Brazil Current Affairs - 2019

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India seeks to push reforms at WTO

The Ministry of Commerce and Industries is arranging a mini-ministerial meeting of developing countries on May 13-14 to discuss the future of the multilateral body, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the development agenda.

India is expected to invite close to two dozen countries for discussions on May 13-14. It is second such initiative undertaken by India since talks collapsed in Buenos Aires in December 2017. Unlike the earlier initiative, the US and the European Union will not be part of the discussions this time.

Agenda for the Discussion

  • A global framework for e-commerce, an issue that is being pushed hard by the US. China is not averse to negotiations and maybe India would be willing for the discussions.
  • US proposal to do away with special and differential (S&D) treatment for developing countries such as India, China, Brazil and South Africa. The special and differential treatment allows developing countries to maintain higher duties and implement agreements at a slower pace than the developed world.
  • The US is arguing that the better-off developing countries are eating up the gains that should accrue to the poorer nations in the category.
  • Ensure that WTO remains the key fulcrum of global trade and attempts by the US to do away with the principle of a consensus-based approach.
  • Discussions around reform of the dispute settlement mechanism which the US is pushing for aggressively.

India and other countries are demanding that there was a need to ensure that S&D treatment remains as they are still home to a large number of poor and vulnerable sections.

Global Energy Transition Index 2019

The Global Energy Transition index 2019 report has been released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The index compares the energy sectors of 115 countries and analyses their readiness for energy transition. The index benchmarks the countries energy systems based on an “energy triangle”, comprised of energy security and access, economic development and growth, environmental sustainability and how well they are set-up to succeed in the future.

The index takes into account six individual indicators: capital and investment, regulation and political commitment, institutions and governance, institutions and innovative business environment, human capital and consumer participation, and energy system structure.

Global Energy Transition Index 2019

  • Sweden has topped the index and is followed by Switzerland and Norway in the top three.
  • China is ranked even lower than India in the 82nd position.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) is ranked seventh and Singapore has been ranked thirteenth, while Germany, Japan and the US have bagged the seventeenth, eighteenth and the twenty-seventh place respectively.
  • Among the Asian Countries, Malaysia is ranked highest at 31st, Sri Lanka is 60th, Bangladesh 90th and Nepal 93rd.
  • The report states that the world’s transition to secure, affordable and sustainable energy has stagnated, with little or no progress achieved in the past five years.
  • The index notes that continued use of coal for power generation in Asia, increasing commodity prices and slower-than-needed improvements in energy intensity have contributed to this year’s stagnation in performance.
  • Even though more people across the globe have access to energy, this has been offset by reduced affordability and almost no progress in making energy systems environmentally sustainable.

Where does India stand?
  • India has moved up two places to rank 76th and the report states that India is amongst the countries with high pollution levels and has a relatively high CO2 intensity in its energy system.
  • The report also acknowledges the significant strides made by India to improve energy access in recent years. India scores well in the area of regulation and political commitment towards energy transition.
  • The report suggests a ground of optimism regarding India despite the current outdated energy system not being ready for the transition because an enabling environment is being built to support the future transition.
  • India has ranked low in terms of system performance (ranking 97 and 86, respectively) and has been ranked considerably higher when it comes to readiness (45 and 61, respectively).
  • India is the second best in the BRICS group of emerging economies, with Brazil being the best at 46th place globally. India is the only BRICS country to improve its rank since last year.

The Index considers both the current state of the countries’ energy system and their structural readiness to adapt to future energy needs.