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WTO Fundamental to Economic Recovery and Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

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Asia-Pacific business leaders from the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), meeting virtually this week, called on the region’s Trade Ministers to take the lead in a credible, relevant and strengthened World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Globally, we face significant health and economic challenges. Fundamentally trade can and must be at the centre of tackling both the immediate crisis and of laying the groundwork for a return to growth. The WTO is core to that effort,” said ABAC Chair Dato’ Rohana Tan Sri Mahmood of Malaysia.

Dato Rohana explained that ABAC had issued a statement of support for a reformed WTO ahead of the meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) taking place on 25 July. She said that ABAC had been deeply concerned at the levels of human suffering and severe economic contraction caused by the pandemic.

“Our message to Ministers is that global problems demand global solutions – and the WTO’s multilateral rules-based system must be at the heart of those solutions,” said Dato Rohana. “We are calling on APEC economies to lead a process of reform in the WTO to ensure that trade rules remain fit-for-purpose.”

She said that we need to liberalise trade in essential medical supplies and facilitate the movement of essential workers, so that for this and any future pandemics, those critical products and services can get to where they are needed most. Likewise, APEC economies should reaffirm their commitment to well- functioning agriculture markets, so that we do not add a food security crisis to the disruption of the pandemic.

“We also need to ensure that the WTO’s rules remain relevant and credible. It is imperative that we get the WTO’s dispute settlement system fully functioning again by appointing new members to the Appellate Body. We need more transparency around what economies are doing on trade. We must complete the unfinished business of the Doha Round, including by eliminating fisheries subsidies, making meaningful cuts to trade-distorting domestic support in agriculture and helping services and investment to work better,” she added.

Dato Rohana said that just as importantly, the WTO needed to stay responsive to modern business and social concerns. There is a need to review the rules in other areas to ensure that they are doing the job. The rules must also be updated for the digital age and support aspirations for sustainable and inclusive growth. That means substantive outcomes on e-commerce and a permanent moratorium on Customs duties on electronic transmission, tools to transition to a low-carbon economy by eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and better ways for women and small businesses to succeed in trade.


ABAC STATEMENT ON THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION JULY 2020

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) is deeply concerned about the fundamental challenge to global wellbeing represented by COVID-19. We face a “crisis like no other”. The multilateral rules-based trading system, with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core, has a key role to play in our response in both the short term to the pandemic and for longer-term economic rebuilding. ABAC urges APEC economies to lead work in the WTO both to enhance short-term responses, and for the longer-term strengthening of the multilateral rules-based trading system.

A strong commitment to a credible, relevant and strengthened WTO that reflects evolving business needs and models is crucial to help rebuild business and investor confidence and to improve the trade landscape in the age of COVID-19.

APEC economies should thus reaffirm their support for urgent reform of the WTO in the strongest terms. The process to appoint a new Director General must not be allowed to distract from the following critical tasks, but rather must contribute to achieving them:

1. Drawing on the lessons of COVID-19, reform WTO rules for better responses to crises

WTO rules for trade in goods and services can enable essential medical supplies, essential workers and food supplies to get to where they are needed most. APEC economies should lead an initiative in the WTO to enable economies to respond more effectively to crises, including by:

  • committing to the permanent elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers on a sectoral basis, covering an agreed list of essential medical supplies such as medical equipment, medicines and basic hygiene products such as hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment;
  • committing to measures to ensure that supply chains are resilient, even in times of crisis;
  • committing to removing barriers to the movement of essential personnel in times of crisis;
  • committing to shoring up trade in food and agriculture, by removing unjustified export restrictions and non-tariff barriers and strengthening value chains; and
  • enhancing transparency to make the trade and investment environment more predictable.

2. Work to strengthen the multilateral rules-based trading system

The WTO provides a crucial foundation for sustained prosperity. The Great Depression of the 1930s and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 have shown that declining trade, worsened by protectionism, exacerbates the depth and duration of economic contraction. On the other hand, trade based on WTO principles of openness, non-discrimination, predictability and transparency can help to revitalise growth for the longer term, including for the most vulnerable.

i. Resolve the unfinished business from the Doha Round

Meaningful improvements are needed to the existing framework of rules, commitments and obligations to revitalise trade and achieve more sustainable and inclusive growth. APEC economies should take the lead in pressing for concrete outcomes, including on the following items of ‘unfinished business’ from the Doha Round:

  • the elimination, as quickly as possible, of ‘fish subsidies’ that contribute to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and the destruction of global fish stocks;
  • a meaningful cut in trade-distorting domestic support in agriculture, to drive better outcomes for markets, for food security, for development and for the environment; and
  • improvements to rules for the domestic regulation of services, to enhance the ability of the sector to drive economy-wide productivity gains and create jobs.

