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Poor maritime connectivity hurting weaker, smaller nations




A United Nations report out Wednesday revealed the poor maritime connectivity continues to keep smaller and weaker economies from reaching world markets, highlighting the need for evidence-based improvements to trading systems and procedures to address these challenges.

“Planning and forecasts can be significantly improved if data on maritime transport networks are included in the relevant policy processes, such as negotiating trade deals and transport infrastructure development plans,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in a news release announcing the findings.

According to the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport, lack of access is particularly challenging for landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and least developed countries leading to fewer, unreliable and expensive transport connections.

These obstacles also further widen the rift between the best- and worst-connected countries, added the news release, calling for increased interconnectedness between national, regional and intercontinental liner shipping services.

“In many countries, domestic shipping services for [transport of goods] are protected from foreign competition. Such market restrictions can lead to unnecessary inefficiencies and a loss of maritime connectivity,” it noted.

Furthermore, well-designed policies allowing – under clearly defined conditions – international shipping lines to also carry domestic or international cargo from feeder vessels can enhance both the competitiveness of a nation’s seaports and the access of importers and exporters to international shipping services, highlighted UNCTAD.

Explaining the benefits, Shamika N. Sirimanne, the Director of the Technology and Logistics Division at UNCTAD said: “Fostering competition among ports is important to ensure that port operators maximize efficiency and pass on efficiency gains to their clients.”

Equally important is improving multimodal transport links: efficient regional trucking markets, inland waterways, rail and road infrastructure, and transit regimes all have an important role to play.

UNCTAD research also revealed that four in five trading country-pairs do not have a direct connection between them which in turn leads to lesser trade between them.

“A key question for trade and transport analysts is whether there are no direct connections between the two countries because there is not enough demand, or […] because the two trading partners are not well connected,” highlighted Jan Hoffmann, the Chief of the Trade Logistics Branch at UNCTAD.

Improving links can, therefore, help boost trade between countries, lower costs associated and also help improve connectivity.

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IRENA to Help Deliver Low-Carbon 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China




The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has today signed a co-operation agreement with the People’s Government of Hebei Province, China to provide the city of Zhangjiakou with a renewable energy roadmap that will support its ambition to deliver a low-carbon Winter Olympics in 2022. The agreement will also help the city become China’s first energy transition pilot city. As co-host of the Winter Olympics with Beijing, Zhangjiakou aims to generate 50 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

The agreement, signed by IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin and the Governor of Hebei Province, Xu Qin, will support the establishment of a ‘low-carbon Olympic zone’ in Zhangjiakou, with plans for both the Olympic centre and Olympic stadiums to be powered by renewable energy. IRENA will also provide strategic advice in the context of the development of an International Center for Renewable Energy Industry Innovation in Zhangjiakou City.

“China has made remarkable progress in the pursuit of renewable energy and in the transition towards a modern energy system,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin at the signing of the Memoradum of Understanding. “From renewable energy adoption to technological innovation – China is emerging as a leader of the new energy economy and a key actor in energy transformation.

“The pursuit of a low-carbon Winter Olympics in 2022 will not only support China’s ambition to lower harmful emissions, but it will also see them pioneer a movement towards the cost-effective decarbonisation of the world’s greatest spectacles,” continued Mr. Amin. “This agreement reflects the Agency’s deepening cooperation with China and will facilitate a positive, two-way exchange of expertise and knowledge.”

Governor of Hebei Province, Mr. Xu Qin said: “President Xi Jinping’s strategic vision for an ecological civilization has significantly advanced environmental protection in China, greatly benefiting Chinese people whilst representing China’s contribution to global green development. Hebei Province will realise the vision proposed by President Xi, by prioritising ecological protection and exercising green development, as we expedite the speed at which we build a beautiful Hebei.

Mr Xu continued: “With abundant renewable energy resources – particularly the area of Zhangjiakou City – the potential of this cooperation with IRENA is broad and bright. As both sides work to advance R&D, technology innovation and the broader development of the renewable energy industry, this will support our planning for a low-carbon Winter Olympic Games.”

The Games will be the first major global sporting event held in China since the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Co-host Zhangjiakou, located approximately 200 kilometers from Beijing, has been identified as having a strong renewable energy resource endowment, with abundant wind, solar and biomass potential in the region.

