Chamber of commerce launched by India and Morocco

In a successful attempt to establish peaceful and improve trade relations between India and Morocco, a chamber of commerce was launched in Rabat, capital of Morocco on 31st May 2016. The India–Morocco Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IMCCI) was introduced by Vice President of India Hamid Ansari and Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane. Esteemed members and officials from both the countries were present at the event. The motto of this launch was ““Shake hands, strengthen ties, go with IMCCI” which clearly reflected the need of a mutually beneficial commercial relationship between the two countries. IMCCI is supposed to work as a facilitator and active promoter of investments in, and trade ties between India and Morocco.

Both Ansari and Benkirane admitted that due to globalization it is important to create joint ventures for better trade and peaceful relations between the countries. Hamid Ansari remarked in this light that, “It is a testament to the growing importance of commercial engagement between our two countries”.

An official spokesperson also informed that Indian companies have cumulatively invested more than $320 million in Morocco, including in the flagship project, the Indo-Maroc Phosphore SA joint venture. These large investments show that Morocco is a favorable destination among Indian investors. Hence, this launch will result in flourishing business and will also deepen the bilateral relations.

Apart from trade, India and Morocco also signed five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) covering various issues related to culture, media and education such as television broadcasting, water resources, institutional cooperation and educational and cultural exchanges.

Mr. Ansari, who became the first Indian Vice President to visit Morocco in the last fifty years, was on a three-day visit. He also visited the Mohammed VI Imam Training Centre and interacted with Imams and intellectuals. This centre is known to propagate the beliefs of moderate Islam and works on its ideologies and values.

With these steps, India and Morocco are certainly forging ahead to strengthen their international ties for improving the economic as well as political position on a global level.

Partnership of Shared Vision and Values

More than half a million people of Indian origin live in Singapore. However, this is not the only reason that India and Singapore have come closer than together on multiple levels and spheres.

India and Singapore relations go a long way and have widened and deepened consistently with time. When Singapore obtained its independence in 1965, China-backed communist threats loomed large, while Malaysian and Indonesian domination was also expected. Singapore found a close strategic relationship with India significant for its regional security, which also served as a counterbalance to Chinese influence in international politics. The fact that India had already fought a war against the Chinese in 1962 helped both sides to shake hands enthusiastically. In turn, Singapore has proved to be an important strategic trading post for India giving it trade access to the Far East.

There was a time when India and Singapore held rival positions on the Vietnam War and the Cold War, as they belonged to two different camps on international foreign policy. Singapore chose to ally with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), while India being a founding member of the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM), not only supported Vietnam’s independence from France, but also opposed American involvement in the Vietnam War. It also supported unification of Vietnam, and during the Vietnam War, supported the North without militarily opposing the South.

However, India and Singapore grew their relationship strategically and judiciously in the 1990s, when Singapore responded favourably to India’s “Look East” Policy with a long-term vision of expanding its economic, cultural and strategic ties in Southeast Asia to strengthen its standing as a regional power.

India’s Look East policy of 1992, when it embarked upon the path of economic liberalization and export promotion, was immediately responded to by Singapore with a parallel “Look West” Policy. In addition, Singapore has always extended a hand of political support towards India in multiple ways, including getting India into ASEAN as a dialogue partner, getting it the membership of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and also in initiating ASEAN-India Summit meetings. Then, Singapore (and also Japan) also supported India’s entry in the East Asia Summit (EAS). This fact becomes more significant in the light that India got an entry even when China and Malaysia opposed it. Singapore’s continued efforts also resulted in India’s first-ever Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with any ASEAN country. As a result, India could initiate a politico- strategic relationship with Singapore at two levels simultaneously: bilateral and ASEAN-centric.

ASEAN is composed of 10 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos. The ASEAN countries account for 9.5 percent of India’s total commodity exports, and within ASEAN, Singapore alone absorbs 4.5 percent of India’s exports. From India’s perspectives, Singapore is India’s 10th largest source of imports. At present, it accounts for 3.27 percent of India’s total commodity imports.

Opening New Avenues

Navies of both countries started conducting joint naval exercises and training in 1993, by the names SIMBEX and MILAN near Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and gradually expanded their cooperation in fighting terrorism. SIMBEX is an annual naval combat exercise, and several warships from India and Singapore take regular and active part in this interoperable combat exercise.

As the relationship matured, India and Singapore signed a Defence Cooperation Agreement in 2003, on expanding military cooperation, conducting joint military training, developing military technology and achieving maritime security. As decided under the Agreement, Singapore army and air force may conduct training on Indian soil.

In 2016, India and Singapore signed another agreement for creating a strategic relationship across the board, which includes defence and military, security and intelligence cooperation, political exchanges, enhancing trade and investment, improving financial linkages, improving air connectivity and cooperation in multilateral forums.

A year later in 2017, both signed a Naval Cooperation Agreement for boosting maritime security, joint exercises and mutual logistics support. This Agreement also allows ships of either navy to refuel, restock and rearm at each other’s military bases. The camaraderie between India and Singapore may be judged by the statement of Singapore’s Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen, who stated after signing the agreement that, “not only would we be more comfortable, we would encourage the Indian Navy to visit Changi Naval base more often”. In addition, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) regularly conduct joint military training exercises.

