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Reimagining Economies: The Move Towards a Digital, Sustainable and Resilient Future

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Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, The Annual Investment Meeting, organized by theUAE Ministry of Economy, scheduled to be held from 20th to 22nd October 2020, under the theme “ Reimagining Economies: The Move Towards a Digital, Sustainable and Resilient Future.”

As the very first digital edition of the Annual Investment Meeting, AIM Digital will be the first mega digital event in the region to surmount the COVID -19 pandemic that will set a new benchmark for future virtual events in the UAE. It will utilize digital technology to create, showcase, and facilitate new investment opportunities for investors from different parts of the world, providing boundless possibilities across diverse sectors leading towards economic recovery, transformation, and sustainability.

To continue AIM’s mission of creating a roadmap to build a resilient future for the global economy despite the current pandemic, the three-day digital event will support and strengthen the investment environment and generate the most attractive and secure investment projects and opportunities for investors.

In this regard, His Excellency Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, said: “The Annual Investment Meeting is an important global platform that brings together officials, experts, investors and major local, regional and international companies to exchange ideas and experiences and work together to develop the investment climate and link stakeholders to enhance development opportunities and come up with innovative solutions. The UAE has managed over the past years to consolidate its position as a pioneering and attractive investment destination for value-added projects, especially in the new economy sectors, and the country has also succeeded in developing its capabilities in planning and anticipating the future, and developing proactive solutions to enhance the resilience of its national economy in the face of global economic changes.

His Excellency added that the UAE government launched a comprehensive plan of 33 initiatives to support all economic sectors in the country and create a more flexible economic environment capable of generating diverse and sustainable opportunities, and encouraging investment in future sectors, especially digital transformation, advanced industries, applications of modern technology, research, development and innovation.” He said that the development of a digital model for a global platform for dialogue, such as the annual investment forum, is gaining great importance under the current circumstances and strengthens the country’s ability to review its future vision and promote the opportunities offered in its priority sectors to attract and attract investments to it through innovative means.

His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises, said: “The UAE continues its pioneering role as a hub for trade, investment development and business activities, whether in its local markets or at the regional and global levels, and is confirmed today by launching the first digital version of the Investment Forum. Its ability to adapt to the changes in the economic landscape and find innovative solutions to various challenges, such as those that we are witnessing today as a result of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, which highlighted the importance of adopting new methods in economic activity, stressing that the establishment of the forum hypothetically at this huge level with the participation of 170 countries represents a new success story that reflects the readiness of the country’s economic and trade system to rapidly shift towards digital activities and adopt a more competitive, resilient and sustainable economic model.

Al Falasi added that the Annual Investment Meeting has provided over the past years a pioneering platform to support emerging companies and small and medium enterprises. His Excellency explained by saying: “We will work through this year’s edition of AIM to continue supporting and encouraging entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium enterprises by providing them with vital channels for communication with their counterparts in other participating countries to acquire new ideas and knowledge, exchange experiences and attend relevant exhibitions, as well as to establish partnerships and open new markets for their products and services, and this would immediately reflect on their commercial success and their ability to continue and expand. ”stressing that the transition to the digital model this year It will allow for wider participation from different countries of the world and will thus increase opportunities for cooperation and growth for entrepreneurs.

“This year’s Annual Investment Meeting, in its first digital edtion of its kind, is being held under unusual circumstances that the global economy is going through that requires intensifying dialogue and creating new links that support commercial and investment activities in various world markets.”He explained thatthe event will focus on discussing the countries and institutions efforts to provide new solutions and measures that support sustainability, business continuity and flexibility in facing various challenges. said His Excellency Dr. Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

His Excellency added: “Through this year’s edition of AIM, we will make sure to allow businessmen and capital owners to meet and conclude strategic agreements and partnerships, and to open new and vital channels for work in various investment fields, explaining that the forum’s agenda for this year will be rich in sessions, dialogues and digital exhibitions. Over the course of three days, and expressing optimism that the outcomes of this session will contribute to creating more creative ideas, initiatives and qualitative projects that represent an added value to international efforts in enhancing the global economic climate and preparing it for the post-Covid-19 phase.

