Current Affairs Mar 2018 - International

1 - China selected as the vice-chair of FATF


China was selected as the Vice President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body to combat money laundering and terror financing among other financial crimes. The decision was announced at FATF plenary meeting held in Paris.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

2 - Michael McCormack selected as Australia’s new Deputy Prime Minister

Michael McCormack

Leader of Australia’s National Party, Michael McCormack was selected as Australia's new deputy prime minister replacing Barnaby Joyce. Michael McCormack is a former newspaper editor from Wagga Wagga and veteran affairs minister.

Michael Francis McCormack is an Australian politician who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2010, representing the Division of Riverina for the National Party. He has worked as an assistant minister to the deputy Prime Minister and defence minister.

3 - China to introduce its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Liaoning by 2025


China’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier named as Liaoning will be made to function by 2025. China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation will insert modern and updated technology in the aircraft carrier such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, new-type nuclear submarines, quiet submarines, maritime unmanned intelligent confrontation systems, maritime three-dimensional offensive and defensive systems and naval warfare comprehensive electronic information systems.

Apart from China, French Navy's flagship, the Charles de Gaulle, is the only non-US aircraft carrier powered by nuclear reactors.

4 - Armen Sarkisian selected as President of Armenia

Armen Sarkisian

Armen Sarkisian got selected as new President of Armenia succeeding Serzh Sarkisian who is set to retire from his duties in April 2018. There were some constitutional amendments made recently so as to turn form of government from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic.

As a result, presidential veto powers got dismissed and the presidency got downgraded to a position elected by parliament in every seven years. Armen Sarkisian will be called as the fourth President of Armenia.

5 - Marshall Islands became first country to introduce its own crypto-currency as legal tender

Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands became first country to launch its own digital currency and first country to recognize a cryptocurrency as legal tender. It is done with an aim to raise its value of money and boost economy.

The new cryptocurrency named as SOV, will be accepted legally to buy everything or anything and pay bills. SOV will be known as first digital legal tender. SOV will be sold to public through an initial coin offering and its limit is capped at 24 million tokens to prevent inflation. Venezuela has already released its digital currency called as Petro.

6 - Iraq replaced Saudi Arabia as India’s biggest oil supplier

Saudi Arabia

Iraq became India's top crude oil supplier replacing Saudi Arabia. According to report of government, Iraq supplied 38.9 MT of crude oil in 2017-18 financial year to India, which forms 80% of the country's oil needs. Out of this 38.9 million tonne, 184.4 MT of crude oil was imported during April-January. It has been for the first time that Iraq became top crude oil supplier to India.

Venezuela is India's fourth largest supplier, followed by Nigeria at 5th place, Iran at 6th place and Kuwait at 7th place.

7 - Neil Basu was appointed as new chief of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit

Neil Basu

Senior Indian-origin Scotland Yard officer Neil Basu was selected as the new chief of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit, replacing Mark Rowley who is set to retire in April 2018. With this appointment, he became the first person of Asian heritage to be appointed as Counterterrorism Chief.

He has done specialization in counter-terrorism policing for the past three years. Prior to this appointment, Neil Basu was a Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner, who used to lead counter-terrorism policing nationally.

8 - Iran inked deal with China to connect key port to rail network

Rail Network

China has signed a 700 million USW dollar deal with IRAN to build a train line connecting the Iranian port of Bushehr to the rest of the country's railway network. The China Machinery Industry Construction Group will build a 400-kilometre railway line between the Gulf port and the southern city of Shiraz.

This would complete the "North-South Railway Corridor" in line with Iran's goal of becoming a transport hub for goods between the Gulf, the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Central Asia. China is Iran's biggest economic and trading partner.

9 - Prince Charles appointed Indian-origin steel tycoon as UK skills ambassador

Prince Charles

Prince Charles has appointed Indian-origin steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta as an official ambassador for the Industrial Cadets programme designed to nurture manufacturing skills. The Industrial Cadets annual awards ceremony was held in London.

Gupta was appointed to the flagship programme to give children and young people the direct structured experience of the industry at school or college level. Mr Gupta is the Executive Chairman of UK-based GFG Alliance which is a London-headquartered international group of businesses.

10 - China's Parliament abolished two-term limit for the President

China's Parliament

China's Parliament has abolished the two-term limit for the President. The new provision now allows Xi Jinping to remain as the country's leader for life.

