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[Prelims Spotlight] Important Regional Organizations and Blocs

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Important Regional Organizations and Blocs


17 April 2020 

1.ASEAN ( Association of South-East Asian Nations)

  • It is a political and economic organisation of 10 South-East Asian nations
  • Formed in 1967
  • Founding members: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand
  • HQ: Jakarta, Indonesia

Current members are:
1. Indonesia
2. Malaysia
3. Philippines
4. Singapore
5. Thailand
6. Brunei
7. Cambodia
8. Laos
9. Myanmar (Burma)
10. Vietnam

AiM:

  • Accelerating economic growth, social progress, and socio-cultural evolution among its members, Protection of regional stability
  • Providing a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully
  • ‘The ASEAN Way’ means : Doctrine that the member countries will largely mind their own business when it comes to internal matters of member countries
  • ASEAN Plus Three: Was created to improve existing ties with the China, Japan and South Korea.
  • If the ASEAN nations were a single country, their combined economy would rank the 7th largest in the world

India:

  • Has and FTA with ASEAN (operational since 2010)

2.APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)

  • It is a regional economic forum of 21 Pacific Rim countries
  • Established in 1989
  • HQ: Singapore
  • APEC’s 21 members aim to promote free trade throughout the Asia- Pacific region.
  • APEC account for about half the world’s trade and almost 60% of global trade
  • · It established in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world
  • To fears that highly industrialized Japan (a member of G8 ) would come to dominate economic activity in the Asia-Pacific region
  • To establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe
  • India has requested membership in APEC, and received initial support from the United States, Japan, Australia and Papua New Guinea. Officials have decided not to allow India to join for various reasons, considering that India does not border the Pacific Ocean, which all current members do. However, India was invited to be an observer for the first time in November 2011.

3. BBIN ( Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal)

  • It is a sub-regional architecture of these four countries.
  • Aims to formulate, implement and review quadrilateral agreements across areas such as water resources management, connectivity of power, transport, and infrastructure.

4. BCIM Bangladesh-China-Inida-Myanmar

  • Aim:  greater integration of trade and investment between the four countries
  • BCIM economic corridor is an initiative conceptualised for significant gains through sub-regional economic co-operation with BCIM
  • The multi-modal corridor will be the first expressway between India and China and will pass through Myanmar and Bangladesh
  • BCIM evolved from ‘Kunming Initiative’


5.BIMSTEC ( Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation)

·

  • It is an international organisation involving a group of countries in South Asia and South East Asia. Established in 1997 in Bangkok. Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand were founding members. Now it has seven members.
    Headquarters is in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Present members :
1.  Bangladesh
2.  India
3.  Myanmar
4.  Sri Lanka
5.  Thailand
6.  Bhutan
7.  Nepal

  • The main objective of BIMSTEC is technological and economic cooperation among south Asian and south-east Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Commerce, investment, technology, tourism, human resource development, agriculture, fisheries, transport and communication, textiles, leather etc. have been included in it
  • BIMSTEC uses the alphabetical order for chairmanship

6.BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa )

  • Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”), before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
  • The BRICS members are all leading developing or newly industrialized countries, but they are distinguished by their large, sometimes fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional affairs; all five are G-20 members.
  • The five BRICS countries represent half of the world population; all five members are in the top 25 of the world by population.
  • The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states.
  • The bank is headquartered in Shanghai, China. The first regional office of the NDB will be opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.

7. G4

  • Members : India, Brazil, Germany and Japan
    All members support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council
  • Each of these four countries have figured among the elected non-permanent members of the council since the UN’s establishment.
  • Their economic and political influence has grown significantly in the last decades, reaching a scope comparable to the permanent members (P5)
  • G4 campaigns for U.N. Reforms, including more representation for developing countries, both in the permanent and non-permanent categories, in the UNSC

8.IBSA (for India-Brazil-South Africa )

  • All are Developing Democracies.
  • The forum provides the three countries with a platform to engage in discussions for cooperation in the field of agriculture, trade, culture, and defence among others.
  • IBSA was formalised and launched through the adopti on of the “Brasilia Declaration.
  • Brasilia Declaration (2003) : Approved urgent need for reforms in the United Nations, especially the Security Council.

