International Current Affairs - 2019

Latest International Current Affairs 2019 with news summaries and current events in International developments, geopolitical, organizations, groupings and fora related updates for India and world with all important national news updates and events for the year 2019.

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US withdraws India’s GSP benefits

The United States of America (USA) President Donald Trump terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the GSP (Generalized System of Preference) trade program w.e.f. 5 June 2019.

Key Highlights

  • The US has withdrawn preferential tariffs to Indian exports. The step was taken on determining that India has not committed to provide “equitable and reasonable access to its markets” for the US.
  • Under the US’s oldest preferential trade scheme called GSP, India is the largest beneficiary nation and exported goods worth $6.35 billion under the scheme in 2018.
  • Reasons: cited by trump administration are trade imbalance with India, no access to Indian market for US dairy, medical device industry and issues related to data localisation norms.
  • Outcome: As per the traders, exports are likely to become costlier, even less competitive in specific sectors, but the overall impact would be minimal on India’s outbound trade with US. Although, some specific exports from India in sectors like leather, jewellery, agricultural products chemicals and pharmaceuticals are set to face higher costs and competition.

About GSP benefits

  • The Generalized System of Preferences are unilateral, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory benefits extended by some developed nations to developing countries.
  • Background: GSP was instituted on 1 January 1976, by Trade Act of 1974. The GSP program has effective dates which are specified in relevant legislation thus in order to remain in effect it requires periodical reauthorization.
  • Objective: The U.S. designed trade program seeks to promote economic growth in developing countries by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
  • Eligibility Criteria: As per US norms, to qualify for GSP a beneficiary nation must meet 15 discretionary and mandatory eligibility criteria established by US Congress which includes providing US with equitable and reasonable market access, respecting mutual and internationally recognised worker rights, working for combating child labour and providing adequate and effective intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. But, reinstatement of GSP benefits is conditional.

Way Forward

  • As part of bilateral trade discussions between India and US, India had offered resolution on significant US requests in an effort to find a mutually acceptable way forward but unfortunately that this did not find acceptance by US. Therefore, like US and other nations India shall always uphold its national interest in these matters and should consider significant development imperatives and concerns and its people who also aspire for better standards of living.
  • In any bilateral relationship particularly in area of economic ties, there are issues which get resolved mutually from time to time. Thus India views this issue as a part of this regular process and will continue to build on strong ties with US, both economically and people-to-people. India is confident that two countries will continue to work together intensively for further growing these ties in a mutually beneficial manner.

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UN extends sanctions against South Sudan

Despite resistance from Russia, China and African countries, United Nation Security Council (UNSC) has extended an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan for a year.

Key Highlights

  • Vote: A US-drafted resolution was adopted by UNSC after a vote of 10 in favour with five abstentions. As per the rule, in the 15-member council, a resolution presented for vote requires a minimum of nine votes for adoption.
  • Outcome: Post adoption of resolution an arms embargo is placed on South Sudan along with an assets freeze and global travel ban put on eight South Sudanese nationals for their role in fuelling the war. The measure adopted will renews until 31 May 2020.

About UNSC Sanction

  • Background: UN Security Council can take action to maintain or restore international peace and security under Chapter VII of United Nations (UN) Charter.
  • Objective: The UNSC places sanctions to constrain terrorism, support peaceful transitions, deter non-constitutional changes, protect human rights and promote non-proliferation.
  • UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committees: the United Nations Charter’s Article 29 sets out that UNSC may establish subsidiary bodies such as committees or working groups as and when needed for performing its functions. One of them is Sanctions Committees which comprises of 15 members of the Council whose mandate is to impose sanctions.

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