World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.
This was the idea behind the formation of the European Union which was initially formed by the ‘Inner Six’ countries like France, West Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The origins of the European Union sees its history of 70 years of war and unrest between France and Germany which led to the formation of ECSC(European Coal and Steel Community) under the SchumanPlan of pooling the coal and the steel of France and Germany. The European Union grew out of the aim to build a common political entity to undo the adverse effects of wars and to build up for an ‘internal single market’ with common laws and systems. It was culminated on 7th February 1992 under the Maastricht Treaty.
The Eurozone Crisis began in the year 2008 with a rise in debt of countries like Greece and Ireland. In 2009, Greece had a budgetdeficit of 12.9% of the GDP. That was more than 4 times of the limit suggested by the European Union which is 3%. The investors were discouraged. As a result, the investors sold the bonds of these countries to purchase the bonds of more credible countries like Germany and France. The uncertainty of the European Central Bank to act in such a situation led to a liquidity crisis and an erosion of the credibility of the European Union. Eurozone Crisis also demonstrated that it was the delayed collective action by the European Union that strengthened the ulterior motives of the Financial markets to make profits out of the difference in the bond prices of the different member states. The economic conditions in the year 2010 exposed the loopholes in the European Union’s foundation. There can be numerous reasons for this. They are as follows: –
Lack of a single currency – A single currency means a union or a political union but that is a distant dream as member states think that it would jeopardize their sovereignty.
No Federal European Government– Because of a no common governing body, there is no mechanism to set a central tax or budget policy. All member states under it are sovereign having their own political complexities in their respective countries.
No common Euro Bonds– Due to the lack of a common budgetary policies, well to do countries like Germany have rejected to subscribe to a common euro bond. They withdrew to underwrite Europe wide bond issues.
The United States Link-What happens in a country doesn’t stay in a country in the interconnected financial system of the world. The European Debt crisis was not just limited to Greece, but it had connection with the spending of the US government budget. US contributes approximately forty percent to the International Monetary Fund’s Capital. Waiving off the debts of Greece means adding additional burden to the Taxpayers in US.
Not just economic, Even Political Issues involved in emerging the Crisis. They are as follows: –
Austerity led to Protests: – The countries who were adversely affected by the Eurozone crisis switched to austerity. (Austerity is a set of political and economic policies which intends to reduce the government deficits either by increasing taxes or cuttingdown expenditure). Austerity leads to decline in the consumption and the employment rate of a country. A lot of protests occurred in Spain and Greece against the government because of the increased unemployment. Austerity measures even led to the removal of party in power in countries like Italy and Portugal.
Financially sound countries vs High Debt countries: – European Union saw a strain in the relationship between fiscally sound nations like Germany and the nations under high debt like Greece. Germany was not ready to ratify to a region wide solution rather pushed such countries to make changes in their budget policy. These situations might have led any of the member state to leave the Euro. There was a high possibility of the weakening of Euro against the other currencies in the global market. This crisis, indeed,witnessed the periodic weakness of the Euro.Slovakia andLithuania refused to bear the burden of Greece’s debt. Even these two countries resorted to austerity measures but without any aid from the EU.
Greece had manipulated its balance sheet to conceal its debts and it was also the result of long years of tax evasion, fiscal mismanagement and authorities misleading the reports.
The European Financial Stability Facility paid a bailout of 190 billion euros in the year 2011. It was only in the year 2014, that Greek economy was able to recover a bit and grew by 0.7% and successfully balanced the budget by selling its bonds. The crisis was not just limited to Greece.
Even Ireland’s banks borrowed loans from the housing market in the year 2008 which led to a huge debt crisis by 2010. $112 billion EU- IMF package was given to Ireland in exchange of following Austerity measures. This was again a severe Eurozone crisis with the Irish economy’s decline in output by 10% and Unemployment rising to 13% in the year 2010.