ii. Fully functioning dispute settlement is fundamental to the multilateral trading system

The WTO dispute settlement system has resolved over 400 disputes, and forestalled many more. Every economy will be worse off if this system cannot operate to its fullest extent. APEC economies should:

  • support the urgent appointment of a full slate to the WTO Appellate Body; and
  • engage constructively to implement necessary reforms to the Appellate Body

recognising that some economies have joined the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement as a temporary option to settle appeals.

iii. Initiatives to reflect the evolution of trade will revitalise the multilateral trading system

WTO rules must better reflect modern business and societal concerns. APEC economies should:

  • commit to enhanced transparency, to demonstrate that the system remains fair and balanced for all and to promote predictability in international trade;
  • drive agreement on substantive outcomes in the WTO negotiations on the trade-related aspects of e-commerce, to enhance the key role of digital technologies as a dynamic enabler of trade, including in response to the pandemic;
  • seek agreement to a permanent moratorium on Customs duties on electronic transmissions, to avoid stifling innovation and growth in the digital economy;
  • advance work on investment facilitation with a view to facilitating flows of investment;
  • support the initiative to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, consistent with a commitment to transition to a low-carbon economy, in response to climate change;
  • support other initiatives that encourage more inclusive participation in trade, including by women, small businesses and young entrepreneurs, who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19; and
  • encourage greater involvement of the international business community in WTO processes, that would enhance transparency and improve predictability in the trade environment.

APEC economies should ensure that all of these outcomes are consistent with WTO principles and are designed with a view to serving as building blocks to multilateral outcomes in the future. Global challenges demand global solutions. The APEC Business Advisory Council and the wider Asia-Pacific business community fully supports APEC’s leadership in this most critical area. 

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Development

Vaccination, Jobs, and Social Assistance are All Key to Reducing Poverty in Central Asia

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As the pace of economic recovery picks up, countries in Central Asia have an opportunity to return to pre-pandemic levels of poverty reduction – if they put in place the right policies. This was the overall message shared by World Bank economists today at a regional online event “Overcoming the Pandemic and Ending Poverty in Central Asia”.

In the early 2000s, Central Asian countries were among the world’s best performers in poverty reduction. Starting in 2009, however, the pace of progress began to slow and even stagnated in some of the countries. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted a region already struggling to generate inclusive growth and end extreme poverty. Now in the second year of the pandemic, poverty rates in Central Asia are falling again, but with high inflation and low vaccination rates, the poor and the most vulnerable continue to suffer from food insecurity, uncertainty, and limited employment opportunities, especially for women.

“Central Asia is recovering from the first shocks of the pandemic, albeit in uneven ways,” said Will Seitz, World Bank Senior Economist in Central Asia. “Migration and remittances, key drivers of poverty reduction in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, are quickly returning to 2019 levels. Labor markets are also recovering, and work disruptions are much less common. However, the region is yet to get on a stable poverty reduction path.”

Among policy priorities to reduce poverty, the World Bank is focused on three key areas: widespread vaccination, increasing employment and wages, and strengthening social assistance programs to support the most vulnerable. To support labor market recovery, the World Bank economists outlined short-term and medium-term measures, including the need to invest in green jobs and encouraging the creation and growth of firms.

It was also stressed that employment alone will not address all drivers of poverty, and strong safety nets are essential to protect the most vulnerable. Compared with other middle-income countries, Central Asian governments typically provide smaller shares of their populations with social assistance.

“Along with ensuring fair, broad access to effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines, Central Asian countries need to urgently address vaccination hesitancy, as it threatens to slow down the recovery,” said Tatiana Proskuryakova, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “For every million people vaccinated, global GDP recovers on average nearly $8 billion. We are expecting advanced economies with relatively high vaccination rates to demonstrate much better growth rates than developing economies with low vaccination rates.”

Among the main reasons behind vaccine hesitancy in Central Asian countries are worries about vaccine contraindication and safety. While people with pre-existing health conditions in other countries are usually prioritized for vaccination, in the Central Asia region they are more likely to be hesitant to get vaccinated. Providing the public with accurate information on the safety of vaccines and encouraging people with pre-existing health conditions to be vaccinated may help address hesitancy issues.

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Finance

Why Traders Should Never Miss Forex Trading Investment Opportunities

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Trading forex is a great opportunity to make money if you know how to do it right. Some of the top forex traders are often asked about tactics and tricks they use that have helped them to make great profits. Investment opportunities can be fully used only when you know how to turn such opportunities into profit.

What does it take to turn investment opportunities into trading profits? Here are some things which you can do to make a difference and have helped several people in making profits in the long run.

A Strong Trading Plan:

Ask any successful trader and you will be told that a trading plan is of utmost importance. One needs to plan quite systematically before trading or when one starts trading. This trading plan usually has a strategy which is followed with great caution. This trading strategy should also be tested, and adjustments made accordingly. If everything goes well, the strategy can be repeated whenever any opportunity comes along.