Military cooperation of several decades has now transformed into resolving common security challenges for both countries, such as terrorism, maritime piracy, safety of Sea Lanes of Communications (SLoCs), etc. Set up in 2006, they conduct high-level discussions on defence and security through India-Singapore Defence Policy Dialogue. In addition, they cooperate with each other in their fight against terrorism through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in criminal matters.

Evolving a Meaningful Relationship

India and Singapore established diplomatic relations fifteen days after Singapore’s independence in 1965. They kept their relationship alive, and grew it consistently as top leaders from both countries took active interest and action. In the next six years, the erstwhile Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew visited India three times, in 1966, in 1970 and in 1971. In between, the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai also visited Singapore in 1968. As a sign of close positive relationship, Singapore supported India for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, in cultivating a greater role and influence in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in India’s war against Pakistan in 1965, and in the Kashmir conflict.

As the military cooperation enhanced from both sides in the 1990s and 2000s, in the last two decades, both have created economic, political and cultural hubs for each other within their countries. Over time, Singapore has emerged as a strategic partner for India in the Southeast Asia.

In the words of the then Indian Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, in 2006, “Singapore has become the hub of India’s political, economic and security strategy in the whole of East Asia.”

As Singapore completed 50 years of India–Singapore bilateral relations in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Singapore. The Father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, also breathed his last in 2015 and India declared national mourning in his memory.

Great Source of Investment

Singapore is a significant economic partner of India, as after Mauritius, it is the second-largest source of foreign direct investment into India as of 2017–18, and is the largest among the ASEAN member nations.

In 2005, India and Singapore signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) as they decided to take their strategic partnership to the next level, and garnering support from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Singapore Business Federation to promote trade, economic development and partnerships, it organized the India-Singapore Parliamentary Forum and the Singapore-India Partnership Foundation. Singapore is the first country with which India signed such an agreement.

CECA came into force after much deliberations from both countries, as first the former Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, visited Singapore in 2002, and then during his visit the India–Singapore Joint Study Group was set up, which recommended for the Agreement. Then, for two years, 13 rounds of negotiations took place, and modalities and formalities of the Agreement were discussed and decided. The first review of CECA was done in 2007.

CECA has brought major transformations and excellent results, as it has completely removed tariff barriers, double taxation, duplicate processes & regulations, and has also offered unhindered access and collaboration between the financial institutions of Singapore and India. CECA has also facilitated alliances in Singapore. In 2018, this figure has gone up by 14 per cent compared to that of 2017.

Buoyed by the success of agreements and policies under CECA, Narendra Modi visited Singapore in June 2018 for the second review of the India- Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The third review has come quite close to the heels of the second review, as in September 2018, India and Singapore formally launched the third review of CECA focusing on trade facilitation, e-commerce and customs. As explained by Mr Iswaran, the third review became important after just four months of the second review because, “CECA has opened up market access for Singapore companies in a variety of sectors including finance, organic chemicals, plastics, as well as electrical machinery and equipment. Our companies also benefit from CECA’s investment protection and dispute resolution provisions, and to Mauritius. They also have mutually improved market access for each other, and have implemented fair and impartial domestic regulations. They promote and protect bilateral trade, and both have unrestricted access to their banks in each other’s country. Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Cooperation (GIC) also have special enhanced investment limits on financial services such as between the stock exchanges of the two countries.

Temasek Holdings is the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore government, and its India portfolio stands at around USD 10 billion. It plans to increase its portfolio further in India, with its India investments in the first three months of 2018 being around USD 1.5 billion. Other components of India– Singapore CECA include economic cooperation in areas like education, science, technology, air services and intellectual property, and relaxed visa regimes for Indian professionals in several areas such as information technology, medicine, engineering, financial, and advertising professionals. The second review of India– Singapore CECA was done by the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and through the review the provisions of the agreement were enhanced by means of greater trade facilitation, that is both Singapore and Indian businesses were allowed increased access to each other’s markets.

Tariff concessions were also expanded under the review, for 30 additional products and rules of origin were improved to provide more flexibility for Singapore exports into India to qualify for preferential tariffs under the agreement. S Iswaran was Singapore’s Minister- in-charge of Trade Relations at that time, and he noted, “The upgraded agreement will enable more Singapore companies to qualify for lower tariffs. This improves local exporters’ access to the Indian market. I encourage our companies to make full use of the upgraded agreement and explore more opportunities for collaboration in India.”

In 2017, the total bilateral trade between Singapore and India had and partnerships related to education, science & technology, intellectual property, aviation and relaxed visa regulations for Indian professionals in information technology, medicine, engineering and financial fields to emigrate and work in Singapore.

Under the same agreement, Singapore has invested in projects to upgrade India’s ports, airports and developing information technology parks and a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). With the enhancement of bilateral relations, Indian tourists entering Singapore broke their previous record, as in 2017, 1.27 million travelers went to Singapore. This also made India the third- highest contributor of visitor arrivals can do business in India with greater confidence.” Further, the fact that India’s economy not only continuously expanded at the fastest pace in nine quarters, but domestic consumption and manufacturing also grew strongly has given confidence to businesses on both sides.

