Comprehensive News Analysis

UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis. Dec17th, 2023 CNA. Download PDF l



A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
1. Junta down but not out
C. GS 3 Related
1. Is the world closer to phasing out fossil fuels?
1. Hurdles in India-EFTA trade negotiations
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
F. Prelims Facts
1. Bodoland Territorial Region
2. India and Oman sign agreements
3. Pangolin poaching
G. Tidbits
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

Category: ECONOMY

1. Hurdles in India-EFTA trade negotiations

Syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Prelims: European Free Trade Association (EFTA) 

Mains: India-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) trade negotiations

Context: Recently, India and four Nordic countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) conducted a meeting to finalise the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) in New Delhi.

India-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) relationship: 

  • India and EFTA members started negotiations for a Trade and Economic Partnership in 2008.
  • In 2020-21, India was the ninth-largest trading partner of EFTA. 
  • India’s export to EFTA: Textiles, gems and jewellery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and machinery. 
  • India’s import from EFTA: Chemicals, machinery, precious metals and medical instruments.
  • Norway is in talks with India for the mining of critical minerals, which China currently monopolises. This collaboration is crucial for India’s plan to achieve 50% of its energy capacity from renewables by 2030.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Countries:

  • The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is an intergovernmental organisation of four states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, promoting free trade and economic integration among its members.

Image: EFTA Member Countries

EFTA Member countries

Image source:

  • Though not part of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are included in the European Economic Area (EEA) which allows them to be part of the EU’s single market.

India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)

  • Benefits:
    • Reduce or eliminate customs duties on goods.
    • Ease norms to promote trade in services and investments.
    • Enhance two-way commerce, investment flows, job creation, and economic growth.
    • Create integrated and resilient supply chains, offering new opportunities for businesses and individuals.
  • Challenges
    • Market access challenges due to sanitary and phytosanitary measures, rules of origin, and high tariffs.
    • Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) or patents and copyrights.
    • Differences in regulations, standards, and legal frameworks pose challenges in concluding a mutually beneficial agreement for both parties.

Nut Graf: Concluding the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) will benefit India by widening market access for its products, enhancing investment flows, creating jobs, and fostering economic growth.

2. India and Oman sign agreements

Context:​ Recently, Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, the ruler of Oman, made his first state visit to India.

Image: Map of Oman

Map of Oman

Source: World Atlas

Agreements during the visit: 

  • Both sides discussed the establishment of a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a fresh tranche of investments, and the possibility of establishing bilateral rupee trade. 
  • An agreement between the Financial Intelligence Unit of India and the National Centre for Financial Information (NCFI) to prevent money laundering was signed during the meeting. 

India-Oman Relationship:

  • Strategic Partnership: India and Oman upgraded their partnership to a Strategic Partnership in 2008.
  • India’s West Asia Policy: Oman is a key pillar of India’s West Asia Policy and an important interlocutor at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).
  • Trade Relationship: Bilateral trade between the two countries in 2022-23 stood at around $12.3 billion.
    • Major Imports to India: Oil, LNG, minerals, propylate,  polyethylene, urea, and aluminium.
    • Major Exports from India: Rice, wheat, ignition control of vehicles, motor fuel, natural gasoline, and iron ore.
  • Military Relationship:
    • Joint Military Exercises: Al Najah (Army exercise), Eastern Bridge (Air Force exercise), Naseem Al Bahr (Naval Exercise).
    • Duqm Port: In 2018, India secured access to the facilities at Duqm for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.
  • Diaspora: Presence of a large Indian community of almost 7 lakh people.
  • Recent developments:
    • National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and the Central Financial Institution of Oman signed an MoU to launch the RuPay debit card in Oman.
    • India-Middle-East-Europe Connectivity Corridor (IMEEC) and the South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE) pipeline project.

3. Pangolin poaching

Context: Researchers based on genomic analyses have revealed illegal pangolin trafficking routes from origins in Africa to markets in Asia.


  • Pangolins are primarily nocturnal mammals. They are the only mammals wholly covered in scales, which they use to protect themselves from predators in the wild.

Image: Pangolin


Source: WWF

  • Pangolins will curl into a tight ball, if threatened, and use their sharp-scaled tail to defend themselves from predators.
  • They eat ants, termites, and larvae and are often known as “the scaly anteater.”
  • They are poached mainly for their meat and their scales are used in traditional medicine and folk remedies.
  • There are 8 species of Pangolins:
    • Four species of Pangolins live in Africa: White-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla), Temminck’s Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) and Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea).
    • Four species of Pangolins live in Asia: Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) and Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis).
  • The Indian pangolin is listed on CITES Appendix I and is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List.

G. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. ‘ALTÉRRA’ recently seen in the news is:
  1. A $30 Billion catalytic climate investment fund launched by UAE
  2. A fund established by UNFCCC to raise Climate Finance
  3. An investment vehicle launched in India that invests in companies with positive environmental impact
  4. A US-based investment fund whose portfolio is based on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria

Answer: a

Explanation: The President of UAE, at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, announced the creation of a $30 billion catalytic climate investment fund named ALTÉRRA.

Q2. Which of the following constitute the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) 
Member States?
  1. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
  2. Belgium, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland
  3. Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland and Denmark
  4. Iceland, Lithuania, Norway and Switzerland

Answer: a

Explanation: EFTA is an intergovernmental organisation that was established in 1960. It has four member states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. 

Q3. The ‘Three Brotherhood Alliance’ often seen in the news is associated with 
which of these countries?
  1.  Israel
  2.  Ukraine
  3.  Armenia
  4.  Myanmar

Answer: d

Explanation: The Three Brotherhood Alliance is an alliance between the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army. The group rose to prominence in the wake of the Myanmar coup. 

Q4. What is the conservation status accorded to the Indian Pangolin in the 
IUCN Red List?
  1.  Extinct
  2.  Least Concerned
  3.  Endangered
  4.  Extinct in the wild

Answer: c

Explanation: Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

Q5. Where is the Duqm Port which is important for India’s maritime strategy 
in the Indian Ocean?
  1.  Iran
  2.  Yemen
  3.  Oman
  4.  UAE

Answer: c


The Port of Duqm in Oman offers India access to the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea.

Read previous CNA articles here.


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