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Trade Lifting Developing Asia’s Growth as ADB Upgrades GDP Forecast

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts that economic expansion in developing Asia will accelerate to 6% in 2017 as stronger than expected exports and domestic consumption fuel growth. Excluding Asia’s newly industrialized economies, growth is now expected at 6.5% this year, according to a new ADB report.

In a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook Update 2017 report, ADB upgrades its 2017 growth domestic product (GDP) outlook in the region by 0.1 percentage points compared to its September 2017 forecast, while its 2018 forecast remains unchanged at 5.8%. An unexpectedly strong expansion in Central, East, and Southeast Asia has offset a downward adjustment in South Asia. 

“Developing Asia’s growth momentum, supported by recovering exports, demonstrates that openness to trade remains an essential component of inclusive economic development,” said Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB’s Chief Economist. “Countries can further take advantage of the global recovery by investing in human capital and physical infrastructure that will help sustain growth over the long-term.”

Combined growth for the major industrial economies is revised upward to 2.2% for 2017 and 2% for 2018, due to robust domestic demand in the euro area, and in Japan due to private investment and net exports. Growth projections for the United States remain unchanged at 2.2% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2018.

By subregion, growth for East Asia is revised upward to 6.2% in 2017, from 6%, while 2018 projections of 5.8% are unchanged. Growth prospects in the People’s Republic of China (PRC)—the world’s second largest economy—are revised up on resilient consumption. Growth in the PRC is now expected to expand by 6.8% in 2017 and 6.4% in 2018.

South Asia will remain the fastest growing of all subregions in Asia and the Pacific, despite a downward revision from previous projections from 6.7% to 6.5% in 2017, and is expected to pick up to 7% in 2018. GDP growth in India—the subregion’s largest economy—is revised down to 6.7% in 2017 and 7.3% in 2018. Although the strong manufacturing expansion helped the economy reverse 5 consecutive quarters of deceleration in the second quarter of fiscal year 2017, the recovery is more subdued than assumed earlier due to rising crude oil prices, soft private investment growth, and weather-related risks to agriculture.

Growth for Southeast Asia is picking up faster than earlier forecast with GDP set to expand by 5.2% in 2017 and 2018, compared to September 2017 forecasts of 5% and 5.1%. The subregion is benefiting from stronger investments and exports, with accelerating growth for Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Infrastructure investment continued to play an important role in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Robust domestic demand—particularly private consumption and investment—will continue to support growth in the subregion, according to the report.

The outlook for Central Asia this year has further improved as stronger domestic demand and exports in some countries have fueled recovery in the subregion. Growth is expected to reach 3.6% in 2017 compared to the 3.3% originally projected. The 2018 forecasts for Central Asia are unchanged at 3.9%.

Growth in the Pacific is expected to remain at 2.9% in 2017 and 3.2% in 2018 with Papua New Guinea—the subregion’s largest economy—continuing its gradual recovery due to rebounding mining and agriculture industries. Post-disaster reconstruction and tourism are expected to drive growth further in the subregion, particularly in Fiji and Vanuatu.

Meanwhile, rising commodity prices have not yet driven inflation across the region, with consumer price inflation tame and stable. Price inflation is unchanged from previous projections of 2.4% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018.

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IRENA’s World Energy Transition Day Kick-Starts Crucial Assembly Meeting

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The International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Eleventh Assembly started today (Monday) and takes place virtually setting the course for a critical year of global commitments to low-carbon development. With the postponed COP26 set to take place later this year, 2021 is seen as an important moment for countries to raise climate mitigation ambition including renewable energy deployment, to align economic recovery efforts with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic defined 2020,” said Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General. “However, as countries look to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and build back in a way that is more resilient, just and sustainable, we can define this year as the moment we placed the energy transition at the heart of global policy and investment decision making.”

The opening day of the Assembly, marked as World Energy Transition Day, sets the direction for four days of high-level discussions on net-zero policies, national energy planning, renewable energy investment and the energy-healthcare nexus, from January 18-21. Close to 2000 high level attendees including Heads of State, Ministers, energy decision makers, multilateral organisations, international stakeholders, and private sector actors will engage in Assembly meetings under the overarching theme of ‘COVID19 – Energy Transition’.

United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, told Ministers and global leaders at the Assembly: “The trillions of dollars needed for recovery from the pandemic must be simultaneously used to move our economies towards net-zero emissions. We must build a global coalition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Renewable technologies are the first choice for decarbonization strategies.”

Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Spain and Minister of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, is the President of the Assembly.

“We are all well aware of the pressing need to change gears towards a sustainable energy future: with over 70% of GHG emissions coming from this sector, the energy transition plays a key role in managing the global climate emergency,” said H.E. Teresa Ribera. “Developing countries, economies in transition and highly industrialised countries all have huge opportunities in the decarbonisation of their development pathways: energy access and security, sound economic growth, industry modernisation, job creation.

