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The importance of maritime areas in the Pacific Ocean

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Ocean governance has increased and developed with the continuous progress of globalization since the late 1940s and early 1950s, and it has gradually shaped two approaches: regionalism and internationalization.

Currently, the internationalist pathway of ocean governance is facing headwinds: the challenges of anti-globalization, populism, nationalism, economic protectionism and unilateralism.

The regionalism and internationalization approaches to ocean governance have their advantages and complement each other. Faced with challenges and threats, they are essential for the proper management of inter-ocean traffic and trade, while the advantages of regionalism will gradually be incorporated, thus creating a hybrid pathway.

China, which supports a multilateral pathway by promoting cooperation on maritime governance in the South China Sea and the surrounding areas, is endeavouring to gaining more voice in the reconstruction of the world maritime governance system, so as to favour the most feasible option of building an “ocean community”.

Other countries of greater or lesser importance in the strategic balance of power are also acting in this direction. The future is thalassocratic and this is mainly demonstrated by the 8th Annual World Ocean Conference (WCO-2019) held on November 2-4, 2019 in Shenzhen, China.

Heads of State and government, as well as distinguished guests from around the world, were present at the opening ceremony, representing over 30 countries. Over 500 conference attendees spoke during the three-day conference.

Not only China, however, is taking action along these lines. Both the United States and Japan attach great importance to the security of maritime channels, and both sides have their own strategic understandings and arrangements.

As previously noted, securing their presence in the maritime channels is the main pathway for the two countries in view of deepening military cooperation and promoting the strengthening of their alliance.

Within this alliance, the continuous improvement of the “self-defence” ability of the Japanese maritime channel is not reflected only in Japan’s response to the strategic needs of the ally, but is also shown by the fact that Japan – outside the framework of the Japanese-U.S. agreements – takes independent actions from time to time.

It attempts to rebuild its own maritime power, although the U.S. and Japanese unitary strategic priorities are different. The two countries have taken various measures to intervene jointly in maritime rights disputes in the region where a certain maritime channel is located, and this intensifies regional security tensions.

Furthermore, since the Cold War the security cooperation between Japan and Australia has gradually strengthened, and the transition from “indirect” to “quasi” allies has been achieved. There are three main reasons underlying all this: the United States has been promoting it; the economic spillover between the two countries; holding China off.

This has multiple impacts on the bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as on the Asia-Pacific alliance system, and on the regional security environment. With regard to China, attention must be paid to its autonomy and to the enhanced integration of interests with Japan and Australia, with a view to reducing the probable security threats to the Middle Empire, and fostering the construction of a diverse and inclusive regional security order in the South China Sea region.

As starting point of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, the said sea is also the central area of the strategic transformation of China’s Defence and Merchant Navy. The South China Sea is not only the intersection of China’s two X-shaped strategic maritime lines derived from the Silk Road, but also China’s “Asian Mediterranean” and “Caribbean Sea”, i.e. the starting point for the central strategic transformation of the Chinese Navy.

In the Silk Road context, the construction of the future Chinese Navy will gradually define the South China Sea as the basic axis that will develop the strategy from the Indian Ocean to the Western PacificOcean: the South China Sea as the strategic foundation of the Silk Road, with all its consequences from the economic, commercial, military and hence geopolitical viewpoints.

Meanwhile, China and the Philippines – an important factor in that sea – have been actively promoting oil and gas development cooperation in the South China Sea in recent years.

The legal obstacles in the early joint development practices between the two sides are still the main restrictive factors in advancing cooperation. China and the Philippines have differences over the fact that part of the Nasha Archipelago (the Spratly Islands, rich in deep-sea oil fields) are disputed between the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam.

It is difficult for both sides to reach an agreement on the legal nature and implementation of the law for development cooperation.

In the current legal dilemma and in the situation of the South China Sea, this may become an additional factor of friction. While taking the opportunity to resolve this legal dilemma, it is particularly necessary to apply international law in this dispute.

