INTERNATIONAL/INDIA AND WORLD
President Mukherjee paid visit to 3 African nations - Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Namibia.
A. INDIA-IVORY COAST
It was the first visit of an Indian president since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1960. India had established its Embassy in Abidjan in 1979, while Cote d’Ivoire (also called as Ivory Coast) opened its Resident Mission here in 2004.
Highlights of visit
President Mukherjee has been accorded the country’s highest honour, Grand Cross National Order.
Inked an agreement to re-establish the headquarters of the Exim Bank in Abidjan.
Trade: bilateral trade grew from $344.99 million in 2010-11 to $841.85 million in 2014-15.
Cote D’Ivoirie, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, sought investment from India’s private sector, particularly in processing the main ingredient in chocolates, to strengthen trade ties.
It is the biggest exporter of cashew nuts to India, which procures nearly 80% of its cashew nuts exports.
India, within the rubric of South-South Cooperation, has extended lines of credit amounting to USD 156.3 million for developmental projects in diverse fields such as public transportation, rural electrification, rice self-sufficiency, cashew nut processing, coconut fibre processing and IT and Bio-technology Park.
It was first ever visit of Indian President to Ghana. India and Ghana signed three bilateral agreements to strengthen co-operation in varied fields.
Following are list of agreements/MoUs
Agreement on exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic and official passports.
Memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a joint commission.
The commission will periodically review various aspects of the multi-dimensional ties.
MoUs between the Foreign Service Institute (India) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ghana).
Ghana has sought India’s civil nuclear cooperation to explore the possibilities of reducing its dependence on traditional energy sources to cut costs and focus on cleaner environment.
India’s cumulative investments in Ghana hover around $1 billion, whereas bilateral trade is $3 billion in 2015-16.
Ghana's main trade consists of gold imports; it's nearly 80 per cent of total trade.
India is the largest foreign investor in Ghana, with more than 700 projects. More than 200 of these are in the manufacturing sector.
India intends to expand its bilateral trade with Ghana from 3 to 5 billion in the next three years.
Cooperation in other fields
India would establish a Chair on Indian Studies in the University of Ghana, Accra. It will be funded by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
India is supporting many major socio-economic projects such as Komenda Sugar Plant and Elmina Fish Processing Plant by way of grants and Lines of credit.
India has also approved a Line of Credit for setting up a Foreign Policy Training Institute.
During President’s visit following MoUs have been signed.
MoU on Establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT).
MoU concerning technical cooperation in the area of capacity building of public officials.
Namibia signed an agreement with India in 2009 for uranium supply. The treaty sets the framework for long term supply of uranium but it is pending ratification by Namibian Parliament.
Namibia being a member of the African Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (ANWFZT), it is barred from trading in uranium with India, which is not a signatory of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium.
Namibia asked New Delhi to come up with similar agreements with other countries to help it convince the ANWFZT members.
African Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (ANWFZT)
The ANWFZT, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, is named after South Africa’s main Nuclear Research Centre.
Pelindaba was the location where South Africa’s atomic bombs of the 1970s were developed, constructed and subsequently stored.
The Pelindaba Treaty signed in 1996 aims at preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely.
Importance of Namibia
Namibia is member of Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The SACU consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.
The strength of Namibian economy is mineral with mining sector which contributes around 11 per cent to the GDP.
India will offer assistance to Namibia in setting up Mining Engineering trading set up.
Analysis of visit
President visit to African Nations highlights India’s commitment continued in the form of South-South Cooperation through developmental assistance and sharing resources for the development of nations in Africa.
After hosting the third India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in New Delhi in October 2015, India is working on a plan to consolidate and further strengthen its engagement with Africa.
India's outreach to Africa, mostly in the form of development assistance, comes amid China's fast inroads in building infrastructure and investments in the vast mineral-rich continent.
African continent is going to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
African continent is endowed with natural resources; India is trying to tap vast resources to fuel its economy.
2.2. HARMFUL PROVISIONS IN RCEP
Why in News?