“To us all, IRENA has become a lighthouse in the energy revolution we need,” she added. “Promoting innovation and widespread adoption of renewables and energy efficiency technologies and encouraging Governments to accelerate the transition. Spain is proud to align with IRENA’s endeavours and I will be honoured to take the lead of its 11th Assembly in 2021.”

Assembly sessions on the 18th, 19th and 20th include a high-level panel on energy transformation for a sustainable post-COVID recovery, followed by four ministerial discussions covering the topics of national energy planning and implementation, scaling up of renewable energy financing, the pathway to carbon neutrality and the role of the energy transition in energising healthcare.

Additionally, conclusions from preliminary stakeholder meetings that took place on the 13th and 14th of January, including IRENA’s Legislators Forum, Public-Private Dialogue and the IRENA Youth Forum, will be reported back to the Assembly. The Assembly, which takes place at the start of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), is being live-streamed on the IRENA website.

“IRENA’s global mandate offers us a unique opportunity to convene global leaders, promote knowledge sharing and create the partnerships needed to advance low-carbon development and realise the immediate and long-term benefits of the transition,” continued La Camera. “The Assembly is at the heart of these efforts.”

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World Leaders to Meet During Davos Agenda in a Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust

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The World Economic Forum Davos Agenda, taking place virtually on 25-29 January, will bring together the foremost leaders of the world to address the new global situation. Heads of state and government, chief executives and leaders from civil society will convene under the theme: A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust.

The meeting will focus on creating impact, rebuilding trust and shaping the policies and partnerships needed in 2021.

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to reset priorities and the urgency to reform systems have been growing stronger around the world,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Rebuilding trust and increasing global cooperation are crucial to fostering innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery. This unique meeting will be an opportunity for leaders to outline their vision and address the most important issues of our time, such as the need to accelerate job creation and to protect the environment.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that no institution or individual alone can address the economic, environmental, social and technological challenges of our complex, interdependent world. The pandemic has accelerated systemic changes that were apparent before its inception. The fault lines that emerged in 2020 now appear as critical crossroads in 2021. The Davos Agenda will help leaders choose innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next year.

The five programme themes are:

1. Designing cohesive, sustainable, resilient economic systems (25 January)

2. Driving responsible industry transformation and growth (26 January)

3. Enhancing stewardship of the global commons (27 January)

4. Harnessing the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (28 January)

5. Advancing global and regional cooperation (29 January)

Special addresses from G20 heads of state and government and international organizations will provide crucial insights into a range of important issues in the year ahead. Participants will hear first-hand how these public figures will demonstrate leadership and drive action in areas such as the environment, jobs, and advances in innovation brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Heads of state and government include:

Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China; Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India; Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany; Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy; Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea; Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina; Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa; Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain; Guy Parmelin, President of the Swiss Confederation and Federal Councillor for Economic Affairs, Education and Research; Ivan Duque,President of Colombia; Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,President of the Republic of Ghana; Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece; Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, the host of the World Economic Forum Special Annual Meeting 2021.

Other world leaders are expected to confirm.

Leaders from international organizations, government agencies and central banks include:

António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations (UN); Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO); Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF); Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations (UN); Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Undersecretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN); Dongyu Qu,Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Inger Andersen, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); David Beasley, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP); Fang Liu, Secretary-General, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, USA; Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Mauricio Claver-Carone, President, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO); Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL); Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA); Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation).

Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank; François Villeroy de Galhau, Governor of the Central Bank of France; Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England.

The private sector will be represented by more than 1,000 leaders from the Forum’s member and partner organizations. Seven of the top ten companies by market capitalization are engaged year-round with the Forum and many will participate in The Davos Agenda week. As a working meeting to advance ongoing project work, more than 500 chief executives and chairpersons will take part in sessions throughout the week.

Leaders from civil society are a critical voice in shaping the agenda. Those taking part in the meeting include:

Seth Berkley, Chief Executive Officer, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director, Oxfam International; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT); Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International; Laura Liswood, Secretary-General, Council of Women World Leaders; Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair, Transparency International; Peter Sands, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GF).

Drawn from over 10,000 civic-minded young leaders, members of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers, Young Global Leaders, Technology Pioneers and Social Entrepreneurs communities will bring unique perspectives to The Davos Agenda.

Flagship reports, initiatives, and the latest book on Stakeholder Capitalism

On January 25, Professor Schwab will release his latest book, titled “Stakeholder Capitalism: A Global Economy that Works for Progress, People and Planet.” It explores how societies can build the future post-COVID, and builds on the Forum’s 50-year-old advocacy of the stakeholder approach.

The World Economic Forum will release its Global Risks Report 2021 on 19 January. The flagship report is an important marker for prioritizing action in public and private sectors in the year ahead.

