Current Affairs July 2018 - International


1 - Canada announced billions in retaliatory tariffs against US

Retaliatory Tariffs

Canada has announced billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the US in response to Trump administration's duties on Canadian steel and aluminum. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government released the final list of items.

Some items will be subject to taxes of 10% or 25%. The taxes on items including ketchup, lawn mowers and motor boats amount to $12.6 billion. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called it to be a perfect reciprocal action.

2 - India pledges $5 million for Palestinian refugees

Palestinian Refugees

India has pledged $5 million for the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees during a campaign to make up for the shortfall in its funding after the US cut its contributions. The contribution is made to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

UNRWA faces a shortfall of $250 million. Sweden will contribute USD 250 million over four years, the UK USD 51 million and the UAE USD 50 million among other donors.

3 - António Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino Elected as New Director General of UN Migration Agency

Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino

The member states of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) elected Portugal’s António Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino as the New Director General of UN Migration Agency. Mr. Vitorino succeeds the United States’ William Lacy Swing. He will join office on 1 October 2018.

Mr. Vitorino is a former European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs (1999-2004) and former Minister of the Presidency and National Defence (1995-1997). He has also enjoyed a distinguished career in Portugal as a lawyer as well as in electoral politics.

4 - Asia's first patent arbitration hub to open in Tokyo

Asia's First Patent Arbitration Hub

Asia's first international arbitration centre specialising in intellectual property will be opened in Tokyo, Japan. The centre will facilitate resolution of a growing number of patent disputes. It will be led by Katsuya Tamai, a University of Tokyo professor specialising in intellectual property law.

The organization will feature a roster of a dozen or so arbitrators from inside and outside Japan, including a former chief judge of a US court that hears patent cases.

5 - Nigeria replaced India with World’s largest number of poor people

According to the Brookings Institution report, Nigeria has replaced India to become the world’s top country with the highest number of people living in poverty. It is defined as people are living on less than USD 1.90 a day.

As per the new report, India has 70.6 million people living in extreme poverty whereas Nigeria has 87 million. The UN-sponsored Sustainable Development Goals aim to eliminate global poverty by 2030.

6 - Abu Dhabi 'Smartest' City in Middle East

Abu Dhabi Smartest City

According to a report titled “Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for a More Livable Future” published by McKinsey Global Institute, Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has topped the list of “smart cities” in the Middle East and Africa.

Abu Dhabi ranked first in the region ahead of Dubai. The study looked at how cities all over the world use technology to increase the quality of life across a wide range of criteria, including healthcare, security, mobility, economic development and housing.

7 - López Obrador won presidenntial election in Mexico

Lopez Obrador

Mexico’s leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the presidential election in Mexico. He secured 53% of the vote. He will replace President Enrique Peña Nieto. His main opponent was Ricardo Anaya.

Mr. López Obrador campaigned on a narrative of social change, including increased pensions for the elderly, educational grants for Mexico’s youth and additional support for farmers. He promised to tackle violence and wipe out corruption.

8 - 5th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held in Tokyo

RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting

The Fifth RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting was held in Tokyo. This was the first time for a non-ASEAN country to host a RCEP Ministerial Meeting. The Ministers from the 16 RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) attended the meeting.

Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, hosted the Fifth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Intersessional Ministerial Meeting as Co-chair with Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore.

9 - World's 1st digital psychedelic art museum opened in Tokyo

Digital Psychedelic Art Museum

The world’s first digital art museum was opened in Tokyo. The installation is located in the Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless in Tokyo’s Mori Building and is a collaboration between Japanese art collective teamLab and Tokyo-based urban developer Mori Building.

The museum is powered by 520 computers and 470 projectors which generate about 50 psychedelic installations. Without all the lights, the museum space would be a bunch of empty halls with black walls and carpeted floors.

10 - Iran, Austria agree to maintain 2015 nuclear deal

Iran and Austria

Iran and Austria have agreed to maintain the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite the United States withdrawing from the agreement. Iranian President Rouhani and Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz discussed how to deal with the nuclear agreement.

President Donald Trump in May pulled the United States out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran, upsetting European allies who have scrambled to preserve ties.

11 - UN approved US $6.69 billion dollar budget for 13 peacekeeping operations

UN Peacekeeping Operations

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) recommended that the Assembly would authorize the allocation of $6.69 billion to finance 13 peacekeeping missions - including related funds for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy; the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda; and the peacekeeping support account. The committee also approved a text on the United Nations financial reports and audited financial statements on peacekeeping missions, as well as the Board of Auditors’ reports on them.

Overall, the committee approved 25 draft resolutions and 1 draft decision for management reforms.

12 - Nepal and India jointly promoted tourism

Nepal and India

The 2nd meeting of the joint working group on tourism cooperation between India and Nepal concluded. Both sides agreed to jointly promote Buddhist and Ramayana circuits and Adventure tourism. The meeting also decided to set up an industry-led India Nepal Tourism Forum. The group was formed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Nepal in 2014 to enhance cooperation in tourism between the two countries.

