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India-Afghanistan Air freight Corridor to Open Up Soon

India and Afghanistan are set to operationalize their first air-freight corridor in the coming days. The first flight will be operated by Ariana Afghan Airlines, which is the Afghanistan’s national carrier. The flight which will initially operate once or twice in a month will carry commodities to and from Delhi. Depending upon the supply needs, the frequency of the flight will be increased.

India-Afghanistan discussed the idea of commencing the air-freight corridor during the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit last year.

The key elements of India’s Afghanistan policy include – friendly relations with afghan factions, tacit support for anti-Taliban forces, more focus on economic engagement than military engagement, humanitarian and development assistance etc.

Significance

This development has assumed significance at the backdrop of Pakistan’s denial to use its land for trade between India and Afghanistan. The air freight corridor will be used by the private sector in Afghanistan to increase its exports to the vast Indian market by air with minimum costs. It will also enable the traders to circumvent the obstacles posed by Pakistan in the land route.

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India-South Korea sign Agreements to Push Infrastructure Development and Bilateral Trade

India and South Korea has signed an agreement for $10 billion assistance for infrastructure development projects in India, including smart cities. It includes $9 billion in concessional credit and $1 billion in Official development assistance (ODA). Part of this fund will be utilised towards Smart City projects in India. With this agreement, South Korea has become one of the first non-G-7 countries to become an ODA contributor in India.

The agreements were signed during the four-day official visit of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to South Korea to attend the fifth India-Korea Financial Dialogue.

South Korea strives to diversify its economic partnerships and India being world’s fastest growing major economy offers immense opportunities to Korea for diversifying its economic partnerships. This also offers India great opportunities. Both the countries have also decided to establish a mechanism at senior official levels to identify good infrastructure projects in India to make use of the funding.

In the face of rising protectionism, the two countries have also agreed that there is an urgent need for them to increase efforts to stimulate investment flows, support for infrastructure development, and bilateral trade among others

Background

The present engagement between India and South Korea comes under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership‘ as declared in the Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of both the nations in May 2015. Also, recently, a MoU was signed between both the countries for defence industry cooperation in shipbuilding.

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EU, France give 3.5 Million Euros as Grant to Curb Emissions in India

EU and France will give a grant of 3.5 million euros to three Indian cities- Nagpur, Kochi and Ahmedabad as part of the EU’s commitment under the Paris Climate agreement to curb emissions and promote sustainability in these cities.

Salient Highlights

The grants have been provided to help India’s smart city programme under the ‘Moblise Your City’ (MYC) initiative.
India has become the first country to get benefits from the MYC initiative.
The MYC initiative is supported by the French and German government and also has financial support of the European Union (EU). The initiative is aimed at helping 100 cities across the world to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by promoting sustainable urban transport and sustainability in urban spaces.
MYC initiative was emphasised by the Indian and European leaders during Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to Europe.
Further it has been stated that more funds would be offered to India to carry forward its sustainable transport initiatives on the three smart cities.

Background

French Development Agency (AFD) has been associated with several projects in India and conservation of biodiversity. AFD, at present, is funding the Vijayawada, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Kochi and Nagpur metro rail projects.

AFD is a public financial institution of France whose mandate is to implement the policy defined by the French government. It is headquartered in Paris. It finances projects in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and the French overseas territories to promote living conditions for populations and economic growth in these regions.

France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India.

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