international - 2017 AUGUST

August 1

India-Bhutan New Trade and Transit agreement come into force
The new bilateral Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan came into force. It aims to strengthen the bilateral relations between India and Bhutan.
The Agreement provides for a free trade regime between the territories of India and Bhutan. It also provides for a duty-free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries.
The validity was extended for one year or till the new agreement comes into force, through the exchange of diplomatic notes.
The new agreement was signed by the Minister of State (IC), Ministry of Commerce and Industry on behalf of the Government of India.
The new pact will help strengthen the bilateral trade relations between India and Bhutan.
Further, the new agreement removes the requirement of having an annual consultation between India and Bhutan for the transit of goods of both countries along with the goods originating in third country.

China opens its first overseas Military base in Djibouti
China formally opened its first overseas military base with a flag raising ceremony in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, the same day as the People's Liberation Army marks its 90th birthday.
Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worry in India that it would become another of China's "string of pearls" military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti in 2016. It will be used to re-supply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia
It is China's first overseas naval base, though Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility.
The base will enable China to better support its patrols in waters off Somalia and Yemen and carried out its international humanitarian obligations.

August 2

India – Somali signed an agreement on transfer of sentenced persons
India and Somalia signed a bilateral agreement for the transfer of sentenced persons. The move is step forward in deepening humanitarian cooperation between the two nations.
Signing the agreement with Somalia will facilitate the Indian prisoners imprisoned in Somalia or vice-versa to be near to their families, for serving remaining part of their sentence. The step will also facilitate their social rehabilitation.
The agreement was signed between External Aairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia Yusuf Garaad Omar.
The Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia Yusuf-Garaad Omar arrived in New Delhi on a five-day visit at the invitation of Sushma Swaraj. This is his first visit to India since he assumed office earlier in 2017
Prior to 2004, there was no domestic legislation under which foreign prisoners could be transferred to the country of their origin to serve the remaining part of their sentence.
There was also no provision for the transfer of prisoners of Indian origin convicted by a foreign court to serve their sentence in India. The transfer of such prisoners to their own native countries can help in facilitating their social rehabilitation.

August 3

Union Cabinet approves MoU between India and Spain on cooperation in renewable energy.
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Spain on India-Spain Cooperation in renewable energy.
The MoU will help in strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries with the exchange of expertise and networking of information.
Both sides aim to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship to encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable energy issues on the basis of mutual benefit equality and reciprocity. The MoU envisages establishing a Joint Working Committee to review, monitor and discuss matters relation to areas of cooperation.

United States issues ban on tourist travel to North Korea
The United States issued a ban prohibiting its citizens traveling to North Korea, a move triggered by the death of a US student imprisoned by Pyongyang during a tourist visit.
The new ban will remain in effect for one year, unless it is revoked sooner by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Exemptions will be allowed in specific cases for humanitarian travel and journalists.
Strict warnings against travel to the North were already in place before the ban was first announced in July following the death of American student Otto Warmbier.
Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, died after being held by Pyongyang for more than a year on charges of stealing a propaganda poster from a North Korean hotel.
He had been sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour in the North, but was sent home in a mysterious coma and died soon afterwards.
All United States passports are declared invalid for travel to North Korea.

August 4

Qatar to become first Arab state to offer permanent residency to some non-citizens
Qatar’s Cabinet approved a draft law making permanent residency available to some non-citizens of the country.
Under the new law, Residency permits will be granted to children of Qatari women married to foreigners.
The residency permit gives holders similar rights as Qataris in terms of property ownership and access to generous education and health care services.
According to the provisions of the bill, the minister of interior may grant a permanent residency ID to a non-Qatari if they meet the conditions specified in the law.
Holders of the new permanent residency can for the first time access free- state education and healthcare and have the right to own property and run some businesses without needing a Qatari partner.

USISPF –Strategic Partnership Forum Set Up to Deepen Indo – US ties
A new representative body US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is being set up to further enhances business relations between the two countries.
The non-profit corporation aims to promote bilateral trade and work on creating “meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens”
The body will work closely together with businesses and government leaders to achieve its goals of driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship
Mukesh Aghi will serve as a USISPF President while GauravVerma will serve as Chief Operating officer.
USISPF’s board of directors will include Chairman John Chambers (Executive Chairman, Cisco), Vice-Chairs Punit Renjen (Global CEO, Deloitte LLP) and Edward Monser (President, Emerson Electric), and board members Indra Nooyi (Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo), and Ajay Banga (President and CEO, MasterCard).

