The COVID-19 pandemic is putting globalization to the test.
In this context, the key challenges of assessing risks to global value chains and developing strategies to increase their resilience were the focus of the fifth edition of the Forum on Globalization and Industrialization, the joint initiative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel). This year’s Forum was held virtually under the title, “Globalization at the Crossroads: Risk, Resilience and Recalibration in Global Trade and Value Chains”, and brought together more than 300 participants from over 60 countries.
In his opening words, UNIDO’s Director General, LI Yong, said, “The pandemic has led to increased scrutiny of some of the established economic paradigms. Globalization, which relies on the premise of international production, trade and investment flows, and which has widened the economic opportunities of millions of people, has been called into question.”
He also highlighted the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic which prompt firms to make their supply chains more resilient. “Reinforcing regional operations by shortening supply chains and staying closer to the consumer is one of the possible strategies. Yet, resilience is not a call for self-sufficiency, and reinforcing regional integration is not a call for anti-globalism,” stated Li.
Professor Felbermayr, President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, said, “In the spring (of this year), scepticism was looming large but today we see that certain problems that we saw are solved. Personal protective equipment is no longer scarce at all.” He further highlighted the relevance of multilateralism for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, taking the example the cross-border cooperation between Biontech and Pfizer that produced the first supplies of a COVID vaccine. But although multilateralism has proven to be efficient during the pandemic, Felbermayr still sees a danger of economies turning inwards in their search for resilience and independence.
Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, discussed the future of global value chains in Egypt and the MENA region. Talking about potential trends towards localized supply chains, Al-Mashat raised doubts about the feasibility of moving supply chains to new regions. She further addressed the concept of green recovery as an international trend, mentioning that both governments and companies increasingly attach importance to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria. “This also pushes, implicitly, a globalized agenda because ESG are rules and guidelines that everyone is reading about, talking about, writing about and trying to comply with.”
“Forty-four percent [of executives surveyed] said they would start to consider resilience at the cost of short-term efficiency,” said Susan Lund, from the McKinsey Global Institute. Lund gave insights into firm-level policies to increase resilience and remarked that the actions to increase resilience, such as dual sourcing, may offer development perspectives for new markets. “We will see trade flows shift more over the next three to five years than we have in the past, as companies seek to diversify their supplier base. And I think this is good news for countries that haven’t participated as heavily in global value chains in the past,” concluded Lund.
Drawing on his long experience as a researcher, Ricardo Hausmann, Professor at the Harvard University, discussed industrial policy implications of the pandemic. Since the pandemic has hit middle-income countries harder than high-income countries in terms of debt growth and GDP reduction, and as the distribution of the vaccine is expected to be later in emerging economies, Hausmann expects adverse effects on the recovery of middle-income countries. “My concern is that there is too little fiscal room in middle-income countries. […] They have been too cautious from a global optimum point of view. There has been an enormous destruction of jobs and firms. So, I think we need more international finance,” said Hausmann.
Based on recent experiences, all panellists agreed that one of the main lessons learned from the pandemic is that value chains have to become more resilient. However, resilience cannot be achieved by turning inward. Instead, companies should focus on building up diversified supply chains which can create development potential for new regions. All panellists also agreed that the road to a sustained recovery requires a strengthening of international collaboration and alignment efforts at different levels and across multiple stakeholders.
New Financing to Help Indonesia Achieve a Deeper and More Resilient Financial Sector
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a loan of US$400 million to support reforms that will help the Government of Indonesia increase the depth, improve the efficiency, and strengthen the resilience of the financial sector.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused recession in Indonesia, with potentially long-lasting financial, fiscal, and social implications. While the banking system is well-capitalized and profitability is high, the lack of depth in the Indonesian financial markets increases the country’s vulnerability to external shocks. The new financing is designed to help the country address financial sector vulnerabilities heightened by the pandemic. It does so through support to measures such as extending financial services to previously underserved groups, reducing the costs of such services for individuals and businesses alike, and strengthening the capacity of the financial sector to withstand financial and non-financial shocks.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has made structural reforms to address financial sector vulnerabilities urgent. The Government of Indonesia is committed to strengthening the financial sector given its critical role in sustaining Indonesia’s growth and in reducing poverty, especially during the COVID-19 recovery phase. “ said Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, Sri Mulyani Indrawati.
The new development policy loan will support Indonesia’s financial sector reforms through three key approaches. First, it aims to increase the depth of the financial sector by expanding the access to financial services – including by youth and women – broadening the range of financial products, and incentivizing long-term savings. These efforts would reduce Indonesia’s vulnerability to foreign portfolio outflows.
Second, it aims to improve the efficiency and lower the cost of the financial sector by strengthening the insolvency and creditor rights framework, protect consumers and personal data, and make payment systems more efficient and faster by utilizing digital technology. The latter will help large-scale social assistance payments to vulnerable people during the crisis.
Third, it aims to boost the capacity of the financial sector to withstand shocks by strengthening the resolution framework to avoid financial activities disruptions in the event of a bank failure, advancing the effectiveness of financial sector oversight and implementing sustainable finance practices.
