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Current Affairs - 04 May 2017

General Affairs 

'Open Mind' If PM Modi Wants To Consult Us On Next President, Says Congress
  • While the Congress attempts to bring opposition parties together in what it is pegging as a battle of ideologies, party sources also said that it will have an "open mind" if Prime Minister Narendra Modi consults it for a consensus candidate acceptable to all parties for the next President of India. The Congress is also open, the sources said, to supporting a second term for President Pranab Mukherjee, who has said he will consider one only if the government asks him.

    But, they added, they do not see the likelihood of PM Modi approaching the Congress. "Modi will not consult the opposition. He does not consult his own cabinet, leave alone allies and senior BJP leaders...He follows 'my way or the highway' policy," said a Congress leader Randeep Surjewala.

    Mr Surjewala told that both party president Sonia Gandhi and her son and deputy Rahul Gandhi have met leaders of different parties to discuss possible candidates and a "structured meeting" will follow.  

    An initial round of meetings was initiated by Sonia Gandhi, who met Left leader Sitaram Yechury, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, whose name has also come up as a possible candidate for President. She has talked to Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Yadav of the RJD on phone.  

    Rahul Gandhi has spoken to Mr Pawar and Mr Yechury and also to Mulayam Singh's son Akhilesh Yadav.

    The Gandhis will also meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and MK Stalin of the DMK from Tamil Nadu. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati has also been contacted.

    "We will accept any individual for both President and Vice President, who is acceptable to the country and all parties....The Congress alone can't decide the candidate, no one person can take this decision," Mr Surjewala said.

    The Congress leader said his party knows that the BJP-led government will have the numbers it needs for its candidate to win if there is a contest, but, "the idea of one person from one ideology needs to be challenged in the larger interests of the country. Even though we don't have the numbers and we have limitations, in the battles of ideologies we want to extend our bases and support."

    He said the party wants a Presidential candidate who "will uphold national interest, the Indian ethos and Indian democratic traditions."  

    Presidential elections will be held in July when President Mukherjee's term ends. The vice president will be elected in August. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government is only a few votes short of a majority in the electoral college that elects the President and Vice President . It can cover the gap with support from parties like the AIADMK. 

Railway Bridge Taller Than The Eiffel Tower Over The Chenab, Cost 1,100 Crores
  • A railway bridge taller than the Eiffel Tower is being built across the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir and is slated to be ready by 2019. It will be the world's highest railway bridge. The 1.3 km long "engineering marvel" will connect Bakkal in Jammu's Katra and Kauri in Srinagar. The arch-shaped 35-metre tall structure is being constructed at a cost of 1,110 crores. The bridge will be a crucial link that connects the Kashmir valley to the rest of the country, part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.

    Once completed, it will break the record of the 275-metre tall Shuibai railway bridge in China

    "The construction of the bridge is the most challenging part of the Kashmir rail link project and once completed, it will be an engineering marvel," said a senior Railway Ministry
    official who is part of the project.

    The mammoth structure will be made of over 24,000 tonnes of steel and will rise 359 metres above the Chenab bed.  The special blast-proof steel can withstand terror attacks and can resist extremely low temperatures and high wind speeds.

    According to officials, to safeguard the bridge and the train passengers, an aerial ring of security, online monitoring  and a warning system will be in place. 

    Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged of India's longest road tunnel between Chenani and Nashri in the state. With the roads in the region being prone to snow and landslides in winter, the Jammu-Srinagar national highway remains blocked for most parts of the season, cutting the Kashmir valley off from the rest of the country. 

Government Knew Of Mega Aadhaar Leak, Ministries Were Warned
  • The huge leak of Aadhar data from four websites belonging to a central ministry and the Andhra Pradesh government has been on the government radar for a while. The leak, caused by poor security protocols, had left around 130 million numbers and their allied information, like bank and post office account details, open to access for several months. But despite the government letter, while loopholes in three websites were plugged, in one, information was yet to be blocked.

    Deliberate revelation of Aadhaar can lay people open to financial fraud and it is a punishable offence and this is what the Electronics and Information ministry has reminded all government departments.