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors without Borders, an international NGO has warned India that it will no more remain ‘the pharmacy of the developing world’ if the proposed proposals in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement are adopted.
As per the intellectual property text which is being discussed at the RCEP negotiations, two of the most worrying are the demands for ‘Data Exclusivity’ and ‘Patent Term Extensions’.
Data exclusivity is a form of legal monopoly protection for a drug, over and above the patent protections. This is given expressly to compensate for the investment made during clinical trials. It implied that regulators cannot approve a similar drug with similar data for the next five years.
Patent term extensions are given to compensate the company for delays in processing patent applications. A patent term extension will give another five-year monopoly to the innovator company.
It will increase drug costs by creating new monopolies and delaying the entry of affordable generics in the market.
It will undermine India’s role as a major suppliers of generic medicines for people in the developing world, including both low- and middle-income countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar etc.
Access to affordable generic medicines is vital for these countries to address public health challenges, including HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and non-communicable diseases.
2.3. VICE PRESIDENT VISIT TO NORTH AFRICAN NATIONS
Vice President paid official visit to the North African nations of Morocco and Tunisia.
A. India - Morocco
India and Morocco signed two agreements on culture and diplomacy
to reinforce cooperation in the field of music, art and archives, cultural heritage, cultural activities through the exchange of expertise and information in the related fields.
to exchange information on training programs for diplomats, experts and researchers, strengthen communication and exchange of expert visits.
The India-Morocco Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IMCCI) was launched by Vice President and Moroccan PM Abdelilah Benkirane.
Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $ 1.26 billion in 2015 with Indian exports forming roughly 25 per cent of the trade volume.
B. India - Tunisia
Highlights of visit
Signed two MoUs on promotion of handicrafts and IT and communication and digital economy
India will train 350 Tunisian students in next five years and the two sides will promote each other's traditional handicraft as per the agreements.
The trade between the two countries last year was a little over 340 million US dollars. India accounts for around 50 per cent of Tunisia’s global phosphoric acid exports.
Tunisia supports India’s bid for a place in an expanded UN Security Council. Tunisia’s is the ‘cradle of Arab Spring’, the string of popular uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011. The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia was the trigger for Arab uprisings.
2.4. SHANGRI LA DIALOGUE: ASIA SECURITY SUMMIT
The IISS Asia Security Summit was launched in 2002 by British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Singaporean government.
This annual dialogue brings together defence ministers and military chiefs from 28 Asia-Pacific countries to talk about security in the region.
It gets its name from the location of the meeting, the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore.
India’s defence Minister participated in the 15th Shangri-La security summit.
2.5. GLOBAL PEACE INDEX (GPI) 2016
The Global Peace Index (GPI) is an attempt to measure relative position of nations' and regions' peacefulness. It is the product of Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and developed in consultation with an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and think tanks with data collected and collated by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Highlights of GPI-2016
India is ranked as the 141st country (out of 163 countries) in GPI 2016. Violence impacted India’s economy by $679.80 billion in 2016, 9% of India’s GDP, or $525
Iceland has been ranked as the most peaceful country followed by Denmark and Austria.
Syria has been named as the least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
2.6. MALABAR EXERCISE
Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the US, Japan and India as permanent partners. Originally a bilateral exercise between India and the US, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015.
The primary aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the three navies and develop common understanding of procedures for Maritime Security Operations.
This year (2016) exercise was held in Japan.
2.7. HAGUE CODE OF CONDUCT (HCOC)
The International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, also known as the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC), was established in 2002 to prevent the proliferation of ballistic missiles.
HCOC is voluntary, legally non-binding, preventing the spread of ballistic missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction.
India joined the HCOC on 1 June 2016.
The number of signatories of HCOC is 138.
China, Pakistan, Israel and Iran have not joined the voluntary regime yet.
2.8. MISSILE TECHNOLOGY CONTROL REGIME (MTCR)
India became the 35th member of the MTCR. India’s efforts to get in got a boost after it joined the Hague Code of Conduct, dealing with the ballistic missile non-proliferation arrangement. Significance of membership
The MTCR membership will provide a boost to India's space and missile technology, besides the government's Make in India initiative.