India–Singapore CECA benefits both countries in the following ways: there are Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) which help in eliminating duplicate testing and certification of products, then a Joint Council oversees the MRAs. They have a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement that offers zero capital gains tax for Singaporean companies similar to concessions given by India reached a figure of S$25.2 billion, as India had emerged as Singapore’s largest trading partner in South Asia, while Singapore became India’s second-largest trading partner within ASEAN. Foreign Direct Investment from India to Singapore increased by S$19.3 billion and the Direct Investment Abroad from Singapore to India increased by S$35.6 billion in 2017 from 2005 when the CECA was first signed.

Top imports from India in 2017 include petroleum oils as well as jewellery and precious metals. Top exports to India in 2017 include machineries, petroleum oils, styrene and gold.

Positive Outlook

The warmth in strategic relationship of India and Singapore has grown because of the direct involvement of top leadership from both sides. Prime Minister Narendra Modi feels that, “The future is a world of unlimited opportunities and the two lions (India and Singapore) shall step into it together. The defence relations between the two countries are among the strongest and the two sides are building a ‘partnership of our age.’ When India opened up to the world and turned to the East, Singapore became a partner and a bridge between India and ASEAN. Political relations between India and Singapore are among the warmest and closest. There are no contests or claims, or doubts.”

He further shared, “It is a natural partnership from a shared vision. Our defence relations are among the strongest, for both. My Armed Forces speak with great respect and admiration for Singapore’s Armed Forces. India’s longest continuous naval exercise is with Singapore. It is a partnership at the front-line of India’s global engagement. Singapore is both a leading investment source and destination for India. Singapore was the first country with which we signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. On the foundations of an extraordinary heritage, the wealth of our human links and the strength of our shared values, India and Singapore are building a partnership of our age. It is a relationship that truly meets the test of strategic partnership.”

With growing engagement, Singapore has started being a key partner in India’s development priorities, such as smart cities, urban solutions, financial sector, skills development, ports, logistics, aviation and industrial parks. India and Singapore have been contributing to each other’s prosperity, and building new partnerships with the passage of time, they have been together building a digital world, using each others’ initiatives for innovations and enterprises.

India and Singapore have several common chords connecting their hearts, and cultural & entrepreneurial arms. Together they have been working to create and enhance the power of mobile and digital technology, with the target of bettering governance and making inclusion possible.

Singapore is small in size, but with global dreams it has proved that nations’ greatness and achievements are not dependent on geographical size. It has not just positively used the strength of its multi-cultural society, but has actually celebrated its diversity, creating a unique Singaporean identity.

Ancient & Modern Connections

India and Singapore could quickly create highly mutually beneficial relationship because of their centuries-old historical and cultural connect which is deep-rooted. India’s centuries-old trade with the South East Asia was possible as trade routes passed through Singapore. Both countries had powerful commercial, cultural and people-to-people links.

Actually, India and Singapore have been connected for trade since the Chola regime in Ancient India. In the modern India, British governing from Calcutta established a trading station in Singapore on the route of the Straits of Malacca and gradually developed it into a colony. Because of this colonial connection we find that India and Singapore have high has also partnered with India’s Larsen and Toubro for similar IT parks in other cities. Tourism has also emerged as a strong sector where the two countries have partnered with magnificent results.

As Indian companies see Singapore as a safe and reliable home, and a conducive and trusted springboard to start internationalizing their businesses, they prefer to open new verticals or expand the existing ones in Singapore. Their work ranges from IT services and education to logistics and manufacturing. As India is the fastest growing major economy in the world currently, and has been on a fast-growing spree for some time now, obviously needing to develop its infrastructure, Singapore companies’ work in India is mainly concerned with Urban Solutions, Power, Transport and Logistics to Food Processing and Education. As regional consumption is growing and infrastructure developments are taking place, both India and Singapore are in a good position to take advantage of each other’s economic fundamentals as well as the region’s growth opportunities.

Cultural Support

Furthering their ancient cultural linkages, India and Singapore have taken several initiatives towards greater people-to-people contact, expansion of tourism and mutual appreciation of each other’s cultures. Indian Presidents, including Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and K R Narayanan, had also played their parts in promoting scientific and cultural collaborations between both countries. During his visit to Singapore in 2005, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam proposed and facilitated collaborations between the Aeronautical Development Agency of Singapore and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited of India for joint ventures in designing, developing, producing and marketing ASEAN Passenger Jets. Consequently, both countries have initiated engagements and joint programmes regarding aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul in sync with the growing demands of international aviation industry. Next, both countries have joined hands for technological similarity of institutions and practices, both are quite conversant with the English language, and of course a large number of Indians are part of the Singaporean community.

The relationship has only improved with each passing year. India recognized Singapore as a new and independent country within 15 days of its independence in 1965. Growing on its economic reforms during 1990s and 2000s, India made Singapore one of its strategic partners and on the wings of its Look East Policy created a host of mutual opportunities.

