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Important IR Pacts in News
14 April 2020
BRICS Interbank Cooperation mechanism
- The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the signing of the (i) Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement and (ii) Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings by Exim Bank with participating member banks under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.
- As both the Agreement and the MoU are umbrella pacts, and are non-binding in nature, the Board of Directors of Exim Bank has been authorized to negotiate and conclude any individual contracts and commitments within their framework.
- The Agreements will promote multilateral interaction within the area of mutual interest whichØ will deepen political and economic relations with BRICS nations.
- Signing of the Agreement will position Exim Bank in the international platform along with largeØ development finance institutions, like CDS, VEB and BNDES.
- Exim Bank, leveraging this umbrella agreement, could enter into bilateral agreement with any ofØ these member institutions to raise resources for its business.
- As and when an opportunity arises for co-financing in commercial terms, by any two memberØ institutions (say India and South Africa), lending in single currency by both the institutions would also be possible.
BRICS ‘Beijing Declaration on Education
- BRICS ministers of education and assigned representatives have adopted ‘Beijing Declaration on Education’ in the 5th meeting of BRICS Ministers of education at Beijing.
- The Indian delegation was led by Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD).
- According to the declaration, member states are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4)-Education 2030 which aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all”.
- The declaration reiterated support for the BRICS Network University (NU) to collaborate in the fields of education, research and innovation.
- It also encouraged universities to participate in the BRICS University League.
- BRICS member states also decided to increase cultural cooperation through language education and multilingualism.
INDIA-ASEAN: REVIEW OF FREE TRADE PACT
- India and South Korea concluded two agreements on defence educational exchanges and extension of logistical support to each other’s Navies, during recent India defence minister’s visit to Seoul.
BRICS Leaders’ Xiamen Declaration
- 9th BRICS summit was held in Xiamen, China. This is the second time China has hosted
- the summit after the 2011 summit.
- At the end of the summit, Xiamen declaration was adopted by the leaders of the five countries.
Highlights of the Xiamen declaration:
- BRICS countries will strive towards broad partnerships with emerging markets and developing countries.
- To promote the development of BRICS local currency bond markets and to jointly establish a
- BRICS local currency bond fund and also to facilitate financial market integration.
- Explorations toward the establishment of the BRICS Institute of Future Networks.
- To strengthen BRICS cooperation on energy and work to foster open, flexible and transparent markets for energy commodities and technologies.
- BRICS Agriculture Research Platform is proposed to be established in India.
- To establish a genuinely broad counterterrorism coalition and support the UN’s central coordinating role in this regard.
- Importance of people-to-people exchanges in promoting development and enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation.
- To work together to promote most effective use of fossil fuels and wider use of gas, hydro and nuclear power.
Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement:
- The initial Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency under the BRICS.
- Interbank Cooperation Mechanism had a validity of five years, which has expired in March 2017.
- It is understood that some of the member banks (like CDB and VEB; CDB and BNDES) have entered into bilateral agreements for local currency financing under the Master Agreement signed in 2012.
- Although the current conditions are not conducive to usage, it was useful to keep the same alive as an enabling feature in case a suitable opportunity materializes in future.
- Exim Bank raises resources in the off-shore market in diverse currencies and swaps to mitigate the risk.
- The umbrella Agreement would serve as an enabler to enter into bilateral agreements with member banks subject to national laws, regulations and internal policies of the signatories.
- Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings:
- It would enable sharing of credit ratings amongst the BRICS member banks, based on the request received from another bank.
- This would be an ideal mechanism to mitigate the credit risks associated with cross-border financing.
- In future, such a mechanism could also serve as pre-cursor to the proposal of having an alternate rating agency by BRICS nations.
UN’s Global Compact on Migration
- The global compact for migration is the first, intergovernmental negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
- In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted in September 2016, the General
- Assembly decided to develop a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
- The global compact is a significant opportunity to improve the governance on migration, to address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.
- The global compact is framed consistent with target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
- Development in which member States committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration.
BANGLADESH, BHUTAN, INDIA, NEPAL (BBIN) INITIATIVE
- It is the regional sub-grouping India had planned for ease of access among the four countries.
- The agreement will permit the member states to ply their vehicles in each other’s territory for transportation of cargo and passengers, including third-country transport and personal vehicles.
Members and Structure
- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal are the members of BBIN initiative. These all are members of SAARC grouping as well.
- It was an alternative proposed by the government after Pakistan rejected the Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu in 2014.
- Of the other SAARC members, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are not connected by land, and Afghanistan could only be connected if Pakistan was on board.
BANGLADESH–CHINA–INDIA–MYANMAR FORUM FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION (BCIM)
- BCIM is a sub-regional organisation of Asian nations aimed at greater integration of trade and investment between the four countries.
- The idea was given a shape in the form of BCIM forum in 1999 in the first ‘Kunming Initiative’, the capital of Chinese Yunnan province.
- The aim of the forum was to create a platform for discussion among the major stakeholders regarding issues concerning trade and growth in the region, strengthen cooperation and institutionalize the arrangements to deepen BCIM ties.