Other issues such as road connectivity, streamlining bus route operations and employment opportunities of Nepali professionals were also discussed.

13 - India to operate 'world’s emptiest airport' In Sri Lanka

World’s Emptiest Airport

India announced to operate Sri Lanka’s Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, known as world’s emptiest airport. It is known as world’s emptiest airport because of lack of flights. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is in massive loss of rupees 20 billion.

India has bought major stake in the airport. There was lack of flights found on Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport due to recurrent losses and flight safety issues. India would operate the airport as a Sri Lanka-India joint venture.

14 - China launched PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A satellites for Pakistan

PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A Satellites

Two remote sensing satellites were launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. These two satellites PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A are launched for Pakistan, marking the first international commercial launch for the Long March-2C rocket in about 19 years. PRSS-1 is China's first optical remote sensing satellite bought by Pakistan. PakTES-1A is a scientific experiment satellite developed by Pakistan.

They are meant for providing quality images with improved data transmission system. The satellites have ability to cover a wider range with the help of cameras.

15 - Sri Lankan government approved capital punishment for drug offences

drug offences

The Sri Lankan Cabinet has unanimously approved a move to bring back capital punishment for drug-related crimes, paving way for the resumption of death penalty after nearly 40 years. Executions have not been carried out in Sri Lanka as successive Presidents in office since 1978 have refused to issue death warrants.

Although capital punishment is in the statute, Sri Lanka had stopped hangings since 1976. Death row prisoners spend life terms in jail.

16 - Security Council Seeks to Strengthen Protections for Children in Armed Conflict, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2427 (2018)

Security Council

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution aimed at further crystalizing the protection of children in armed conflicts. This includes combating their recruitment by non-State armed groups and treating formerly recruited children primarily as victims.

The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2427 (2018). One in every four children lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster. Over 21,000 cases of grave violations of children's rights in armed conflict have been verified by the United Nations for 2017.

17 - YouTube to invest $25 million to fight fake news


YouTube has announced that it will invest $25 million to fight against fake news, especially for the urgent coverage of breaking news. This investment will be part of the Google News Initiative (GNI), first introduced in March by Google to help the media and to deal with fake news.

YouTube also presented a series of new features on its website to help users avoid hoaxes. YouTube also has begun testing features that distribute local news in the YouTube app for connected TVs across 25 media markets in the US.

18 - United Nations Secretary-General appointed high-level panel on Digital Cooperation

António Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres launched a High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group were appointed as Co-Chairs of the Panel.

The Panel has a total of 20 members. The Panel is expected to identify policy, research and information gaps, and make proposals to strengthen international cooperation in the digital space.

19 - Sixth India-Bangladesh Home Minister-level talks held in Dhaka


The sixth India-Bangladesh Home Minister-level talk was held in Dhaka. Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal co-chaired the meeting.

Home Minister Mr Rajnath Singh also inaugurated India's largest visa centre in the world to reduce the waiting time for applicants. The integrated state-of-the-art Indian Visa Application Centre will replace all the existing centres in Dhaka in two phases.

20 - UN Security Council extends sanctions on South Sudan

UN Security Council

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan in addition to current sanctions, till May 31, 2019. Resolution 2428 won nine votes in favor, the minimum requirement for adoption. The remaining six members of the Security Council -- Bolivia, China, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Russia -- abstained.

Shortly after its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan plunged into civil war. Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed since late 2013.

21 - India becomes regional head of the Asia Pacific region of the World Customs Organisation

World Customs Organisation

India took over as head of the Asia Pacific region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for a period of two years. Being the Vice-Chair of Asia Pacific Region of WCO will enable India to take on leadership role. India has a wealth of experience in promoting security and facilitation of cross border trade.

WCO represents 182 customs administrations across the world that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. The WCO has divided its membership into six regions whereby each region is represented by an elected vice-chairperson to the WCO Council.

22 - China to launch 300 low-orbit satellites to provide worldwide communication services

Worldwide Communication Services

China is planning to launch 300 low-orbit satellites to provide worldwide communication services. Known as the Hongyan constellation, the first in the 300-satellite array, it is set to be launched by the end of this year. The constellation will be built in three stages.

According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, once completed, the satellite communication network will take the place of the ground-based network and allow a mobile phone to be connected everywhere on the planet, either in a remote desert or at sea.

23 - EU & Japan sign biggest free trade deal

EU and Japan

The European Union and Japan have signed one of the world's biggest free trade deals, covering nearly a third of the world's GDP. The agreement was signed in Tokyo. The President of EU Council is Jean-Claude Juncker.

Under the agreement, Japan will scrap almost all its tariffs on EU goods, particularly dairy items like cheese. The EU will also eliminate about 99% of its tariffs on Japanese goods, including removing levies on Japanese cars and scrapping tariffs on car parts.