    "Aadhaar numbers and demographic information and other sensitive personal data" collected by "ministries/departments, state departments" have been published online, read a letter from the ministry dated April 24.

    Such publishing, it added, "is in clear contravention of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016 and constitutes an offence punishable with imprisonment upto 3 years". Such outing of financial information is also a violation of IT Act, it said.

    Besides asking web managers to sensitise the ministries, the letter also said that display of such information be stopped immediately.   
    On May 1, a report by non-profit research organization Centre for Internet & Society said two of the websites from where the data leak took place, belongs to the Union Ministry of Rural Development.

    One stored data for the MNREGA - the mammoth Central scheme for rural employment which caters to 25.46 crore people. The other was the National Social Assistance Programme, another Central scheme under which pension is provided to the elderly people, widows and persons with disabilities.

    Amber Sinha, co-author of the CIS report, told, "For portals that had not masked data, we informed the relevant authorities and asked them to take down the available information."

    The Rural Development ministry has now decided to form an expert group on IT and cyber security, which will be headed by Kiran Karnik, a former chief of Nasscom. The ministry, however, is yet to comment on the data leak.

How To Be A Good MLA: Yogi Adityanath's Crashcourse For His New Team
  • Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today pitched for longer sittings and longer sessions of the state assembly, as he urged Uttar Pradesh's new legislators to be role models and change the perception that "MLAs do not act responsibly." 

    "Suppose there is a fire in your area , you have to go there for sure. And I am sure you (will) go . Yet, sometimes, there is a perception that MLAs do not act responsibly. Let's ask ourselves why," the Chief Minister said, and then answered the question. "I think there are two reasons. One is the absence from assembly sessions the other is allegations of corruption."

    The 44-year-old priest-politician was speaking at a two-day "enlightenment course" that he has organised, a crash course for UP's 403 legislators on how to deport themselves in the House, seeing that many of his colleagues are first-time MLAs. 

    Yogi Adityanath, 44, too is a first-timer in the UP assembly, but he has been elected to Parliament five times. Lawmakers, the chief minister said, need to understand rules of the house and how to use them to raise their concerns. "I learnt this myself as member of Parliament and prepared as many as 200 questions there,' he said.  

    He suggested that like in Parliament sometimes, sessions in the UP assembly "should run till 8 pm." The Chief Minister, who works late into the night reviewing different state departments, has already scrapped 15 public holidays and prescribed 18 hour work days in government offices in the sis odd weeks since he took oath. 

    Yogi Adityanath has also roped in union minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar and UP Governor Ram Naik to speak to the MLAs during the workshop. Former legislators will hold sessions on how to raise questions in the assembly and, importantly, how to maintain the decorum of the house.

    The highlight will be an address on Thursday by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.  

    A special sitting of the UP assembly will be held on May 15 to clear a bill related to the Goods and Services Tax or GST. 

    The BJP won a landslide mandate in UP this year and its 312 legislators - 325 along with allies - will dominate the assembly. 209 of them have been elected to the assembly for the first time. 

    The Samajwadi Party's 47 MLAs, the BSP's 19 and the Congress' seven make up a small opposition. Legislators from these parties too are attending the two-day course. 

    UP's new chief minister has notched up several firsts since he took oath in March this year, but the two-day workshop for MLAs will not count among them. His predecessor Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party had organised one too after he took over as chief minister in 2012. 

Vast Wave Of Hot Gas Found In Nearby The Perseus Galaxy Cluster
  • An international team of scientists has discovered a vast wave of hot gas in the nearby the Perseus galaxy cluster.

    Spanning some 200,000 light-years, the wave is about twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy, according to a study published online in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    For the study, the researchers combined data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio observations and computer simulations.

    The wave formed billions of years ago, after a small galaxy cluster grazed Perseus and caused its vast supply of gas to slosh around an enormous volume of space, the researchers said.

    "Perseus is one of the most massive nearby clusters and the brightest one in X-rays, so Chandra data provide us with unparalleled detail," said lead scientist Stephen Walker at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    "The wave we've identified is associated with the flyby of a smaller cluster, which shows that the merger activity that produced these giant structures is still ongoing," Walker said. Galaxy clusters are the largest structures bound by gravity in the universe today.