- On December 18, 2013, the four nations drew up a long-discussed plan, emphasising the need to quickly improve physical connectivity in the region, over two days of talks in the south-western Chinese city of Kunming— the provincial capital of Yunnan, which borders Myanmar.
- This marked the formal endorsement on the BCIM-EC by the four nations, whereby it was agreed that the corridor will run from Kunming to Kolkata, linking Mandalay in Myanmar as well as Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh.
- The 2,800 square kilometer multi-modal corridor was to be the first expressway between India and China, passing through Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Members and Structure
- Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar are the members of this grouping.
MEKONG-GANGA COOPERATION (MGC)
- The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.
- The proposal for the formation of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) was finalized by the foreign ministers of the six members at the sidelines of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2000.
- It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Lao PDR.
- Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilizational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.
Members and Structure
- The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
- The institutional structure of the MGC is yet to evolve properly.
- Ministerial Meetings would be held annually back-to-back with the AMMs.
- The chairmanship will be rotated in alphabetical order.
- The country which serves as chair shall act as the Secretariat to carry out coordination and implementation of the Cooperation plan.
EAST ASIA SUMMIT
- The East Asia Summit is a unique Leaders-led forum of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific region formed to further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity.
- It was established in 2005.
- India is a founding member of the East Asia Summit.
- Initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions were the members of the forum.
- The membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011.
- EAS is seen by India as an alternative to the APEC, in which India doesn’t enjoy the membership.
Members and Structure
- All 10 ASEAN members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
- 6 Regional partners: China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
- 2 Superpowers US, Russia (from 2011 onwards)
ASIA COOPERATION DIALOGUE
- The ACD is a continent-wide forum, the first of its kind in Asia.
- The Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) was inaugurated in June 2002 in Cha-Am, Thailand.
- The ACD aims to constitute the missing link in Asia by incorporating every Asian country and building an Asian Community without duplicating other organizations or creating a bloc against others. India was among the founding members of the group.
The Provisional Secretariat was inaugurated in October 2013 with its Headquarter in Kuwait city, the State of Kuwait.
- Currently, the ACD comprises 34 countries:
- Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Turkey and is awaiting the accession of Nepal as the 34th Member on March 2016 at the 14th Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
- The North American Free Trade Agreement is an agreement, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America.
- NAFTA went into effect on January 1, 1994.
- This agreement was an expansion of the earlier Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1989.
- NAFTA does not create a set of super-national governmental bodies, nor does it create a body of law which is superior to national law, which was the case with EU.
- NAFTA is a treaty under international law.
- The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
- The NAFTA Secretariat is comprised of: the Canadian Section located in Ottawa; the Mexican Section located in Mexico City; and. the United States Section located in Washington, D.C.
Members and Structure: Canada, Mexico, the United States
- The convention was adopted in 2001 and came into force in 2008.
- Its aim is to ensure that adequate, prompt, and effective compensation is available to persons who suffer damage caused by spills of oil, when carried as fuel in ships’ bunkers.
- It applies to damage caused on the territory, including the territorial sea, and in exclusive economic zones of States Parties.
- It is modelled on the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969.
- Upon ratification, it applies to an Indian vessel, wherever it is situated, and to a foreign flag vessel while it is within Indian jurisdiction.
- 2015 – India ratified in 2015, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 (Bunker Convention) which ensures adequate, prompt and effective compensation for damage caused by oil spills.
Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty
- The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted recently in the United Nations
- It is the first multilateral legally-binding instrument for complete nuclear disarmament.
- Even the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 and nuclear-weapon-free zone contains only partial prohibitions.
- This treaty prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
- It also prohibits the use or threat of use of these weapons as well.
- 122 of the 124 nations that participated in the negotiations had voted in favour of the treaty.
- The treaty will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries.
- The eight nuclear weapon states i.e US, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan and North Korea along with Israel had not participated in the negotiations.
- India maintained that it recognises the „Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament‟-(CD) as the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum & it is not convinced of the potential of the current treaty to address the disarmament issue.
New START Treaty
- New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation.
- The formal name of the treaty is Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.
- It was signed on 2010 in Prague and entered into force in 2011, it is expected to last at least until 2021.
- New START replaced the Treaty of Moscow (SORT).
- Under terms of the treaty, the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half.
- A new inspection and verification regime will be established, replacing the SORT mechanism.
- It does not limit the number of operationally inactive stockpiled nuclear warheads that remain in the high thousands in both the Russian and American inventories
- It is the sole legally binding multilateral treaty that coordinates cybercrime investigations between nation-states and criminalises certain cybercrime conduct.
- The convention is led by Council of Europe, which is distinct from European Union.
- Both members and non-members of Council of Europe are parties to the convention.
- Totally 64 nations are party to this convention and 3 countries have signed but yet to ratify the convention.
- India, Russia and China are not members to this convention.
- Transports Internationaux Routiers Convention is an international transit system under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
- It came into force from 1975to facilitate the seamless movement of goods within and amongst the Parties to the Convention.
- It facilitates the international carriage of goods from one or more customs offices of departure to one or more customs offices of destination and through as many countries as necessary.
- India also ratified the convention.