The Davos Agenda will also mark the launch of several World Economic Forum initiatives to accelerate the race to net-zero emissions, to champion new standards for racial justice, to ensure artificial intelligence is developed ethically and in the global public interest and to close the digital divide. More details on these initiatives and others will be disclosed at the meeting.

Opening Event and Crystal Awards

The meeting will be preceded by the Opening Event, available on YouTube on Sunday 24 January at 19.00 CET, featuring a welcome from Klaus Schwab and a special address by Guy Parmelin, President of the Swiss Confederation, just before the 27th Crystal Awards hosted by Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-founder, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, and the photographer Platon.

The awards will be followed by the world premiere of “See Me: A Global Concert.” The official programme of The Davos Agenda will begin on 25 January.

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Does Buying a Chinese Smartphone Pose a Privacy Risk?

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Chinese smartphones have garnered a pretty bad privacy reputation in the last few years, which stems from several issues, such as lack of consumers’ trust and the fact that global political events have not really been in China’s favor. Somewhere around the mid-2010s though, China’s global image changed a lot for the better, especially with their appearance in the smartphone industry and when it comes to advances in 4G and 5G technology.

The smartphone industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global technology industry. Particularly in the last decade, which gave us the smartphone revolution, global device sales have skyrocketed from just 100 million in 2007, to over 1.5 billion today. Smartphones are also the most popular way through which people access the internet, which makes this sector critical for tech companies.

14 years ago now, we experienced the launch of the first Apple iPhone in 2007, which would undoubtedly mark the beginning of a new Information Age. As the years went by, we have seen big players such as Samsung entering the market, as well as most recently Chinese companies like Huawei and Xiaomi eating up global market share with their very affordable smartphones. It isn’t just Huawei and Xiaomi, though, let’s not forget Oppo and Vivo too, who have held small but stable market share, even gaining popularity in the United States.

Apple never really took off in China like it did in the rest of the world, as the nation favoured national production and local brand loyalty, but Apple has always been in demand there. Outside of China though, Apple had absolutely dominated the smartphone market for a long time with the entire world anxiously awaiting their next press conference, and what their new iPhone would be like. The market dominance then switched hands between Apple and Samsung for a few years, with Samsung being dominant most of the time.

Now, however, the global smartphone market has changed. With so much competition on the horizon (Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei), as well as Apple charging very lofty prices for their latest offerings (and having lost some of their charm along the way with radical design changes), Chinese players have adapted and grasped a firm hold on the market for the foreseeable future. Offering familiar minimalist design approaches that Apple is known for, as well as having totally revamped their marketing, Chinese smartphone brands are now a true contender to the established giants. Ultimately, the most important target market for Chinese smartphones is the US and EU markets.

There is a big problem there though, it looks like there are serious privacy issues that plague Chinese smartphones and their reputation. Let’s look into this below.

What Is The Problem With Chinese Smartphone Brands?

With news of Huawei being banned (Xiaomi is also blacklisted) from Western countries, their reputation is not in a good place. Today, there are many Chinese smartphone brands available, with Huawei and Xiaomi being the most recognizable internationally -the ones that have sold the most outside of China. Some of the other ‘budget’ brands are Honor and Realme, for example, which may not be known to most people. There are many more Chinese smartphone brands, but way too many to list.

With so much political tension between the US and China, what does this mean if you are planning to buy/already own a Chinese smartphone? Unfortunately, it is a fact that Chinese smartphones have experienced many privacy and security related issues with their devices, which fall into the categories;

  • Pre-installed spyware
  • Malware vulnerabilities
  • Data theft
  • Hardware ‘Backdoors
  • Weak encryption

Beyond pre-installed malicious software in Chinese smartphones, there are additional risks from installing very popular Chinese-made social media apps, such as;

  • TikTok
  • WeChat

Takeaways For Your General Smartphone Security

Having covered why there is so much negative buzz around Chinese smartphones and their privacy risks, let’s remember that a lot of it comes from the political tension between China and the US. There have been countless allegations of spying, hacking and data risks. Beyond this, there is a more important fact for the regular user. It is that Chinese phones are Android-based, which has a much larger user base and is as such more susceptible to attacks.

Let’s emphasize one thing; yes, that doesn’t mean that these devices are safe, but what is safe nowadays? Should this deter you, a regular citizen, from buying a Chinese smartphone? It is difficult to say what is considered ‘safe’ nowadays, and depends a lot on who you are and whether your data is so sensitive that governments will try to access your phone (for most people, this is not an issue).

However, for the privacy conscious individuals out there, there are some things you must implement for your safety and peace of mind, no matter what kind of device you use, or which country it comes from;

  • Always use a trustworthy Virtual Private Network, or VPN
  • Consider that iOS may be safer than Android overall
  • Make sure that you have a strong password on your phone
  • Ensure that you have multi-factor authentication at every juncture
  • Do not share sensitive information online if possible
  • Always keep your smartphone software up-to-date
  • Never download unverified software, or access third-party app stores

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