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Rethinking China’s foreign policy and Economy-2019

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On June 14-20, 2019, “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research in cooperation with the Armenian State University of Economics organized the third edition of the annual special course “Rethinking China’s foreign policy and Economy-2019”.

During the official opening ceremony of the annual special course, Vice-President of the National Assembly  and the head of the China-Armenia friendship group at National Assembly of the RA  Mrs. Lena Nazaryan, His Excellency Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Mr. Tian Erlong, the head of the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research Dr.Mher Sahakyan, President of the Armenia State University of Economics Doctor, professor Ruben Hayrapetyan delivered key-note speeches.

Foreign outstanding specialists, such as Doctor, Professor Matthew Crosston (Senior Doctoral Faculty, American Military University), Doctor, Professor Vakhtang Charaia (Head of Tbilisi State University Center for Analysis and Forecasting), Mr. Ivan Zuenko (Research Fellow, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Expert Carnegie Moscow Center) Dr. Ma Bin (assistant research fellow at the Center for Russia and Central Asia Studies and the Research Center for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, both at Fudan University), Dai Yulong (PhD Candidate, Nanjing University, China), Mr. Jasper Vekeman, (journalist for Trends, a magazine on finance and economics in Belgium) delivered lectures during the Special Course.

From the Armenian side, Dr. Mher Sahakyan (Head of the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research), Dr. Anahit Parzyan (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research), Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Head of the ARDI Research Center and visiting lecturer at the Faculty of  Oriental Studies, Yerevan State University) and Mr. Vazgen Petrosyan (China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) presented their researches.

The speakers presented to attendees the main aims of the Belt, and Road and Prospects for Sino-Armenian cooperation in this Initiative, China-EU cooperation and contradictions in the context of BRI, purposes, progress and risks of BRI, Armenian North-South road corridor’s main aims, security issues and involvement of the Chinese company in construction process, China’s Cyber policy issues,  recent developments of Sino-Armenian, Sino-Russian, Sino-American, Sino-Georgian, Sino-Turkish relations, etc.

32 individuals, from different Armenian universities and Research Centers were invited to attend in trainings and classes. Only 27 of them could get graduation certificates.

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Development

Cities in Southern Uzbekistan to Improve Urban Infrastructure and Municipal Services

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Residents of cities located in two southern regions of Uzbekistan will benefit from improved urban infrastructure and municipal services, thanks to Additional Financing for the Medium-Size Cities Integrated Urban Development Project (MSCIUDP), approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The project will be supported by a $100 million concessional credit. The International Development Association, the part of the World Bank Group, will provide it to the Government of Uzbekistan at a very low-interest rate and with a repayment period of 30 years.

This additional financing will expand the geographic scope of the ongoing project funded by the World Bank that has been implemented in Tashkent (Yangiyul and Pskent), Bukhara (Kagan) and Namangan (Chartak) regions since 2019.   

The new project activities will cover selected mid-sized cities in Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions of Uzbekistan. The final list of all project cities in this part of the country will be validated over the next 6 months, in consultation with the regional and municipal governments (hokimiyats), based on local needs and economic potential.

Medium-size cities participating in the project in Surkhandarya and Kashkadarya regions will benefit from an integrated and specifically designed program of investments that will include the following: improved and expanded water supply and sanitation networks; upgraded electricity infrastructure and street lights, as well as vehicular, pedestrian and multimodal accesses to public transportation; upgraded energy-efficient public buildings; reconstructed public spaces and parks, street networks and associated infrastructure; and restored objects of cultural heritage.

The majority of the cities covered by the project have untapped growth potential. Many are located along strategic transport corridors; some have prominent tourist attractions; and most are well-positioned to create a range of quality service jobs for the surrounding rural areas.

All investments under the project will follow the most contemporary green design principles and aim to achieve universal accessibility. About 4 million people, equivalent to about 70 percent of the combined population of both regions, are expected to, directly and indirectly, benefit from the improved urban infrastructures, municipal services, and job opportunities created thanks to the project. 

“Many countries have effectively used urbanization as a development engine, like in the case of China, South Korea and Thailand. To achieve this, Uzbekistan needs to catch up with the backlog of urban infrastructure and services and upgrade public spaces to make cities more attractive and productive,” said Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan. “Medium-size cities are growing fast here and have the potential for generating entry-level service jobs for youth. The combination of investments in infrastructure and capacity building of regional and municipal ‘hokimiyats’ to effectively manage and maintain urban assets will transform cities into comfortable places to live, work and do business. We are glad to support the Government in achieving this important goal.”

To complement the investments, the project will also offer additional support to regional and municipal hokimiyats through providing equipment and training to improve management and maintenance of urban infrastructure and assets, as well as modern environmental practices and green approaches to urban management.

Additionally, the project will help the Government to continue implementing reforms critical for sustainable urban development, including administrative and budgetary reform that should transfer more powers and resources to hokimiyats, and urban planning reform that should help ensure cities grow in an orderly and sustainable manner. 

The Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan will continue implementing project activities in all five regions in close coordination with hokimiyats of the participating medium-size cities and regions, as well as key line ministries and state agencies. 

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Global value chains in the aftermath of the pandemic: What role for the G20?

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Can embedding inclusive and sustainable transformation at the core of multilateral efforts help ensure that countries benefit from integration in global value chains (GVCs)? This was the question addressed by a stellar line-up of speakers brought together for a webinar organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), together with the International Affairs Institute (IAI) and in cooperation with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the German Institute for Global Area Studies.

In the framework of the T20 Spring Roundtables, the virtual event brought together more than 200 participants worldwide. The discussion focused on inclusiveness and sustainability in global value chains in the aftermath of the coronavirus disruptions, and served as a platform to develop ideas and recommendations for the G20.