India’s space programme will be an obvious beneficiary, albeit belatedly – in the 1990s, New Delhi’s pursuit of Russian cryogenic engine technology was stymied by the MTCR.
It will enable India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its joint ventures with Russia.
It will ease the way for export of supersonic BrahMos cruise missile, co-developed with Russia India will be able to import Predator drones from the US.
The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.
China, Israel and Pakistan are not members of MTCR.
USA, UK, Russia, France, Japan, Italy, Germany, Brazil, South Korea and Australia are prominent members of the group.
Prime Minister paid his first official visit to gas-rich Qatar. During the visit 7 agreements were signed.
MoU between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), aimed to facilitate participation of Qatari institutional investors in Infrastructure projects in India Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters.
MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit - India (FIU-IND) and the Qatar Financial Information Unit (QFIU) concerning cooperation in the exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism-financing and related crimes.
MoU for Cooperation in Skill Development and Recognition of Qualifications.
MoU on cooperation in Tourism.
The First Executive Programme for MoU in the field of Youth and Sports
MOU for Cooperation in the field of Health.
Importance of Qatar
Bilateral trade in 2014-15 stood $15.67 billion of which India’s exports accounted only $1 billion.
It is also one of India's key sources of crude oil.
India is the third largest export destination for Qatar after Japan and South Korea, with LNG being the major item of trade.
Indians comprise the single largest group of migrants in Qatar.
The Prime Minister has been focusing on improving ties with the Gulf region which is crucial for India’s energy security. He has already visited UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Qatar is member of Gulf cooperation council (GCC).
2.10. SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANIZATION SUMMIT
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) annual summit was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
At the summit, for the first time, the SCO will be expanded to accommodate new countries and make them permanent members of the group.
India and Pakistan signed the memorandum of obligations on 24 June 2016 at Tashkent, thereby starting the formal process of joining the SCO as a full member
India’s entry into the SCO as a full member will provide it an opportunity to have extended cooperation with member countries in areas of defence, security and counter-terrorism.
The Prime Minister highlighted the need to adopt zero tolerance to terror and the need for a comprehensive approach to fight terrorism at all levels.
India attached great importance to ties with Central Asia and always sought to expand economic and people-to-people ties with the region.
The Defence Minister paid an official visit to Vietnam.
Vietnam, which is building a naval deterrent to China with Russian-made Kilo-class submarines, is keen on India training its submarine personnel.
It also has expressed interest to acquire Indian-made BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
India has recently provided Vietnam with a US$100 million Line of Credit which is being utilised by Vietnam for procurement of Offshore Patrol Boats for their Border Guards.
Defence Minister Visit indicates that India is keen to deepen military engagement with Vietnam with a view to counter China’s increasing footprint in the Indian Ocean region.
Prime Minister Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurated the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat province, Afghanistan. Prime Minister was conferred with Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award.
The Afghan govt. in 2015 changed the name of the project from Salma dam to Afghan-India Friendship Dam.
The 42 MW dam will boost the agricultural and industrial sectors of Herat.
India’s contribution in in institution and infrastructure building:
India has contributed close to $ 2 billion in institution and infrastructure development in Afghanistan.
It has also signed the TAPI pipeline project that aims to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India.
For India, Afghanistan has immense strategic potential. More important; a friendly, stable regime in Kabul is geopolitical insurance against Pakistan’s deep state.
Prime Minister Modi paid fourth official visit to USA.
Highlights of Joint statement
What India gave
What India got
Climate and Energy
Work towards an HFC amendment in 2016 “with an ambitious phasedown schedule” under the Montreal Protocol pursuant to the Dubai Pathway
US to pursue membership of the International Solar Alliance(ISA)
Pursue negotiations at the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly to reach a “successful outcome” to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation.
Six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse; India and the U.S. Export-Import Bank to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project.
Announcement of a $20 million US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative, supported equally by both countries.
$40 million U.S.-India Catalytic Solar Finance Program, also supported equally.
Export Control and Defence Cooperation
US to designate India as a “major defence partner.”