Portugal also received an aid of $116 billion in the year 2011 from the EU as it fell into recession as the deficit grew for about more than 10% of the GDP in the year 2009. Not just this, the deficit shifted to large countries like Italy and Spain too leading to an overall Eurozone crisis.
WHY DID GERMANY REFUSE TO ADJUST IN THE EUROZONE CRISIS?
Germany had the world’s largest current account surplus of almost 8% in the year 2017 (IMF 2018). And Regional Imbalances have led to the Balance of Payment crises (Schularick and Taylor 2012). Consequently, there had been a resentment against Germany in the international arena. But the following reasons can be the attributed why Germany didn’t behave accordingly: –
- Current account Surplus may not be always interpreted as beneficial to the economy. It indicates that investments in public and private sector has not been enough. (Bach et al. 2013, Sudekaum and Felbmayr 2017).
- With an intention to balance against Germany by reducing its current account surplus may not work. It may lead to their improved infrastructure, higher wages, higher inflation and also a higher consumption.
- With the rise in inflation, the debt burdendeclined, and the wages of the workers in the Non- Tradable Section rose. The High Export dependence of Germany on the foreign nations tarnished its image. Also, the current account surpluses are also related with net capital outflow.
The solution here was not to punish Germany but coming to terms with the fact that Internal Adjustment too, may not have positive consequences all the time. Moreover, A current account surplus was needed for an ageing country like Germany.
GREECE- LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF THE EUROZONE CRISIS
Greece, which were the odd ones out in the Eurozone crisis and had its credibility crippled in the past ten years seemed to have learnt lessons. At present, it is one of the best performing countries in Europe with respect to flattening the Covid curve according to an analysis by the Bridge Tank. Not all perish in a crisis, few turn it into an opportunity.Kyriakos Mitsotakis, The Prime Minister of Greece along with the Sydney born Harvard immunologist Sotiris Tsiodras received praises for handling the Covid crisis. The deaths due to Covid was controlled unlike Italy which turned out to be a disaster.
According to Dr.Ladi, an expert whose field of study includes the Eurozone crisis and role of experts in the public policy said that “ Because of the previous crisis the people were better prepared to react and the country’s leadership worked very quickly compared to others who reacted late’’.
IS BULGARIA JOINING THE EUROZONE ANSWER TO IT’S PROBLEMS?
Bulgaria and Croatia are the latest Eastern European countries who are ready to adopt the Euro currency after meeting certain economic and regulatory criteria. This enlargement has come after a decade long of crisis which deterred the countries from joining. However, the inclusion of these two relatively poor countries may bring risks along with it. The Eurozone has already suffered much because of Greece’s rising debt which destabilized the entire currency in the former decade. Analysts have warned before hand only that the two countries in question may have a hard time in fulfilling criteria like Low Public Debt and the Rule of Law. Croatia is expected to increase its debt to 86% of the GDP by this year which is yet again above the 60% level that the European authorities accept.
Bulgaria joined the EU in the year 2007 and has expressed its intentions of joining the euro area since the year 2009 until the debacle in the form of Eurozone crisis occurred which hindered its entrance at the prevailing circumstances then. With the economic recovery in the year 2018, It again wanted to join the Euro Club. To join the club, it needs to fulfil two conditions: –
- It must join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM ii) – a waiting room where a country introducing the euro is required to stay for a minimum period of two years at least.
- The Public Debt levels must not exceed 25% of the GDP (Bulgaria’s GDP here)
Few officials of the Eurozone have expressed their concerns and are quite apprehensive about Bulgaria in the zone. According to them, Bulgaria’s entry will do no good or rather repeat the ‘Greek scenario’. Besides this, Bulgaria also must fulfil the ‘additional’ requirements of joining the Banking Union which was not a requirement before but would be implemented from now onwards. Joining the Banking Union means the scrutiny of the Big Banks of Bulgaria. This is quite obvious with news of the collapse of the Biggest bank in Bulgaria in the year 2014. The European Central Bank is being a watchdog here and Banks in Bulgaria have been given time to create additional capital buffers till April 2020. It must be noted that the FI Bank has still not fulfilled the criteria.
