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FORE International Business Conference: Future of Business in the New Global Realities

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Fore business

“India and Russia are connected with long standing relations that are based on a firm foundation of long-term friendship and mutual sympathy of our nations”, saidDr. Alexander L. Rybas, Trade Commissioner of the Russian Federation to India. He was delivering the inaugural address as Chief Guest of the FORE International Business Conference (FIBC) 2020 on the “Future of Business in the New Global Realities” organized by FORE School of Management, New Delhi, India, on November 27-28, 2020 in virtual mode.

FIBC 2020 brought together eminent scholars and diplomats to deliberate on the new global realities, and to decipher a pragmatic roadmap relevant to global business and policy-making efforts. More than thirty research papers were presented in six technical sessions spread across the two days.The technical sessions included those on International Trade and WTO Issues; Technology, Strategy and the New Realities; International Finance and the Financial Systems; Global Marketing and Consumer Research; Cross-cultural Contexts and Organisational Studies; and, Geo-economics and the Geopolitical Architecture. Besides, there was a dedicated plenary session on Discourse on New Global Realities that examined the geopolitical discourse and strategic realities in the Indo-Pacific region. Also, there was another plenary session dedicated to Africa and titled as India-Africa Business Forum, which was organised under the aegis of FIBC 2020 by FORE School of Management in collaboration with The Diplomatist. The conference ended with a valedictory session.

In his inaugural address, Dr. Rybas, who also served as the State Secretary and Deputy Chairman of the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service (Rostechnadzor) in the Russian Federation, emphasised on India-Russia bilateral trade potential. He asserted that the long-term goal of the India-Russia trade relations is to achieve a bilateral trade of $30 billion by 2025, coupled with a growth in mutual investment flows to at least $50 billion. He said that in order to achieve these goals, it is necessary to focus on updating the bilateral legal framework e.g. signing of the free trade agreement between Eurasian Economic Union and India. He emphasised that such integration efforts will help remove tariff barriers, reduce quantitative restrictions, simplify rules for import licensing and the use of anti-dumping measures, while also bringing Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures in line with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulations. He emphasised that there is immense potential for cooperation between Russia and India and mentioned that in sectors such as information and communication technology, fin-tech, space exploration, environmental protection, engineering services, educational services, quantum technologies, and data security, such prospects are being actively discussed. Moreover, he also mentioned about the growing interest of the Indian side on Arctic research.

The conference began with an opening remark by Dr. Faisal Ahmed, Conference Convenor, FIBC 2020. Dr. Ahmed, who is an Associate Professor of International Business at FORE School of Management pointed out key issues that can help comprehend a pandemic-induced global order. Referring to the United States-China rivalry, he called for geopolitical isostasy that can establish an equilibrium among key factors viz. indispensability of economic partnership, response to humanitarian needs, and pro-active security cooperation. He also discussed about mega-regionalism in international trade citing examples of Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and maintained that they are destined to play a larger role in the post-pandemic world. He also emphasised on climate change related vulnerabilities citing examples of challenges faced by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and argued that these challenges should be factored in managerial decision-making.

Dr. Jitendra Das, Director, FORE School of Management, New Delhi delivered the welcome address. Dr. Das maintained that in the past few decades, there have been a series of trade agreements to essentially ease flow of goods and services among the partnering countries. However, because of the changing geopolitics in the recent past, he said that, the United States’ ‘America First’ and India’s ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ are attempting to focus on local production, thereby diluting cross-border trade. He emphasised that India and the United States’ banning certain products from across the border paints a very different picture as far as cross-border trade is concerned. Such actions, he argued, are primarily a result of reported cost parity disruptions. Dr. Das, who has also served as a Professor of Marketing and as Founder Dean of Noida Campus of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow, maintained that undue state control on the cost of production, and predatory pricing,are unfair for trade competitiveness.