24 - Iran files lawsuit against US in International Court of Justice at Hague

International Court of Justice

Iran has filed a lawsuit against the United States in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. Tehran alleged that Washington's decision in May to impose sanctions, after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, violates a 1955 treaty between the two countries.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact reached by his predecessor Barack Obama and other world powers with Iran, and ordered tough US sanctions on Tehran.

The ICJ, known as the World Court, is the United Nations tribunal for resolving international disputes.

25 - Walmart and Microsoft team up to fight Amazon

Walmart and Microsoft

Walmart and Microsoft are going to team up and fight against Amazon. The two companies have signed a five year deal. As part of the deal, Walmart will boost its use of Microsoft's cloud services and work with the tech firm on artificial intelligence and machine learning projects.

Walmart is Amazon’s biggest retail competitor, and Microsoft is Amazon’s largest cloud services rival. Walmart (WMT) has been pushing aggressively to transform its digital operations in order to compete with online rivals.

26 - UK selects Scottish site for first spaceport


The UK has selected a spot in Sutherland as the site of the country’s first vertical-launch spaceport. The site is located on the A’Mhoine Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands. Newquay in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick in Scotland, and Snowdonia in Wales have been selected for horizontal air-launch operations.

The government will fund £2.5 million ($3.3 million) to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the vertical-launch site in Sutherland. The first liftoff is expected in the early 2020s.

27 - Amazon’s market value hits $900 Billion

Amazon's Market

Amazon’s stock market value reached $902 billion for the first time on 18th July. Amazon’s stock hit a high of $1,858.88 after the e-commerce giant announced more than 100 million products were purchased during its Prime Day sale event.

Apple has the highest market capitalization of $936 billion. Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. He founded it as an online bookseller. It features retail operations in more than a dozen countries, a major cloud computing division, and operations in digital devices, artificial intelligence, video streaming and groceries.

28 - EU fined a record $5 billion to Google for Android antitrust violations

Android Antitrust Violations

The EU regulators have slapped a €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine on Google for breaking antitrust laws. According to the commission, Google has abused its Android market dominance in three key areas −

  • Google has been bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system

  • Google has also blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android

  • Google “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators” to exclusively bundle the Google search app on handsets

29 - 4th BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Kathmandu


4th BIMSTEC Summit will be held in Kathmandu from 30 to 31 August. The main focus of the summit will be to increase connectivity between the BIMSTEC nations including roads, airways and transmission lines.

The Bay of Bengal Initiatives for Multi-Sectoral, Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional economic bloc comprising seven member states - Bangladesh, Bhutan India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. Nepal is the current chair of BIMSTEC.

30 - Pakistan gets its first woman chief justice of high court

Justice Tahira Safdar

Pakistan has got its first-ever woman Chief Justice of a high court. Justice Tahira Safdar was named as the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. She will take charge of her new role following the retirement of incumbent Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Mohammad Noor Muskanzai.

Justice Safdar had made history in 1982 when she became the first woman civil judge in Balochistan. She is currently a member of the three-judge special court conducting the trial of former President Pervez Musharraf for committing treason by proclaiming a state of emergency in November, 2007.

31 - Malaysian government to repeal Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012

Security Offences

Malaysian government will repeal the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) as announced by the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

SOSMA, which was introduced during former Prime minister Najib Razak’s administration in 2012, allowed the government to arrest anyone without having to go to court. It also allows for suspects to be detained without charge for 28 days and can incur a lengthy prison sentence.

32 - World witnessed longest Lunar eclipse of the century

Lunar Eclipse

Skywatchers in many parts of the world witnessed the longest Lunar eclipse of the 21st century on 27th July. The eclipse lasted for 1 hour 43 minutes, and was visible in Europe, West Asia, Africa, Australia, most of Asia and South America.

A total lunar eclipse takes place when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon, and covers the Moon with its shadow. When this happens, the Moon turns red or ruddy brown, which is why the phenomenon has earned the nickname, 'blood moon'.

33 - Johannesburg Declaration Adopted in BRICS Summit 2018

BRICS Summit 2018

The BRICS Summit 2018 was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The theme for the 10th BRICS Summit was: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

BRICS leaders adopted the 'Johannesburg Declaration' by consensus. The declaration reaffirms principles of democracy, inclusiveness and agrees to fight unilateralism and protectionism. BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

34 - A new Ebola species has been found in bats in Sierra Leone

Ebola species in Bats

A new species of Ebola virus has been discovered in bats in Sierra Leone. This is the sixth known species of the virus. The finding comes two years after end of the worst-ever Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Ebola virus disease is a highly fatal haemorrhagic fever that is spread through contact with bodily fluids from infected persons and animals which include non-human primates, bats and forest antelope.

35 - Pakistan Elections 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced final results of all the constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies in Pakistan. Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party has won 116 of the 270 National Assembly seats, emerging as the largest political party in the country. The PML-N grabbed 64 seats, while the PPP is in third place with 43 National Assembly seats.

According to the election commission of Pakistan, the voter turnout in the National Assembly elections remained 51.85%.