International Economy - General awareness questions on current affairs

1)   Which country has banned the sale and production of burqa?
- Published on 16 Jan 17

a. Saudi Arabia
b. Pakistan
c. Iran
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: None of the above

Morocco’s ban on the sale and production of burqa has sharply divided people in the N. African nation.

Award winning French-Moroccan novelist Leila Slimani said the burqa is not an item of clothing but an instrument of oppression.

Lawmaker and former minister Nouzha Skalli has said it will combat religious extremism.

Measure appeared to be motivated by security concerns, as criminals have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes.”

Most women in Morocco, whose King Mohammed VI favours a moderate version of Islam, prefer the hijab headscarf that does not cover the face.

The niqab, which leaves the area around the eyes uncovered, is also worn in Salafist circles and in more conservative regions in the north.

Morocco: Know More

  • Morocco is officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco/The Western Kingdom
  • Location: Maghreb region of North Africa.
  • Geographically, Morocco is characterized by a rugged mountainous interior and large portions of desert.
  • It is the only African country to have both an Atlantic and a Mediterranean coastline.
  • Morocco has a population of over 33.8 million and an area of 446,550 km2 (172,410 sq mi).
  • Capital: Rabat
  • Largest city is Casablanca.
  • Other major cities include Marrakesh, Tangier, Tetouan.

2)   Which government has issued a tax strike on digital economy?
- Published on 13 Jan 17

a. Australia
b. India
c. Africa
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Australia

Australian government has announced plans to tax all digital transactions, part of what treasurer Scott Morrison calls a “Tax Strike” on the growing digital economy.

The government is currently unable to tax Australia's USD 7.37 billion annual online transactions.

As Australia moves towards a modern cashless economy, the aim is to also ensure tax systems remain modern.

Google and Netflix taxes have also been imposed to ensure MNCs and online services were paying tax properly.

Government is aiming at proper taxation for all digital sales in Australia to ensure everyone is paying their fair share of tax.

3)   China launched its first freight train to which western destination in Jan 2016?
- Published on 05 Jan 17

a. London
b. Frankfurt
c. Paris
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: London

The PRC or People's Republic of China launched its first freight train to London (UK) with the aim to improve trade ties and strengthen connectivity with Britain and Western Europe.

The train departed from Yiwu West Railway station in eastern Zhejiang province of China. It will travel for 18 days over 12,000 km before reaching London.

The train will also pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, before reaching London.

It is carrying goods produced in Yiwu. London is the 15th city in European region added to China-Europe freight train services.

Success of the train will give impetus to China's One Belt and One Road Initiative, an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Africa and EU along ancient trade routes.

One Belt and One Road Initiative: Know More

  • Also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt
  • Called the Belt and Road, One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative
  • It is a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
  • The initiative is a development strategy and framework put in place by Chinese leader XI Jingping
  • It focuses on connectivity and cooperation between China and Eurasia.
  • Comprises two components namely Silk Road Economic Belt (land based) and Maritime Silk Road (ocean going).
  • It was unveiled in Sept and Oct 2013 (SREB and MSR respectively).

4)   Chinese companies in a consortium have bought 40 percent ownership of Pak's only stock exchange in?
- Published on 04 Jan 17

a. Karachi
b. Lahore
c. Rawalpindi
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Karachi

A consortium of Chinese companies have purchased 40 percent of Pakistan's only stock exchange in Karachi.

This is the price Pakistan is paying in return for Chinese investments in CPEC.

CPEC is expected to cost USD 46 billion.

Karachi based Pakistan stock exchange agreed to sell the stakes for USD 85 million.

The consortium comprises three China bourses:

  • Shanghai based China Financial Futures Exchange
  • Shanghai Stock Exchange
  • Shenzhen Stock Exchange
The above 3 have taken 30 percent of the shares.

Another two companies, Pak-China Investment Company Limited and Habib Bank Limited have picked 5 percent each.

This is the first time Chinese companies have acquired a share of a foreign stock exchange.

Another Chinese consortium has been trying to acquire the Chicago stock exchange, but is facing resistance from US senators.

China is now trying to connect Shanghai stock exchange with London.

It has recently connected this stock exchange with Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

China Securities Regulatory Commission supports this acquisition.

Shanghai stock exchange said this would improve Pak-China ties and implement the Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC both.

PSX expected the investment will bring experience, technological assistance and new products.

Market will also be internationalised.

PSX: Know More
  • Formed: Jan 2016
  • Formed by merger of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad stock exchanges.
  • Included in emerging market index of Morgan Stanley Capital International in June 2016.
  • Market reforms have accelerated with Chinese investments.
  • This is making PSX appealing to global investors

5)   White House banned new oil and gas drilling in US waters of which oceans?
- Published on 26 Dec 16

a. Arctic
b. Atlantic
c. Pacific
d. Only a and b
e. All the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Only a and b

The White House in the fourth week of Dec 2016 permanently banned all new oil and gas drilling in the US owned waters of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

The ban is the final effort to lock in environmental protections before Obama hands over office to president-elect Donald Trump.

To implement the ban on the two Oceans, an area that is roughly equal to the size of Thailand or Spain in Arctic and 31 sea canyons in the Arctic, Obama used a 1953 law under which a president can block the mining and sale of new offshore drilling rights.

Law makes it difficult for successors to reverse the decision. Ban was jointly announced by Obama and Justin Trudeau, Canada’s PM.

Obama who signed the Paris climate agreement in 2015 supports the ambitious plan of reducing the global warming.

Trump had a different opinion on agreements and threatened to cancel the Paris climate agreement.

