Connect with us

News

Ukraine: Economic Growth Depends on Reforms and Financing

Published

on

Ukraine’s economy grew by 3.5 percent in the first half of 2018, supported by an early agriculture harvest and strong consumption growth from higher wages, pensions, and remittances, according to the World Bank’s latest Ukraine Economic Update. However, investor confidence is being held back by delays in key reforms, Ukraine’s large financing needs, and uncertainty surrounding the 2019 elections.

“The growth outlook depends on the pace of reforms and on reaching an agreement on the IMF program,” said Satu Kahkonen, World Bank Country Director for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. “This is particularly true because global financing conditions have tightened significantly for emerging markets in recent months.”

An agreement with the IMF, swift implementation of recently approved reforms, and progress on the unfinished reform agenda would send a positive signal to investors. If this happens, economic growth is projected to be 3.3 percent in 2018 and 3.5 percent in 2019, before rising to 4 percent in 2020 once election related uncertainties subside.

By contrast, if reforms do not progress and IMF reviews are not completed, overall growth could fall below 2 percent in 2019 as investor confidence deteriorates, macroeconomic vulnerabilities intensify, and financing difficulties force a compression in domestic demand.

Ukraine also needs financing for large public debt repayments in 2019 and 2020. In this context, approving and implementing a credible and affordable 2019 budget that meets the fiscal deficit target of 2.5 percent of GDP is critical. This will require affordable implementation of recent reforms in pensions, health, education, public administration, and housing utility subsidies.

It will also be important to avoid measures that reduce revenues, such as the proposed replacement of the corporate income tax with a capital exit tax which would result in the loss of an important revenue source in a challenging fiscal environment.

Higher oil prices fueled import growth by 15.3 percent from January to August 2018, while exports have suffered from both logistical difficulties in the Azov sea since July and from softening export commodity prices. With the current account projected to widen to 2.9 percent of GDP in 2018, it will be important to secure continued financing from development partners, attract foreign direct investment (FDI), and boost non-traditional exports.

Tapping Ukraine’s trade potential …

According to the World Bank’s Special Focus Note on international trade, Ukraine has tremendous potential to boost exports of higher-value added products, but this potential has not yet been realized.

Ukraine’s exports remain concentrated in metals and cereals, while the share of exports integrated with Global Value Chains (GVC) remains low at 5.7 percent in Ukraine, compared to 27 percent for Poland, 38 percent for Romania, 38 percent for Turkey, and 59 percent for Vietnam.

Boosting higher-value added and GVC exports is a major opportunity for Ukraine to leverage its special access to the EU market. Ukraine has demonstrated potential on this front through the exports of automotive ignition wiring sets which grew from $21 million in 2000 to $1.217 billion in 2017, one of the fastest growing export product categories in recent years.

Reforms to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are an important driver of exports and integration into GVCs. Specifically, this will require reforms to strengthen anticorruption measures and the rule of law, make progress on privatization, safeguard macroeconomic stability, and clean up the high share of non-performing loans.

Ukraine also needs to create an efficient and competitive logistics system to boost exports and accelerate its integration into the global economy. Specifically, this will require improving regulatory clarity and the management of public assets, increasing utilization of river transport, reforming the railway system, and addressing inefficiencies in the storage system.

Continue Reading
Comments

Energy News

Innovation and market reform needed to drive Japan’s clean energy transition

Published

on

Japan will need to move quickly to make headway on the steep emissions reductions that are required to achieve its recently announced ambition of reaching carbon-neutrality by 2050, the International Energy Agency said today in its latest in-depth review of the country’s energy policies.

Nearly a decade after the 2011 earthquake and the resulting Fukushima nuclear accident, Japan has made real progress towards developing a more efficient, resilient and sustainable energy system. It has embarked on major reforms of its energy market and diversified its energy mix. Energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen continuously since their peak in 2013, thanks to the expansion of renewable energy, the restart of some nuclear power plants and energy efficiency gains. By 2018, Japan’s emissions had declined to a level last seen in 2009. Reliance on fossil fuels has also declined but remains high at nearly 90% of energy supply, making Japan among the most carbon-intensive economies of IEA members. 

“Japan needs to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon technologies, remove regulatory barriers and increase competition in its energy markets if it is to reach carbon-neutrality by 2050. I welcome Japan’s new Green Growth Strategy that puts emphasis on these priorities. The IEA is committed to supporting the government in these vital efforts,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, who launched the report today at an online event with Shin Hosaka, Commissioner of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy at Japan’s Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry.