AIM’s unique digital exhibition will be participated by Ministries and Government Departments, International and Regional Organisations, Investment Promotion Agencies, Special Economic Zones, Private Equities, Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists, Banking & Financial Institutions, International Investment Institutions, Startups, Incubators and Special Programmes, SME Financing Institutions, Smart City Solution Providers, and Technology Providers, among others, from more than 170 countries, which means even more abundant opportunities for economic productivity and expansion.

“We are all aware that the global economy has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this global outbreak must not cause economic paralysis and impede recovery but must serve as a stimulus to persistently look for opportunities to surmount the challenges. Technology is one of the tools available to us that we need to take advantage of to fight the impact of pandemic, which is why AIM Digital was conceived. It is indeed a major initiative that brings innovation and investment opportunities together in one virtual platform for investors to fuel economic resilience and transformation” said Mr. Dawood Al Shezawi, the Head of the Organizing Committee of the Annual Investment Meeting.


Diverse topics have been meticulously discussed such as Economic Fallout of Covid 19 on Female Founders, Accelerating Technologies during Time of Crisis, Ensuring Food Security & Sustainability against Pandemic: Innovation and Business Opportunities of Agriculture in SMEs, Strengthening the Global Partnership in International Trade during Pandemic Crisis, Post-Pandemic Cities: What Will They Look Like, Business Opportunities of Agriculture in SMEs, The Vision From Investors in The Middle East, Urban Mobility: Road To Recovery And The Effectiveness Of Attracting FDI in The Times Of Crisis, Smart Cities Of The Future Workshop, Challenges For Agribusiness in Latin America And The Vision From Investors in The Middle East. Additionally, AIM Digital continues to offer interactive investment activities 365 days of the year to support the global investment community.

AIM Digital Features

Placing the spotlight on AIM’s six pillars – Foreign Direct Investment, Foreign Portfolio Investment, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Startups, Future Cities, and One Belt, One Road, AIM Digital will showcase different features that will extensively boost investment opportunities in various sectors.

Pre-Conference Workshop: Conducted by renowned industry experts from across the globe, this series of interactive professional coaching sessions have been tailor-made to enrich the experience of its participants and prepare them in finding lucrative opportunities for investment.

Conference: A platform where expert insights, best practices, and ideal investment policies are shared with participants. Leaders and specialists from the investment community will lead the virtual discussions to explore relevant topics about each of the six pillars of AIM.

Exhibition: Participated by the best local and international exhibitors across the globe, the Exhibition features different countries, smart city solution providers, startup companies, and SMEs, with the ultimate goal of achieving economic growth for their respective country and region.

Digital Country Presentation: It unveils the world’s best investment destinations by featuring every country’s key economic and investment environment features digitally. A platform for municipalities, cities, and countries to promote investment opportunities at their location and highlight the potential of their sector to prospective investors.

Startups Virtual Pitch Competition: An opportunity to present business ideas to a diverse array of global investors on the lookout for the next big thing. The winners of the start-up virtual pitch competition will compete for the National Champions League. Individual startups may register for the Global Technopreneurs.

Conglomerate Presentations: A virtual line up of Large Multi-Industry Groups keen on showcasing their investment roadmaps and key sectors of interest to an impressive panel of AIM investment promotion agencies, SMEs and government officials enthusiastic about making sustainable investments in their respective countries.

Awards: Recognizing the outstanding contributions of Investment Promotion Agencies, SMEs and Start-ups in bolstering and securing investment for a particular location. Awards will be presented to various investments made to regions and countries that have resulted in significant economic growth.

Investors’ Hub: Held within a digitally secured environment, a virtual meeting where top investors will have an audience with official government representatives to cultivate the formation of investment partnerships and collaboration.

Regional Focus Sessions: Centered on three regional conversations that examine the economic landscapes of Africa, Asia and Latin America, the discussions will be an informed exploration of the regions’ risks, challenges and opportunities for growth that are waiting to be harnessed through regional cooperation.

