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

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“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

Boosting Equitable Development as Kenya Strives to Become an Upper Middle-Income Country

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The World Bank Group (WBG) Board of Executive Directors today voiced its support for the WBG’s latest six-year strategy to support Kenya in its ongoing efforts towards green, resilient, and inclusive development.

The Kenya Country Partnership Framework (CPF) is a joint strategy between the World Bank, the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the government to promote shared prosperity and reduce poverty for the people of Kenya. Informed by extensive stakeholder consultations, the CPF seeks to drive faster and more equitable labor productivity and income growth, greater equity in development outcomes across the country, and help sustain Kenya’s natural capital for greater climate resilience.

The people of Kenya are in a position to reap even greater dividends from the country’s robust economic growth in terms of more durable poverty reduction,” said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Tackling the drivers of inequality now will help to ensure that Kenya can achieve and maintain more equitable development in the long run.”

Over the past decade, Kenya’s economy has outperformed its Low- and Middle-Income Country (LMIC) peers with the growing number of better-educated and healthier Kenyans in the labor force contributing more than any other factor to rising gross domestic product (GDP). More recently, however, the pace of poverty reduction, and then the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed how vulnerable many households are when faced with shocks. Though Kenya’s economy is rebounding from the pandemic and projected to grow by an average 5.4% during 2022-24, the ongoing drought and global inflation are causing poverty to rise. The CPF finds that Kenya is still well positioned to secure more inclusive growth and the WBG is ready to provide support that targets lagging areas and communities with better services and infrastructure that build household and community resilience. In doing so, it aims to help Kenya avoid the inequality and productivity traps experienced by other Middle-Income Countries (MICs).

“Kenya’s private sector is poised to drive faster job creation and to seize new opportunities from global and regional integration,” noted Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC Regional Director for Kenya.This will require a more level playing field for competition and innovation for large and small firms and between public and private enterprises.”

The CPF also aims to help raise the productivity of small firms, small producers, and women entrepreneurs, improve the investment climate across the country, and stimulate more private participation in public service delivery. To support Kenya’s response to climate change, the CPF has programmed investments to reduce water insecurity, and to mobilize more climate finance for both public and private investments.  

MIGA aims to unlock more private sector investment in climate responsive projects in Kenya through innovative financial solutions,” said Merli Baroudi, MIGA Director for Economics and Sustainability. “Kenya’s impressive progress in mobilizing private capital for renewable energy augurs well for other sectors.

The CPF draws on Kenya’s Vision 2030, the new government’s development agenda, a Systematic Country Diagnostic, a Country Private Sector Diagnostic, a Completion and Learning Review of the previous Country Partnership Strategy, and over 34 stakeholder consultations, including with Kenya’s diaspora. The World Bank Group is Kenya’s largest development financier. IFC’s portfolio of private sector investments in Kenya is its fourth largest and fastest growing in Sub-Saharan Africa and MIGA’s financial operations in Kenya are its third largest program in Africa.

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Tehran hosts Iran-Belarus business forum

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Iran’s capital Tehran hosted an Iran-Belarus business forum at Saadabad Palace Complex on Tuesday evening, the portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) reported.

The forum was attended by senior officials from the two sides including First Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Mokhber and Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Roman Golovchenko.

Organized by ICCIMA jointly with the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BelCCI), the business forum was also attended by Iranian Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade Reza Fatemi-Amin, Chairman of the BelCCI Mikhael Miatlikov, and ICCIMA Head Gholam-Hossein Shafeie, as well as heads and representatives of more than 120 Belarusian and Iranian companies.

Forming working groups to remove trade barriers

Speaking at the forum, ICCIMA Head Gholam-Hossein Shafeie called for the formation of joint special working groups in order to identify existing challenges and problems in the way of the trade between the two countries and also to assess the feasibility of joint commercial projects.

According to Shafeie, empowering the two countries’ small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), strengthening banking and insurance cooperation, defining new joint projects, developing and facilitating the issuance of visas for businessmen and tourists, creating the necessary infrastructure for developing economic relations, especially in the commercial, industrial and technical sectors are among the measures that the governments of the two countries can take for boosting mutual trade.

The official also underlined the establishment of a joint trade committee between the chambers of Iran and Belarus as an effective measure for developing trade ties.

Iran to open $100m credit line for Belarusian traders

Further in the forum, Iranian Industry, Mining, and Trade Minister Reza Fatemi-Amin described Belarus as an important country from an industrial point of view and considered the economies of Iran and Belarus to be complementary to each other.

Pointing out that several business delegations have been exchanged between the two countries over the last four months, Fatemi-Amin said: “Fortunately, good agreements have been made so far to improve the financial channels between Iran and Belarus, and we are witnessing improvement in the logistics sector as well.”

At the end of his speech, Fatemi-Amin announced the opening of a $100-million credit line for Belarusian traders who are interested in buying Iranian products.

Iran, Belarus should provide trade, investment infrastructure

Elsewhere in the event, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko said there are numerous fields for cooperation between Iran and Belarus, and considered it necessary to reach an agreement to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

Golovchenko further emphasized that the governments of the two countries should provide an appropriate environment for businessmen to operate.

Tehran Times

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Europe in panic: Six weeks left before the US rolls out ‘industrial subsidies’

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With only six weeks to avoid a transatlantic trade showdown over green industries, the Germans are frustrated that Washington isn’t offering a peace deal and are increasingly considering a taboo-breaking response: European subsidies. Germany mulls breaking subsidy taboo to avoid trade war with Biden, – writes POLITOCO-PRO.

Europe’s fears hinge on America’s $369 billion package of subsidies and tax breaks to bolster U.S. green businesses, which comes into force on January 1.

The bugbear for the Europeans is that Washington’s scheme will encourage companies to shift investments from Europe and incentivize customers to “Buy American” when it comes to purchasing an electric vehicle — something that infuriates the big EU carmaking nations like France and Germany.

The timing of this protectionist measure could hardly be worse as Germany is in open panic that several of its top companies — partly spurred by energy cost spikes after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — are shuttering domestic operations to invest elsewhere.

The last thing Berlin needs is even more encouragement for businesses to quit Europe, and the EU wants the U.S. to cut a deal in which its companies can enjoy the American perks.

A truce seems unlikely, however. If this spat now spirals out of control, it will lead to a trade war, something that terrifies the beleaguered Europeans.

While the first step would be a largely symbolic protest at the World Trade Organization (WTO), the clash could easily slide precipitously back toward the tit-for-tat tariff battles of the era of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

International Affairs

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