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India may stop Oil imports from Iran
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?
The Petroleum Minister has said that the country will increase imports from major oil producing nations other than Iran in the wake of US revoking its waiver of sanctions for India.

To read this issue in detail, see the Current Affairs for April 23

Price Controls hurting FDI in medical devices
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
Blanket implementation of price controls has contributed to a drastic fall in Foreign Direct Investment in medical device sector from $439 million in 2016 to $66 million in 2018 based on data released by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal trade.
100% FDI is allowed in this sector via the automatic route.

What are price controls?
A price control is a government regulation establishing a maximum price to be charged for specified goods and services, especially during periods of war or inflation.

Why is this not good for India?
India imports 70% of its medical devices so it needs proper incentives for its homegrown industry to reduce its import bills.

Ban on Imports of Milk Products from China extended
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?
The Government has extended the ban on import of milk and its products including chocolates from China till laboratories at ports for testing presence of toxic chemical melamine are upgraded.
FSSAI has recommended the extension of the ban.

What is the FSSAI?
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety
It lays down guidelines for accreditation of laboratories for food testing
Provides scientific advice and technical support to the Central Government
Contributes to the development of international technical standards in food

What are the toxic effects of melamine?
It can lead to development of kidney stones.
It also has carcinogenic effects.

RBI dollar-rupee swap option gets bids more than thrice the notified amount
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
The second dollar-rupee swap option saw the RBI getting bids worth $18.65 billion against the notified value of $ 5 billion.

Why does RBI carry out dollar-rupee swaps?
It is a liquidity management tool to ease liquidity to reduce its dependence on Open Market Operations.
It is also a route used by companies to raise funds as an alternative to external commercial borrowing as this route is cost effective. Due to lower hedging costs as compared to secondary markets.

Shipping firms seek scrapping of circular to stay afloat
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
The Ministry of Shipping had released a circular on February 13 equating foreign ships taken on hire with ships actually owned under the Indian flag by an Indian company if both are manufactured in India.
Besides it gives priority in government contracts to those ships just because they were once built in India.

Why is this an issue?
Indian flag vessels have been enjoying the right to first refusal (ROF) which enables them to match the lowest rates quoted by a foreign vessel and take that business
This has helped in growth of the Indian fleet since this ensures that no Indian asset remains idle.
The new circular would favour those who temporarily hire foreign flag assets and remit money out of India rather than investing the domestic economy. It would also hurt the prospects of Indian flag vessels.

Leather Exports rise 8% in FY 19
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
Leather and leather products exports rose 8% in FY 2018-19 based on data from Council for Leather Exports, an industry body.
India has become the second largest consumer of shoes after China
However, removal of Generalised System of Preferences by the US would impact the industry negatively.

What are Generalised System of Preferences?
The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
India exports nearly 50 products of the 94 products on which GSP benefits are stopped. The GSP removal will leave a reasonable impact on India as the country enjoyed preferential tariff on exports worth of nearly $ 5. 6 billion under the GSP route out of the total exports of $48 bn in 2017-18. In total India exports nearly 1,937 products to the US under GSP

Why has the US decided to withdraw the GSP?
The US has decided to withdraw the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits provided to India and few other developing countries. The decision was taken due to the large trade surplus enjoyed by India with the US.

Easter Attacks on Sri Lanka : IS claims ownership
Paper : General Studies 2 , General Studies 3

Why in news?
Islamic State has claimed ownership of the serial bomb blasts across Sri Lanka on Easter that claimed more than 320 lives saying that it was in retaliation to the two shootings in Christchurch mosques in New Zealand last month.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has expressed interest in sending a team to Colombo.

What is the National Investigation Agency?
NIA is India’s Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 after the Mumbai Terror attacks
The Agency has been empowered to conduct investigation and prosecution of offences under the Acts specified in the Schedule of the NIA Act
Various Special Courts have been notified by the Central Government of India for trial of the cases registered at various police stations of NIA under Section 11 and 22 of the NIA Act 2008. Any question as to the jurisdiction of these courts is decided by the Central Government.
It has a conviction rate of 95%

US, Singapore and Taiwan seek to join consultations in WTO dispute
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
EU had dragged India to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism over imposition of duties on certain ICT products including mobile phones, optical instruments, base stations alleging breach of global trade norms.
US, Singapore and Taiwan have sought to join the consultations regarding this dispute as they are major players in this sector.

What is the WTO dispute settlement mechanism?
Settling disputes is the responsibility of the Dispute Settlement Body (the General Council in another guise), which consists of all WTO members.
The Dispute Settlement Body has the sole authority to establish “panels” of experts to consider the case, and to accept or reject the panels’ findings or the results of an appeal. It monitors the implementation of the rulings and recommendations, and has the power to authorize retaliation when a country does not comply with a ruling.
First stage: consultation (up to 60 days). Before taking any other actions the countries in dispute have to talk to each other to see if they can settle their differences by themselves. If that fails, they can also ask the WTO director-general to mediate or try to help in any other way.
Second stage: the panel (up to 45 days for a panel to be appointed, plus 6 months for the panel to conclude). If consultations fail, the complaining country can ask for a panel to be appointed. The country “in the dock” can block the creation of a panel once, but when the Dispute Settlement Body meets for a second time, the appointment can no longer be blocked (unless there is a consensus against appointing the panel).
The panel’s final report should normally be given to the parties to the dispute within six months. In cases of urgency, including those concerning perishable goods, the deadline is shortened to three months.
Either side can appeal a panel’s ruling. Sometimes both sides do so. Appeals have to be based on points of law such as legal interpretation — they cannot reexamine existing evidence or examine new issues.