US re-affirmed support for India’s entry into the NSG, the Missile Technologies Control Group, the Australia Group and Wassennaar Arrangement.
Technology sharing with India to a level commensurate
with that of its closest allies and partners. It will give India access to almost 99 per cent of latest U.S.'s defence technologies
India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives.
support to India’s Make In India initiative and to the development of robust defense industries and their integration into the global supply chain
Over the last one decade the defence trade between India and the U.S. has increased from being almost non-existent to more than $14 billion. This is expected to increase manifold as India embarks on a major defence modernisation drive.
Text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement “finalised.”
US welcomed India’s offer to host the Summit on Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism in 2018
The U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region would be the guide for collaboration in years to come.
India to receive license-free access to a “wide range of dual-use technologies”, but in accordance with US law.
MoU for exchange of earth observation satellite data “finalised”
A “commitment” to promote the free flow of information.
Closer cooperation among agencies to combat cybercrime
India supports norm against conducting or supporting ICT-enabled theft of IP, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial purposes.
US commits to strengthen “critical Internet infrastructure” in India.
Greater cooperation on cybersecurity standards and security testing.
Norm to tackle malicious cyber activity emanating from one’s territory
Express iteration of Pakistan’s responsibility to “bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and [for the first time] 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks” to justice
US re-affirmed its support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism
Work towards concrete progress on IPR issues and enhance bilateral cooperation among the “drivers of innovation” in both countries.
Re-affirm trilateral cooperation with African partners, “including in areas such as agriculture, health, energy”.
2.14. WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO)
WTO Director General has welcomed India’s proposal for a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Services.
India had proposed it after the December 2015 WTO ministerial conference in Nairobi (Kenya).
The proposed TFA in Services is on the lines of the WTO’s TFA on goods that is aimed at easing customs rules to expedite trade flows.
The proposed TFA in Services envisages, among other things, easier temporary movement of skilled workers, to boost global services trade.
India has already ratified the TFA on goods. Services account for over half of India's GDP.
2.15. NSG PLENARY
The annual plenary session of the Nuclear Suppliers Group was held in Seoul. At the session, NSG did not take decision on India’s application to join the group as a full member.
Opposition to India’s membership
Both India and Pakistan, which have applied for NSG membership, have not signed the NPT. While India’s case is pushed by the US, China is backing Pakistan.
38 countries out of 48 were in favour of India's membership.
China has strongly opposed India’s membership citing to procedural hurdles (not signatory of NPT).
Ireland and New Zealand took the line that the criteria for admission for non-NPT states should be discussed first while India's membership can be taken up later.
Six countries, including Brazil and Switzerland, said they wanted a discussion on criteria and India's membership to take place simultaneously.
Importance of NSG membership
India is keen to become a member of the NSG, apart from being stakeholders in the Wassenaar Agreement and Australia Group, to expand its nuclear power generation and also enter the export market.
Membership with the NSG will provide greater certainty and a legal grounding for India's nuclear regime, evoking confidence of countries that invest billions to set up ambitious projects in India.
With India committed to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring that 40% of its energy is sourced from renewable and clean sources, there is a need to scale up nuclear power production.
With access to latest technology, India can commercialize production of nuclear power equipment. This in turn will boost innovation and high tech manufacturing and can be used for economic and strategic benefits. India’s entry into the NSG will strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.
It will formalize 2008 waiver that India got from NSG.
Not being a member, India does not have any full control over future amendments. It means that the waiver that India enjoyed, in a sense, can be reversed by subsequent amendments.
There has been one major change in guidelines in 2011, adopted a new rule which introduced a non-proliferation treaty criterion for export of reprocessing and enrichment (ENR) equipment.
Why India should get NSG membership
India's track record in observing the provisions of NPT and NSG while not being a member of either body is impeccable.
India has aligned its rule related to nuclear commerce in the line with NSG guidelines. Its civilian nuclear installations are under IAEA supervision.
Brexit is the inelegant shorthand for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The UK opted for a momentous change of course by voting to leave the European Union in a closely fought referendum.