The constitutional changes were passed in Beijing by the annual sitting of the National People's Congress - the country's legislature - with two-third majority. Earlier, the seven-member Standing Committee - the top most body of the ruling Communist Party of China - had unanimously approved the amendment.

11 - ISA-ADB, NDB, GCF, AfDB and AIIB joint declarations of Financial Partnership

Financial Partnership

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the African Development Bank (AfDb), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and the New Development Bank (NDB) signed Joint financial partnership Declarations. The International Energy Agency (IEA) also signed a Joint-partnership Declaration with the ISA.

ISA is working for deployment of over 1000 GW of solar energy and mobilizing more than US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by the year 2030.

12 - President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated World Hindi Secretariat in Mauritius

Ram Nath Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated World Hindi Secretariat in Mauritius capital, Port Louis. The Secretariat is fully financed by India and a grant of 33 crore rupees was provided. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of this building in 2015.

The president also launched the World Hindi Secretariat’s logo, an Early Digital Learning Programme as well as unveiled foundation stones of a social housing project and a large ENT hospital being built with Indian assistance.

13 - Shahbaz Sharif elected as PML-N chief

Shahbaz Sharif

Pakistan's ruling PML-N elected Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as its President. Mr Sharif is the younger brother of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Shahbaz Sharif was elected unopposed as no one filed nomination papers against him during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) general council meeting held in Punjab province.

Nawaz Sharif was barred from leading the party following his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers scandal in July 2017.

14 - Maldives Parliament approved anti-defection bill

Maldives Parliament

The Maldives Parliament has approved the anti-defection bill with retrospective effect amidst boycott by opposition MPs. According to the bill, MPs elected on political party tickets will lose their seat if they leave their party, get expelled, or switch parties.

The bill was passed with 35 votes as opposition MPs continued to boycott the sittings. The bill would take effect from 13th July 2017. The bill will give powers to election commission to unseat MPs in case of defections.

15 - India announced USD 100 ml LoC for Mauritius


India has announced a new Line of Credit of USD 100 million for defence procurement by Mauritius on the second day of President Ram Nath Kovind's visit.

The two sides also signed agreements/MoUs −

  • MoU on cooperation between Nalanda University in Bihar and Mauritius

  • MoU on the establishment of an Ayurveda Chair at the University of Mauritius

  • MoU between the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in India and the Public Service Commission of Mauritius

  • Agreement to facilitate cultural exchanges between the two countries

16 - Angela Merkel elected to fourth term as German chancellor

Angela Merkel

Germany's Parliament elected Angela Merkel for her fourth term as chancellor, putting an end to nearly six months of political drift in Europe's biggest economy. Lawmakers voted 364-315 to re-elect Merkel, Germany's leader since 2005, who ran unopposed.

The 63-year-old Merkel will now begin her fourth term as German chancellor and her third as the leader of a grand coalition. President of Germany is Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

17 - Bidya Devi Bhandari re-elected President of Nepal for second term

Bidya Devi Bhandari

Nepal's first woman President Bidya Devi Bhandari has been re-elected for a second term in office with an overwhelming majority.Fifty-six-year old Bhandari, the Left alliance's candidate, defeated her Nepali Congress rival Kumari Laxmi Rai.

Ms Bhandari secured 39,275 votes while the NC's Rai garnered 11,730 votes. She became Nepal's first woman President in 2015. Ms. Bhandari was elected twice in parliamentary elections in 1994 and 1999.

18 - Saudi Arabia cabinet approved nuclear power program national policy

Saudi Arabia cabinet

Saudi Arabia's Cabinet approved the national policy of its atomic energy programme as the kingdom prepares to award contracts for its first nuclear power plants. The policy insists on limiting nuclear activities to peaceful purposes and calls for enhanced safety measures as well as the use of best practices for radioactive waste management.

The kingdom has accelerated plans to build 16 nuclear reactors over the next two decades, officials and analysts say, at a cost of some 80 billion US dollars.

19 - WHO-SEARO nations adopt ‘Delhi End TB Summit Statement of Action’


The Member Countries of World Health Organization - Regional Office for South-East Asia (WHO - SEARO) signed and adopted the 'Delhi End TB Summit Statement of Action' at the end of the Summit to end Tuberculosis (TB). All the countries committed to further intensifying efforts to ensure rapid and concrete progress to End TB by 2030.