Matching Economic needs

India and Singapore are natural partners in economic and trading activities as India has been making efforts to integrate its economy with the global economy, while Singapore has a small domestic market and it has been looking outward. India’s integration with global economy means more exports, liberal policies for businesses, and more foreign direct investment. As Singapore initially found it difficult to enter the developed market due to cut-throat competition, it found Indian policies and market quite friendly. Soon, the mutual ground of advancement turned into unlimited opportunities for private businesses of both the countries, which were duly supported by mutually beneficial economic and political policies by both governments.

The focus of Singapore’s investment strategy in India has been on promoting private investment from Singapore in India, asking countries like Japan to invest in India and exploring the possibilities of collaborative investment in third countries. It has also focused on infrastructure sector, and has been mainly involved in the development of ports and their upgradation, roads and constructions. The Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) together with the South India Cooperation (Agencies) Limited (SICAL) had upgraded the Tuticorin port in Tamil Nadu, and then the PSA together with the Government of Gujarat had develop a container terminal at the Pipavav port in Gujarat, which became India’s first private sector-run port. The Singapore-based consortium of International Seaports Private Ltd. (ISPL) had upgraded the Kakinada project in Andhra Pradesh.

Singapore’s another area of focus has been development of software technology parks in India, such as the Madras Corridor and International Tech Park Limited (ITPL) near Bangalore. Lee Kuan Yew had taken an active interest in the Madras Corridor project, while his successor, Goh Chok Tong, helped the Bangalore ITPL project become a success. A consortium of Singapore companies led by Ascendas International, the Tata Group and the Karnataka State Government with respective holdings of 40, 40 and 20 per cent, brought success to the project.

Singapore’s Ascendas International cooperation in the field of information and communication technology, biotechnology, biochemistry, pharmaceuticals, efficient use of energy resources and space research. They have also signed an MoU for setting up a Task Force in Information and Communications Technology and Services.

In addition, during his visit to Singapore in 2000, K R Narayanan facilitated Cooperation in the Arts, Heritage, Archives and the Library for two years through an Executive Programme. Both countries also signed an MoU on the loan of artifacts to the Asian Civilization Museum of Singapore during his visit, and on the basis of the presence of a large Indian diaspora in Singapore and India’s Buddhist tourist places, they have been trying to revive their centuries-old cultural linkages. Both countries have decided to jointly develop the Buddhist religious tourism circuit in India and revive a multidisciplinary university in Nalanda in Bihar, because of its importance as the first-ever university in the history of human civilization and one of the great centres of Buddhist learning in the ancient times.

Greater Significance

India and Singapore have helped each other strengthen their larger strategic relationship in the entire Indo-Pacific region. They have created opportunities for exchanges, visits, and exercises, and also for the Singapore military to train in India. Other countries within and without the region have also recognized their strategic and security cooperation in the larger context of Indo-Pacific region. All relevant countries watched closely when both countries held defence ministers’ dialogue in November 2018 and inked a new naval pact.

In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted all ten ASEAN member states in New Delhi for India’s Republic Day in favour of India’ Act East Policy. The usual annual, overall the 25th time, Singapore–India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) also took place from November 10 to 21. They also held Exercise Agni Warrior, which is the bilateral artillery exercise of the Singapore Army and the Indian Army. This is expected to continue on in 2019.

Simultaneously endeavouring to deepen their economic ties, both countries have been paving a path of mutual peace and prosperity for each other. This included their steps towards equal access, as a right under international law, to the use of common spaces on the sea and in the air. These are significant steps which would mean in the short- and long-term freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.

Using ASEAN as a powerful platform, India and Singapore have not only created strong bilateral relations with each other, but have also taken steps towards creating a powerful front of regional security and a rules based order for peaceful settlement of disputes.

A joint statement laid out a broad vision for the relationship’s development, spanning defence to cultural and people to people exchanges. It also reaffirmed a shared commitment to maritime security and freedom of navigation, as well as safety of sea lanes in accordance with international law, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The strategic partnership will see regular high-level meetings at the level of Defence Ministers, the continuation of joint military exercises across all three service arms and collaboration in defence technology and co-production of weapons.

With Mr Modi pushing infrastructure and smart cities as a key plank of his development strategy, urban solutions a key Singapore strength – has gained salience in the relationship. The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in sustainable smart city development with Mr Modi urging Singapore to explore the possibility of developing urban centres under the Smart Cities Initiative.

Another agreement on civil aviation will open opportunities for collaboration in development of Indian airports. Singapore is India’s largest trading and investment partners in ASEAN. The increasingly close relations between India and Singapore in recent years have been underpinned by a dramatic growth in bilateral trade.

Afghanistan Wins Approval to Join WTO

Afghanistan has won formal approval to join the World Trade Organisation in a move the U.S.-backed government hopes will help lift its war-shattered economy and create jobs in one
of the world’s poorest countries. Afghanistan has till June 30 to ratify the agreement, the final step before becoming a full member of the organisation that underpins the global system of international trade.

According to a speech given by Afghanistan’s Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani in Nairobi, he stated that the trade-led growth will create new economic opportunities
and jobs, especially for women; it will reduce poverty, and increase prosperity.

It will certainly contribute in a major way to dramatically reduce extremism and achieve regional peace and security.