There are other factors as well which act as an instrument to demotivate Bulgaria to the Eurozone. Those are as follows:-
- No adequate support from the public for the introduction of Euro in Bulgaria.
- The EU area crisis is also a factor.
- Depiction of EU as a fading power.
- Bulgaria is also seen as an under- performing state and the common currency works in the interest of the third parties.
- Gaining domestic support and Anti – EU voices is much easier than in favour of it.
The Bulgarian government doesn’t want to escape this opportunity of joining the EU zone in the Corona crisis. It would be interesting to see whether it gets successful or not.
Today, in the times of Corona, The European Central Bank seems to have learnt from its past mistakes unlike the Eurozone Crisis. It has acted quickly and has kept the borrowing costs low for all countries in the Euro Zone because as per the forecasts done by IMF, the public debt will reach almost 100% of the GDP by the year end. To cope up with this, the head of the ECB, Ms. Christine Lagardesaid that economic implications of Covid- 19 would result in decrease in the supply chain by approximately 35% and would also expose us to a rise in the inequalities in the Euro- Zone. Factors such as Climate Risk and bio-diversity will be taken into account while drafting plans. The ECB also created a Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme worth of € 750 billion involving both government and private debt. A decision regarding the same is to be made in the upcoming EU Summit which will be held on the 17 and 18th July 2020.
Price hike in Pakistan: the worst of all worries
The most serious issue Pakistan’s economy is currently dealing with is price increases or inflation. Life has become miserable for the average person as a result of the ongoing increase in the cost of necessities like food, fuel, and medicine. The general public’s standard of living is not the only thing this phenomenon is affecting; it is also fueling social unrest across the nation.
There are numerous factors contributing to the price increase. The rise in the price of oil on the global market comes first. Pakistan relies heavily on imported oil, and when the price of crude oil increases globally, it has a negative impact on the regional economy. The issue has also been exacerbated by Pakistan’s struggling economy, high-interest rates, and currency devaluation.
However, several causes can be identified for Pakistan’s dollar exchange rate’s ongoing rise. One of the main causes is the nation’s substantial import bill, which raises the demand for dollars. Energy and other necessities must be imported into Pakistan, and the pressure on its foreign exchange reserves is increased by the high demand for dollars to pay for these imports. Further weakening Pakistan’s currency is the fact that its exports have not been able to keep up with its imports, resulting in a trade deficit. Due to investors’ reluctance to invest in a nation with an unstable economy, political unrest, and economic ambiguity have also boosted the dollar rate.
Similarly, the debt incurred by Pakistan is a sizable additional factor in raising the dollar rate in that country. Pakistan has one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world and has borrowed a significant amount of money from international financial institutions to meet its financial needs. The pressure from this borrowing has reduced the nation’s foreign exchange reserves and devalued its currency. The country’s economy has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating a significant fiscal stimulus on the part of the government. This has further aggravated the situation. In Pakistan, the dollar rate has been rising steadily as a result of all these factors working together.
Simultaneously, inflation and price increases affect Pakistan’s politics as well as its economy. The opposition parties are using the government’s inability to control the price increase as a major issue to attack it and win over the public. The opposition parties are protesting and demonstrating against the government, accusing it of being responsible for the price increase. They contend that the general populace is suffering because the government’s policies have failed to control inflation. The price increase controversy is being manipulated by the opposition to advance their own political goals and turn the public against the ruling party.
The government, on the other hand, is making an effort to address the issue by implementing a variety of measures, including raising subsidies for necessities and lowering import taxes. However, the opposition parties are utilizing this failure to their advantage because these measures have failed to contain inflation. Similarly, the price increase has important political repercussions. Public support for the opposition parties is growing, while support for the government is eroding. If the government is unable to control the price increase, it may trigger more political unrest, demonstrations, and even violence.