Made in Series: This viable digital feature is open to all SMEs who wish to showcase their local products and services to an international platform. Being a part of the series could help the participating country to promote their locally manufactured products or services, present value proposition to a focus global audience, and network with potential global partners for future collaboration.

Investment Roundtables:The investment roundtable feature of AIM 2020 is a gathering of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Heads of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), Investors and Decision Makers. The main objective of this feature is to facilitate a platform for government decision makers to discuss with investment companies to create a feasible investment model matching government and investor requirements. At the end of the sessions, a feasible investment model shall be developed.

Networking Features: A medium to strengthen business relationships and serve to the expansion of business portfolios. Vast features are conveniently available and accessible for ease of communication and networking on the platform.

The Annual Investment Meeting also plans to expand its footprint across the economic landscape as it gears up for its upcoming hybrid edition which will take place on March 21 – 23 followed by its Mega edition during EXPO2020, the World’s Greatest Show. The Hybrid Edition will be primed to feature massive investment opportunities from more than 170 countries, securing the highest return of investments for investors across the globe.

Furthermore, the Annual Investment Meeting is also delighted to launch its official e-magazine, Global Catalyst, which will serve as the global investment community’s no.1 digital source of the latest news, feature articles on trending topics, and critical analysis on fundamental issues affecting the investment environment, serving as a powerful catalyst for global economic growth. The Global Catalyst, is a quarterly digital publication that provides a captivating blend of news and features about the investment environment, as well as thorough analyses and research studies on major issues concerning the global economy. It also features success stories and in-depth interviews from prominent personalities in the global investment community to offer invaluable insights. In its first issue, Global Catalyst will give emphasis on its theme, “Rebooting the Future of Global Economy” which sparks the revitalising idea of starting anew, finding innovative methods and strategies, and building new perspectives in relation to the global economy.

Acknowledging the shift to the digital landscape and integrating technological advancements assists in developing smart, digital and sustainable nations as AIM Digital generates boundless possibilities towards economic recovery, transformation, and sustainability. 

For more information on AIM Digital, visit www.aimcongress.com

About the Annual Investment Meeting

The Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) is an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Economy, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. AIM is the world’s leading investment platform with over 16,000 participants coming from more than 140 countries. Over 400 exhibitors and co-exhibitors, 60+ high-level dignitaries, 150+ investment specialists and experts have participated in AIM 2019.

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Finance

Albania Has Opportunity to Build a More Sustainable Growth Model

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Albania’s economy, like other countries in the region, is recovering faster than expected after the historic recession created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the contraction of the economy by 4 percent in 2020, GDP growth is projected to reach 7.2 percent in 2021, one of the highest among Western Balkans countries, says the latest edition of the Western Balkans Regular Economic Report, Greening the Recovery.

The strong recovery is supported by consumption, tourism, and construction. Going forward, growth is expected to moderate at 3.8 percent in 2022 and 3.7 percent in 2023.

Albania’s poverty rate is projected to fall below its pre-pandemic level by end-2021. Employment and labor force participation is also recovering, albeit with a lag, and real wages are increasing.

The recovery is contributing to fiscal revenue collection. Macroeconomic policies have supported the recovery, but higher spending has led to a further rise in the debt-to-GDP ratio. Economic uncertainty remains high, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues worldwide.

“The Albanian economy has shown encouraging signs of recovery in 2021,” said Emanuel Salinas, World Bank Country Manager for Albania. “As growth rebounds, Albania has the opportunity to strengthen the sustainability of its economic model and implement reforms that further support sustainable and shared growth, while preserving macroeconomic stability.”

The report shows that the Western Balkans region has improved significantly, with GDP growth now projected to reach 5.9 percent in 2021, after a 3.1 percent contraction in 2020. Growth in the region is projected at 4.1 percent in 2022 and 3.8 percent in 2023.

The poverty rate for the region is projected to resume its pre-pandemic downward trend and fall by around 1 percentage point to 20.3 percent, close to its 2019 level.