The Delhi End TB Summit was held in Delhi jointly organized by the Government of India, Stop TB Partnership and WHO South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO).

20 - US challenged India’s export subsidy program at WTO

Subsidy Program

The United States has challenged Indian export subsidies schemes at the World Trade Organization. The US Trade Representative (USTR) identified at least half a dozen Indian programs and called them “unfair” and sought dispute settlement consultations at the WTO.

These programs are Merchandise Exports from India Scheme; Export Oriented Units Scheme and sector specific schemes, including Electronics Hardware Technology Parks Scheme; Special Economic Zones; Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme; and a duty-free imports for exporters program.

21 - Russia 'test-fires hypersonic Kinzhal missile'

Hypersonic Kinzhal Missile

Russia has successfully launched its new hypersonic Kinzhal missile. The nuclear-powered cruise missile has a "practically unlimited" range and high speed and maneuverability allowing it to pierce any missile defense.

The high-precision Kinzhal (Dagger) missile was launched from a MiG-31 supersonic interceptor jet. It can travel at 10 times the speed of sound. The first air unit equipped with Kinzhal system was deployed in Russia’s Southern Military District in December 2017.

22 - Oklahoma to become first US state to use nitrogen gas for executions


Oklahoma would be the first state in the United States to use nitrogen gas for executions. The state would use nitrogen hypoxia – asphyxiation by breathing in the inert gas – as its primary means of execution once a protocol had been finalized for the process.

Nitrogen is an odorless and tasteless gas that makes up about 78% of the air humans breathe but causes death when inhaled without any oxygen.

23 - Philippines formally withdraws from International Criminal Court


The Philippines has formally withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a "principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights".

Under Article 127 of the Rome Statute, a state party's withdrawal from the treaty can only take effect a year after the written notification is received by the UN Secretary-General. India never ratified the treaty and is not part of the Hague-based court.

24 - India, Madagascar sign umbrella agreement in defense sector

Umbrella Agreement

India and Madagascar have signed an umbrella agreement in the field of defence during the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to the nation. Both the nations also amended an air service agreement. The two countries will have co-sharing agreement with Air Seychelles through Air India and Air Madagascar.

India donated 1000 tonnes of rice and a cash grant of 2 million dollars towards multiple calamities relief in Madagascar. The President of Madagascar is Rajaonarimampianina.

25 - Vladimir Putin won historic fourth term as President

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin won Russia's presidential election for a fourth term, giving him another six years in power. Mr. Putin won more than 75% of the vote. Pavel Grudinin, came second with 11.8% of the vote, and third was Vladimir Zhirinovsky (5.6%).

Putin’s new fourth term, which expires in 2024, will make him the longest-serving leader of Russia since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Putin was first elected to the Kremlin in 2000, and again four years later. He won the elections again in 2012.

26 - Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang Re-Elected for Second Five-Year Term

Li Keqiang

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang was re-elected for a second five-year term by the Chinese parliament. Li secured 2,964 votes in favor and two against during the annual session of the National People’s Congress at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

The lawmakers also approved the appointment of Xu Qiliang and Zhang Youxia as vice chairmen of the apex Central Military Commission (CMC), which imparts strategic direction to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

27 - British Parliamentary committee asked Facebook Chief Mark Zuckerberg to testify in data misuse case


A UK parliamentary committee has summoned Facebook Chief Mark Zuckerberg amid a growing row over data breaches linked to the popular social media company.

The letter has come as the UK's Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she would be applying to court for a warrant to search the offices of the UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The firm is accused of using the data of 50 million Facebook members to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

28 - UN launched $951 mn appeal for Rohingya refugees

Rohingya refugees

To meet the urgent needs of nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees and more than 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities hosting them, United Nations agencies and their humanitarian partners appealed jointly on Friday for $951 million.

Fifty-four per cent of the appeal is to ensure food, water and sanitation, shelter and other basic aid, with food alone accounting for 25 per cent of the total. So far, the emergency response from September 2017 to February 2018 has received $321 million of the $434 million required.

29 - US launched WTO challenge against China

WTO Challenge

The US has launched a challenge at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China over intellectual property breaches. The United States is taking action at WTO to address China's unfair technology practices that run counter to WTO rules.

