Gujarat has been named India’s top state in terms of export preparedness for the second year in a row, according to the NITI Aayog’s Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2021.
Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu were ranked second, third, and fourth in the index, owing to the fact that coastal states with higher industrial activity and access to seaports account for the majority of India’s exports.
Aim: To identify challenges and opportunities, improve the effectiveness of government policies, and promote an export-friendly regulatory framework.
The index has four pillars, eleven sub-pillars, and sixty indicators, and it covers 28 states and eight UTs.
A comprehensive trade policy that provides a strategic direction for both exports and imports.
An efficient business ecosystem assists states in attracting investments and creating an enabling infrastructure for individuals to initiate start-ups.
Export Ecosystem: Examine the business environment that is unique to exports.
Export Performance: This is the only output-based parameter, and it examines the reach of states’ and union territories’ export footprints.
The index also took 11 sub-pillars into account: export promotion policy, institutional framework, business environment, infrastructure, transportation connectivity, access to finance, export infrastructure, trade support, R&D infrastructure, export diversification, and growth orientation.
Index Characteristics: The EPI is a data-driven effort to identify the core areas critical for sub-national export promotion (states and union territories).
It investigates and emphasises India’s export potential by examining the various contributions made by each state and union territory.
Analyzes the Export Performance of States and Territories: Its goal is to examine the states’ and union territories’ export performance and export readiness.
The index’s goal is to create a benchmark against which these states and UTs can be ranked in order to help them individually promote a favourable export environment in the region.
Aids in Identifying Export Obstacles: The index is a critical tool for policymakers and exporters to use in identifying drivers and obstacles and analysing them in order to develop a viable export map for the state.
A tool for state governments: The Index would be a useful tool for state governments to benchmark regional performance in terms of export promotion, providing key policy insights on how to improve and enhance exports.
Its primary goal is to instil competition among all Indian states (‘Coastal,’ ‘Landlocked,’ ‘Himalayan,’ and ‘UTs/City-States’) in order to bring about favourable export-promotion policies, ease the regulatory framework to prompt subnational export promotion, build the necessary infrastructure for exports, and assist in identifying strategic recommendations for improving export competitiveness.
Three major challenges to India’s export promotion efforts are identified by the EPI.
Differences in export infrastructure between and within regions
States’ weak trade support and growth orientation,
Inadequate R&D infrastructure to promote complex and one-of-a-kind exports.
The Indian economy is driven by exports: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) = Consumption + Investment + Government Expenditure + (Exports – Imports).
As a result, export is a critical component in increasing GDP values.
Exports are an inalienable component of India’s economic growth, contributing roughly 20% of India’s GDP on average over the last decade.
Covid-19 Recovering: The Covid-19 pandemic upended existing economic structures, exposing the fragility of global trade and economic systems.
After two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the economy’s recovery from the negative effects is still far from complete.
However, India’s exports have remained resilient and have grown at a record rate. Since the beginning of the fiscal year 2021-22, India has shown positive export statistics.
To improve export performance, it is necessary to invest in developing dependable and efficient export infrastructure, which will aid in cost reduction and efficiency in export supply.
Export diversification is required: It is critical to achieving stability and growth in the export sector.
To address export challenges, an emphasis is placed on key strategies such as the development of export infrastructure, the strengthening of industry-academia links, and the creation of state-level engagements for economic diplomacy.
The private sector can also play an important role in promoting exports.
The Bucharest Nine (B 9) recently rejected Russia’s claim about the “expansion” of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance organisation eastward (NATO).
They emphasised that NATO is not an organisation that “expanded” to the east, but rather that these countries, as independent European states, chose to go west on our own.
The B 9 is a group of nine NATO countries in Eastern Europe that joined the US-led military alliance after the Cold War ended.
On November 4, 2015, the B 9 or Bucharest Format, often abbreviated as the B9, was founded.
It gets its name from Bucharest, Romania’s capital.
B9, it is also known as the NATO alliance’s “voice of the Eastern Flank.”
The group was formed at the High-Level Meeting of States from Central and Eastern Europe in Bucharest on the initiative of Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, and Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, in August 2015.
Romania and Poland are members of B9, as are Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
B9 provides a platform for deepening dialogue and consultation among NATO’s participating allied states.