Since the time when the United States has proposed the Indo-Pacific strategy, Japan, India and Australia – the three pillars of the White House’s maritime strategy – have responded positively, by introducing their own geopolitics and establishing the so-called four-nation mechanism.

ASEAN, which is located in the core area of the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, has never been paid the attention it deserves from the United States, thus showing hesitations towards the White House strategy.

It believes that the U.S. moves in the South China Sea hinder the development and security of the respective countries. Due to the inability to deal with China on its own, the United States is pursuing the Southeast Asianisation of its strategy by relying on large countries in the macro-region and neglecting the less powerful ones, instead of directly favouring the ASEAN States.

In essence, the United States has minimized ASEAN’s internal unity and shaken the presence of that international organization in the region.

With specific reference to Europe and the former great British and French Navies, there is nothing or almost nothing in geopolitical terms. As to Italy which, at least since the end of World War II, has no longer pathetic sea imperialistic ambitions, like the aforementioned countries, we can perceive some interesting developments.

The connection between Genoa and Shenzhen, one of the main ports of call in China, which alone generated a GDP of 352 billion dollars in 2018, is already well-established.

Shenzhen Port is a collective name for a series of ports along parts of the Shenzhen coastline in the Guangdong Province, including Yantian, Shekou, Chiwan, Mawan, Dachan Bay, Dongjiaotou, Fuyong and Xiagong.

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy in March 2019, an agreement was signed with the aim of cooperating in the implementation of the extraordinary urgent investment program for the recovery and development of the Genoa Port following the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in August 2018.

During the visit, 39 institutional and commercial agreements were signed, covering a wide range of topics and industrial sectors, all dominated by a comprehensive non-binding treaty for Italy to cooperate with China in the new Silk Road.

Italy has opportunities to develop one of the major areas of the Chinese will of change, i.e. environmental-friendly and abundant renewables. This objective includes the studies for tidal energy.

The University of Pisa has studied a device placed on the sea bottom and a mobile system following the tidal cycle. Chinese concerns about the elimination of coal or the advantages of desalination should not be overlooked.

With specific reference to tidal energy, European universities – the Turin University, in particular – have identified three optimization strategies: a) turbines working in both directions of the tide-induced currents; b) turbines installed under floats, but without exposing the devices to storms; c) turbines attached to cables, as designed for the equipment in the Strait of Messina.

Also Dimemo, a system for obtaining tidal energy operating in the Port of Naples, is working perfectly.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Economy

Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake to Boost Malawi’s Economic Recovery

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Lunzu market in southern Malawi. WFP/Greg Barrow

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries including Malawi have struggled to mitigate its impact amid limited fiscal support and fragile health systems. The pandemic has plunged the continent into its first recession in over 25 years, and vulnerable groups such as the poor, informal sector workers, women, and youth, suffer disproportionately from reduced opportunities and unequal access to social safety nets.

Fast-tracking COVID-19 vaccine acquisition—alongside widespread testing, improved treatment, and strong health systems—are critical to protecting lives and stimulating economic recovery. In support of the African Union’s (AU) target to vaccinate 60 percent of the continent’s population by 2022, the World Bank and the AU announced a partnership to assist the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative with resources, allowing countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million Africans. This extraordinary effort complements COVAX and comes at a time of rising cases in the region.

I am convinced that unless every country in the world has fair, broad, and fast access to effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines, we will not stem the spread of the pandemic and set the global economy on track for a steady and inclusive recovery. The World Bank has taken unprecedented steps to ramp up financing for Malawi, and every country in Africa, to empower them with the resources to implement successful vaccination campaigns and compensate for income losses, food price increases, and service delivery disruptions.

In line with Malawi’s COVID-19 National Response and Preparedness Plan which aims to vaccinate 60 percent of the population, the World Bank approved $30 million in additional financing for the acquisition and deployment of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. This financing comes as a boost to Malawi’s COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness project, bringing World Bank contributions in this sector up to $37 million.

Malawi’s decision to purchase 1.8 million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines through the AU/African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) with World Bank financing is a welcome development and will enable Malawi to secure additional vaccines to meet its vaccination target.

