International Current Affairs | International Current Events November 2011

World Bank issues alert on Afghanistan economy
World Bank has warned that Afghanistan could face economic crisis if international assistance is abruptly cut as foreign combat forces are withdrawn by 2014. The forecast released by the World Bank says that the war-ravaged nation will need billions of dollars in aid for at least a decade. The release says Afghanistan this year received 15.7 billion dollar in aid which is more than 90 percent of its total public spending. The World Bank has estimated that Afghanistan ’s domestic revenues are expected to increase from 10 percent of GDP in 2011 and to 17.5 percent by 2021. But this rise is dependent on the opening of some mining facilities, efficient tax collection and the security situation. The Afghan government has pinned much of its hopes on massive copper, iron and other mineral deposits. It is estimated that exploiting those resources may bring in about 3 trillion dollar but this would take long time. 
Egypt downgraded by S& P
Amidst political uncertainty in Egypt, the International Credit Rating Agency S&P has downgraded Egypt's foreign and local currency rating to B+ from BB- with a negative outlook. In a statement the agency said the downgrade reflects its opinion that Egypt's weak political and economic profile has deteriorated further. The Egyptian stock market’s benchmark index has shed almost 48 percent since the start of the year, losing around $32 billion and earning the dubious distinction of being among the worst performing in the world after Greece and Cyprus. Months of unrest have cut forecasts for Egypt’s economic growth, IMF has forecast growth rate of around 1 percent this year for Egypt. 

India-Africa Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi
India continues to strengthen its relations with Africa by boosting trade and commerce, building infrastructure and offering scholarships to African students. Speaking at the India-Africa Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Mr M Ganapathy stressed the need to explore new areas of mutual engagement. India will continue its support to the African countries in their fight against colonialism , apartheid, poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger.
Both the countries have identified climate change, food, energy and the financial crisis as the common challenges that face the world today. Both are committed to a balanced outcome of the climate change negotiations. Reform of the United Nations and the increased participation of developing countries in the decision making process are goals that both India and Africa identify with. 

China to regularly conduct naval drills in Pacific Ocean
China has said it will conduct routine naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean. The defence ministry in a statement said China's People's Liberation Army navy will conduct exercises in the western Pacific Ocean at the end of November. It said this is a routine drill arranged under an annual plan and does not target any particular country or target. The statement said the drill complies with relevant international laws and international practice. 

US: Missile defence in Europe no threat to Russia
The United States has reiterated that its planned missile defence system in Europe, aimed at Iran, will not threaten Russia's strategic missile deterrent. Russian President Demitry Medvedev warned that Moscow will take counter-measures against the US system being developed with NATO.The Obama Administration said, the system will not be changed. The comments from the White House and State Department followed a speech by Russian President Medvedev in which he renewed threat by Moscow to counter the programme by putting missiles near NATO countries and possibly leaving the new US-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction accord. US plans for missile defence system in Europe to counter what is seen as an emerging threat from Iran, has long been an irritant in relations with Moscow. 

IMF announces new aid to prevent outspread of Euro-zone debt crisis
The International Monetary Fund has announced new measure to help countries protect themselves from the Euro-zone debt crisis. Called the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), it is designed to help countries with sound economic fundamentals meet short-term financing needs. Funding through the PLL will be capped at five times an individual country's contribution to the IMF, known as its quota, for six-month arrangements and 10 times for two-year facilities. 

More About News
START (STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty)
A bilateral treaty between the US and the Russia on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994. START negotiated the largest and most complex arms control treaty in history, and its final implementation in late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80 percent of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence. Proposed by United States President Ronald Reagan, it was renamed START I after negotiations began on the second START treaty. The START I treaty expired in 2009. In 2010, the replacement New START treaty was signed by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev. Following ratification by the U.S. Senate and the Federal Assembly of Russia, it went into force on 26 January 2011. 

India–Africa Forum Summit
The official platform for the African-Indian relations. It was first held in 2008 in New Delhi, India. It was the first such meeting between the heads of state and government of India and 14 countries of Africa chosen by the African Union. The second Africa India Forum Summit, held in Addis Ababa in May this year with 15 African countries, emphasised the renewed focus of India to strengthen and enhance its partnership with countries in the African continent. 

Economy of Afganisthan
Afghanistan is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world and highly dependent on foreign aid. About 35 percent of its population is unemployed and live below the poverty line, suffering from shortages of housing, clean drinking water, electricity and employment. The replacement of the opium trade, which probably makes up about one-third of the country's GDP, is one of several potential spoilers for the economy over the long term. Afghanistan has been the greatest illicit opium producer in the entire world, ahead of Burma Myanmar and the Golden Triangle - an area that overlaps the mountains of four countries of Southeast Asia: Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Afghanistan is also the largest producer of hashish in the world. 

Golden Crescent
The Golden Crescent is the name given to one of Asia's two principal areas of illicit opium production, located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Western Asia. This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent. Afghanistan now produces over 90% of the world's opium. 

Precautionary and Liquidity Line
The Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) builds on the strengths and broadens the scope of the Precautionary Credit Line (PCL). The PLL provides financing to meet actual or potential balance of payments needs of countries with sound policies, and is intended to serve as insurance and help resolve crises. The effective interest rates under the PLL for access between 500 and 1000 percent of quota range between 2.0–2.6 percent, and about 2.4–3.3 percent after 3 years.