Iran: A New Vision

With the historic agreement made between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Vienna on 14 July 2015, Iran will hopefully transform into a peaceful State to live in, and the rest of the world will breathe easy without the nuclear power threat from Iran. This pact officially brings the end of the economic sanctions on Iran after demonstrating a peaceful nuclear research project that meets International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards. Iran has assured that it does not seek nuclear arms but demands the ability to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel for energy-producing reactors and medical applications.

Iran is a member of a number of international organizations such as the G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, IDA, IDB, IFC, ILO, IMF, OIC, OPEC, UN, WHO, International Maritime Organisation, Interpol, and currently it has gained an observer status at the WTO too. Thus, after signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) in July, understanding its obligations towards all these international organisations, Iran’s own people, and the whole world, Iran has now set its goal to establish a new world order based on world peace, global collective security and justice.

Iran has a mixed economy: a mixture of central planning, State ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. It is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. However, the economic sanctions by the Western countries against Iran, such as the official ban on Iranian crude oil, have affected its economy tremendously. Due to these sanctions, Iran saw a steep fall in the value of Rial. However, 2015 seems like an era of a new Iran following the successful implementation of the 2015 Nuclear and Sanctions Relief Deal made by the P5+1 and Iran.

Being one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Iran is a country with diversity comprising a multiple number of religious and ethnic groups that are unified through a shared Persian language and culture. Initially, Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in Iran which was eventually replaced with Islam after the fall of Sassanid Empire by the Muslims. Iran was predominantly a Sunni State until the 16th century when the Safavid dynasty forcibly got almost the entire country converted to Shia Islam. In the present day Iran, Shia Islam is the official State religion as about 90% to 95% of the country’s population officially are Shia; and about 4–8% of the population are Sunni Muslims, mainly Kurds and Balochs; the rest 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities such as Christians, Jews, Bahais, Mandeans, Yezidis, Yarsanis and Zoroastrians.

Having a dominant geopolitical position and culture in the world, Iran’s culture is vastly influenced by that of Greece, Macedonia, and Italy to the West; Russia to the North; the Arabian Peninsula to the South; and to some extent by South and East Asia to the East. Iranian art has many disciplines such as architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking, stonemasonry, jewel designing, etc. Iran takes pride having one of the largest jewel collections in the world.

1979 Iran Revolution: The Onset of Iran-Us Clash

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shiite revolutionary Muslim cleric, had worked for years and overthrew King Pahlavi (Shah), the then Iran ruler who was a dictator. Khomeini replaced the pro-Western policies of Iran with sole Islamic ones, which gradually developed more anti-America sentiments in Iran.

The US got restless seeing the rising power of the Muslim country. It provided shelter to the fleeing Shah in US. Some of the supporters of Khomeini stormed the US embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of Americans hostages demanding death to Shah who was hiding in the US. But America was desperate to gain back the Shah power in Iran, which would end their newly developed powerful foe in the Middle East. The then American President did not handover Shah to Iran, and Iran did not release the US hostages until Shah died, and in 1980 a new US President took oath. Thus, America and Iran started keeping hostile attitude towards each other which has been continuing till now.

Will the JCPA be Helpful for Iran’s Development?

The sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union on Iran had created innumerable problems for Iranian manufacturers. The country had seen little economic development in these many years. The great damages that Iran’s economy experienced under the sanctions are expected to be recovered gradually with the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. A sanctions-free Iran will help the Iranian firms to have access to raw materials and investment that will create competition in the market.

The tourism industry of Iran witnessed a sharp decline during Iran’s war with Iraq. However, it recovered post-war. The most popular tourist destinations in Iran are Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz. In the early 21st century, the tourism industry faced serious limitations in infrastructure, communications, industry standards and personnel training which gradually are fading away. Iran has been rated among the 10 most tourism-friendly countries in the world. Also, domestic tourism in Iran is one of the largest in the world. With so many sanctions, Iran lacked efficient planning schemes in every economic segment including the tourism sector. Now hopefully there will be better schemes and planning to attract the world population to visit Iran to bloom its tourism industry.

Iran possesses 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas. It is OPEC’s (petroleum-exporting nations’) second-largest exporter and the world’s fourth-largest oil producer. Iran has the second-largest proved gas reserves in the world after Russia, and third-largest natural gas production in the world after Indonesia and Russia. With the less number of or no sanctions in the country, now Iran may achieve more in energy with the assurance that its efforts and achievements are only for the peaceful purposes.
The education system of Iran is centralized. Its K-12 education is supervised by the Ministry of Education, and higher education is supervised by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The adult literacy rate has significantly improved in 2015, which is expected to reach an even greater height with a peace-prevailed sanctions-free Iran.

The stereotyped image of Iran as having a conservative culture is probably because the more traditional Iranian people normally dress conservative; especially the females do not expose their body parts and they cover their hair. They do not consume alcohol, pork, and feel comfortable with their own sex rather than the opposite sex. They stay away from dancing at mixed gatherings (male–female), and they observe religious holy days and mourning rituals. However, decades of westernization and modernization created some modern and ultra-modern groups in Iran who would easily fit into any modern setup anywhere. Now, after the West has shown cooperation with Iran, it won’t stay cut from the rest of the world and more westernisation, modernisation, and easier life of people can be expected in the traditionally conservative country.

