Bilateral Current Affairs
November 2nd Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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1) After 50 years of diplomatic ties, India and Singapore to be strategic partners

  • After almost five decades of having diplomatic ties, India and Singapore will become strategic partners for the first time on 23rd November.
  • The partnership will encompass all aspects of bilateral ties from expansion of defence cooperation, enhancement of trade and investment and strengthening of regional relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). 
  • The decision to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Singapore was taken in August 2014 based on a ‘5S Plank’. Since then both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have been continuously discussing the contours of such a pact as they planned to take their relationship beyond just business and trade.
  • The pact will be signed with both leaders having a summit-level dialogue where all issues are expected to be discussed, with a special focus on India’s overall strategy in the Indian Ocean region. 
  • Recently, at a meeting of the Fourth Joint Commission, which was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan, issues such as maritime cooperation, trade ties and cyber security were discussed. While in Singapore, Modi is also expected to deliver the prestigious ‘Singapore Lecture’ at the Institute of South East Asian Studies. 
  • Singapore has emerged as the second largest source of FDI amounting to $35.9 billion as of June 2015, which is 14 per cent of India’s total FDI inflow. India also has a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore with bilateral trade reaching $17.1 billion in 2014-15.
2) India-Malaysia sign key agreements
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23rd November said that India and Malaysia will deepen security and defence cooperation to combat terrorism. Many key agreements, that will give a boost to India-Malaysia relations, were signed after the talks.
  • The Indian Prime Minister also hoped bilateral trade and investment relations can be scaled up significantly. A MoU was signed on Performance Management Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) to ensure excellent cooperation in Public Administration and Governance.
3) India, Singapore sign strategic partnership to boost cooperation in key areas
  • Current Affirs India and Singapore signed several agreements on Strategic Partnership. It is a frame work to contribute to greater regional stability and growth, deepen existing areas of cooperation. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsein Loong signed agreement.
  • Both the countries have also decided to enhance defence cooperation by signing revised Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA). As per DCA, both the countries agreed to establish a regular Defence Minister’s dialogue, defence cooperation in maritime security and encourage cooperation between defence industries of the two countries. Modi has invited Singapore to develop 20 smart cities in India. Narendra Modi has also said that India will upgrade 500 raliway stations on PPP mode and invited Singapore to invest on it.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lee Hsein Loong have also released commemorative stamps depicting Rashtrapati Bhawan and Istana-Official residence of Singapore President-as a mark of 50 years of bilateral relation.
  • The two countries also signed several more agreements on mutual co-operation in the presence of both the Prime Ministers. These include Defence, Civil Aviation, National Planning and cyber Security.
  • Mr. Modi visited Institute of Technical Education in Singapore along with his Singaporean counterpart to know about vocational courses and skill development. Mr. Modi has visited maritime training, aerospace and precision engineering hubs.
4) Work shop on disaster risk reduction
  • According to Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr P K Mishra the disaster risk reduction is no longer a local phenomenon and global targets, regional plans, local strategies and implementation are required to address the issue. SAARC regional workshop on sharing best practices on disaster risk reduction was conducted in New Delhi on 27th November. In the summit he said that countries responding collectively are more important than responding individually.
  • He also expressed concern that there is always a huge gap between the discussions and implementation. Mr. Mishra said, there has been talk about disaster risk reduction, but in practice we have not been able to show successful examples. He said that efforts should be made to quantify the outcomes and targets should be defined in numbers. Mr. Mishra also said that fund-mobilization is not an issue these days, which used to be for decades earlier.
5) India and Bangladesh sign SOP for operationalising Agreement
  • India and Bangladesh on 15th November signed the Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, for operationalising the Agreement on Coastal Shipping. The agreement was signed in June this year, a move that will improve the bilateral trade between the two countries by reducing the logistic costs.
  • According to Road, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, once the SOP is operational, the Coastal Shipping Agreement will enable a huge saving in logistic costs of EXIM transport between the two countries. The SOP has been framed as per the terms and conditions of the Agreement on Coastal Shipping and both the countries have agreed to its provisions.
  • Bangladesh`s Secretary of Shipping Shafique Alam Mehdi was also present on the occasion. The SOP will pave the way to promote coastal shipping between India and Bangladesh and would enhance bilateral trade by bringing down the cost of transportation of EXIM cargo. 
  • It contains provisions which stipulate that India and Bangladesh shall render same treatment to other country`s vessels as they would have done to their national vessels used in international sea transportation.
  • The two sides have also agreed upon the use of vessels of River Sea Vessel category for Indo-Bangladesh coastal shipping. The agreement will enable opening of coastal shipping between India and Bangladesh helping in enhancing the movement of cargo to the North East through coastal shipping up to Chittagong and thereafter by road/inland waterways.
  • The deep draft ports on the eastern coast of India can be hub ports for the onward transportation of cargo to Bangladesh via the coastal mode through RSV category of vessels. The Indian ports will attract enhanced cargo and also the overall transportation cost to Bangladesh will get reduced.
  • The Indian ports serving as trans-shipment ports for Bangladesh cargo will derive benefits by way of enhanced throughput as a result of Indo-Bangladesh coastal trade. 

6) Nuclear deal procedures with Australia

  • Current Affirs India announced on 15th November that the procedures for a civil nuclear agreement with Australia for supply of uranium from it had been completed following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit, in Turkey.
  • Australia has about a third of world’s recoverable uranium resources and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of it a year.Following the conclusion of the agreement, India will be the first country to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
7) PM Modi bilateral talks on sidelines of G20 summit
  • Indian Prime Minister Modi held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G20 Summit on 16th November with the President of the host country and the Prime Minister of Spain.
  • According to the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup the leader of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed keen interest in having the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India.
  • He also showed interest in enhancing connectivity including air links and easy visa regime. Prime Minister Modi extended invitation for Turkey to invest in India’s infrastructure projects and highlighted the recent Foreign Domestic Investment reforms initiatives. Both agreed to take a serious look at the counter-terror mechanism. Mr Modi underscored the need to reforms in the UN Security Council.
  • On the bilateral meeting of Prime Minister Modi with Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, there had been convergence of views between the two leaders on terrorism as both are long time victims of it. Mr Modi highlighted the position that terrorism should be duly defined by the UN. He also invited Spain to invest in India especially in speed train projects and to join hands in defence manufacturing and maritime security. Spain evinced keen interest on India’s renewable energy sector.
8) India, China agree to deepen defence ties, maintain peace at LAC
  • India and China have decided to deepen bilateral defence ties and maintain peace and tranquility at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The two countries also decided to strengthen cooperation against terror, including at the international level. The decisions came after a meeting between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and General Fan Changlong, Vice-Chairman of China`s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC). Gen. Fan is heading the highest-level Chinese defence delegation to visit India in recent years.
  • A Defence Ministry said both Mr. Parrikar and Gen. Fan condemned the recent terror strike in Paris and agreed to strengthen cooperation to fight the menace of terrorism, including at the international level. Mr. Parrikar also offered to share India`s expertise in fighting terrorism by way of joint exercises, among other initiatives.