Kazakhstan’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is projected at 4.0% for 2019, before easing to 3.7% in 2020, according to the World Bank’s latest Kazakhstan Economic Update.
A solid performance in domestic demand supported annual GDP growth in 2019. Higher spending on social assistance and continued infrastructure investments helped sustain consumption and investments. Business investment has largely been driven by capital spending in the mining industry and buoyancy in residential construction.
Robust domestic demand, rising food prices, and a weaker exchange rate contributed to inflation fluctuations. The annual inflation rate rose to 5.5 percent in October 2019, slightly above the rate recorded the previous year, resulting in a tightening of monetary policy by the Central bank.
Growth will moderate in 2020, according to the report, as the impact of previous fiscal stimuli diminish gradually over time, and a weaker external environment increases vulnerability to economic shocks. Although global economic growth is expected to improve slightly in 2020, weaker-than-expected growth in the European Union (EU), Chinese, and Russian economies could rattle demand and the prices of commodities relevant to Kazakhstan’s exports. Continued weak demand for corporate lending and risk-aversion by banks present another downside risk to growth.
“Although Kazakhstan’s GDP has grown at a steady pace in the last two years, going forward it will be necessary to rethink subsidy policies and lending to small and medium enterprises and industries to improve markets and sustain growth”, says Jean-Francois Marteau, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan.
The special section of the Economic Update examines export diversification in Kazakhstan. The country is close to the growing markets of China, Europe, and Central Asia, and therefore trade offers new opportunities for economic growth that could also help diversify the economy.
The report highlights that, although Kazakhstan has made progress in diversifying its export destinations, the quality of products is still relatively low. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data on trade in value-added indicates that Kazakhstan’s exporters used fewer imported inputs compared to a decade earlier, which suggests a declining participation in the global value chain.
“Understanding current developments and challenges in exports is key to informing policy on necessary improvements in export competitiveness,” says Sjamsu Rahardja, Senior Economist, World Bank Country Office in Kazakhstan. “Our report finds that Kazakhstan can deepen reforms in trade facilitation, attract and retain FDI, and increase participation in the global value chain.”
Estonia provides good support to jobseekers, but does not reach everybody
The Estonian labour market has outperformed most EU countries after the global financial crisis. The employment rate of people in working age stood at 73% in the third quarter of 2020, up from 61.3% in 2010 and above the OECD average of 66.7%. Estonia provides comprehensive and targeted support to jobseekers, workers and employers. The Public Employment Service provides effective policies addressing the individual needs of the clients and cooperates pro-actively with a wide range of stakeholders. However, many people still lack stable jobs and incomes and are not in touch with the Public Employment Service to get the support they need, according to a new OECD report.
Connecting people with jobs: Improving the provision of active labour market policies in Estonia says that despite good labour market outcomes, about one quarter (26%) of the working age population could achieve better labour market outcomes through targeted support. Many of them face challenges related to their skills (68%) and family-related challenges (64%), such as care obligations. In many cases, they face several obstacles simultaneously and require an integrated approach.
Estonia’s active labour market policies (ALMPs) are responsive to labour market needs. However, ALMPs reach only 39% of people who are weakly attached to the labour market, and only 33% of people who are out of employment for more than one year.
“Reinforcing outreach to vulnerable groups far from the labour market is crucial to ensure that more people in Estonia get the support they need,” said Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs.
Improved cooperation between the Public Employment Service and other relevant institutions providing social, health and education services would help reduce gaps in support to vulnerable groups. Notably, municipalities should be the “first respondents”, supporting vulnerable groups with social welfare services, and cooperating with other institutions when needed.
Further improvements in the provision of ALMPs could be supported by a leaner regulatory framework. The current legal regulations support flexible and effective policy responses but are complex, which leads to administrative inefficiencies. A leaner regulatory framework would enable Estonia to support flexibility in policy design while maintaining the capacity to respond to labour market changes.
UNIDO works to scale up the ICT start-up ecosystem in Iran
Together with its national counterparts from the Information Technology Organization of Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies and in partnership with the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is taking the next step to implement the project, “Promoting and upscaling innovative SMEs in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
The project aims to nurture the entrepreneurial ecosystem for ICT start-ups and scale-ups through international exposure and fostering technology and know-how exchange. In this context, a comprehensive dialogue between governmental institutions and leaders in the private sector has been launched, thereby providing a mechanism for Iranian startups to connect with institutional actors and successfully start scaling up.
