The recent agreement – motor vehicle agreement signed by the transport ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) marks a big breakthrough in the evolution of South Asian regionalism.
On implementation of the agreement the cross-border movement of goods and people will become a lot easier in the eastern subcontinent.
Is it isolating Pakistan ?
In the process, some view this agreement as being aimed at isolating Pakistan. But what is driving this process is – Pakistan’s delaying nature of negotiations which was evident at the 2014 SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal.
After prolonged negotiations among all parties, including Pakistan, the SAARC summit was presented with three agreements on cross-border energy cooperation, motor-vehicle movementand railway cooperation. But Pakistan was not ready to sign them, and it was only after great persuasion that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif endorsed the agreement on energy cooperation.
Advantages of the initiative
The initiative for sub-regional cooperation was taken by Bangladesh 2 years ago (2013). With the sub-regional co-operation not only the need for its trans-frontier connectivity is satisfied but also advantages for the member countries-
For Nepal and Bhutan, the two landlocked countries, this would improve their access to the open seas, global markets and energy trade across borders that will boost their economies.
Sub-regionalism across the globe
The sub-regionalism is quite common around the world too. For instance Britain, Denmark and Sweden are among the members of the European Union that have not adopted the euro as their currency. Many in Britain, want London to exit from the European Union.
India, too, has often looked beyond the SAARC to benefit from trans-regional cooperation. Along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India has been promoting a trans-regional forum, called BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), with Myanmar and Thailand.
Also sub-regionalism has got world-wide support from World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan and China for sub-region’s energy and transport corridors and trans-border connectivity.
If the BBIN programme succeeds, it could spur similar integration in other sub-regions, like the one formed by peninsular India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Some day, even Pakistan might be ready to restore the historic economic connectivity in the region stretching from the west of the Jumna to the Indus and beyond.
Connecting the dots:
What are the disadvantages of sub-regionalism for overall growth of SAARC nations?
‘BBIN is not one of its kind programs’. Make a list of other initiatives among South East Asian Nations of which India is part of?
Advantages of BBIN for India and member nations.
India moves to reset ties with Iran
Following recent sanctions, India had cut down on its oil imports from Iran and this had strained the relationship between the two countries.
Now, India has decided to take certain measures to reset its ties with Iran.
Connectivity – Impetus to North-South Transport Corridor, which will pave the way for its entry into Afghanistan and the Central Asian region
An inter-government memorandum of understanding has been signed in May, 2015 for the development of the Chabahar Port in Iran.
India must look beyond trade and economic ties – possible cooperation to fight the emerging terror groups in Central Asia. The disturbing developments in Afghanistan, the penetration of militants into Central Asia, and the continued expansion of IS in Iraq, all necessitate better India-Iran ties.
The North-South Transport Corridor connects India, Iran and Russia via the Caspian Sea. The international transport corridor across Nhava Sheva (Mumbai) through Bandar Abbas (Iran) to Astrakhan (Russia) and Baku (Azerbaijan) is expected to substantially reduce cargo transport time between India and Central Asia and Russia.
In the meanwhile India has ignored the warnings from the US, of not rushing into doing business with Iran, till P5+1 Nations (the U.K., China, France, Russia and the U.S and Germany) firms up the nuclear deal with Iran on June 30, 2015.
Connecting the Dots:
What is the strategic significance of Iran for India? Learn about TAPI Pipeline
Can India-Iran partnership balance China-Pakistan ally?
Role of India in geopolitics of Middle East?
India, Brazil cross swords with U.S. at WTO
Switzerland and the U.S. have begun a campaign at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to not renew a moratorium on ‘non-violation complaints and situations’ for intellectual property rights that would expire at the end of 2015.
What is non-violation and situation complaint?
A non-violation and situation complaint can be raised against a WTO member when it undertakes a certain action which, while not violating WTO rules itself, denies another member an expected benefit by nullifying or countering another action or policy required by the WTO.
For instance, introducing subsidies to undo the effect of lowered tariffs would be an example of an action that could potentially attract a non-violation complaint.
Proposal to continue the moratorium
A proposal to continue the moratorium has been submitted by Brazil on behalf of a group of 19 countries that includes India and China. If the proposal is successful, the moratorium will continue after 2015, preserving the status quo.
Impact on India
If the moratorium gets cancelled, it would open the door to a new world of possibilities and litigation as far as intellectual property is concerned.
Section 3(d) of the India Patents Act (1970) is likely to be a target of complainants. This section of the Act defines what an invention is, and has been interpreted by the Indian Patent Office to deny patents for drugs such as Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug by Gilead Sciences, and Glivec, a cancer drug by Novartis.
The denial of these patents has significant benefits for access to affordable medication in India. It also has implications for the revenues of multi-national pharmaceutical companies and their incentives to innovate.
Intellectual property (IP)
It is a term used to refer to creations of the intellect for which a monopoly is assigned to designated owners by law.
Some common types of intellectual property rights (IPR) are copyright, patents, industrial design rights and trademarks. It also covers music, literature, and other artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Intellectual property rights are themselves a form of property, called intangible property.
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the WTO that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO Members.It was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994.
The TRIPS agreement introduced intellectual property law into the international trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive international agreement on intellectual property to date.
Connecting the dots
What is TRIPS plus agreement?
Make a note on various conflicts between India and USA related to WTO