US President Donald Trump hit China with tariffs up to 60 billion Dollars of imports to retaliate against the theft of American intellectual property. China too warned the US that it was not afraid of a trade war as it threatened tariffs on 3 billion dollars worth of US goods in retaliation over the US measures.

30 - 44 African countries sign free trade agreement

African Countries

44 African nations have signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at a summit of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda. The deal is expected to come into force within six months. But 10 countries, including Nigeria, have refused to sign the deal.

The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods, with 10 percent of "sensitive items" to be phased in later.

31 - Venezuela deletes three zeros off its currency to fight inflation


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced to eliminate three zeros off the nation's currency, the bolivar, taking effect from June 4.

Socialist Venezuela is going through a crisis that has left people struggling to pay for food and find medicines. The largest bill in circulation, the 100,000 note, can hardly buy a cup of coffee. Venezuela's inflation rate was more than 6,000% in the 12-month period ending in February. The International Monetary Fund expects inflation to top 13,000% this year.

32 - US added seven Pakistani companies to list of foreign entities posing risk to national security

Seven Pakistani

The United States Bureau of Industry and Security has added seven Pakistani companies to a list of foreign entities that pose a significant risk to the national security and policy interests of the country.

According to the End-user Review Committee (ERC) of the US Department of Commerce, three companies are listed for their involvement in the proliferation of unsafeguarded nuclear activities. Two are for procuring supplies for nuclear-related entities and the remaining two are for acting as fronts for listed entities.

33 - UAE's first nuclear reactor complete

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates has moved closer to becoming the first Arab nation to produce atomic power after one of four nuclear reactors at its debut plant has been completed. The project cost of the Barakah plant is expected to be around $20-billion.

The plant is being constructed by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation. When operational, the four reactors will produce 5,600 megawatts of electricity which will be around 25% of the country's needs.

34 - ISA and India sign the Host Country Agreement

ISA and India

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), signed the Host Country Agreement. The Agreement will give ISA a juridical personality and gives it power to contract, to acquire and dispose-off movable and immovable properties, to institute and defend legal proceedings.

The International Solar Alliance is an initiative jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India and President of France at Paris on the side lines of COP21 UN Climate Change Conference.

35 - Win Myint elected as Myanmar's new President


Myanmar's Parliament has elected Win Myint as the country's new President, following the resignation of his predecessor Htin Kyaw. Win Myint is a close aide of Aung San Suu Kyi and has also been a Speaker in the Lower House since 2012.

Htin Kyaw resigned as President amid growing health concerns. Parliament voted Myint from a short-list of the three vice-presidents. Win Myint had been made a Vice-President.

36 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited China

Kim Jong-un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited China and had a meeting with President Xi Jinping in Beijing. Kim paid a four-day unofficial visit at the invitation of the President.

China said Kim has pledged to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. The trip was Kim's first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011. Kim is set to attend a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in the next month, and will later meet US President Donald Trump.

37 - Ethiopia's ruling coalition elected Abiye Ahmed as new PM

Abiye Ahmed

Ethiopia's ruling coalition has elected Abiye Ahmed as new Prime Minister, following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn in February 2018. The 180-member council of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front elected Abiye with over 60% votes. Abiye is the chairperson of the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation.

The ruling coalition has struggled to contain persistent and violent unrest since 2015. Legislative elections have been scheduled for 2020. Abiye also briefly served as science and technology minister in Hailemariam’s cabinet.

38 - North & South Korea agree to hold historic leaders’ summit on April 27th

North And South Korea

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a summit of their leaders on 27th of April, 2018. The agreement came after a ministerial-level inter-Korean meeting held in Panmunjom, North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet at a South Korean facility in Panmunjom.

Kim is also scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in May to discuss denuclearization, although a time and place have not been set for that summit. Mr Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2018.

39 - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi re-elected for second term with nearly 92% of votes

Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been re-elected for a second term with nearly 92% of the total votes. More than 23 million Egyptians voted for him.

His sole challenger, the little-known centrist politician and al Ghad party Chief Moussa Mostafa Moussa, is estimated to have obtained 3% of the votes. Sisi overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Tosi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. He was elected for a four-year presidential term in 2014.

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