Therefore, a price increase has far-reaching effects. The groups with lower incomes are most negatively impacted because they cannot afford the necessities of life. They are compelled to reduce their food intake as well as their health and education spending. The middle class is also suffering. After all, they must second-guess any major purchases because their purchasing power has significantly dropped.
In addition to economic issues, the price increase is also creating social ones. As they struggle to meet their basic needs, people are growing agitated and desperate. Riots, demonstrations, and protests against the government are being sparked by this annoyance. As people struggle more to make ends meet, inflation also causes a rise in the crime rate.
The government must act swiftly and effectively to stop the price increase. Controlling the hoarding and smuggling of essential commodities is the first step. Second, to lessen their reliance on imports, they must make investments in regional industries. Additionally, the government should prioritize economic expansion because it can result in more job opportunities and, ultimately, greater purchasing power for the average citizen.
The government needs to pay attention to it right away and take action. The stability of the nation’s social and economic systems is in jeopardy, and if the issue is not quickly resolved, it might fuel more unrest and instability. This issue requires both political and economic solutions. The public must see that the government is acting practically to control inflation by effectively communicating its policies to them. Furthermore, the opposition parties should cooperate with the government to find a solution rather than use the price increase issue for political purposes.
To address the issue, the government must take a comprehensive approach that includes both immediate and long-term actions. The private sector and civil society can both be crucial players in finding solutions to the issue. The only way the nation can hope to overcome the problem of price increases and guarantee a higher standard of living for its citizens is through collective effort.
The opposition parties should work with the government to find a solution to this issue, as the government must act quickly and effectively to control inflation. The common people’s lives are being impacted by the price increase, and resolving it will require a collaborative effort from all parties involved. The federal government ought to prioritize long-term economic plans that can boost employment opportunities, reduce reliance on imports, and promote sustainable economic growth. To encourage trade and commerce, the government ought to work on enhancing the infrastructure, such as the roads and communication systems.
Additionally, the government needs to take strict action against anyone hoarding, smuggling, or profiting from the situation in order to make extra money. In order to boost production and lessen reliance on imports, the government should also support local industries by offering incentives and support.
Vietnam’s macroeconomic policy and post COVID recovery
As per the latest IMF reports real Gross Domestic Product(GDP) of Vietnam in 2023 is estimated at 6.2 percent. This clearly shows that Vietnam has been avoiding the usual recessionary trends across the Asian markets and is showing better than average growth .With inflation rate being less than 4 per cent, it clearly shows that Vietnam is likely to emerge as a promising economy in Asia. According to the regional economic outlook which has been released by the IMF , it clearly projects that there are high expectations of uncharacteristic slow down in China benefitting competitors such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia .
Asian Development Bank(ADB) has forecasted that Vietnam’s GDP was expected to grow by 6.5% in 2022 and nearly 6.7% forecasted for the year 2023. If one looks into the comparative forecast for countries in Southeast Asia it is stated that Philippines will grow by 6.3 per cent ,Cambodia 6.2 per cent ,Indonesia 5 per cent, Thailand 4.2 per cent , Laos 3.5 per cent ,and so on. If one looks into the core fundamentals of Vietnam following the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been clearly stated that Vietnam’s annual economic growth rate hovered between 6.3 per cent to 6.5 per cent for the decade preceding the current one.
One of the major aspects of this better than average economic growth was high foreign direct investment, increased domestic consumption, sizeable increase in the middle class, and Vietnam’s focus on promoting its manufacturing to be export oriented. In terms of other critical aspects Vietnam has been securing loans from many other international agencies over the past few years. With funding and grants from different international economic agencies ,Vietnam has been able to upgrade its road, rail transport and border connectivity infrastructure along with promoting social economic growth of nearly 243,000 people across the provinces.