Between 2012 and 2016 China witnessed a 10-fold increase in solar energy adoption, and in 2017 alone, it added 53 GW of PV. China announced an intention to invest USD 361 billion in renewable power generation by 2020. China chaired IRENA’s 14th and 15th Council Meetings and is President of the Agency’s 9th Meeting of the Assembly in January next year.

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9th International Black Sea Symposium: Blue Growth as a driver for regional development




The International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) organized successfully the 9th International Black Sea Symposium on Blue Growth as a driver for regional development, in Athens, on 20-21 March 2018.

In its ninth year, the International Black Sea Symposium (IBSS) built on the success and positive impact of its previous eight editions to bring together the next generation of stakeholders with an interest in the Black Sea area, focusing on blue growth, a long term strategy for sustainable development in the marine and maritime sectors.

Opening the Symposium, ICBSS Director General Mr. Georgios Mitrakos, highlighted the importance of coordinated action among all involved stakeholders that will allow for a result-oriented strategy and inclusive blue growth. To this end, as he noted, the aim of the 9th IBSS was to enable constructive dialogue and generate future synergies.

Keynote speech was delivered by the Secretary General of the BSEC Organisation, H.E. Ambassador Michael B. Christides. Opening his speech, Amb. Christides underlined “Growth was, is and will remain the objective of humans”. He continued stressing that, our adaptation to the continuously growing technological impact and innovation demands for joint cooperation and coordination. As he noted,“the BSEC Organisation has invested a lot of efforts in new realities” and will continue to support initiatives that aim to motivate the youth and “bring forward a new generation of stakeholders”.

The Symposium was developed in four targeted sessions, focusing on i) interregional cooperation and governance, ii) entrepreneurship and competitiveness, iii) investment in people, skills and services, and iv) knowledge and mitigation measures.

Within two days of interactive discussions, seventy participants, speakers and observers had the opportunity to network, to exchange knowledge and to form ideas for new joint projects related to sustainable blue growth in the wider Black Sea region.

Among the distinguished participants of the 9th IBSS were the Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of Piraeus, Mr. Petros Kokkalis, the Deputy Secretary General of PABSEC, Mr. Miltiadis Makrygiannis, the Honorary Consul of Italy in Piraeus, Capt. Mauro Renaldi, the first Secretary of the Embassy of Italy, Mr. Enrico Barbato, Senior Officials from the Embassies of the BSEC Member States in Athens and the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of the Romanian Diplomatic Academy and Chairman of the ICBSS Board, Mr. Dan Petre, Mr. Leornardo Manzari, Director of the European Institute of EurAsian Dialogue in Italy, as well as policy-makers, academics, journalists, entrepreneurs, civil society representatives and researchers primarily from the countries of the wider Black Sea area and the EU member states.

The results of the 9th IBSS will be published in a collective edition of the ICBSS Xenophon Paper Series, which will include the contributions of speakers and participants to the event.

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Poland must make urgent legislative reforms to combat foreign bribery

MD Staff



Poland must make urgent progress on carrying out key recommendations of the OECD Working Group on Bribery that remain unimplemented, more than four years after its Phase 3 evaluation in June 2013.

Poland still needs to take urgent steps to ensure companies can be held responsible for foreign bribery, even if the persons who perpetrated the offence are not convicted. In addition, Poland must increase the fines for companies in order to ensure foreign bribery is punishable by effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions.

The Working Group is disappointed by Poland’s failure to take measures to ensure that the “impunity” provision in the Penal Code that applies to foreign and domestic bribery cannot be applied to the bribery of foreign public officials. This provision allows perpetrators of bribery to automatically escape punishment by notifying the law enforcement authorities of the offence before the authorities learn about it from other sources.

In the context of ongoing reforms, Poland should also ensure that appropriate measures are in place to protect from retaliatory or disciplinary action private and public sector employees who report suspected acts of foreign bribery in good faith and on reasonable grounds.

The Working Group reviewed a report submitted by Poland on its progress in implementing these outstanding recommendations at its plenary meeting on 13-15 March 2018. The Working Group requested that Poland provide a written report on further progress in addressing these concerns in December 2018, at which time the Group will consider additional measures in the absence of significant progress.

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