9. G7

  • The Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • The European Union is also represented within the G7.
  • These countries are the seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund.
  • G7 countries represent more than 64% of the net global wealth
    common denominator among members is the economy and long-term political motives

10.The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)

  • The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.
  • The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
  • It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region. The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.
  • 21 member states : South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius,
    Seychelles, Iran, Oman, UAE, Yemen, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and Somalia.
  • Maldives, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar are not members
  • The organisation was first established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched in 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation.

11.The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation

  • The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.
  • It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Lao PDR.

12.Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

  • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union (EU).
  • TTIP will help unlock opportunity for American families, workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers through increased access to European markets for Made-in-America goods and services. This will help to promote U.S. international competitiveness, jobs and growth.
  • Its main three broad areas are:
    • market access;
    • specific regulation; and
    • broader rules and principle s and modes of co-operation

13.Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), or Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • These countries, except for Uzbekistan had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation. On July 10, 2015, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members.

14.SAARC

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional international organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia. Its member states include.

Afghanistan,

Bhutan

Pakistan,

Bangladesh,

India,

Nepal,

Maldives,

Pakistan

Sri Lanka.

  • SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world's population and 3.8% of the global economy. SAARC was founded in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 8th December, 1985.
  • Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu Nepal. The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration.
  • It launched the South Asian free trade area in 2006. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.

15.OECD

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organization with 35 member countries, founded in 1960 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.
  • The mission of the OECD is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
  • It is a forum of countries describing themselves as committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seeking answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members.
  • Most OECD members are high-income economies with a very high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries.
  • The OECD headquarter at Paris, France. The OECD is funded by contributions from member states.

LIST OF  MEMBER COUNTRIES

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Canada

Chile

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Iceland

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Japan

Korea

Latvia

Luxembourg

Mexico

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Slovak Republic

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Turkey

United Kingdom

United States

16.G20

  • The G20 or Group of Twenty is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.
  • It was founded in 1999 with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
  • It seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization. The G20 heads of government or heads of state have periodically conferred at summits since their initial meeting in 2008, and the group also hosts separate meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85 per cent of global gross domestic product and over 75 per cent of global trade.
  • The work of G20 members is supported by several international organisations that provide policy advice. The G20 also regularly engages with non-government sectors. Engagement groups from business (B20), civil society (C20), labour (L20), think tanks (T20) and youth (Y20) are holding major events during the year, the outcomes of which will contribute to the deliberations of G20 leaders.
  • The heads of the G20 nations met semi-annually at G20 summits between 2009 and 2010.
  • Since the November 2011 Cannes summit, all G20 summits have been held annually.

17.OPEC

  • Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an intergovernmental organization of 13 nations, founded in 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela), and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna.
  • Countries accounted for an estimated 42 % of global oil production and 73 % of the world’s oil reserves, giving OPEC a major influence on global oil prices that were previously determined by American-dominated multinational oil companies.
  • Two-thirds of OPEC’s oil production and reserves are in its six Middle Eastern countries that surround the oil-rich Persian Gulf.
  • The formation of OPEC marked a turning point toward national sovereignty over natural resources, and OPEC decisions have come to play a prominent role in the global oil market and international relations.

18.TPP

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States (until January 23, 2017) and Vietnam.
  • The finalized proposal was signed on 4 February 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand, concluding seven years of negotiations.
  • It currently cannot be ratified due to U.S. withdrawal from the agreement on 23 January 2017. The former Obama administration claimed that the agreement aimed to "promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in the signatories; countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labour and environmental protections.
  • The TPP contains measures to lower both non-tariff and tariff barriers to trade, and establish an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS)  mechanism.