UNIDO’s Director General, LI Yong, said that to build back better, “we can stimulate inclusiveness by focusing our policy efforts on building state-of-the-art capabilities in small and medium-sized enterprises (…) and sustainability through smart regulation, including a new generation of trade and investment agreements.” Moreover, he stressed the need “to increase our joint efforts towards strengthening multilateral approaches to policymaking.

Pier Carlo Padoan, the Vice President of the IAI and T20 Italy Lead Co-Chair of Task Force 3: Trade, Investment and Growth, echoed the sentiment and brought the focus onto how we can strengthen the backbone of global value chains, and reaffirmed that “the G20 must retain its leadership in building up a new paradigm of sustainable growth,” despite the deep flaws and scars created by the coronavirus crisis in the current system.

“Making global supply chains fair and sustainable is a task in which policymakers and private enterprises have to engage,” said Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary in Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. He said Germany’s Due Diligence Act is looking to address these challenges holistically by ensuring higher social standards in global value chains, leveling the playing field, and enhancing transparency in supply chains.

When looking at the playing field, buyers and suppliers find themselves in uneven positions, depending on the governance landscape. In this context, Beata Javorcik, Chief Economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), underlined that “we need clear messaging about commitments to sustainability, we need to reduce information asymmetries,” as this will enhance the inclusiveness of global value chains, allowing for firms of all sizes to engage with and participate in global trade.

Diving deeper into global trade, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, highlighted the importance of ensuring transparency and predictability for greater participation of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in global value chains. Coke-Hamilton said this can be achieved by mainstreaming and facilitating compliance with international standards, supporting innovation and digital technologies, and promoting sustainability.

Marco Felisati, Business 20 Sherpa and Confindustria’s Deputy Director of Internationalization and Trade Policy, echoed the panel’s view that “there is no trade-off between competitiveness and sustainability.” He highlighted that “on the contrary, complying with high sustainability factors is a competitiveness factor, and being competitive is a prerequisite for GVCs to be sustainable and inclusive.”

Mario Cimoli, Deputy to the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), reaffirmed that “manufacturing continues to be crucial.” He said in Latin America the pandemic has highlighted that manufacturing remains a key issue, as it is the only way “to expand industry, create diversification, and to sustain wages.”

 As many countries are opening up again after a year of restrictions, speakers agreed that the time is now to look beyond the pandemic and focus on ensuring that global value chains become more inclusive and sustainable. The panel agreed that international coordination through multilateral bodies such as the G20 will be vital in moving forward.   

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World Bank Supports Jordan’s Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Recovery

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The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved on June 10, 2021 a US$500 million Program to catalyze public and private investment in Jordan for a green and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is expected to help Jordan accelerate its recovery and create more jobs by capitalizing on the economy’s potential, especially its green growth opportunities, and to strengthen the Government’s accountability mechanisms for delivery. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is also preparing an additional US$250 million in financing to support the Program.

The Inclusive, Transparent and Climate Responsive Investments Program-for-Results (PforR) is part of the US$1.1 billion recently announced by the World Bank Group (WBG) in combined loans and grant financing support from the WBG and international partners to support Jordan in responding to the pandemic and promoting an early, climate-resilient, and inclusive recovery.

Jordan is ready to embark on a climate-responsive recovery and a new growth trajectory. Climate risks due to water scarcity, rising temperatures, and extreme weather present new opportunities for Jordan to become more resource-efficient and more competitive. Investing in greening of infrastructure and services creates jobs and economic value. Jordan’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement on climate change provides a platform to identify opportunities that also benefit the society.

The Program also helps Jordan to include gender-informed assessments in investment design and policy formulation. This is important as less than 15% of Jordanian women in the country were in the labor force in 2019, one of the lowest rates in the world, marking an enormous untapped potential for the economy and society.

Jordan is ready to turn the corner on its investment environment and to develop a greener, more climate responsive and more efficient economy,” said Nasser Shraideh, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan. “This program will help Jordan move in that direction and kickstart the post-pandemic economic recovery.”

Jordan has been one of the most active and pioneering countries in the region in ratifying and adopting international climate change initiatives, including the Paris Agreement,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, Mashreq Regional Director, World Bank Group. “Jordan can now capitalize on these efforts to become an attractive destination for green and climate-related investments.”

The Program supports the implementation of investment reforms that were initiated under the Five-Year Reform Matrix. These reforms (i) strengthen processes and systems to deliver well-targeted public investments, including Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs); and (ii) further improve the environment for private investment, including tourism. In both cases the program supports the greening of investment,” said Christos Kostopoulos, World Bank Lead Economist.

The Program will also promote inclusion and transparency in its implementation. The PforR includes enhanced public consultation processes and supports greater accessibility of data to deliver more citizen-informed and better results. The PforR will institutionalize public consultation in the preparation of large capital projects to ensure that public investment promotes social inclusion and caters to the needs of citizens, including marginalized people and those with disabilities. The public will also be consulted during implementation and ex-post evaluation.

Alongside the PforR, the World Bank will also be launching a Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR), a flagship analytic report, to support evidence-based policies and reforms to green the economy, create jobs, and attract private sector capital. Jordan will be one of the first countries globally to pilot the CCDR.

The Program-for-Results is a World Bank Group financing instrument that supports programs already included in the government budget. Importantly, it links the disbursement of funds directly to the achievement of specific agreed program results over the five-year program period. The targeted results are publicly disclosed upon project approval, and achievement of results during the course of program implementation is verified by the Jordan Audit Bureau and validated by the World Bank.

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