August 5

UNSC adopts resolution to thwart terrorists' access to weapons
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons.
The Council "strongly condemned" the continued flow of weapons, military equipment, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and their components, and improvised explosive device (IED) components to and between the Islamic State, Al-Qaida, their affiliates, and associated groups, illegal armed groups and criminals,
UN member states were encouraged to prevent and disrupt procurement networks for weapons, systems and components between and among such groups and entities.
Member states were specifically urged to ensure the ability to take appropriate legal actions against those who are knowingly engaged in providing terrorists with weapons and to ensure proper physical security and management for stockpiles of small arms and light weapons.
These states were also urged to strengthen their judicial, law enforcement and border-control capacities, and develop their capabilities to investigate arms trafficking networks in order to address the link between transnational organized crime and terrorism.

August 6

Chabbar Port will start operations by 2018
According to The Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, the government is keen on developing Chabahar Port in Iran and is hopeful of starting operations by 2018. Gadkari is in Teheran to represent India at the taking over of office by President Hassan Rouhani for the second term. On the eve of his visit to Iran.
Gadkari informed that Civil construction work has already started at the Chabahar Port .The Indian Government has allocated Rs 6 billion for the development of the port. Out of this, tenders worth Rs 380 Crore for equipment have already been finalized.
The Chabahar Port will boost trade and business between the two countries and in the region.
Iran's Chabahar port located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on the South-eastern coast is a port of great strategic utility for India. It lies outside the Persian Gulf and is accessed from India's western coast. As per an MoU signed between India and Iran in 2016, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.

August 7

Iran signs its biggest-ever car deal with France's Renault
Iran signed the country's biggest-ever car deal worth several hundred million dollars with French manufacturer Groupe Renault to produce 150,000 cars a year, the latest advance by a European company into Iran's sizeable consumer market.
The €660 million or $778 million deal follows the lifting of the U.N. and European Union sanctions after Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers to curb its controversial uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons.
It’s expected to create about 3,000 jobs for the two companies, Iran’s IDRO and the privately owned Negin Group. Renault has a 60 percent partnership in the deal.
French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen reached a deal with Iran Khodro to open a plant producing 200,000 vehicles annually.
Iran produces about 1,350,000 vehicles a year, though authorities hope that number will reach 3 million annually by 2025.

August 8

India to MGC nations – Expand areas of cooperation
At Eighth Mekong Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting in Manila, Philippines, India called for expanding the areas of cooperation among the member countries of the bloc to further deepen mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh represented India at this meeting.
MGC countries have proposed to add newer areas of cooperation to the traditional areas on tourism, culture, education, transport and communication to further deepen mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation.
India and member states agreed to look forward to sustain this progress in the years to come and in further deepening our mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation. They also have shared the concept notes on formation of task forces on maritime connectivity and extension of (India-Myanmar-Thailand) trilateral highway into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
The MGC is an initiative by India and five ASEAN countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications. It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Laos. It is named after Ganga and the Mekong which both are civilisational rivers. MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.

India, Iran call for early operationalisation of Chabahar Port
India and Iran have expressed commitment for early completion and operationalisation of Chabahar Port besides strengthening bilateral ties.
Both the countries in a series of meetings held during the Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari two-day visit to Iran.
India already requested Iran for an early submission of loan application for Chabahar Port Development to Exim Bank of India so that the contract agreement can be activated.
Chabahar port is strategically located in the southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province, on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan. In 2016, India and Iran had signed a bilateral agreement, under which India agreed to refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600-metre long container handling facility at the port.

August 9

India to India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol
India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases, reaffirming its stand on climate action. According to India’s Permanent Mission to the UN, India deposited its Instrument of Acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol under the UN Convention on Climate Change.
With this, India became the 80th country to accept the amendment relating to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the international emissions reduction treaty.
The protocol is based on principle of equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR). It places obligations on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets to reduce emissions and provide financial resources and technology to developing nations. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or Doha Amendment for 2013-2020 period was adopted in 2012. The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period and a revised list of GHGs to be reported on by Parties.

August 10

Qatar announces visa-free entry for 80 countries
The Qatari government has announced that citizens belonging to 80 countries including India, Canada, US and UK can now enter Qatar without the need of applying for a visa.
It has been stated that the visitors from the selected countries would be issued a multi-entry waiver, completely free-of-charge, at the point of entry upon presentation of a valid passport.
The passport will have a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket.
The waiver will either be valid for 180 days or for 30 days, depending upon the nationality of the visitor.
The visitor would also be given a window for applying for an extension of the waiver for an additional 30 days.
This step aims to encourage more people to travel to the nation and discover its renowned hospitality, cultural heritage and natural treasures.
Through this move, Qatar has now become the most open country in the region.