19.RCEP

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

 Brunei

 Cambodia

 Indonesia

 Laos

 Malaysia

 Myanmar

 Philippines

 Singapore

 Thailand

 Vietnam and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements:

(Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The agreement is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017. RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.

20. Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
  • The NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the  misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
  • Currently, it has 48 members and works by consensus.
  • In 2008, the NSG participating governments agreed to grant India a “clean waiver” from its  existing rules, which forbid nuclear trade with a country which has not signed the Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty (NPT).

Background:

  • India sought membership of the NSG in 2008, but its application hasn’t been decided on,  primarily because signing the NPT or other nuclear moratoriums on testing is a pre-requisite.
  • The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid.
  • However, India has received a special waiver to conduct nuclear trade with all nuclear exporters.
  • India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are among the four UN member states which have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

21. Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR):

  • It was established in April 1987 by G-7 countries – USA, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan, to check the spread of unmanned delivery systems capable of carrying nuclear weapons of above 500kg for more than 300km.
  • In 1992, it was extended for all types of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Now, it has 35 full members including India and 4 “non-adherent members” – Israel, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia.
  • China is not a member of this regime but it had verbally pledged to adhere to its original guidelines but not to the subsequent additions.
  • It is not a legally-binding treaty. Hence, no punitive measures could be taken against non-compliance to the guidelines of the regime.
  • It is a multilateral, consensus–based grouping of 35 member countries who are voluntarily committed to the non-proliferation of missiles capable of carrying chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
  • It controls the export of the technologies and materials involved in ballistic missile systems and unmanned aerial vehicles particularly capable of carrying nuclear warheads of above 500kg  payload for more than 300 km.
  • This is a non–treaty association of member countries with certain guidelines about the information sharing, national control laws and export policies for missile systems and a rule-based regulation mechanism to limit the transfer of such critical technologies of these missile systems.

22. Australia Group

  • The Australia Group (AG) is an informal forum of countries which, through the harmonisation of export controls, seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical  or biological weapons.
  • Coordination of national export control measures assists Australia Group participants to fulfil their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention to the fullest extent possible.
  • This is achieved by members through the harmonisation of export controls like using licensing measures.
  • It was established in the background of use of chemical weapons (in the form of nerve agents and sulphur mustard) by Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
  • Members: 42 countries + European Union
  • All member countries are members of the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BTWC) and Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

23. WASSENAAR ARRANGEMENT

  • The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.
  • It was established in 1996 in Wassenaar, the Netherlands, which is near The Hague.
  • Members: 42 member states.
  • All permanent members of UN Security Council except China are its members.
  • Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.

24. International Organization for Migration (IOM)

  • As of September 2016, it became a related organization of the United Nations.
    Its headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.
  • With 169 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries,IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.
  • It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.
    India is a member of IOM.
  • IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including
    refugees and internally displaced people.
  • IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management:
    Migration and development.
    Facilitating migration.
    Regulating migration.
    Forced migration.

25. International Economic Association (IEA)

  • The IEA was founded in 1950 as a Non-Governmental Organization, at the instigation of the Social Sciences Department of UNESCO.
  • It has since its creation maintained information and consultative relations with UNESCO and is since 1973 a federated member of the International Social Science Council.
  • Its aim has been to promote personal contacts and mutual understanding among economists in different parts of the world through the organization of scientific meetings, through common research programs and by means of publications of an international character on problems of current importance.
  • The IEA is governed by a Council, composed of representatives of all Member Associations as well as a limited number of co-opted members.
  • The Council meets triennially when it reviews the general policy of the Association and elects the President and other Officers and members of the Executive Committee for a three-year term of office.
  • Amongst the past presidents of IEA were the Nobel Laureates Robert Solow, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz.

