the small island jurisdiction has become the seventh largest source of FDI into India – accounting for US$7.44 billion in FDI between 2000 and 2014, and US$557 million in FY2014 alone.

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