    Some 11 million light-years across and located about 240 million light-years away, the Perseus galaxy cluster is named for its host constellation.

    Like all galaxy clusters, most of its observable matter takes the form of a pervasive gas averaging tens of millions of degrees, so hot it only glows in X-rays.

    Chandra observations revealed a variety of structures in this gas, from vast bubbles blown by the supermassive black hole in the cluster's central galaxy, NGC 1275, to an enigmatic concave feature known as the "bay".

Business Affairs 

India cuts oil import plans from Iran by a quarter over gas field row
  • India plans to order about a quarter less Iranian crude oil than it bought last year, people familiar with the matter said, as state refiners cut term purchase deals over a row between New Delhi and Tehran on development of a natural gas field.
    The drop in volumes follows India's threat to order state refiners - Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, and Indian Oil Corp - to reduce purchases from Iran if an Indian consortium is not awarded the rights to develop Iran's huge Farzad B natural gas field.
    The volume cuts would put India's imports of Iranian crude for this fiscal year at 370,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to the sources with knowledge of the planned deals.
    India is Iran's top oil client after China, and last year imported about 510,000 bpd of crude from the country, according to shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon.
    The reduced 2017/2018 imports include 199,000 bpd by state refiners, a decline of about a third from last year, the sources said. Private refiners Essar and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd (HMEL) have renewed last year's term contracts to buy 120,000 bpd and 20,000 bpd, respectively, they said.
    Most of the state refiners did not respond to queries on the matter, while Essar Oil, MRPL and HMEL declined comment.
    India's oil ministry also said it had no immediate comment.
    Analysts said apart from the gas-field row, India is also taking advantage of a narrow price spread between European oil benchmark Brent and Middle East price-setter Dubai crude, which makes it attractive to bring more oil from Europe into Asia.
    "Brent-related crudes are cheaper and sweeter than medium to heavy grades from Middle East," said Ehsan ul Haq of KBC Energy Economics.
    Also, Russia's Rosneft may start bringing more non-Iranian crude, likely from Venezuela, to India after buying Essar Oil's Vadinar refinery.
    Not all of India's refiners plan to scale back orders from Iran, though. Private refiner Reliance Industries signed its first Iranian deal in seven years to buy 30,000 bpd of heavy Forozan crude oil, one of the sources said.
    India's overall crude demand is around 4.6 million bpd, third highest in the world behind the United States and China. It was one of the few countries that continued to deal with Iran despite international sanctions that were in place until 2016.

Banks cut deposit rates again. Here's how you can still earn higher returns on your investments
  • State Bank of India (SBI), the biggest lender, has further cut interest rates by up to 50 basis points (bps) on fixed deposits (FDs) over two years. Close on it heels, Bank of Baroda and Axis Bank have also cut interest rates on FDs by up to 25 basis points (bps). One per cent is equal to 100 basis points.   
    Now, a two-three year deposit with SBI will fetch you an interest rate of 6.25 per cent instead of 6.75 per cent while over three year deposits will fetch you an interest rate of 6.50 per cent  instead of 6.25 per cent. These rates are for deposits  of less than Rs one crore.  
    Interest rates have been going downhill since January 2015. Also, demonetisation led to a flush of liquidity with the  banks. Excess liquidity and poor credit offtake,  has led to banks reducing the deposit rates to protect their interest margins. Also, increasing the lending rates by the banks to improve the margins will not be that easy.
    Lowering interest rates leads to reinvestment risk for those whose fixed deposits are maturing. With inflation hovering around five per cent, the real rate of return may look positive for now but post tax it will be in negative.
    Investors looking for debt investment alternatives to park their money can look at the following options.

    1) FDs with small finance or new banks: 
     Most investors prefer fixed deposits over any other instrument for safety and guarantee of capital as well as return. So, an investor can consider FDs offered by small finance and newer banks  offering higher return. Ujjivan Small Finance Bank is offering an interest rate of 8 per cent on one-two year deposits. Equitas Small Finance Bank is offering an interest of 7.25 per cent on one-three years. Also, some of the smaller banks, such as RBL bank and DBS Bank, are offering higher interest rates compared to their bigger counterparts.
    But remember that bank fixed deposits interest is fully taxable and will be taxed as per the individual's slab.

