Asia-Pacific region Current Affairs - 2019
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India became Vice-Chair or regional head of Asia Pacific Region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for two years from July 2018 to June 2020. By becoming Vice Chair, India will be able to take up leadership role at the WCO.
To mark assumption of Vice Chair, an event will be organised in New Delhi by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The event was attended by Customs delegations of 33 countries of Asia-Pacific Region, Customs officers from different Ports in India, Partner Government Agencies and representatives from the trade among others.
World Customs Organisation (WCO)
WCO is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. It was established in 1952 as Customs Co-operation Council (CCC). It is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and is considered as voice of international Customs community.
WCO represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. It plays leading role in discussion, development, promotion and implementation of modern customs systems and procedures.
Objectives: It aims to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of member customs administrations and assist them to contribute successfully to national development goals, particularly revenue collection, national security, trade facilitation, community protection, and collection of trade statistics.
Organistaional Structure: WCO’s governing body – the Council relies on competence and skills of WCO Secretariat and a range of technical and advisory committees to accomplish its mission. The Secretariat comprises over 100 international officials, technical experts and support staff of some nationalities. WCO has divided its membership into six regions whereby each region is represented by elected vice-chairperson to WCO Council.
Functions: It offers range of Conventions and other international instruments, as well as technical assistance and training services to its members. It also actively supports its members in their endeavours to modernize and build capacity within their national Customs administrations.
It also plays vital role in stimulating growth of legitimate international trade and combats fraudulent activities. It also promotes emergence of honest, transparent and predictable Customs environment, thus directly contributing to economic and social well-being of its members.
India was ranked fourth out of 25 nations in Asia-Pacific region in the inaugural Asia Power Index released by Australian think tank Lowy Institute.
Asia Power Index
It measures overall power of countries and territories in Asia-Pacific region. A country’s overall power is its weighted average across eight measures of power – economic resources, military capability, diplomatic influence, economic relationships, resilience, future trends, defence networks and cultural influence.
Three of the world’s four largest economies are in Asia and United States is Pacific power. By 2025, two-thirds of world’s population will live in Asia, compared to just over a tenth in the West. According to it, US remained to be pre-eminent power in Asia, while China, an emerging superpower is rapidly closing in on United States.
It ranked Russia, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Pakistan, Philippines and North Korea as middle powers, while Bangladesh, Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Laos and Nepal as “minor powers.”
The index held that Japan and India are countries sharing major power status. It labelled Japan as smart power and called India giant of future. India was ranked fourth on parameters of economic resources, military capability and diplomatic influence. It was ranked fifth on resilience. However, on the parameters of cultural influence and future trends, India scored well by ranking third in both. India also scored low on measure of economic relationships and defence networks, ranking seventh and seventh respectively.