US to end sanctions waivers for Iranian oil importers; UAE Cabinet adopts National Artificial Intelligence Strategy – Current Affairs
While re-imposing sanctions on exports of Iranian oil, the United States had granted waivers to eight economies that had reduced their purchases of the oil.
Story 1- US to end sanctions waivers for all importers of Iranian oil, India to be hit
The United States is expected to announce on April 22, 2019 that all importers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports shortly or be subject to US sanctions.
As per reports, the administration will terminate the sanction waivers that it had granted to some importers of Iranian oil late last year. US President Donald Trump made it clear to his national security team over the last few weeks that he wants the waivers to end and national security adviser John Bolton has been working the issue within the administration.
• While re-imposing sanctions on exports of Iranian oil, the United States had granted waivers to eight economies that had reduced their purchases of the oil including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.
• Since then, three of the eight nations-Italy, Greece and Taiwan- stopped importing oil from Iran. The other five, however, lobbied for their waivers to be extended.
• The sanctions waivers are going to expire on May 2 and the trump administration is now planning to tell the five nations, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, that they will no longer renew them.
• It is, however, not immediately clear if any of the five would be given additional time to wind down their purchases or if they would be subject to US sanctions on May 3 if they do not immediately halt imports of Iranian oil.
The decision is intended to further ramp up pressure on Iran by strangling the revenue it gets from oil exports.
The United States has been pressuring Iran to curtail its nuclear program and stop backing militant proxies across the Middle East.
• The United States had re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil in November 2018, after Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the landmark 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.
• However, the nation granted waivers to eight economies that had reduced their purchases of Iranian oil, allowing them to continue buying it without incurring sanctions for six more months. The nations included China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.
• The waivers were granted in part to give those countries more time to find alternate energy sources but also to prevent a shock to global oil markets from the sudden removal of Iranian crude.
• According to US officials now, they do not expect any significant reduction in the supply of oil given production increases by other countries, including the US itself and Saudi Arabia.
• So far in April, Iranian exports were averaging below 1 million barrels per day. That is lower than at least 1.1 million bpd as estimated for March and down from more than 2.5 million bpd before sanctions were reimposed.
Story 2- UAE Cabinet adopts National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031
The UAE Cabinet has adopted the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031. The move was undertaken during a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi on April 21, 2019, which was chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
The decision is aimed at positioning the UAE as a global leader in artificial intelligence by 2031 and to develop an integrated system that employs artificial intelligence in vital areas in the country.
National AI Strategy 2031: Key Highlights
• The strategy includes eight strategic objectives, a number of initiatives, along with a number of initiatives aimed at employing artificial intelligence in vital areas such as education, government services and the community wellbeing.
• The eight objectives of the strategy include:
1. Reaffirming UAE’s position as a global hub for artificial intelligence.
2. Increasing the competitive edge of the AI sector in the UAE.
3. Establishing an incubator for AI innovations.
4. Employing AI in the field of customer services to improve the quality of life.
5. Attracting and training talents for jobs of the future
6. Attracting leading research capabilities.
7. Providing a data-driven infrastructure to support AI experiments.
8. Optimising AI governance and regulations.
• The strategy will focus on the following fields of priorities during the first phase of implementation: resources and energy, logistics and transportation, tourism and hospitality, healthcare and cyber security.
• It also includes a plan to build a well-established UAE brand of artificial intelligence through artificial intelligence activities that will make the UAE a test platform for artificial intelligence technology, provide enhanced services with advanced technology, training and qualification programmes, talent building, research, data development and governance.
• The implementation process will be overseen by the Emirates Council for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transactions, in coordination with a number of local and federal entities.
Applying AI technologies in governance is expected to positively impact a number of vital sectors, such as the national economy.
The AI applications are also expected to contribute to the national GDP in the coming years, which would create new economic opportunities.
• The UAE Cabinet also adopted the National Strategy for Integrated Chemicals Management to improve the chemicals management systems in a unified manner at the national level and reduce their health and environmental impact and manage risks.
• As for legislative affairs, the UAE Cabinet adopted a number of decisions and laws within the framework of the organisation of government work.
• The resolutions included the preparation of a draft federal law to amend some provisions pertaining to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the amendment of some articles of the Federal Law on the Diplomatic and Consular Service.
• The UAE Cabinet also approved granting of a school administration allowance to the managers of People of Determination centres at the Ministry of Community Development to enhance the participation of the national workforce and develop their capabilities, efficiency, and productivity.
• It also reviewed the recommendations of the Federal National Council (FNC) on the Ministry of Health and Prevention's policy, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation's policy and the request by the FNC to discuss the Ministry of Economy's policy on supporting the tourism sector.
• The Cabinet also adopted and ratified a number of international agreements, including the ratification of an agreement between the UAE and the Government of Botswana to avoid double taxation, as well as agreements with the Bahrain government, the Bhutan government and the Vanuatu government on air transport services.