The regionwide recovery is due to strength in both domestic and external demand. A sharp rebound in domestic consumption and in travel across Europe helped boost remittances as well as tourism inflows during the 2021 peak summer season. A strong recovery in advanced economies also provided a boost to demand for the region’s exports.

However, the recovery remains fragile. Early warning signals from the labor market call for close policy attention. Job losses from the recession and its aftermath have disproportionately affected women and youth, which may set back efforts to raise the region’s perennially low rates of labor force participation. Youth unemployment in the region rose to 37.7 percent in 2021, up 5.4 percentage points from June 2020, further worsening youth employment prospects.

“As the Western Balkans countries look to a post-pandemic future, their policy approach will need to focus on addressing key impediments to job creation and economic transformation, including green transition,” said Linda Van Gelder, World Bank Country Director for the Western Balkans. “All six countries would benefit from reforms in the business environment, governance, and digitalization, which would contribute to growth and close the gap with EU countries.”

The report also looks at the macro-fiscal challenges and drivers of greening the region’s growth. The Western Balkans now find themselves at a key decision point regarding the impending green transition.

Global strides toward climate action are causing fundamental changes in society. Consumer and investor preferences are shifting, green technologies and new business models are disrupting more markets, and green policies are reshaping economic landscapes. As such, greening a country’s economy is becoming a decisive factor in international competitiveness and the ability to attract international finance and investments.

The Western Balkans are no exception. Still characterized by a development model tilted toward familiar brown industries, moving toward a green growth pathway is far from easy, especially in the short term. Yet, the green transition offers significant opportunities for the Western Balkans – including closer integration into Euro-centric global value chains and access to significant EU resources to help fund a green transition.

Effectively managing this green transition, including the many policy tradeoffs, will need to be a core focus of policy attention for the Western Balkans in the years ahead.

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Human Rights

Only ‘real equality’ can end vicious cycle of poverty

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Children play outside a metal polishing workshop in a slum in Uttar Pradesh, India. © UNICEF/Niklas Halle'n

Although poverty and privilege “continue to reproduce themselves in vicious cycles”, it is possible to break the chain and shift the paradigm, an independent UN human rights expert told the General Assembly on Wednesday. 

Presenting his reportThe persistence of poverty: how real equality can break the vicious cycle, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Olivier De Shutter, said that “with political will”, it is possible to end centuries of entrenched inequality and “move from fate to opportunity”.  

Early investment 

“Investing in early childhood, promoting inclusive education, given young adults a basic income financed through inheritance taxes, and combating anti-poor discrimination are the key ingredients needed to break the cycles of advantage and disadvantage”, Mr. De Shutter said in his statement.  

Acknowledging that many countries pride themselves on ensuring high levels of social mobility, the human rights expert stated that “the truth is that the persistence of privilege at the top, and deprivation at the bottom, are all too commonplace.” 

“The top 10 percent of people living in OECD countries control 52 percent of total net wealth, while the bottom 60 percent own just over 12 percent, condemning the poor to a lifetime of poverty”, he said. According to the report, based on data from countries which are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it takes four to five generations for children in low-income households to reach the mean income in their country. In emerging countries such as Brazil, Colombia or South Africa, it can take up to nine or even more generations.  

Tougher with time 

Observing that children born in disadvantaged families were denied equal opportunity, the Special Rapporteur examined the channels through which poverty is perpetuated, in the areas of health, housing, education and employment. 

“Children born in poor families have less access to healthcare, decent housing, quality education and employment than those in better-off households”, De Shutter said. “This dramatically reduces their chances of breaking free from the poverty trap”.  

Describing the outcomes as “appalling”, the Rapporteur added that children born in a family experiencing poverty are more than three times as likely to be poor, aged 30, than those who were never poor. 

Poverty costs 

The UN rights expert reminded that child poverty is not only “morally unconscionable and a human rights violation”, but also expensive. “In the United States, child poverty costs over one trillion dollars annually, or 5.4% of its GDP, but for each dollar invested on reducing it, seven dollars would be saved,” said the expert.  