Untapped energy reserves of the country is the focus of the president elect and it will exploit fossil fuels.

Obama’s decision will act as a blockade for Trump.

Action came against the backdrop of climate scientists, who urged the President to come up with regulations or executive order to protect his climate legacy.

Know More About Barack Obama

  • Assumed office: January 20, 2009
  • Vice President: Joe Biden
  • Preceded by: George W. Bush
  • United States Senator from Illinois
  • Full Name: Barack Hussein Obama II
  • Date of Birth: August 4, 1961 (age 55)
  • Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
  • Political party: Democratic
  • Noble Peace Prize: 2009

6)   Which country nationalised its biggest commercial bank?
- Published on 21 Dec 16

a. Iran
b. Iraq
c. Ukraine
d. Russia
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Ukraine

Ukraine's biggest commercial bank, PrivatBank, has been nationalised in a move aimed at protecting 20 million customers and preserving financial stability in the country.

The nation's central bank said the problems faced by PrivatBank were mainly caused by its "imprudent lending policy" which led to capital losses.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has reassured PrivatBank depositors that their money is safe.

The bank is operating normally.

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) declared PrivatBank insolvent on 18th Dec. The government subsequently backed the nationalisation.

About PrivatBank

  • Part-owned by the powerful billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. He has big stakes in the media and energy industries & has frequently come into conflict with President Poroshenko.
  • 20 million Ukrainians who use the bank include 3.2 million pensioners, more than 500,000 students and 1.6 million socially vulnerable households.
  • Nationalisation also enables small businesses to continue trading and means 3.2 million public and private sector employees will continue to be paid.

7)   GoI has detected how much undisclosed income in Jan Dhan accounts?
- Published on 06 Dec 16

a. INR 1.63 crore
b. INR 1.64 crore
c. INR 1.65 crore
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: INR 1.64 crore

Following reports of irregularities in Jan Dhan accounts, the government on Dec 4 announced that it has detected Rs. 1.64 crore of undisclosed income deposited in such accounts.

  • Sudden surge of cash deposits in Jan Dhan accounts are being investigated because Rs. 1.64 crore deposited by persons who have never filed returns of income being below the taxable limits, into their Jan Dhan accounts have already been detected at Kolkata, Midnapore, Ara (Bihar), Kochi and Varanasi."
  • INR 40 lakh has been seized from one such account in Bihar.
  • Undisclosed income detected with be brought to tax as per provisions of the Income Tax Act 1961 apart from other actions depending on the investigations.

8)   A new Bank of England’s 5 pound note has angered vegetarians because:
- Published on 05 Dec 16

a. It extolls the virtues of non-vegetarianism.
b. It contains traces of animal fat.
c. It is reserved for use by non-vegans.
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: It contains traces of animal fat.

The new £5 note issued by the Bank of England has angered the vegetarians after it was revealed that it contains traces of animal fat.

The 5 pound note entered circulation in Sept 2016. But the presence of the meat substance was only confirmed on 28th Nov 2016 by a Bank of England tweet.

The new five pound notes are printed on polymer, a film which is thin and made of plastic; it is more durable and safer as compared to paper money.

Within the polymer pallets used in the creation of the film is a substance called tallow derived from animal fat.

Tallow is commonly used in candles and soap.

About the Protest

  • Online petition initiated by Doug Maw has gained more than 90,000 signatures calling the notes unacceptable.
  • Vegan communities such as Hindus, Sikhs and Jains have also joined in the protest.
  • As per the petitioners, the presence of animal fat is a violation of vegan preference to not harm animals.
  • The new note is not the only one based on polymer.

  • New polymer notes of the following denominations will also be out:

  • £10: 2017
  • £20: 2020

  • Decision to shift to polymer is because:

  • Notes last longer
  • They stay cleaner
  • They are harder to copy.

9)   What is the name of Sweden’s digital currency?
- Published on 18 Nov 16

a. Erokna
b. Enokra
c. Ekrona
d. Earnok
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Ekrona

Sweden has to decide whether it wants to issue a digital currency known as “Ekrona” within a period of two years

  • Deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank Riksbank announced the bank is considering the move after fall in sage of cash
  • Amount of notes and coins in circulation has fallen by 40 percent since 2009 with rise in online shopping and card payments
  • This is the first time a nation would give direct access to citizens for virtual money issued by a central bank
  • It is not the only country considering this
  • UK is also reported to be considering whether digital currency created and owned by the central government may be a positive way out of economic problems
  • Sweden is located in Scandinavia and it has capital city Stockholm built on 14 islands
  • Sweden has more than 50 bridges and open air Skansen
  • Its current currency is the Swedish krone and the official language spoken here is Swedish.

10)   Which country on 2nd Nov proposed a light-touch regulatory regime for financial technology (fintech) companies?
- Published on 03 Nov 16

a. Austria
b. Switzerland
c. Iceland
d. Finland
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Switzerland

Easing rules can also reduce barriers to market entry and provide legal certainty for the sector.

  • Switzerland lags the likes of Britain and Singapore when it comes to fintech.
  • Firms specialising in crypto currencies hold that financial regulations must transform for them to develop in places like Zug, dubbed "Crypto Valley".
  • Many crypto currency companies are subject to banking regulations as they are classed as deposit taking firms meaning they need 10 million Swiss Francs in paid up capital once the business thrives beyond a certain level.
  • A three pronged strategy has been proposed by the cabinet which includes setting a deadline of 60 days for holding money in settlement accounts, facilitating crowdfunding services, creating sandbox innovation and establishing a new fin-tech license granted for institutions restricted to those taking deposits of 100m francs and not operating in the lending business.

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