Hon’ble Dr. Shekhar Dutt, Former Governor of Chhattisgarh, and Ex-Defence Secretary, Government of India delivered the Distinguished Keynote Address of the conference. He began by giving a historical overview of the defence and industrial capabilities of Russia. Dr. Dutt, who also served as Deputy National Security Advisor in the Government of India said that the Soviet Union brought in a massive amount of change from the First World War to the Second World War and depicted huge capabilities in their defense technologies and also in certain other industrial technologies. Talking in context of emerging realities in the domain of business, he called for organizations and people who are able to anticipate changes and convert them into opportunities for developing organizational competitiveness. He also emphasised on the increasing role of technology in the global business environment. Dr. Dutt maintained that in the new global realities, it is pertinent for organisations to revisit their business models accordingly.

This was followed by a special address by Prof. Vinayshil Gautam, an internationally acclaimed management thinker and practitioner. He emphasised on how the new global realities are shaping the world. He explained about investments in healthcare with a particular emphasis on Covid19vaccines. Further, Prof. Gautam also discussed about the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and highlighted its immense potential and growth prospects. He also asserted that businesses will come to countries and conglomerates with strong financial sectors. He substantiated it by taking example of China’s booming exports and how it was the only country which benefited even in the times of Covid19. Prof. Gautam, who is also Vice Chairman of FORE School of Management, and earlier held prestigious positions including being Founder Director of IIM Kozhikode and Emeritus Chair Professor at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, explained the importance of technological development by taking examples of the United States,Russia and BIMSTEC,and emphasised on manufacturing and regional trade prospects.

Prof. Arpita Mukherjee, Professor, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), New Delhi, also delivered a special address. She emphasised on Industrial Revolution 4.0 and highlighted the potential and prospects. She also discussed about the impact of Covid19 and argued that it is important for organizations to adapt to the disruptions. She complimented the ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ program and localization in manufacturing, while also highlighting the challenges it faced especially related to supply chains. She emphasised upon new business opportunities in technology particularly in finance, health, artificial intelligence (AI), IT and other areas. She also discussed about the lack of patents and copyrights in the field of green technology which are required in order to compete with other countries. Prof. Mukherjee, a leading economic and trade policy researcher, also suggested that businesses should engage in a constructive dialogue with the government on digital financial inclusion. In addition, she also called upon the businesses to seek WTO approved subsidies and support to enhance their global competiveness.          

Finally, Dr. B.B.L. Madhukar, Chairman, FORE School of Management delivered the vote of thanks. In his speech, he also emphasised on developing India’s potential in key sectors like IT. Dr. Madhukar, who also serves as Director General of the BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi maintained that Indian businesses should focus on research-based outcomes and should be able to compete with China and other countries. He further emphasised on India’s immense potential emanating from its workforce and stressed on the need for enhanced training and skill development to foster the potential of youth in the country. Comparing India with China in decision-making systems, he elaborated on how India works on inclusive and a consensus-based system.

The inaugural session of FIBC 2020 set the tone for the successive technical and plenary sessions. The 2-day international conference was supported by the Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA). The Diplomatist, a leading foreign affairs publication, was the media partner of the conference. The conference included participation by distinguished scholars and diplomats from various countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Poland, Turkey, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, and from other countries in Africa and Central Asia. The Rapporteuring of the inaugural session was done by Mr. Shashank S. Natarajan,Ms. Ritika Dobhal, and Mr. Pranav Arora, the participants of International Managers’ Group (IMG) program of the FORE School of Management.

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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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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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North Macedonia’s Growth Projected Higher, but Economy Still Faces Risks

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macedonia

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.

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.

For North Macedonia, this translates into a growth projection of 4.6 percent for 2021, much higher than the forecast in spring. “This positive outlook is still surrounded by downside risks, with the pace of immunization low and supply chains still disrupted, while financial conditions have started tightening,” said Massimiliano Paolucci, World Bank Country Manager for North Macedonia and Kosovo.

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 Regional 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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