An ICT ecosystem mapping exercise has revealed that Iran already possesses extensive scientific, technological, financial and highly qualified human capital to boost its SME sector. However, it is currently not living up to its potential and there is a need to provide a mechanism for establishing linkages with key stakeholders, including access to finance and relevant advisory support. This way the project builds competitiveness and supports the development of innovative enterprises.
Amir Nazemi, Deputy Minister at Iran’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, said, “Aiming to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment, Iran has made a considerable effort to develop a dynamic national innovation system and is moving steadily towards a knowledge- and innovation-based economy. As a result, our human capital is now comprises highly educated and motivated workforce, including scientists, entrepreneurs and business people. Knowledge-based entrepreneurship is a key tool in Iran for employment generation, providing new opportunities for labour market integration of young professionals and serving as a powerful impetus for knowledge-based development of the country’s economy as a whole.”
Based on the findings regarding the existing constraints and opportunities of the ICT sector, the UNIDO project team has proposed a roadmap that envisages short-, medium- and long-term interventions in both public and private sectors, addressing several problem areas, such as knowledge generation and transfer; access to finance; nurturing of entrepreneurial talent and skills, as well as stimulating interaction and collaboration within the ICT ecosystem.
“The level of engagement from prominent public and private sector representatives related to the ICT sector has demonstrated the importance such initiatives have in making the ecosystem for ICT startups more vibrant and sustainable,” said Maryam Javan Shahraki, UNIDO representative in Iran.
She added, “UNIDO looks forward to further extending our support to the government of Iran in its efforts to promote internationalization of ICT-related entrepreneurs through the virtual entrepreneurship hub that will become a major platform for knowledge exchange and support services for ICT startups, as well as facilitating partnerships with domestic and foreign partners and inter-institutional networking.”
As part of the public-private initiative, in cooperation with its national and international partners, UNIDO conducted a two-day workshop for major ICT sector stakeholders, including government entities, entrepreneurs and other key players, to present key findings of the initial phase of the project and the forthcoming action plan, while also providing an opportunity for a thorough exchange on how to reduce the existing development gaps between science and industry thereby raising Iran’s profile as a knowledge-driven economy.
Should You Be Worried About A Coming Bitcoin Crash?
Do you already have a wallet full of Bitcoin and are worried about them losing value in a crash like what happened three years ago? Or, are you afraid to open a Bitcoin account today as you don’t want to buy before a crash, either?
Both of those fears are valid, but you may have nothing to worry about. There are a few factors that go into crashes that can usually be seen ahead of time. Of course, nobody can make an accurate prediction based on what has happened in the past because sometimes a wildcard comes into play that nobody could have seen coming.
Should you be worried then? In this article, we are going to take a look at what is different with Bitcoin this time around so you can decide for yourself if this is a good time to buy in.
Why Bitcoin is worth so much right now
Bitcoin has always promised to one day become a global currency that would be adopted by the masses. After the crash of 2018 when Bitcoin lost almost ⅔ of its value in a matter of weeks, it looked like its promise would go unfulfilled.
At that time the people buying in were basing their decision more on the fear of missing out than on actually believing in the cryptocurrency as a mainstream currency that could be used instead of fiat.
At that time you could pay for things using Bitcoin, but because the value kept growing, nobody wanted to part with their Bitcoins.
Now, it has become far more mainstream with a couple of big factors leading the way. For one, many big institutions were buying the currency and even some stores and businesses would accept it as a form of payment. There were more signs of it becoming a viable currency in the year or so after the crash.
Then, more recently, Paypal announced that they would start offering the service for people to buy some cryptocurrency with their Paypal account. This validated the currency in the eyes of many as they trusted Paypal for years already. It suddenly became very easy for people to acquire Bitcoin where before the process may have been intimidating.
Then, Elon Musk announced that Tesla had bought over a billion dollars worth of Bitcoin and that it could be used to buy their cars. This also served as validation and the value jumped very high after the news.
Will it continue to rise?
Anything that goes up must come down, so, yes it will continue to rise but will one day either dip or crash. It is inevitable.
What’s different this time around is that more people are using it for its intended purpose and that is to pay for things. It is finally being adopted. And, if history is a guide, then it will bounce back after any crash and then rise again. Maybe even higher than ever if there is more adoption by the masses.
*This article has been contributed on behalf of Paxful. However, the information provided herein is not and is not intended to be, investment, financial, or other advice.
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