    2) Debt mutual funds:
     But if you are looking for better tax efficient returns and willing to take some amount of risk then you can also opt for debt mutual funds with shorter maturities. Debt funds tend to benefit from falling interest rate scenario and that is why over the past two years they have delivered double-digit return. Although debt funds may not deliver double -digit returns this year but investors, especially those in highest tax bracket, can look for short-term and ultra short-term funds depending on their investment tenure as an alternative to FDs as they have the ability to deliver higher than FD returns. Debt funds are also tax efficient than FDs over long-term as indexation benefit is available on the long-term capital gains incurred after three years. Indexation benefit adjust the gains to price rise hence reducing the tax considerably.  
    3) Small savings schemes: If you are looking for an alternative for long-term, there are small saving scheme such as public provident fund (PPF) where the interest rate is at 7.9 per cent and is completely tax-free. Infact, you can also avail a deduction of up to 1.5 lakh on the investment done for the year. Another small savings scheme, National Savings Certificate, is offering an interest rate of 7.9 per cent where the lock-in period is five years and interest is completely taxable. 

GDP to grow 7.4% in FY18; GST, bankruptcy law big positives, says ADB
  • The Indian economy will grow 7.4 per cent this fiscal and 7.6 per cent in the next as the bankruptcy and GST laws will help create a better business friendly environment, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday.
    Ahead of its 50th annual meeting to be attended by finance minister and central bank governors of member nations, the multilateral agency's Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said the reforms like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the new bankruptcy law will make it easier to do business in India.
    "India's growth rate is picking up, 7.4 per cent this year and next year 7.6 per cent," he told a media briefing.
    The growth rate compares to 7.1 per cent of the previous fiscal.
    "Over 7 per cent growth rate is high if we compare it to other emerging market economies and also China. Behind this is cyclical factor, improved terms of trade. The Indian government adopted new bankruptcy law that improved the business enabling environment. That is the a short-term and medium-term factor behind the gross acceleration in India," Sawada said.
    On the impact of demonetisation of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes that took out 86 per cent of the currency in circulation, he said the move obviously generated short-term decline in cash-based transactions and consumer sentiment.
    "But according to out data analysis so far, this possible negative impact of demonetisation was only short-lived and we still see a medium-term growth acceleration of the Indian economy," the ADB chief economist said.
    ADB, he said, had not studied if the demonetisation had any consequences on black money.
    "But overall, as far as we monitored growth rate trend and macro-economic indicator, the demonetisation seems to have generated only a short-lived impact," Sawada said.
    The GST, the biggest indirect tax reform since independence, together with the new bankruptcy law are big positives for India, he said.
    The bankruptcy law and the GST will help in creating a better business enabling environment, which seems to be a factor behind this gross acceleration of India, he added.
    Asked about the impact of rupee appreciation on exports, Sawada said, "You are thinking (that) the appreciation of rupee India will lose international competitiveness but actually export prices is market environment is another factor behind determinants of export. Medium shifting of industry and comparative advantage that's also behind export pattern."
    Stating that rupee appreciation cannot be spoken in isolation, he said the overall export performance of India so far seems to be quite positive.
    "I'm not sure but probably you shouldn't be too much pessimistic about exchange rate," the ADB chief economist said.
    The rupee strengthened to 64.2 against the US dollar and has been gaining strength as compared to other emerging economy currencies.
    The rupee has appreciated by over 5 per cent against the US dollar since January.