Managing Risk:

Capital management is an essential part of forex trading success. If any trader doesn’t know how to manage risks, the trader will not be able to make it long. No matter how lucrative the investment opportunities seem to be, a trader should not trade money which the person cannot afford to lose. It is extremely important to ensure that the risks are sensible because that will keep him going.

The Importance of Being a patient Trader:

If you wish to earn in the long run, you need to be patient. It does take time to develop any currency trading plan. It also takes time to develop different skills. Thus, any trader needs to wait for the right opportunities. If a trader hurries or rushes, the decision can be wrong which will affect trading.

The Mind has to be Clear:

Experts reveal that success and failure often depend on the mindset of the individual. If the trading psychology of the trader is not as it should be, profitability will become a distant dream. However, the sad part is that most traders do not consider this as a fundamental truth. There are many expert traders who do meditation or yoga so that they ensure that they have a healthy mind.

Disciplined Actions:

To be successful in any sphere of life, one needs to be disciplined and exercise caution. For a successful trading career, a trader should be consistent and should be learning regularly so that mistakes can be avoided. If a trader lacks discipline, it may lead to trading errors which will result in losses in the future.

Trading Journal Can Help:

There are many experts who suggest the use of trading journals. Such smart traders work as record keepers which helps them in future. For example, when they win a trade, they have everything recorded in the journal. Thus, they are aware how they are winning and why they are winning. Thus, this way they are aware of the strategies that can help them in winning trades and the strategies which can cause them losses.

If any trader can take note of all details such as different conditions for entry and exit, it helps in trades and targets.

Overtrading Can be Risky

At times traders are tempted to overtrade with the hope of making more profits. However, experts believe that overtrading should be avoided because it leads to trading mistakes and errors. Thus, traders need to ensure that they are patient and do not do things that will make it risky.

Thus, investment decisions should be made wisely and cautiously.

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Energy News

Sustainable transport key to green energy shift

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With global transport at a crossroads, government leaders, industry experts, and civil society groups are meeting in Beijing, China, for a UN conference to chart the way forward to a more sustainable future for the sector, and greater climate action overall. 

The three-day UN Sustainable Transport Conference, which opened on Thursday, will examine how transportation can contribute to climate response, economic growth and sustainable development. 

It is taking place just weeks before the COP26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. 

In remarks to the opening, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined what is at stake. 

“The next nine years must see a global shift towards renewable energy. Sustainable transport is central to that transformation,” he said.  

The move to sustainable transport could deliver savings of $70 trillion by 2050, according to the World Bank.   

Better access to roads could help Africa to become self-sufficient in food, and create a regional food market worth $1 trillion by the end of the decade. 

Net-zero goal 

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how transport is “far more than a means of getting people and goods from A to B”, the UN chief said.

Rather, transport is fundamental to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, both of which were “badly off-track” even before the crisis. 

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the door for action is closing, he warned. 

“Transport, which accounts for more than one quarter of global greenhouse gases, is key to getting on track. We must decarbonize all means of transport, in order to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 globally.” 

A role for everyone 

Decarbonizing transportation requires countries to address emissions from shipping and aviation because current commitments are not aligned with the Paris Agreement. 

Priorities here include phasing out the production of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040, while zero emission vessels “must be the default choice” for the shipping sector. 

“All stakeholders have a role to play, from individuals changing their travel habits, to businesses transforming their carbon footprint,” the Secretary-General said. 

He urged governments to incentivize clean transport, for example through regulatory standards and taxation, and to impose stricter regulation of infrastructure and procurement. 

Safer transport for all 

The issues of safety and access must also be addressed, the Secretary-General continued. 

“This means helping more than one billion people to access paved roads, with designated space for pedestrians and bicycles, and providing convenient public transit options,” he said. 

“It means providing safe conditions for all on public transport by ending harassment and violence against women and girls, and reducing deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.” 

Making transport resilient 

Post-pandemic recovery must also lead to resilient transport systems, with investments going towards sustainable transport, and generating decent jobs and opportunities for isolated communities. 

“Public transport should be the foundation for urban mobility,” he said. “Per dollar invested, it creates three times more jobs than building new highways.” 

With much existing transport infrastructure, such as ports, vulnerable to extreme climate events, better risk analysis and planning are needed, along with increased financing for climate adaptation, particularly in developing countries. 

Mr. Guterres stressed the need for effective partnerships, including with the private sector, so that countries can work together more coherently. 

“The transformative potential of sustainable transport can only be unleashed if improvements translate into poverty eradication, decent jobs better health and education, and increased opportunities for women and girls. Countries have much to learn from each other,” he said. 

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