However, Malawi’s vaccination campaign has encountered challenges driven by concerns regarding safety, efficacy, religious and cultural beliefs. These concerns, combined with abundant misinformation, are fueling widespread vaccine hesitancy despite the pandemic’s impact on the health and welfare of billions of people.  The low uptake of COVID-19 vaccines is of great concern, and it remains an uphill battle to reach the target of 60 percent by the end of 2023 from the current 2.2 percent.

Government leadership remains fundamental as the country continues to address vaccine hesitancy by consistently communicating the benefits of the vaccine, releasing COVID data, and engaging communities to help them understand how this impacts them.

As we deploy targeted resources to address COVID-19, we are also working to ensure that these investments support a robust, sustainable and resilient recovery. Our support emphasizes transparency, social protection, poverty alleviation, and policy-based financing to make sure that COVID assistance gets to the people who have been hit the hardest.

For example, the Financial Inclusion and Entrepreneurship Scaling Project (FInES) in Malawi is supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises by providing them with $47 million in affordable credit through commercial banks and microfinance institutions. Eight months into implementation, approximately $8.4 million (MK6.9 billion) has been made available through three commercial banks on better terms and interest rates. Additionally, nearly 200,000 urban households have received cash transfers and urban poor now have more affordable access to water to promote COVID-19 prevention.

Furthermore, domestic mobilization of resources for the COVID-19 response are vital to ensuring the security of supply of health sector commodities needed to administer vaccinations and sustain ongoing measures. Likewise, regional approaches fostering cross-border collaboration are just as imperative as in-country efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. United Nations (UN) partners in Malawi have been instrumental in convening regional stakeholders and supporting vaccine deployment.

Taking broad, fast action to help countries like Malawi during this unprecedented crisis will save lives and prevent more people falling into poverty. We thank Malawi for their decisive action and will continue to support the country and its people to build a resilient and inclusive recovery.

This op-ed first appeared in The Nation, via World Bank

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An Airplane Dilemma: Convenience Versus Environment

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Mr. President:  There are many consequences of COVID-19 that have changed the existing landscape due to the cumulative effects of personal behavior.  For example, the decline in the use of automobiles has been to the benefit of the environment.  A landmark study published by Nature in May 2020 confirmed a 17 percent drop in daily CO2 emissions but with the expectation that the number will bounce back as human activity returns to normal.

Yet there is hope.  We are all creatures of habit and having tried teleconferences, we are less likely to take the trouble to hop on a plane for a personal meeting, wasting time and effort.  Such is also the belief of aircraft operators.  Add to this the convenience of shopping from home and having the stuff delivered to your door and one can guess what is happening.

In short, the need for passenger planes has diminished while cargo operators face increased demand.  Fewer passenger planes also means a reduction in belly cargo capacity worsening the situation.  All of which has led to a new business with new jobs — converting passenger aircraft for cargo use.  It is not as simple as it might seem, and not just a matter of removing seats, for all unnecessary items must be removed for cargo use. They take up cargo weight and if not removed waste fuel.

After the seats and interior fittings have been removed, the cabin floor has to be strengthened.  The side windows are plugged and smoothed out.  A cargo door is cut out and the existing emergency doors are deactivated and sealed.  Also a new crew entry door has to be cut-out and installed. 

A new in-cabin cargo barrier with a sliding access door is put in, allowing best use of cargo and cockpit space and a merged carrier and crew space.  A new crew lavatory together with replacement water and waste systems replace the old, which supplied the original passenger area and are no longer needed.

The cockpit gets upgrades which include a simplified air distribution system and revised hydraulics.  At the end of it all, we have a cargo jet.  If the airlines are converting their planes, then they must believe not all the travelers will be returning after the covid crisis recedes.

Airline losses have been extraordinary.  Figures sourced from the World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organization reveal air carriers lost $370 billion in revenues.  This includes $120 billion in the Asia-Pacific region, $100 billion in Europe and $88 billion in North America.