    SAT admits RIL plea against Sebi ban; next hearing on August 8
    • The Securities Appellate Tribunal today admitted Reliance Industries' plea against a Sebi order banning it from equity derivatives markets and will hear the matter next on August 8, with the firm saying it should be allowed to invest its surplus funds, including through mutual funds.
      Reliance Industries' counsel Harish Salve requested the tribunal to allow it to at least invest its surplus funds in established mutual funds till the time an order is passed.
      In response, the tribunal said that once the company makes a separate application, Sebi can consider it and take a decision as per applicable law.
      With respect to Sebi direction asking the Mukesh Ambani- led firm to disgorge "unlawful gains", the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) said, "Please extend it to a later date."
      SAT has fixed August 8 as the next date for hearing the matter.
      "We (Reliance) have no direct positions in futures and options. We put money in established funds and we want to know that should not be a problem. These are all standard funds, we are not acquiring any futures," Salve told the tribunal.
      The company has only invested in funds and does not know if this would be hit by the (impugned) order, Salve added.
      Noting that Reliance Industries does not have F&O positions, the tribunal said its only grievance is that by impugned order it may or may not be in a position to invest the surplus funds in available funds administered by other financial institutions.
      Salve stated that appropriate application would be made to Sebi.
      The regulator can then consider it and dispose it as per applicable law, SAT responded.
      The tribunal also asked RIL to submit a list of MFs to Sebi through which it would participate in equity derivatives markets.
      In a nearly 10-year-old case, Sebi on March 24 had banned Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and 12 others from equity derivatives trading for one year, while accusing the company of making "unlawful gains".
      Besides, RIL was asked to disgorge Rs 447 crore, along with an annual interest of 12 per cent since November 29, 2007, which itself would be over Rs 500 crore, taking the total disgorgement amount to nearly Rs 1,000 crore.
      The case relates to alleged fraudulent trading in the F&O space in the securities of RIL's erstwhile listed subsidiary Reliance Petroleum Ltd (RPL).

    Sensex, Nifty reach new heights, India's global m-cap share at 6 year high: Here's what propelled this
    • Indian indices showcased a stellar performance last week with the BSE Sensex crossing psychological mark of 30,000 on April 26 along with NSE Nifty touching a record high of 9,367 on the same day.

      Another milestone was achieved when India's contribution to the global market capitalisation (m-cap) touched it's all time high of $ 1.94 trillion and figured as the top performing market in 2017.

      It was also one of the top markets by capitalisation world over.

      The rally was driven by five index heavyweights: Reliance Industries, biggest contribution in the Nifty index, which contributed nearly 14.16 per cent of the total Nifty move in 2017.
      Tata Consultancy Services is the India's most valued company with market capitalization of Rs4.51 trillion followed by Reliance Industries with m-cap Rs4.46 trillion.
      This is followed by HDFC, HDFC Bank, L&T and ITC which contributed 12.58 per cent, 13.14 per cent, 8.56 per cent and 7.73 per cent respectively.

      Further, seven out of the 10 most valued listed companies, HDFC Bank, ITC, HDFC, ONGC, SBI, IOC, and HUL, together added Rs 49,642.58 crore in market valuation in the last week of April.

      HDFC bank stole the show with maximum gains adding Rs 11,998.43 crore to become the third most valuable company with a m-cap of Rs 3,95,547.46 crore.
      In another show-stopping performance, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) on Tuesday closed at a new lifetime high of 2.52 per cent to Rs 6,690 on the BSE over the expectations of strong volume growth for the first quarter of the financial year 2018 (April-June).
      So far this year, it gained 26 per cent.
      Experts say that the surge in Maruti's share prices can be attributed to a demand rally on the back of positive rual growth and marriage season.

      Maruti was Rs 1,234 crore shy away from becoming a part of the Rs 2 lakh crore m-cap club that includes six of the 10 most valued companies in terms of m-cap when the bourses closed on April 28th.

      However, on Tuesday, Maruti entered the the top 10 most-valued listed companies at the tenth place with a market capitalisation of Rs 202,564.32 crore (or Rs 2.02 trillion) thereby becoming the seventh member of Rs 2 lakh crore m-cap club.
      India's largest automaker became the first Indian carmaker to achieve this milestone.

      A lot of what was seen in the market last week can be credited to the surge of FII and DII inflows which have clocked record highs in the past few months. Let's look at the numbers:

      Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) investment into Indian equities and bonds for the month of April touched $ 3.5 billion after market regulator Sebi raised the ceiling for FIIs in government debt.

      According to the data, FPIs in April invested a net amount of Rs 2,394 crore in equities and a further Rs 20,364 crore in the debt segment resulting in the combined inflow of Rs 22,758 crore (or $3.5 billion).