Background of Iran’s Nuclear Power

Iran has developed a number of indigenous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) over the years. Fotros (UCAV) is considered the largest in Iran’s arsenal of unmanned aerial vehicles. The types of armed forces in Iran are the regular forces of Islamic Republic of Iran Army, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, Islamic Republic of Iran Navy and the Revolutionary Guards. Iran supports the military activities of its allies in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon (Hezbollah) with thousands of rockets and missiles. After the 1979 Revolution, Iran has developed its own military industry, produced its own tanks, armoured personnel carriers, guided missiles, submarines, military vessels, guided missile destroyer, radar systems, helicopters and fighter planes to overcome foreign restrictions and bans. The country also has development weapons including the Hoot, Kowsar, Zelzal, Fateh-110, Shahab-3 and Sejjil missiles, and a variety of unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Developed and produced domestically, Fajr-3 (MIRV) is currently Iran’s most advanced ballistic missile, which is a liquid fuel missile with an undisclosed range.

Iran’s nuclear program had become the subject of contention with the international community since 2005, following the earlier quotes of Iranian leadership that favoured the use of an atomic bomb against Iran’s enemy countries, especially Israel. All over the world, a number of countries have shown concerns that Iran’s nuclear program could transform civilian nuclear technology into a weapons program. Subsequently, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Iran which had further isolated Iran politically and economically from the rest of the global community. As of 2009, Iran maintains diplomatic relations with 99 members of the United Nations, but not with the United States or Israel.

Interpretation of Iran and P5+1 Agreement 2015

The contentious agreement between Iran and the P5+1 would lead to peace, security, and positive developments in the entire Middle East. This agreement has been seen as the best way to prevent war, and to empower Iran towards maintaining peace and harmony of the entire human race. However, this is not something guaranteed because if the agreement does not work the right way, it may empower Iran in the negative direction, which could subsequently be a threat for the entire world.

The agreement actually does not suspend Iran’s nuclear program, it only prevents Iran from getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable way. Whenever required – the IAEA feels it necessary – the IAEA can submit a request of access to a site of concern, and if Iran doesn’t provide access within 14 days, the Joint Commission formed by all the P5+1 and Iran will take up the matter and decide on a course of action within no more than seven additional days. Then, Iran has three days to comply with that decision. In the deal, for the P5+1, the biggest objective is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons; and for Iran, the biggest objective is to get the sanctions lifted. Iran stands to gain up to $100 billion in sanctions relief under this deal, but this relief is not complete, immediate or unconditional.

The agreement is not subject to danger as:

  • Only a certain number of nuclear-related sanctions are to be lifted in 2016, while many of the other financial restrictions will remain in place.
  • The lifting of sanctions will be gradual and not immediate.
  • Sanctions relief is dependent on the IAEA verifying that Iran is in full compliance with its obligations under the agreement.

The Bottomline

Iran has long been facing international criticism for not adhering to the requirements of the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions regarding its nuclear facilities and its uranium enrichment programme. However, the 2015 agreement between the P5+1 and Iran has eased conditions a little. Iranians are expecting an improvement in living standards and a better access to foreign investment as soon as the sanctions keep getting lifted. Among many of the impressive achievements of Iran in the recent past according to the UNDP HDI, Iran has achieved a much better position regarding its people’s ‘long and healthy life’, ‘access to knowledge’ and ‘decent standard of living’, which is on the verge of an even nicer State with the success of the 2015 agreement.

IN BOXES:

What is NPT?
NPT stands for Non-Proliferation Treaty. The international treaty prevents the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, and it promotes cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. NPT’s goal is to achieve nuclear disarmament.

What is IAEA?

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization associated with the promotion of peaceful use of nuclear energy, and prevention of use of nuclear energy for any military purposes, including nuclear weapons. Though IAEA is independently established, it reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and UN Security Council. IAEA headquarters is in Vienna, Austria.

What is P5+1?

P5+1 refers to a group of 6 world powers (countries) with diplomatic efforts with Iran regarding its nuclear program. It was formed in 2006. These 6 world powers refer to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members, viz. Russia, China, France, UK, and US (P5), plus Germany.

Capitalizing on Cash-Rich Gulf

With a promise of million dollar investment in India, United Arab Emirates, the business capital of the world is all set to plant its investment seeds in one of the fastest growing economies of the world

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s two day visit to the UAE captivated the well-heeled Emirates to commit an investment target of $75 billion. As professed by Modi’s political stage last year, he is definitely not leaving any stone unturned which can help India emerge as an economical powerhouse with assured development across sectors.

Strengthening the Indo-UAE bond

Both the nations are trying to fill the void created over 34 years, after which India could materialize a visit to the UAE. Modi’s visit to a progressive and capital-friendly nation, the UAE could be an answer to India’s imperative economic expansion. Bestowing his trust in the UAE government Narendra Modi said, “The UAE is an economic success story that has attracted people from all over the world, and it has also emerged as an important logistics hub.”This being Indian Prime Minister’s maiden visit to an Islamic country, many neighbors were closely monitoring it to there benefit. As the joint statement calling Modi’s visit to have marked the beginning of a new and comprehensive partnership between the UAE and India, we hope to see more of Gulf investments coming up anytime in India.