26. INDIA-BRAZIL-SOUTH AFRICA (IBSA)

  • Established in June 2003, INDIA-BRAZIL-SOUTH AFRICA (IBSA) is a coordinating mechanism amongst three emerging countries, three multi-ethnic and multicultural democracies, which are
    determined to:
     Contribute to the construction of a new international architecture.
     Bring their voice together on global issues.
     Deepen their ties in various areas.
     It brings together three large democracies and major economies from three different continents namely, Africa, Asia and South America that represents three important poles for galvanizing South-  South cooperation.
  • IBSA also opens itself to concrete projects of cooperation and partnership with less developed countries.
  • The establishment of IBSA was formalized by the Brasilia Declaration of 6 June 2003.

27. International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

  • ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), was launched in 20017 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • ICAN seeks to shift the disarmament debate to focus on the humanitarian threat posed by nuclear weapons, drawing attention to their unique destructive capacity, their catastrophic health and environmental consequences, their indiscriminate targeting, the debilitating impact
    of a detonation on medical infrastructure and relief measures, and the long-lasting effects of radiation on the surrounding area.
  • In September 2006, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, itself awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, adopted a proposal at its biennial congress in Helsinki, Finland, to launch ICAN globally.

28. International Energy Forum (IEF)

  • IEF is the largest inter-governmental organisation in the field of oil and gas comprising 72 member countries, accounting for 90% of global supply and demand of the oil and gas.
  • Members include developing, developed, OPEC, Non-OPEC and G20 countries.
  • 18 of the G20 countries are members of IEF.
  • India is also a member of the forum.
  • The IEF is promoted by a permanent Secretariat based in the Diplomatic Quarter of Riyadh, Saudi.

29. International Energy Agency (IEA)

  • Founded in 1974, the IEA was initially designed to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil, such as the crisis of 1973/4.
  • Members: Presently it has 30 member countries. India is the associate member of IAE.
  • Headquarters (Secretariat): Paris, France.
  • Publications: World Energy Outlook report.
  • The four main areas of IEA focus are:
  1. Energy Security: Promoting diversity, efficiency, flexibility and reliability for all fuels and  energy sources;
  2. Economic Development: Supporting free markets to foster economic growth and eliminate energy poverty;
  3. Environmental Awareness: Analyzing policy options to offset the impact of energy production and use on the environment, especially for tackling climate change and air pollution; and
  4. Engagement Worldwide: Working closely with partner countries, especially major emerging economies, to find solutions to shared energy and environmental concerns.

30. Financial Action Task Force (FATF):

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was set up in 1989 by the western G7 countries, with headquarters in Paris.
  • The objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • It is therefore a ―policy-making body‖ which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • It is empowered to curtail financing of UN-designated terrorist groups.
    It can publicly sensor countries that are not abiding by it’s norms.
  • FATF has 37 members that include all 5 permanent members of the Security Council, and other countries with economic influence.
  • Two regional organisations, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Commission (EC) are also its members.
  • Saudi Arabia and Israel are observer countries (partial membership).
    India became a full member in 2010.

What are Regional Trading Blocs?

A regional trading bloc (RTB) is a co-operative union or group of countries within a specific geographical boundary. RTB protects its member nations within that region from imports from the non-members. Trading blocs are a special type of economic integration. There are four types of trading blocs −

Preferential Trade Area − Preferential Trade Areas (PTAs), the first step towards making a full-fledged RTB, exist when countries of a particular geographical region agree to decrease or eliminate tariffs on selected goods and services imported from other members of the area.

Free Trade Area − Free Trade Areas (FTAs) are like PTAs but in FTAs, the participating countries agree to remove or reduce barriers to trade on all goods coming from the participating members.

Customs Union − A customs union has no tariff barriers between members, plus they agree to a common (unified) external tariff against non-members. Effectively, the members are allowed to negotiate as a single bloc with third parties, including other trading blocs, or with the WTO.

Common Market − A ‘common market’ is an exclusive economic integration. The member countries trade freely all types of economic resources – not just tangible goods. All barriers to trade in goods, services, capital, and labour are removed in common markets. In addition to tariffs, non-tariff barriers are also diminished or removed in common markets.


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