One of the mainstays of Vietnam economy has been small and medium enterprises along with active participation of women.These enterprises have been getting bank credit and technical assistance through different initiatives such as public private partnerships, promotion of private sector development, and extensive reforms in state owned enterprises. Vietnam has been preparing well for facing the severity of climate change and also undertaking pilot projects for post disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation. It has institutional arrangements with World bank and Netherlands to develop resilience for the coastal areas particularly Mekong delta to undertake comprehensive efforts in mitigating the climate change effects.
Over a period of time Vietnam has been making serious efforts in emerging as a knowledge network society. This includes improving policy applications, enhancing capacities of stakeholders and providing information to the communities on a regular basis. Vietnam has also received more than USD $ 2 million grant for climate resilient inclusive infrastructure through high technology fund from ADB. In terms of meeting UN sustainable development goals, Vietnam has successfully provided electricity to its cent percent population.
It has been stated that Vietnam is one of the economies which is going to benefit from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP) given the reduction in tariffs during the period 2020 to 2035 and because of these reductions the export of electrical equipment and machinery from Vietnam is going to grow to the level of 12.1% while the main stay of its exports primarily textiles and apparels are going to grow by nearly 10%. Given the fact that RCEP would facilitate Vietnam’s entry into high end markets such as Japan, Australia and New Zealand might translate into better trade revenues.
In fact better integration with regional economies would promote its sectors such as tourism, entertainment, education, agriculture, automobile telecommunication, and IT. Two different aspects have gained international attention because of Vietnam ranked 70th out of 190 countries in terms of ease of doing business, and its major strength has been the young population as nearly 70 per cent of its population is aged between 15 to 64. This large working population reduces social security liabilities to the aging population. Major work which has been done by the current Vietnamese government is its national strategy for Environmental Protection 2030 with a comprehensive plan under Vision 2050.
It is expected that Vietnam’s construction sector is going to grow because of increase spending on infrastructure projects along with improvement in regional connectivity through rail, road, and air transport infrastructure. There are high expectations that Vietnam tourism sector will post impressive recovery, and last year the country witnessed an increase of tourist arrivals by more than 185 per cent in the first four months of 2022. The tourism sector is going to increase further given the fact that Vietnam has signed a comprehensive agreement in boosting sustainable tourism and post COVID recovery at the national level. During the period 2022 to 2025 it is expected that the cumulative average growth rate of tourism would be 13.5% average each year .
As per the global data set and the General Statistical Office of Vietnam, the industrial production is also going to increase substantially and export orders as well as internal domestic demand is going to bring about remarkable improvement in production as well as exports. Last year, the G7 countries have agreed to grant a loan of US $5.5 billion for helping Vietnam transition from coal to other sources for power generation. This was based on the promise that Vietnam should make plans for shifting to nearly 50 per cent of its power requirements from renewable energy by the year 2030. It is also expected that foreign direct investment in Vietnam is going to be steady with high tech industries, knowledge based service industries, and education gaining the maximum investments. The real estate and construction sector are other sectors which are going to gain international attention.
This year it is expected that public investment would be helpful in post pandemic recovery and under the Socio Economic Recovery and Development Programme nearly US $15.4 billion has been approved for accelerating the economic growth. Furthermore, commodity exports is likely to see a remarkable two digit jump and the FTAs that Vietnam has signed with various partners will help in building the capacities of Vietnamese manufacturing sector in product transformation, exploring diversified markets, better restructuring, and skill development at different levels. The transformation is also happening in terms of fiscal and monetary prudence as well as undertaking reforms within banking system and financial governance. The anti corruption drive that the Vietnam has undertaken in the last few years have built the investor confidence and it is expected that Vietnam will reap the dividends of better business environment, market connectivity, and relatively comparative advantage among other competitors in Southeast Asia. As expected the fundamentals are getting stronger, and therefore Vietnam can witness a stronger economic growth and better macroeconomic stability in the year 2023.