How UK voted?
The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.
This was the second referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European project. In 1975, in a referendum on whether the U.K. should stay or leave the European Community (Common Market) Area, the country voted for staying in with a resounding 67.2 per cent vote.
Argument put up by both sides during run up of referendum
Remain side argument
Exit side argument
The pro-EU members argue that EU migrants contribute more to the national economy than they take out.
The anti-immigration parties argue this puts a severe strain on national resources and add up to welfare expenditure.
In the era of international terrorism, cooperating with EU will make UK safer
The security risk will increase if the U.K. does not have control over its borders.
As three million jobs are tied to the EU there could be a jobs crisis if the UK leaves the EU.
There will be a jobs boom without the fetters that EU regulations impose.
Access to the single European market, free of tariffs and border controls, is critical for the UK as 45 per cent of its trade is with the EU
The EU needs British markets and individual trade deals with European countries can be easily negotiated.
May put dominance of London as Europe’s financial centre at risk as banks will move out
London’s status is unassailable as it is already a global power base.
Britain's exit process
To begin the withdrawal process, Britain must invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon treaty, which has never been used before.
The first step is to inform the European Council of member states which sets the clock ticking on a two-year timetable of negotiations.
Impact on United Kingdom
1. Unity of kingdom
The first is threat to the geographical integrity of the UK. Scotland and Northern Ireland had voted in favour of remain in Brexit referendum.
Scottish National Party declared that it would block the exit from the European Union.
Scotland may hold a second independence referendum from U.K.
If Scotland gets another independence vote, calls for Northern Ireland to be merged with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, could gain momentum.
Londoners (the petition addressed to Mayor Sadiq Khan has already attracted a million signatures), has even called for it to declare independence from the UK.
2. Economic impact
Depreciation of Pound: The immediate effect can be seen in the drastic fall of the pound.
Chances of investment moving from UK to other EU countries
In long run London may lose its prominence place as financial Hub in Europe.
Economic uncertainty at least for two years due to negotiation with EU to leave and forming new architecture of economic relation.
Impact on India
Can impact the inflow from foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to India and affect GDP growth.
Domestic investors are concerned about the direct negative impact that some of the India-based companies and sectors that have investments and exposure to Britain will suffer.
A third of the Indian investment in the UK is in the IT and telecom sector. With Britain's exit, a requirement for separate headquarters for Europe and Britain might crop up.
With the reactionary fall in the pound, Indian investors stand to gain in the short run as they can acquire property in the UK at a cheaper rate.
Weaker pound to benefit Indian tourists, students.
India is negotiating a Free trade agreement with EU, Britain's exit means redrafting of FTA text.
Currency depreciation will further increase risk aversion and put more pressure on the weak Asian currencies.
Rupee depreciation may accentuate Balance of Trade (increase in current account deficit).
Impact on EU
The biggest worry about the Brexit vote is that it has opened a Pandora's Box.
The biggest fear was of contagion, with immediate calls by far-right leaders in France and the Netherlands for their countries to hold their own votes on EU membership.
EU urged Britain to leave as "soon as possible" amid fears the devastating blow to European unity could spark a chain reaction of further referendums.
Anti-immigration groups and forces of nationalism and Sub-nationalism will gain ground in EU.
The fallout could also hit Europe’s fragile growth. Rapid depreciation of Euro will impact competitiveness of EU market.
There are chances that Europe may adopt strong immigration act.
Deepens fears across Europe about the rise of eurosceptic, anti-establishment parties.
Financial impact: Much of the EU’s money comes from its member states. And the UK is one of the larger contributors.
Political impact: UK is a permanent member of United Nations Security council (UNSC), Britain’s exit will reduce political clout of EU in world Affairs.
Expansion of EU: it will have impact on those countries (Like Turkey) that are willing to join European Union.
Norway model – middle ground
Norway, along with Liechtenstein and Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA).
EEA countries have a separate secretariat in Brussels to manage the relationship between the EU and EEA.
They make contributions to the EU budget and have access to the single market while staying out of the EU.