Global success stories

UAE’s strong infrastructure, political stability and economic progress are some of the major points of attraction for people to seek business opportunities from across the world. It has successfully attained the throne of a thriving international centre for trade. India on the other hand is looming as one of the major world powers with significant contribution to the advancement of global peace and stability.
The ongoing dynamics between the two nations is definitely a strong mechanism of rapidly expanding economic union, making India to be UAE’s second largest trading partner and on the other hand, the UAE not only as India’s third largest trade partner but also a gate pass to the economic epicenter of the world.

Ensuring peace

The world heard a joint message which came loud and clear from the Dubai cricket stadium, when Narendra Modi said,“We have raised our voice against terrorism in unison from this soil. This is significant.”
In a statement delivered by the country heads, both UAE and India seem to have come down on the nations sponsoring terror arms and services against others. In a recent move, the Middle East tweaked its strategic realities and true to his style, Modi had studied it well in advance.
It was clear from the UAE’s backing India’s concern on terror, as it deep down underlines terrorism being one of the many challenges faced by the Gulf nations at a time when they are on the rising road. Both the nations collectively want to eradicate the problem of terrorism which is advancing due to the misuse of religion by groups and countries to incite hatred and hence justifying the horrific acts of gruesome killing of innocent people.
You call it Narendra Modi’s charisma or a tactful move, a month after Indian Prime Minister, Modi’s highly successful Gulf visit, UAE has come out with an early support finalization of the Indianproposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) treaty at the United Nations. UAE has asserted India that it will find ways to encourage other countries reach a consensus soon.

Energy, the preeminent one

India is in need to secure its energy supplies and consolidate economic relations with the GCC region- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qtar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. As the UAE alone stands out to be the third largest trading partner of India in 2014-15, just after US and China, it’s important to brace the investment relations with the UAE at a high pace now.
One of the many agendas of Modi visiting the UAE was to renew the energy tie-up with the nation, which includes UAE’s participation in the calculated petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and the joined efforts with other countries.

A boost to trade & Investments

Just at the time when people in India started questioning the current government’s credibility in the realm of economics, Modi has planned a trade upscale of 60 percent in the coming five years.
UAE seems to have been fully convinced with the idea of India standing out as a global power in the upcoming decade as it has recently agreed upon a huge investment amount in the Indian sub-continent.
Though the $75 billion UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund can also prove to be the best channel through which UAE can co-invest in India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). As per the joint statement issued by both the countries this will “support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.”
Many GCC countries are nowadays eyeing India as one of the potential investment destinations in Asia. India’s plan for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure is one of the key reasons for it to plan large investment chunks from the cash-rich gulf nations. UAE at the same time looks out for cheap human resources from India to help them convert the world-class country blueprint with top-notched facilities in the information technology, construction and transportation to become a reality.
The UAE will also be inviting the Indian companies to invest in the Small and Medium Enterprises and help Dubai to be amongst the favorite place for those looking to start their own business ventures without needing a local Emiarti partner in order to create a hassle-free business environment.
The two countries also talked about cooperating with each other to promote scientific tie-ups in diverse sectors like renewable energy, sustainable development, arid agriculture, desert ecology, peaceful use of nuclear energy and urban development.

ADIA’s role as an Investor

With Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi announcing an investment potential of $1 trillion in India, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) is speculating the economical mutiny to plan a calculated investment in the country.
ADIA is one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, which has already invested in a couple of sectors in the growing economy (India). In an attempt to widen the scope of investment by the ADIA in India, Modi said that, “I will send my commerce minister to try and find solutions to the problems faced by some UAE investors.”
From the administrator’s vision, India’s economy will continue to grow at an impressive pace in 2015. Some of the crucial concerns raised by the investors in the UAE are:

• Single window clearance was the primary one as it is critical to simplify the cumbersome processes for doing business in India.
• The Indian government should play the part of a key partner to create a more business-friendly environment for the investors.
• There should be an online process of applying for industrial license and industrial entrepreneur memorandum. Thus, the UAE’s $800 billion wealth fund authority has India in its list of countries to tap for its infrastructure needs.

Defence & Security alliances

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the UAE spent $14.4 billion on its defence preparations. UAE and India have joined hands to draw benefit out of their training and security programs to bilaterally help both of them.
Time and again there are serious security issues reported in the region, and the UAE being aleading nation in the GCC, is taking the initiative of stabilizing the force. Last year, India’s most powerful vessels anchored in the Dubai ports for a joint exercise with the Emiratis in the Persian Gulf. Soon after Modi’s visit, both the nations released a joint statement clearly indicating that defence will play an integral part of the future ties with the UAE along with energy and finance sectors.
UAE was the world’s fifth largest importer of weapons for five years till 2013, though it is still in urgent need of a competent manpower system.
It is, therefore essential for both the nations to support each other in the critical areas that are of national concern like security.