“This financing complements the government’s efforts to cushion the financial sector and the overall economy from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. By making financial services more transparent, reliable and technology-oriented, savings can be channeled into the most productive investments in a less costly, faster and safer way, thus opening opportunities for people to invest in their future and to protect themselves from unexpected shocks,” said Satu Kahkonen, World Bank Country Director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
The World Bank’s support to financial sector reforms in Indonesia is an important component of the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Indonesia, whose engagement area on strengthening economic resilience and competitiveness contains a specific objective focused on increasing the depth, improving the efficiency and strengthening the resilience of the financial sector. The new financing is also based on the World Bank Group’s GRID (green, resilient, inclusive development) principles.
The BRICS Foreign Ministers Meet To Review Progress
Due to the current global situation of coronavirus pandemic, a meeting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations via videoconference was held early June under the Chair of Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As stipulated by the guidelines, India took over in January 2021.
The five foreign ministers held a frank exchange of views on topical issues of the international agenda, including efforts to strengthen international institutions, regional conflicts, joint efforts to combat new challenges and threats, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and cooperation between the five states at multilateral fora.
They also discussed the current situation, and future prospects of cooperation between the five countries. In the context of the current epidemiological situation, all BRICS countries expressed their solidarity with India and its people. The burden has increased on the healthcare systems. Russia expresses willingness to continue helping India counter this dangerous virus.
Amid the coronavirus-caused crisis, the ministers give priority to invigorating business, trade, economic and investment ties inside BRICS. In this context, they consider it important to implement the BRICS economic partnership strategy endorsed by the leaders during the last summit in 2020.
During the discussions, they acknowledged that the number and complexity of the challenges to the international community and sustainable global development are growing. These are the threats of terrorism, transnational crime, including in the digital sphere, climate change and an expanding rift between the rich and the poor. These problems can be addressed collectively.
Following the meeting, the ministers approved a Joint Communiqué and a Joint Statement on Strengthening and Reforming the Multilateral System. At the 12th BRICS gathering last year, the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa extended full support to India for its BRICS Chairmanship in 2021 and the holding of the 13th BRICS Summit. The five BRICS countries together represent over 3.1 billion people, or about 40 percent of the world population.
World Bank Supports the Modernization of Tajikistan’s Tax Regime
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today $50 million in grant financing from the International Development Association for the Tajikistan Tax Reform Operation. This project will support the implementation of the revised tax code and the modernization of the tax system to balance the objectives of domestic revenue mobilization and private sector development.
“When incentives are such that enterprises and investors actually benefit from being successful in their businesses and honest vis-à-vis the State, the private sector will start to play an increasingly larger role in fostering innovation, creating employment, and broadening the tax base,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “A consistent tax code with predictable tax obligations, as currently prepared by the Government, is expected to promote a more dynamic, innovative, and export-oriented private sector—once decisions on tax audits will be based on risk assessments and consistency checks done within the Tax Committee.”
The Government of Tajikistan has made tax reform a priority, reflecting the increasing importance of improving the business and investment climate and enhancing the competitiveness of the national economy. With the new tax code, currently under review by the Government, Tajikistan seeks to modernize tax administration and base tax policy and revenue collection processes on international practice.
This reform represents a critical building block in efforts to meet the key objectives of the National Development Strategy to 2030, which is to increase people’s incomes by up to 3.5 times and halve poverty by 2030. To meet this goal, Tajikistan would need the contribution of a dynamic private sector, which can finance investments, foster innovation, create jobs, and increase exports.
Currently, the private sector in Tajikistan provides only about one-quarter of total investments and produces less than one-third of industrial output, while providing only limited formal employment opportunities in a young and growing economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted government revenues and tax collection efforts, while increasing the demand for social spending and levels of public debt. This context has made the tax reform even more urgent.
The Tajikistan Tax Reform Operation will contribute to the ongoing tax reform by: 1) simplifying the tax system; 2) enhancing the quality of taxpayer services, and 3) improving voluntary compliance.
The activities, which will support these three broad outcomes, include the development of secondary legislation necessary for implementation of the new Tax Code, the creation of a modern risk assessment methodology based on international experience to guide audits, the introduction of mechanisms for improved effectiveness and transparency of tax expenditures; the introduction of cost-benefit analyses for tax incentives; the simplification of tax reporting requirements and harmonization of tax and financial accounting reporting for selected taxes; the introduction of an automated VAT refund system; the automation of selected taxpayer services; the upgrade of taxpayer service standards based on taxpayer feedback; the implementation of digital signature and upgrade of ICT infrastructure in the Tax Committee; capacity development on modern approaches in tax policy and tax administration; and taxpayer outreach and education.
To maximize the impact of the project, the World Bank is using a financing instrument called Program-for-Results (PforR), which links disbursement of funds directly to the achievement of specific outcomes. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Tax Committee under the Government of Tajikistan over the next six years.
The World Bank is financing 21 projects in Tajikistan totaling $1.1 billion. Since 1996, the World Bank has provided over $2 billion in IDA grants, highly concessional credits, and trust funds for Tajikistan. The World Bank Group is committed to continuing its support for Tajikistan as it strives to improve the lives and meet the aspirations of its young and growing population.
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