Azerbaijan’s Favorable Climate for Foreign Investments
Azerbaijan, situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, presents investors with plentiful opportunities, chiefly in the area of oil and gas, tourism, and agriculture, as well as policies developed to stimulate foreign investment and enhance the investment environment. Furthermore, Azerbaijan invested in order to gain access to additional markets and strengthen its presence in the international economy, and the country has committed capital to sectors such as energy, real estate, infrastructure, and tourism.
Azerbaijan’s economy has seen an impressive rate of growth over the past decade. According to the World Bank, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 1.4% in 2020, despite the global pandemic. This serves as a testament to the fortitude of Azerbaijan’s economy, which has endured multiple economic disturbances in the past. Estimations suggest that Azerbaijan’s Gross Domestic Product is approximately $54 billion, with an average annual increase of 1.9% over the past four years. Azerbaijan has experienced a steady low rate of unemployment over the past decade, with an average of 5%, indicating a strong labor market and a prosperous business environment.
Azerbaijan has cultivated wise investments in fields that demonstrate promising growth and profitability. The efforts of the nation to broaden its economic base have proven successful, resulting in a decrease in its reliance on petroleum. Azerbaijan has achieved notable success in diversifying its economic base and diminishing its dependence on oil exports. The non-oil exports of Azerbaijan have been rising continuously in the recent years; as reported by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Agency (AZPROMO), there was a 47.2% ($2713.40 million) and 12.3% ($3047.67 million) increase in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Between January and February of 2023, the country recorded an increase of 36.6% in non-oil export earnings, amounting to approximately $651.42 million, compared to the same period the year before.
Multinational corporations from around the world are highly eager to access Azerbaijan’s natural resources, mainly its oil and gas reserves. In 2020, Azerbaijan’s oil production reached 33.5 million tons, followed by 29.5 million tons and 32.8 million tons in 2021 and 2022 respectively, as reported by the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), thus placing the nation among the major oil-producing countries in the region. Oil production is projected to reach 35 million barrels in 2023. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Azerbaijan has more than 2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, representing a significant opportunity for energy companies worldwide.
In 2020, Azerbaijan attracted a total of $4.5 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI):
Azerbaijan saw a 5.9% increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) compared to the past year, which made it one of the most prominent FDI recipients within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) area. In 2020, the United Kingdom, Turkey and the United States were the top three countries by FDI in Azerbaijan, with the United Kingdom contributing $1.7 billion, Turkey investing $577 million and the United States investing $475 million, according to the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.
Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index reveals that Azerbaijan has made substantial strides in reaching the objectives that were put in place by the United Nations across multiple domains. According to the SDG Index, the rate of global poverty has decreased from 49.6% in 2010 to 5.9% by 2022. Azerbaijan’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) has seen a positive trend, decreasing from 14.5 in 2010 to 9.7 in 2019 and further to 7.5 in 2022. The citizens of the country have reaped the benefits of its efforts to bolster health and well-being, as evident by the increase in life expectancy from 68.6 years in 2010 to 73.3 years in 2022. Azerbaijan’s commitment to improving the standard of living for its people and promoting economic growth in a sustainable manner are reflective of its commitment to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In 2019, Azerbaijan achieved a ranking of 25th place in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, which marks a notable enhancement of 32 places from the previous year and highlights a favorable business climate for foreign investors. In 2020, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report ranked Azerbaijan 34th among 190 countries, with a score of 76.7 for the ease of setting up a business.
Taking all factors into consideration, Azerbaijan is a highly attractive investment opportunity for a variety of industries, including energy, tourism, agriculture, and technology. In order to stimulate foreign investment, the government has put in place a variety of incentives to simplify the foreign investment process. Azerbaijan is an attractive option for investors to expand their investment portfolios and explore new markets due to its attractive business environment, strategic location, and robust economic growth. Moreover, Azerbaijan’s foreign investments have had a considerable influence on the nation’s economic growth. The country has leveraged investments to expand its portfolio and reduce its reliance on oil and gas industries, as well as to access novel markets.
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