Calling for and end to the myth that inequality is an incentive that encourages people to work harder, Mr. De Shutter said that the facts point to the exact opposite: “Inequality lowers social mobility and entrenches advantage and disadvantage over decades. When we fetishize merit, we stigmatize those in poverty or with low incomes, and blame them for their own condition”.  

Call for action 

Stressing that “no child should be penalized for being born in poverty” in mind, and stating that, in fact, “poverty is a failure not of the individual, but of society”, Mr. De Shutter called on governments to act now, “before another generation is condemned to the same fate as their parents”.  

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Finance

Montenegro on Course for Stronger Economic Recovery in 2021

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The Western Balkans region is rebounding from the COVID-19-induced recession of 2020, thanks to a faster-than-expected recovery in 2021, says the latest edition of the Western Balkans Regular Economic Report, Greening the Recovery.

The outlook for the region has improved significantly, with GDP growth now projected to reach 5.9 percent in 2021, after a 3.1 percent contraction in 2020. Growth in the region is projected at 4.1 percent in 2022 and 3.8 percent in 2023.

Driven by a rapid recovery in tourism, Montenegro’s economy is projected to rebound strongly by an estimated 10.8 percent in 2021, the highest rate among the six Western Balkan countries. Strong peak summer season has supported a rebound in tourism revenues, which are likely to reach close to 75 percent of their 2019 levels, from 55 percent previously estimated.

The rebound of economic activity has boosted government revenues, which coupled with careful fiscal management have led to a reduction in fiscal deficit from 11 percent of GDP in 2020 to an estimated 4 percent in 2021. Maintaining fiscal prudence in the medium term will be critical, as uncertainties loom.

“The economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a source of uncertainty, but also presents an opportunity for Montenegro to ensure a resilient, inclusive, and green post-pandemic recovery,” says Christopher Sheldon, World Bank Country Manager for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. “The World Bank is committed to helping Montenegro implement reforms that can help ensure macroeconomic stability, create economic opportunities, and spur strong private-sector led growth”.

The report finds that unemployment in Montenegro remains high as the recovery has not ignited the labor market yet, which limits the pace of resumed poverty reduction. Poverty is projected to decline slowly in 2021, but it remains higher than its 2019 level.

The poverty rate for the region is projected to resume its pre-pandemic downward trend and fall by around 1 percentage point to 20.3 percent, close to its 2019 level.

The regionwide recovery is due to strength in both domestic and external demand. A sharp rebound in domestic consumption and in travel across Europe helped boost remittances as well as tourism inflows during the 2021 peak summer season. A strong recovery in advanced economies also provided a boost to demand for the region’s exports.

However, the recovery remains fragile. Early warning signals from the labor market call for close policy attention. Job losses from the recession and its aftermath have disproportionately affected women and youth, which may set back efforts to raise the region’s perennially low rates of labor force participation. Youth unemployment rose to 37.7 percent in 2021, up 5.4 percentage points from June 2020, further worsening youth employment prospects.

“As the Western Balkans countries look to a post-pandemic future, their policy approach will need to focus on addressing key impediments to job creation and economic transformation, including green transition,” said Linda Van Gelder, World Bank Country Director for the Western Balkans. “All six countries would benefit from reforms in the business environment, governance, and digitalization, which would contribute to growth and close the gap with EU countries.”

The report also looks at the macro-fiscal challenges and drivers of greening the region’s growth. The Western Balkans now find themselves at a key decision point regarding the impending green transition.

Global strides toward climate action are causing fundamental changes in society. Consumer and investor preferences are shifting, green technologies and new business models are disrupting more markets, and green policies are reshaping economic landscapes. As such, greening a country’s economy is becoming a decisive factor in international competitiveness and the ability to attract international finance and investments.

The Western Balkans are no exception. Still characterized by a development model tilted toward familiar brown industries, moving toward a green growth pathway is far from easy, especially in the short term. Yet, the green transition offers significant opportunities for the Western Balkans – including closer integration into Euro-centric global value chains and access to significant EU resources to help fund a green transition.

Effectively managing this green transition, including the many policy tradeoffs, will need to be a core focus of policy attention for the Western Balkans in the years ahead.

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