All nine countries were once close allies of the now-defunct Soviet Union, but they later chose the path of democracy.
The B9 are all members of the European Union (EU) and NATO.
Since 2014, when the Donbas war began and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, the B9 countries have been critical of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
B9 is not to be confused with the Three Seas Initiative (3SI).
The 3SI is a European regional effort to expand cross-border energy, transportation, and digital infrastructure and boost economic development in the Adriatic, Baltic, and Black Sea regions.
The 3SI is made up of twelve countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia), all of which are EU members.
India and Oman recently signed a Programme of Cooperation (POC) in Science and Technology for the period 2022–2025.
Both countries will fund joint scientific projects developed by Indian and Omani institutions that are of mutual interest.
They will promote the exchange of scientists, researchers, experts, and specialists in order to carry out selected joint projects aimed at developing applicable technology.
This will result in the dissemination of research findings and the establishment of contacts with industry for the continuation of research and development work.
The countries will also hold at least one workshop per year, alternately in India and Oman between 2022 and 2025, in mutually agreeable locations.
Geographically, historically, and culturally, the two countries across the Arabian Sea are linked by geography, history, and culture, and they enjoy warm and cordial relations that can be attributed to historical maritime trade links.
The Sultanate of Oman is an important interlocutor for India at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) fora.
Late HM Sultan Qaboos was awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize 2019 in recognition of his leadership in strengthening ties between India and Oman, as well as his efforts to promote peace in the Gulf region.
The Joint Military Commission (JMCC) is the highest level of engagement between India and Oman in the field of defence.
The JMCC is supposed to meet once a year, but it hasn’t met since 2018, when the 9th JMCC met in Oman.
Army drill: Al Najah Air Force drill: Eastern Bridge
Naseem Al Bahr Naval Exercise
Economic and Commercial Relations: Institutional mechanisms such as the Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and the Joint Business Council (JBC) oversee India-Oman economic cooperation.
India is one of Oman’s most important trading partners.
In 2019, India was Oman’s third largest import source (after the UAE and China) and third largest market (after the UAE and Saudi Arabia) for non-oil exports.
In Oman, major Indian financial institutions have a presence. Indian firms have invested in Oman in industries such as iron and steel, cement, fertilisers, textiles, and so on.
The India-Oman Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), a joint venture between the State Bank of India and the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) of Oman, has begun operations as a special purpose vehicle to invest in India.
Oman’s Indian Community: There are approximately 6.2 lakh Indians in Oman, of which approximately 4.8 lakh are workers and professionals. There have been Indian families in Oman for more than 150-200 years.
There are many Indian schools that offer CBSE curriculum and serve the educational needs of approximately 45,000 Indian children.
Oman is at the Strait of Hormuz’s entrance, through which India imports one-fifth of its oil imports.
Defence cooperation has emerged as a critical pillar of India-Oman strategic partnership. A Framework Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was recently renewed in 2021 governs defence exchanges.
Oman is the only country in the Gulf region with which the Indian armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises and staff talks, allowing for close cooperation and trust on a professional level.
Oman also takes an active role in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).
India lacks sufficient energy resources to meet its current and future energy needs. The rapidly increasing demand for energy has contributed to the need for long-term energy partnerships with countries such as Oman.
Duqm Port in Oman is located in the heart of international shipping lanes that connect East and West Asia.
India must engage with Oman and take initiatives to capitalise on opportunities created by the Duqm Port industrial city.
India should also collaborate closely with Oman to increase strategic depth in the region and add weight to its Indo-Pacific vision in the Western and Southern Indian Oceans.
Australia’s new Defence Space Command Agency began operations in January 2022.
The new Defence Space Command of Australia was established to achieve strategic space ambitions and to lead the effort to ensure Australia’s access to space.
This Agency was primarily established to counter the growing influence of Russia and China in space.
Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts is in charge of this agency.
It will allow Australia to train people to become space specialists and to conduct strategic space planning.
It will be able to participate in any developments concerning the refinement of space policy.
With the agency in place, Australia will set scientific and space priorities while also working to create an efficient space architecture.
All of the agency’s operations will be subject to the Defence Ministry’s standards and limitations.