International Current Affairs
December 3rd week 2015 current affairs
Category : International Current Affairs
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1) US House of Representatives passed the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015.

  • US House of Representatives passed the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015. It amends the United States` visa travel practices.
  • The lawmakers voted 407 to 19 in support of the Bill that seeks to impose restrictions on people who have visited Iraq, Syria and countries listed as supporting terrorism to travel visa-free to the United States.
Highlights of the Act:
  1. The Bill would bar people who traveled after 1 March 2011 to Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan from participating in the visa-free program.
  2. Those changes include requiring countries in the visa waiver program to share counter-terrorism information with the US, and issue e-passports with biometric information.
  3. The bill also mandates travelers to be checked against Interpol databases.
  4. Its passage requires US security agencies conduct more frequent assessments of visa waiver countries to determine whether they pose a high risk to US security, and if so they could be suspended from the program.
2) US joins `ambition coalition` at UN climate talks.
  • The United States has announced that it had united with the European Union and 79 developing countries to jointly push for an ambitious accord in Paris to curb global warming.
  • The decision, announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry, came a day after the European Union it had joined the African, Caribbean and Pacific nations most vulnerable to climate disasters to lobby for a far-reaching deal.
  • However countries within the alliance dubbed the ``high ambition coalition`` by the United States have conflicting aims on some key points in the accord.
  • India which has baulked at accelerating the review of carbon-cutting pledges and at setting the decarbonisation of the global economy as a goal is not part of the coalition. Nor are economic giants China and Brazil.
About US:
Capital: Washington, D.C.
President: Barack Obama
Currency: United States Dollar
3) Moscow announces trilateral Syria talks in Geneva.
  • Russia revealed that Moscow, Washington and the United Nations will hold Syria talks in Geneva as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict are ratcheted up.
  • The announcement has been made by Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov. UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura is set to take part in the talks aimed at ending a brutal war that has killed more than 250,000 people and forced millions from their homes since March 2011.
  • Representatives from Syria’s fragmented opposition began a two-day closed-door meeting in Saudi Arabia to seek a united front for potential talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
About Russia:
Capital: Moscow
Currency: Russian ruble
President: Vladimir Putin
Prime minister: Dmitry Medvedev


4) Japan inked a pact for amending the double taxation avoidance agreement.

  • Japan Premier Shinzo Abe’s visit, India and Japan have inked a pact for amending the double taxation avoidance agreement and for preventing fiscal evasion that was originally signed in 1989.
  • The protocol provides for internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters, including bank information and information without domestic tax interest.
  • It also allows for sharing of information from Japan on an Indian resident with other law enforcement agencies.
Key facts:
  1. Protocol provides for internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters. It includes sharing of bank information and information without domestic tax interest.
  2. Facilitates sharing of the information received from Japan of Indian resident with other law enforcement agencies with authorization of the competent authority and vice versa.
About Japan:
Capital: Tokyo
Currency: Japanese yen
Prime minister: Shinzo Abe
5) UNCAT called on China to halt the torture of detainees and oppression of human rights activists.
  • United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) called on China to halt the torture of detainees and oppression of human rights activists, saying the practice remains prevalent.
  • The outcome report is based on the findings of survey of eight countries that were examined during its session from 9 November to 9 December 2015. The eight countries were Liechtenstein, Azerbaijan, Austria, Denmark, China, Hong Kong China, Macao China and Jordan.
Highlights of China’s fifth review under Convention against Torture are:
  1. The report gives Beijing one year to make progress towards complying with the Convention Against Torture.
  2. The Committee said it remains seriously concerned over consistent reports indicating that the practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system, which overly relies on confessions as the basis for convictions.
  3. About 200 lawyers have been rounded up in China since July 2015, of which at least 25 remain in detention.
United Nation Committee Against Torture (UNCAT):
  1. The he Committee Against Torture (CAT) is the body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties.
About China:
Capital: Beijing
Currency: Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping
Prime minister: Li Keqiang
6) India and South Korea inked a new MoU on suspension of collection of taxes.
  • India and South Korea have inked a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) on suspension of collection of taxes during pendency of mutual agreement procedure.
  • This MoU will relieve the burden of double taxation for taxpayers in both the countries during the pendency of Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) proceedings.
  • Besides, both countries also have agreed that transfer pricing dispute cases will be taken up for MAP under the revised Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Korea.
About Mutual Agreement Procedure:
  1. MAP is an alternate dispute resolution mechanism that allows competent authorities of particular nation and its treaty partner to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement.
  2. Under it, two signatory sides can negotiate settlement on a case that can subsequently be taken off from the formal legal process.
Main advantages: MAP is a preferred way used to settle cross-border tax cases globally. Eliminates of double taxation arising out of transfer pricing tax disputes, characterization of income and attribution of profits and existence of Permanent Establishment.
About South Korea:
Capital: Seoul
Currency: South Korean won
Prime minister: Hwang Kyo-ahn
President: Park Geun-hye

7) India, Switzerland improved their cooperation on tax matters.

  • With India stepping up efforts to bring back illicit funds stashed abroad. Both sides have improved their cooperation on tax matters following several high-level meetings.
  • Over the past few months, both countries have been working closely on mutual administrative assistance, according to the Swiss government.
  • In recent months, Switzerland has disclosed names of more than a dozen Indians about whom information has been sought by the Indian government amid suspicion that their accounts in Swiss banks were being used for stashing illicit money.
  • Based on several high-level meetings, Switzerland and India have been able to improve their cooperation based on their DTA (Double Taxation Agreement).
About Switzerland:
Currency: Swiss franc
Capital: Bern
President: Johann Schneider-Ammann
8) India and Japan have inked fourteen agreements in various fields.
  • India and Japan have inked fourteen agreements in various fields to enhance bilateral co-operation between both countries.
  • These agreements were signed during ninth annual Indo-Japan summit talks held in New Delhi. The summit was jointly held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
Some important agreements signed:
Agreement in transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation: Provides a framework to enhance defence and security cooperation.
Agreement on security measures for the protection of classified military information: Ensures the reciprocal protection of classified military information transmitted to each other.
Agreement on Amendment Protocol of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement: Amends the Convention between both countries for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to Taxes on Income, signed in 1989.
MoC on Technological Cooperation in Rail Sector: Establishes areas for comprehensive technological cooperation including sharing of information and best practices.
MoU on technological cooperation on Rail safety: proposes to cooperate in the areas of safety in train operation and advanced techniques of maintenance along with use of environment friendly technologies, etc.
About Japan:
Capital: Tokyo
Currency: Japanese yen
Prime minister: Shinzo Abe