The new IEA report on Japan’s policies analyses its energy challenges and recommends possible solutions to help it achieve a secure, affordable and sustainable energy future. It finds that Japan has made important strides in reforming its domestic electricity and natural gas markets. The increasing competition in these sectors is encouraging, but further reform is needed to achieve a true level playing field for all market participants. Additional regulatory reforms will be important to encourage investments in zero-emissions electricity and to improve power system flexibility. The IEA also calls for policy makers to ensure that the market regulator has sufficient powers and independence.

The report highlights that Japan has seen continuous growth in renewables in the power sector, but that grid constraints have hampered investment in new projects and posed challenges to security of supply. Creating a well-integrated national grid and taking steps to improve the operational efficiency of the electricity system will facilitate the integration of more renewables while enhancing system resilience. The recent cold snap in January led to very low reserve margins in Japan’s electricity systems. This event provided a reminder of the importance of regional interconnections and the need to have sufficient generation capacity.    

The IEA welcomes the government’s recent announcement to phase out inefficient coal plants by 2030. This will further improve the already high efficiency of Japan’s thermal power fleet. Yet even efficient coal plants emit more CO2 than any other power generation source, and Japan ranks among the few IEA members that plan to add new coal capacity. Japan should tackle emissions from those new coal power plants by retrofitting, repurposing them as flexibility sources or able to use other fuels, or through other measures to help them avoid becoming stranded assets.

The IEA report highlights that Japan’s strong innovation and technology base can play a vital role in developing the technologies needed to achieve its 2050 energy and climate ambitions. “I applaud Japan for its leadership in advancing low-carbon hydrogen and carbon-recycling technologies, which will be crucial for decarbonising sectors where emissions are hardest to reduce, such as long-distance transport and heavy industry,” Dr Birol said.

Reducing the costs of these technologies will be essential to promote their deployment at scale. Stronger reliance on market-based instruments is an additional option for Japan to reduce emissions cost-effectively, foster innovation for low-carbon technologies and further increase Japan’s already high level of energy efficiency.

Continue Reading

Finance

Innovative finance mechanism to support Uruguay’s energy transition

Published

on

A joint UN proposal in Uruguay, with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) acting as lead agency, seconded by UNDP and UN Women, has been approved by the United Nations Joint Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Fund. This was announced today as part of a Joint SDG Fund US$41m portfolio to catalyze strategic financing to accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals.

Uruguay is one of four countries, and the only one in Latin America, to be selected for funding. The UNIDO-led proposal for Uruguay, along with ones from Fiji, Indonesia and Malawi, was selected from 155 proposals from over 100 country applicants across the globe.

The programme will establish a Renewable Energy Innovation Fund (REIF) to support Uruguay´s second energy transition, with the objectives of decarbonizing the economy and boosting competitiveness. The REIF will combat climate change by helping transition Uruguay’s transportation and industry sectors to green energy and by providing affordable access to innovative clean technologies.

The Joint SDG Fund will provide a grant of US$10m, leveraging around US$70m of co-financing from regional development banks and private commercial banks. The REIF will support cleantech financing in energy storage, smart grid, green hydrogen, electro-mobility and waste management/treatment technologies. 

Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO Representative and the UN team leader designing the Uruguay proposal, stated, “This programme sets a precedent on how UNIDO should approach development cooperation in middle-income countries. Besides UNIDO´s well-known technical expertise, understanding and deploying innovative financing mechanisms to leverage co-funding from development finance institutions and even commercial banks will be key to UNIDO´s work. Indeed, the UN reform and the multilateral funds such as GEF and GCF emphasize the need to shift to impact investments that tap into private sector financing.”

Mireia Villar Forner, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uruguay, said, “Thanks to the support of the Joint SDG Fund, the UN team is better equipped to support the alignment of private investments to the SDGs through the establishment of a national ecosystem for impact investment. Without a doubt, it changes the way we work.”

Omar Paganini, Uruguay’s Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, said, “On behalf of the Ministry, we are very enthusiastic about the support received from the SDG Fund, which will be a great contribution to promote Uruguay´s second energy transition. The REIF is an innovative instrument that powers and deepens the impact of our public policies. We believe it will boost Uruguay´s efforts to achieve the SDGs.”

The Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund is an innovative instrument to incentivize transformative policy shifts and stimulate the strategic investments required to get the world back on track to meet the SDGs. The UN Secretary-General sees the Joint SDG Fund as a key part of the reform of the UN’s development work by providing the “muscle” for a new generation of Resident Coordinators (RCs) and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) to really accelerate SDG implementation.

Continue Reading

Development

Japan Launches Circular Economy Collaboration with WEF

Published

on

Achieving a circular economy will require transforming policy and business. It will also require a new approach to collaboration.

To that end, theMinistry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) and Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) announced the launch of the Partnership on Circular Economy at this week’s Japan Circular Economy Roundtable hosted by the World Economic Forum.

This new partnership will bring leaders in business and government together to accelerate the circular economy in Japan. In this public-private partnership, best practices in Japan will be aggregated and disseminated to broader stakeholders within the supply chain, including consumers domestically and internationally. The partnership is expected to evolve through collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economy Initiative.

The partnership will prompt dialogue between the public and private sector to identify focus areas, barriers and next actions towards the circular transition. The Forum will help shape the strategy and approach going forward.

Japan’s transformation will set a key example for other business and policy leaders. The country is one of the largest generators of plastic packaging waste per capita around the globe, according to the U.N. Environment program.

The Japanese government’s newly announced partnership builds on other recent initiatives to address plastics waste, such as a plastic bags charge. This year, the government also released guidance for companies to help accelerate sustainable finance and a Roadmap for Bioplastics Introduction (to promote substitution of fossil-based plastics with sustainable materials), and has drafted a new bill aimed at advancing plastic resource circulation.

“Japan is now accelerating ‘Three Transitions’ towards: a decarbonized society, a circular economy, and a decentralized society to redesign the socioeconomic system,” said Shinjiro Koizumi, Minister of the Environment, Japan.

The Roundtable – presented in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Japan – was organized by the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economy Initiative. The event, held 2-3 March, featured two days of high-level discussions exploring trends, policies and leading practices to scale circular economy ambitions.

The Roundtable was kicked off by a public livestreamed session that included the following speakers: Shinjirō Koizumi, Minister of the Environment, Japan; Stientje van Veldhoven, Minister of Environment Netherlands; Børge Brende, President and CEO, World Economic Forum; Naoko Ishii, The University of Tokyo; Masayuki Waga, CEO Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation; Tsutomu Sugimori, Vice Chair Keidanren (Japan Business Federation).

Creating a circular economy for electronics was a key area of focus at the Roundtable. That sector kept economies running during the pandemic, but as World Economic Forum research has shown, it’s also the fastest-growing waste stream. Around 54 million metric tonnes of electric waste are generated globally, with countries such as Japan, the US and China among the top five contributors.

To create new ways to manage production and consumption, the event also showcased how countries in the ASEAN region and beyond are leveraging Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Forum initiative Scale360°, a scalable partnership model helping diverse collaborators drive circular innovation, was one of many solutions discussed.

Speakers also shared how new actions – aided by policy – were speeding the circular transition. “Government leaders are showing how new policies, collaborations and commitments can make a dramatic impact,” said Antonia Gawel, Head of Circular Economy & Innovation at the World Economic Forum. “Circularity is critical to achieving net-zero decarbonization and protecting the climate for future generations. Time is of the essence.”

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

New Social Compact1 hour ago

Mental health alert for 332 million children linked to COVID-19 lockdown policies

The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says the mental health of millions of children worldwide has been put at risk, with at least...

Africa3 hours ago

South Sudan’s transition from conflict to recovery ‘inching forward’

South Sudan’s transformation from conflict to recovery is underway, but much needs to be done before securing “a peaceful and...

Americas5 hours ago

Washington Ill-Prepared to Set Human Rights Agenda

It is evident that US Democratic President Joe Biden and his team will pay more attention to the human rights...

Green Planet7 hours ago

The global plastic problem

Global plastic pollution is becoming increasingly severe. According to a report by the German weekly magazine ‘Focus‘, plastic particles have...

Energy News9 hours ago

Innovation and market reform needed to drive Japan’s clean energy transition

Japan will need to move quickly to make headway on the steep emissions reductions that are required to achieve its...

Finance11 hours ago

Innovative finance mechanism to support Uruguay’s energy transition

A joint UN proposal in Uruguay, with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) acting as lead agency, seconded by...

Americas13 hours ago

Witnessing Social Racism And Domestic Terrorism In Democratic America

With just less than two weeks away from President-elect taking the office, the United States of America witnessed the worst...

Trending