For many of the airlines, it is now a new business model transforming its fleet for cargo demand and launching new cargo routes.  The latter also requires obtaining regulatory approvals.

A promising development for the future is sustainable aviation fuel (SAP).  Developed by the Air France KLM Martinair consortium it reduces CO2 emissions, and cleaner air transport contributes to lessening global warming.

It is a good start since airplanes are major transportation culprits increasing air pollution and radiative forcing.  The latter being the heat reflected back to earth when it is greater than the heat radiated from the earth.  All of which should incline the environmentally conscious to avoid airplane travel — buses and trains pollute less and might be a preferred alternative for domestic travel.

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Economy

There Is No Business, Like Small Business: New Strategy

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Marc Chagall, Circus Horse, 1964

Once upon a time, all big businesses of the world were only small businesses. However, occasionally, when big businesses classified as too big to fail, it is the special status when they start failing their own nations, damaging common good, hurting humankind at large. This is when big business allowed to morph into a Godzilla to trample all over the governments and institutions and line them up as hostages. Study the rise and fall of the world’s largest business empires of last century. 

Now Showtime: There is no business, like small business, because the small business sector is not only a giant business, but also the biggest layer of the economy, largest contributor in kind to its nation, adding jobs, paying taxes and creating real value creation, while taking all the abuse and bureaucratic nonsense.  Hence, post pandemic recovery will take no prisoners and harshly unleash economic challenges as mirror on the economic development competency and question national priorities. Here, no worries, as usual the big business will always take care of itself. Small business will be the only game left in town, something for the political leadership to cling on to and something for local trade groups to try to claim as success. The definitions on what is big and what is small are both on the table for honest evaluation and equally juxtaposed need a declaration on what business serves the economy of the nation and what business destroys the economies of nation.

New math of the post pandemic world clearly shakes down old mindsets. Unless national economic development leaders, trade groups and trade associations acquire proven entrepreneurial experiences, expertise and tactical battlefield capability at the very top and display a warrior mindset to upskill for global competitive excellence, they are just a dance party with water pistols.  Entrepreneurialism is the real value creation driving force behind the economy and not a value manipulation exercise with some certificates. Any misunderstanding on such issues only creates shiny cities, surrounded by tent-cities. Study the global economic chaos and worklessness is creeping across the world.

The illusion of super big technology driving super global growth is another myth of crypto-tyrannies. The worshiping super magnanimous technologies, including Facebook engaged in stealing the future from the next generations, now manipulating data to divide and conquer elections and serving special agenda groups causing tribalism and global socio-economic damage. Study how the future routinely stolen in broad daylight by Social Media. 

Mutation of economic thought:  Why is creation of fake economies much easier; this is where zeros bought, sold and traded as real assets, everything multiplied, subtracted, divided but nothing adds up, there are no bottom-line totals, ever. When columns do not fit anywhere, like an abstract art on canvas, for the eye of the beholder they glow in the dark. Hence, cubism-finances  and impressionist-economies, while on the other hand, real value creation economy is one of the hardest journeys,it isrealentrepreneurialism wrapped in integrity and solid hard day’s work creating common good. The reason is that small medium businesses have lost trust in their government and major institutions, while they paint the economy as abstract art and print invisible unlimited money but SME only thrown in jail if they only photocopy a dollar bill.  Covidians demand a new narrative on economic affairs and overall totals of budgets.

Unless trade groups of nations assembled and thanked profusely for their work done over the last century. Invited to join as new players, as this is now a new page for a new age and a new direction for a new digital future. Let meritocracy chart out the future of trade-groups; let vertical sectors build their own independent global age narratives to ride on entrepreneurial mindsets. When methodical agenda on simultaneous synchronization bring all key components under master plan tabled critical thinking and hardcore business experiences should lead. When vertical groups and all upskilling and reskilling features interact on digital platforms combined, eventually they will all see the light and most importantly learn the future of the global-age of digital commerce. Upskilling of all layers is critical so all grow together. Reskilling to create real value production is essential so it becomes a sustainable model. 

