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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 15 July 2020

Contents

  1. Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA)
  2. Move to map COVID­19 after­effects
  3. EU, India to meet on resuming FTA negotiations
  4. U.S. rejects Beijing’s claims in South China Sea

Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA)

Why in news?

Pakistan has allowed Afghanistan to send goods to India using the Wagah border. The decision is a part of Islamabad’s commitment under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA)

About the agreement

  • The APTTA is a bilateral trade agreement signed in 2010 by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • It calls for greater facilitation in the movement of goods amongst the two countries.
  • The 2010 agreement supersedes the 1965 Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement, which granted Afghanistan the right to import duty-free goods through Pakistani seaports, mostly notably from Karachi.

Features of the agreement

  • Trade-in goods smuggled into Pakistan once constituted a major source of revenue for Afghanistan.
  • The 2010 APTTA allows for both countries to use each other’s airports, railways, roads, and ports for transit trade along designated transit corridors.
  • The agreement does not cover road transport vehicles from any third country, be it from India or any Central Asia country.
  • However, the signed Agreement permits Afghanistan trucks access to the Wagah border with India, where Afghan goods will be offloaded onto Indian trucks.
  • This agreement does not permit Indian goods to be loaded onto trucks for transit back to Afghanistan.
  • Instead, Afghan trucks offloaded at Wagah may return to Afghanistan loaded only with Pakistani, rather than Indian goods in an attempt to prevent the formation of a black market for Indian goods in Pakistan.

Move to map COVID-­19 after effects

Why in news?

There were indications of COVID­ 19 induced diabetes among recovered patients.

There was a move to collect the data on this globally to understand the effect of this relatively new and evolving virus

Findings of the study

The stress on the body associated with this virus could lead to long and short term complications.

The fact of the matter was that nobody knew for sure the exact after effects of the disease but the medical community is aware of the damage caused by thrombosis in the small vessels that ultimately damages lung tissues and other organs, including the heart, and can lead to fatal pulmonary embolism.


EU, India to meet on resuming FTA negotiations

Why in news?

Seven years after talks on a free trade agreement were suspended, India and the European Union (EU) are set to agree on a “high­ level dialogue on trade and investment

India EU relations

  • India-EU relations date to the early 1960s, with India being amongst the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community.
  • A cooperation agreement signed in 1994 took the bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation.
  • At the 5th India-EU Summit held at The Hague in 2004, the relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’.
  • The two sides adopted a Joint Action Plan in 2005 (which was reviewed in 2008) that provided for strengthening dialogue and consultation mechanisms in the political and economic spheres, enhancing trade and investment, and bringing peoples and cultures together.
  • At the 2017 EU-India Summit, leaders reiterated their intention to strengthen cooperation on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and agreed to explore the continuation of the EU-India Development Dialogue.
  • The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for €85 billion (95 billion USD) worth of trade in goods in 2017 or 13.1% of total India trade, ahead of China (11.4%) and the USA (9.5%).
  • The EU’s share in foreign investment inflows to India has more than doubled from 8% to 18% in the last decade, making the EU the first foreign investor in India.
  • EU foreign direct investment stocks in India amounted to €73 billion in 2016, which is significant but way below EU foreign investment stocks in China (€178 billion).
  • INDIA-EU Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA): It is a Free Trade Agreement between India and EU, which was initiated in 2007. Even after a decade of negotiations, India and EU have failed to resolve certain issues which have led to a deadlock.
  • “Data Secure” status not granted by EU affecting prospects of India’s IT-enabled exports.
  • Presence of non-tariff barriers on Indian agricultural products in the form of sanitary and phytosanitary(SPS) measures which are too stringent and enable the EU to bar many Indian agricultural products from entering its markets.
  • EU wants India to liberalise accountancy and legal services. India denies on the ground of already shortage of jobs.
  • EU demands tax reduction on wines and spirits but in India these are regarded as ‘sin goods’ and the states which derive huge revenue from liquor sales would be reluctant to cut taxes.
  • Reduction of taxes on automobiles not acceptable to India as its own automobile industry would not be able to match the competition from EU automobiles.
  • India has rejected an informal attempt by the European Union (EU) to work towards Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism which will allow corporations to take sovereign governments to international arbitration.
  • The ISDS mechanism permits companies to drag governments to international arbitration without exhausting the local remedies and claim huge amounts as compensation citing losses they suffered due to reasons, including policy changes.
  • The non-tariff barriers in pharmaceuticals that EU has imposed include requirement of WTO Good Manufacturing Practice certification, import bans, antidumping measures and pre-shipment inspection among others.
  • India has cancelled most individual bilateral investment agreements with EU member states on grounds that they were outdated. By doing this India is putting pressure on EU to sign BTIA on favouring terms.

U.S. rejects Beijing’s claims in South China Sea

Why in news?

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the United States would treat Beijing’s pursuit of resources in the dispute­d South China Sea as illegal 
  • The United States has long rejected Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, which is both home to valuable oil and gas deposits and is a vital waterway for the world’s commerce

China’s Authority and Disregard to Judgements

  • The Philippines invoked the dispute settlement mechanism of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2013 regarding the disputed Spratlys, to which the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) passed a Judgement that China’s position in the matter was NOT legal.
South China Sea upsc- Legacy IAS
  • China had aggravated the situation by undertaking land reclamation and construction, and had harmed the environment and violated its obligation to preserve the ecosystem.
  • The award implied that China violated the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). China dismissed the judgment as “null and void.”
  • Philippines had not followed up on the PCA judgment because the Philippines could not afford to fight China.
  • Not one country challenged China, which agreed to settle disputes bilaterally, and to continue work on a Code of Conduct with countries of the ASEAN.

Countries around China Strengthening their Military

  • Vietnam has added six Kilo-class, Russian-origin submarines to its navy.
  • France, Germany and the Netherlands, respectively, have supplied Formidable-class stealth ships to Singapore, patrol boats to Brunei Darussalam, and corvettes to Indonesia.
  • Japan is partially funding the upgradation of the Indonesian coast guard.
  • Indonesia and the Philippines are in early stages of exploring procurement of the BrahMos missile from India.

How is China Exploiting the South China Sea?

Growing Chinese muscularity in the SCS is visible in

  1. Increased patrolling and live-fire exercising by Chinese naval vessels
  2. Ramming and sinking of fishing vessels of other claimant countries
  3. Renaming of SCS features
  4. Building of runways, bunkers, and habitation for possible long-term stationing of personnel on the atolls claimed by China  
  5. Chinese exploration and drilling vessels competing aggressively with those of other littoral countries in the disputed waters.

Thank you!

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