Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
International Relations [Paper-I]: India’s Foreign Policy, International Organisations, International Treaties and Forums, their structure and mandate
Foreign Trade [Paper-II]: Trend, Composition, Structure and direction of India’s Foreign Trade
- PM Modi announced the decision of India to pull out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, seven years after the country joined negotiations for the 16-nation ASEAN led RCEP or Free Trade Agreement.
- The announcement was made during 3rd RCEP summit held in Bangkok.
- A joint statement issued by RCEP said that 15 RCEP participating countries except India have concluded text-based negotiations for all chapters will begin legal scrubbing to sign the trade deal in 2020.
What is RCEP?
- It is a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between sixteen countries namely 10 countries of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
- The purpose of the deal is to create an “integrated market” spanning all 16 countries.
- This means that it would be easier for the products and services of each of these countries to be available across the entire region.
- It is expected to provide market access for India’s goods and services exports and encourage greater investments and technology into India.
Why India pulled out of the agreement?
- India’s withdrawal was mainly by citing negative effects of RCEP on “farmers, MSMEs and dairy sector”.
- Key issues that have prevented India from coming on board include “inadequate” protection against surges in imports.
- This is a major concern for India, as its industry has voiced fears that cheaper products from China would “flood” the market.
- The Indian economy is in the grip of a slowdown now, and the country’s entry into RCEP in such a time would have caused significant pain.
- Greater access to Chinese goods may have impact on the Indian manufacturing sector.
- The present form of the RCEP Agreement does not fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles of RCEP.
- It also does not address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns.
- The outstanding issues included major trade deficits with all the countries in RCEP, lack of assurances on market access, and RCEP negotiators’ insistence on keeping 2014 as the base year for tariff reductions.
- India had been seeking an auto-trigger mechanism that would allow it to raise tariffs on products in instances where imports cross a certain threshold.
- India has also not received any credible assurances on its demand for more market access, and its concerns over non-tariff barriers.
Why India will have less benefit from reduced tariff?
- Indian products face high non-tariff barriers (NTBs) like food-related and other standards, as well as technical barriers in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which hinders India’s exports.
- At the same time, NTBs are lower in India. When tariffs are reduced, Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN countries will be the major beneficiaries.
- Confederation of Indian Industry in a report criticized that those opposing RCEP had only taken the limited view of curbing imports from China and have not looked at the opportunities for export growth that India could exploit by joining RCEP.
- By not signing the deal, India has missed the opportunity to be part of global supply chains, and closed the door on some trade opportunities in the region.
- The fallout of India’s decision is that it has burnished its image as a protectionist nation with high tariff walls.
- The smart way for India to handle this is to initiate reforms on the export front, bring down costs in the economy and, simultaneously, increase efficiencies.
- India cannot miss out on being a part of global supply chains and this can happen only if tariff barriers are reduced.
- The best way to balance the effect of rising imports is by promoting exports. Tariff walls cannot be permanent.
- India should also explore trade deals with Australia and other key countries in the region even as it works to close the renegotiation of RCEP agreement.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) [Paper-II]: ICT and Governance – various Government schemes promoting use of ICT, Artificial Intelligence
Directorate General of Training (DGT), under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) announced the launch of SkillsBuild platform in collaboration with IBM.
About the Platform
- As part of the programme, a two–year advanced diploma in IT, networking and cloud computing, co-created and designed by IBM, will be offered at the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) & National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs).
- The platform will be extended to train ITI & NSTI faculty on building skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- It offers digital learning content from IBM and partners such as CodeDoor, Coorpacademy and Skillsoft.
- The digital platform will provide a personal assessment of the cognitive capabilities and personality via MyInnerGenius to the students.
- The students will then learn foundational knowledge about digital technologies, as well as professional skills such as resume-writing, problem solving and communication.
- Students will also receive recommendations on role-based education for specific jobs that include technical and professional learning.
Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Economy [Paper-II]: Recent fiscal and monetary policy issues and their impact, structure of Indian Banking and Non Banking Financial Institutions and reforms
Economist Intelligence Unit has released Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion Report 2019.
About the Report
- The Global Microscope for Financial Inclusion is a benchmarking index that assesses the enabling environment for financial access in 55 countries
- The 2019 edition features 11 new gender-focused indicators that measure financial inclusion for both women and men.
Key Highlights of the Report
- India is placed among the top nations with the most conducive environment for financial inclusion in terms of allowing non-banks to issue e-money, proportionate customer due diligence and effective consumer protection.
- The overall environment for financial inclusion has improved globally with India, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Mexico having the most favourable conditions for inclusive finance.
- Within the overall framework for promoting digital financial inclusion, the report identified four basic enablers.
- The four basic enablers are allowing non-banks to issue e-money, presence of financial service agents, proportionate customer due diligence and effective financial consumer protection.
- Only four countries – Colombia, India, Jamaica and Uruguay – scored perfectly across all four parameters.
- South Africa, India, Mexico, Tanzania and Uruguay were among the top countries that safeguard e-money via some sort of deposit insurance or protection.
National Strategy for Financial Inclusion
- Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has prepared a draft National Strategy for Financial Inclusion to deepen financial services’ coverage in the country.
- The strategy is expected to be finalised in 2019 and will cover a five-year period.
[Source: The Hindu]
FACTS OF THE DAY
U.S. BANGLADESH NAVY EXERCISE: CARAT- 2019
- The second phase of the biggest US- Bangladesh Navy exercise named ‘Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) – 2019′ commenced in Chattogram, Bangladesh.
- The exercise provides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the operational activities of the Navies of two countries and to get acquainted with advanced technology through various theoretical and practical training.
- CARAT, the U.S. Navy’s longest running regional exercise in South and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific.
AZADI MARCH IN PAKISTAN
- Tens of thousands of protesters, led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, took out a march in Islamabad, demanding the resignation of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
- The massive protest rally was dubbed as ‘Azadi March’.
GURU GOPINATH DESIYA NATYA PURASKARAM, 2019
- Sattriya dancer Indira P.P. Bora has been selected for the Guru Gopinath Desiya Natya Puraskaram, 2019, the highest honour conferred by the Kerala State government annually for excellence in dance.
- The award was instituted by the Guru Gopinath Natana Gramam for the Culture Department.
- She was selected for the award for her role in popularising Sattriya, the traditional dance form of Assam.
- The award comprises a purse of ₹3 lakh, a citation and a memento designed by Kanayi Kunhiraman.
- Sattriya dance form was introduced in the 15th century A.D by the great Vaishnava saint and reformer of Assam, Mahapurusha Sankaradeva.
BROWN BLOTCHED BENGAL TREE FROG
- Six herpetologists from Assam, West Bengal and Malaysia have recorded a new species of tree frog from residential areas in two districts of West Bengal.
- Their study established the mid-sized tree frog as the 26th species under the genus Polypedates.
- Polypedates is a genus of tree frog found throughout South and Southeast Asia.
- The new species has been named Brown Blotched Bengal Tree Frog (Polypedates bengalensis).
- The name is derived from a series of six to nine dark brown blotches that extend laterally from behind the frog’s eye to the vent.
- The frog’s body colour is yellowish-brown to greenish-brown.