The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 15 June, 2016 gave its nod to six international agreements, including one which will allow India undertake exploration of high value mineral deposits at seabed and another to improve air connectivity with Taiwan.
The agreement between the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) will allow India to undertake exploration and other developmental activities related to polymetallic sulphides in the allotted area of 10,000 sq km. It will be done in parts of Central and South-West Indian Ridges (SWIR), located in the Indian Ocean.
By signing the 15-year contract, India’s exclusive rights for exploration of polymetallic sulphides in the allotted area in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in Indian Ocean will be formalized. It will also enhance India’s presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.
Another agreement cleared by the Union Cabinet relates to air services between India and Taiwan. As of now, there is no formal Air Services Agreement between India and Taiwan. The proposed agreement has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Another MoU with Taiwan cleared relates to cooperation in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, aquaculture and food processing and genetic resources. Under the MoU with Taiwan on agriculture, a joint working committee will be constituted to identify priority areas of mutual interest and follow up on the progress of implementation of the activities identified by both sides.
The Cabinet was also apprised of an MoU between ISRO and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) on cooperation in the field of outer space. It was signed in Ottawa in April 2015. It would lead to establishment of a joint team which will work out the plan of action including examination and defining cooperative projects and the time-frame.
The Cabinet also gave its approval for Indian membership of the international Continental Scientific Drilling program (ICDP) consortium by signing an MoU with the German Research Centre for Geosciences.
By signing the MoU on the membership for a period of five year with ICDP, India would enable engaging internationally renowned experts with expertise in different aspects of scientific drilling to accomplish deep drilling and associated investigations in Koyna region.
An agreement on labour co-operation between India and Saudi Arabia also received the ex-post facto approval of the Union Cabinet. It was signed in Riyadh in April 2016. It would benefit the Indian emigrant workers, especially in the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled categories of workers who are working in Saudi Arabia without consideration of caste, creed, religion or gender.