      FII investments in the Indian capital market for the month of March hit a record high logging the biggest inflow since 2002 with overseas investors buying $8.84 billion worth of shares and bonds.

      The total inflow for the year 2017 reached Rs 91,385 crore ($14 billion) in the capital markets.

      In a statement on Friday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Indian economy has benefitted from foreign investment during a period of sluggish private domestic investment.

      Adding to this, the Finance Minister said that Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India in 2016 jumped 18 per cent to a record $46.4 billion, at a time when global FDI inflows fell.

      Sebi Chairman Ajay Tyagi noted at industry chamber CII's annual session that the rupee continued to gain against the US dollar this year and that Indian financial markets have shown strong growth.

      Experts say that liquidity is the main factor propelling the movement of inflows post the cash crunch spell. Here's how:

      "The last financial year saw a number of measures by the government to set a business friendly environment. The GST, for one, will push up the GDP by more than 3 per cent coupled with tax reforms and financial consolidation. We have already seen higher tax collections in the last quarter," says Mustafa Nadeem, CEO, Epic Research.

      A surge in the Midcap space also indicates a flow of liquidity and this is only projected to carry froward in the capital markets.

      "Further, Midcap stocks have come in the focus in a bull market. Wave analysis indicate a rally in the Midcap space in the coming months, with participation of Smallcaps as well," added Nadeem.

      According to Deepak Jasani, Head - Retail Research, HDFC securities, the main reasons for markets hitting all time highs are  expectations of stable rupee, attractive near term returns and lack of alternative investment avenues yielding similar returns.

      But Jasani points out that earnings growth are yet to catch up with the rally.

      "When it comes to market capitalisation, the rise in stock prices are the main reason," he says, "while new listings from private and public sector undertaking space also contributed".

      This will eventually create and sustain a wealth effect in the economy and lead to higher consumption growth.

      Another positive effect on the economy, as told by Jasani, is the encouragement of savings and funding equity portion in new ventures in the market.

      Additionally, a highly liquid economy will bring the interest rates in the system down and even improve the current account balance of the Indian government.

      Finally, such an environment will also ease the pressure on Rupee thereby improving the value of the Indian rupee.

    General Awareness

    India to clock 7.1 per cent GDP this year, 7.5 per cent in 2018: UN report

    • As per ‘The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017’ released by UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Indian economy is expected to register 7.1% GDP growth in 2017 and 7.5% in 2018.
      • The survey was launched by ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar in Bangkok.
      Growth Outlook for India:
      The survey has forecasted 7.1% growth for Indian economy in 2017. The growth will come on the back of increased Government spending on infrastructure projects and remonetisation activity by Reserve Bank of India, which is expected to restore consumption patterns.
      • For 2017-18 the inflation is expected to be in the range of 3-5.5%, which breaches the official target of 4.5-5.0%.
      • Gross non performing asset (NPA) ratio in public sector banks, which reached 12% level in 2016, has been identified as biggest downside risk to growth of Indian economy. The survey has highlighted the need for ‘bank re-capitalisation’.
      • The survey also noted that despite broader fiscal tightening, capital expenditure under Union Budget 2017-18 has been 25% higher as compared to previous year’s budget.
      Growth Outlook for Asia-Pacific Region:
      • Asia-Pacific region’s developing economies are expected to grow at 0% in 2017 as compared to 4.9% in 2016. For 2018, the forecasted growth rate is 5.1%.
      • The survey has maintained an overall moderate growth outlook for Asia-Pacific economies. However it states that these economies are vulnerable to global uncertainties and protectionist policies adopted by certain nations in international trade. Any radical increase in these factors can reduce the regional growth in 2017 by 1.2%.
      • Chinese economy is expected to grow at 5% in 2017 as compared to 6.7% in 2016. The survey has a stable outlook for Chinese economy in medium term with a room for restructuring and sectoral rotation.
      Quick Facts about United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP):
      It is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, established to enhance economic cooperation among member states.
      • Formation year: 1947
      • Headquarters: Bangkok, Thailand
      • Parent Organisation: United Nations Economic and Social Commission
      • Members: 53 countries
      • Executive Secretary: Shamshad Akhtar of Pakistan

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