Syrian Refugee Crisis

The Syrian war started in 2011 when antigovernment demonstrations – part of the Arab Spring – turned violent and a fight broke between the rebels and the regime. More than 11 million people have been displaced because of the war, as Syrians have been fleeing in thousands every day to escape bombing and being killed. However, it took the world four years to take a shocking note of the refugee crisis, when the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi – the three-year-old Syrian boy – was found on the Turkish shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The war is getting worse and deadlier day-by-day, with Douma – a town a few miles from Damascus, the capital city of Syria – recently declaring itself a United Nations disaster zone. The group of seven leading economies (G7), some European countries and the Gulf States have promised to help UN aid agencies with $1.8 billion to resolve the worst refugee crisis in 70 years.

Greek Economic Crisis

Under pressure from International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greece and other European Union countries trying to resolve Greece’s debt crisis agreed in Brussels on July 13 on new austerity measures to solve the staring problem. The Greek debt crisis started in late 2009 when Greek announced that its budget deficit would be 12.9 per cent of GDP, more than four times the EU’s three per cent limit. The crisis had started much earlier in 2001 as Greece adopted the Euro as its currency. Similar to other Eurozone countries, Greece benefited as interest rates became lower, and investment capital and loans started flowing in. However, the Greek government misreported the government debt levels and deficits, and when finally it admitted the lie, other Eurozone countries and International Monetary Fund tried in vain to bail it out. On June 30, Greece failed to repay its loan to IMF (the first developed country to fail). Things may turn for better after Greece Parliament’s passing a second batch of crucial bailout reforms on July 22.

BRICS Nations Launch New Development Bank in Shanghai

BRICS, the group of emerging economies, has come up with the New Development Bank (NDB) in Shanghai.

Backed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – together known as BRICS countries, the bank aims at lending money to the developing countries, which are seeking financial support in infrastructure development projects.

The bank is seen as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, although the group claims to be a non-rival.

South Korea Records Slow Economic Growth

South Korea’s quarterly growth slowed more than expected. It is considered the lowest in more than two years with consumption battered by an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy has recorded a mere 0.3 per cent growth in the last quarter. According to the bank, the private consumption turned sour as spending on services took a dip as an outcome of a severe-drought-hit agriculture. South Korea relies heavily on export and tourism, and has faced poor demand as well as sluggish consumption due to MERS breakdown, which resulted in enormous travel cancellations by foreign countries.

Though South Korea has stepped up its efforts to lure Asian tourists, stability in the economic growth is yet to come.

IMAX Enters Hong Kong

IMAX has filed an application with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx) for an initial public offering (IPO) of its China unit in Hong Kong (IMAX China Holding), as it plans to participate in the world’s fastest growing movie markets. Imax made about 30% profit last year through its China unit, which is not surprising as since 2012 it has nearly doubled its number of theatres in the Greater China region. Currently, IMAX has 239 theatres in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and it plans to build 219 more theatres in China itself. China is a critical growth market for IMAX, and if plans go well it will be the largest market for the company.

There are a total of 934 IMAX theatres in 62 countries.

China is a $10.35 trillion economy making it the second-largest economy in the world, USA being the first with $17.41 trillion size and owning approximately 22.44 percent of the gross world product. In 2014, China’s box office revenues increased by 36% to $4.8 billion. IMAX is already listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and after its announcement of an IPO in Hong Kong, its shares jumped up 9%. IMAX tickets are on the higher side as the experience it promises is extraordinary. Each ticket costs $24 or about Rs. 1500.

The IMAX Experience

IMAX is an acronym for Image MAXimum; and is used for both IMAX Corporation (a Canadian company) and a motion picture film format and a set of cinema projection standards created by IMAX Corporation. IMAX is capable of recording and displaying images of far greater size and resolution than the conventional film systems. IMAX is the most widely used system for special-venue film presentations.

IMAX management has been signalling for some time now that it wanted to list its Chinese subsidiary on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. IMAX China Holdings is incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands, and the China subsidiary is being used to oversee the expansion of IMAX’s business throughout Greater China.

A Strategic Move

Before the IPO, in a strategic move, IMAX sold its 20% stake for $80 million to two companies, CMC Capital Partners which is a media-and-entertainment-focused investment fund, and FountainVest Partners which is a China-focused private equity firm. These investments were strategic as IMAX not only found partners for its operations in China, it also received on-the-ground guidance in China which is important to grow in the Chinese market.

As per Chinese rules, it’s mandatory for any foreign firm to work under a Chinese firm, thus the stake selling was done as a key prerequisite for completing an eventual IPO in China. As per the deal, IMAX would expand its screen counts in China, and would screen both Hollywood and Chinese movies to satisfy the local regulations and the market demands.

IMAX is known in the market for its giant-screen experiences in the film sector. Fox had introduced in 1929, the first 70 mm film format, Fox Grandeur, which wasn’t successful. Later, in 1950s Cinemascope and VistaVision with 35 mm films and multi-projector systems such as Cinerama were introduced. In 1967, a company called Multiscreen was founded to cater to the demands of a better visual experience through multi-projector and multi-screen systems. This company later changed its name to IMAX and in the course of time developed its current giant 2D and 3D screens with high cinematic techniques.