With no room to spend another decade on some academic feasibility studies, organize a warrior team to undertake such mobilization developments. Such national mandates are often not new funding dependent rather execution starved and deployment hungry. Why shut down the electricity of the building and climb the skyscraper via the staircase.  With the majority of nations locked up in an old mindset on digitization, today, they simply cannot zip up to the top floor, exhausted and breathless as they are climbing stairs and badly stuck on lower floors.  Pandemic recovery is harsh. Fire the first person who says they need heavy new funding, fire the second person who says they are too busy to change. Change is a gift for free but for the right mindset.

The New Trends: National mobilization of entrepreneurialism will advance; small and medium businesses will grow, as they have no choice but to upskill innovative excellence and reskill for quality manufacturing of goods and services. Learn from Asia, study Africa, stop reading newspapers but the world maps, acquire new math from ‘population-rich-nations’, and expand collaborative alliances with the knowledge-rich-nations to reach global markets.

New Trends on Small Medium Business Economy:

The new math:  why all over the world it is now attracting new entrepreneurs at rapid speed? Why are Covidians all over the world refusing high-rise, low pay, cubical-slavery and transforming to creative freedom, global-age access and hammocks. Today a USD $1000 investment in technology buys digital solutions, which were million dollars, a decade ago. Today, any micro-small-medium-enterprise capable of remote working models can save 90% of office and bureaucratic costs and suddenly operate like a mini-multi-national with little or no additional costs.

The new uplifts: How struggling economies are now exploring the “National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism on Digital Platforms of Exportability Protocols” as alternate revolutionary thinking. Study how Africa model under Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is expanding and why the groups of western developed economies are so fearful of such a mega shift in thinking. Study Expothon on Google.

The new speed: If Agrarian age to industrial age took a millennia, while industrial age to computer age took a century, now from cyber-age to paperless, cash-less, office-less and work-less age it is almost knocking the door, just open and see. Is this the revenge of The Julian Calendar, time like a tsunami drowning us in our own depths of performance, challenging our lifelong learning and exposing our critical thinking forcing us to fathom the pace of change, swim or drown?

Time to study deeply, why forest fires always put out by creating more selected fires;  therefore let government and bureaucracy stay where they are, while creating a far superior brand new meritocracy centric digital firefighting unit to act at the top and bring required results. The cost is a fraction of what routinely wasted 1000 times in lost and missed opportunities.

Time to appreciate, why is the fear of exposure of limited talent the number one fear of adapting digitizationas digital-divide is just a mental-divide.Why without digitization there is no economy and why it has taken decades?

Time to apply entrepreneurial mindset, why incentivizing all frontline management of all midsize business economic development and foreign investment attraction and export promotion bodies is a requirement of time? Observe the power of entrepreneurial mindset in the driver seat, deploy national mobilization of midsize economies, accept upskilling as a national mandate, and digitization as national pride.

Is there any authoritative leadership on entrepreneurialism present in the boardroom?  No need to have chills, as mainly from Asia, there are some 500 million new entrepreneurs already on the march, therefore, no need to ask where are they headed but rather ask where your national entrepreneurialism is going? Study why entrepreneurialism is neither academic-born nor academic centric, why all most successful legendary founders that created earth shattering organizations were only the dropouts?

Is there a new realization or back to water pistol games? Not to be confused with academic courses on fixing Paper-Mache economies and already broken paperwork trails, chambers primarily focused on conflict resolutions, compliance regulations, and trade groups on taxation policy matters.  Mobilization of small medium business economy is a tactical battlefield of advancements of an enterprise, as meritocracy is the nightmarish challenges for over 100 plus nations where majority high potential sectors are at standstill on such affairs. Surprisingly, such advancements are mostly not new funding hungry but mobilization starved. Observe the trail of silence. The empty shelves are not supply chain issues but symptoms of broken down economies. Economies are not cryptopia; they are about real value creation by the local small medium business forces to create local grassroots prosperity. The failure is not having the right mindsets.

Five things to watch for the year 2022: US election will surprise the world as it has the last two times. World economies tested, financially along with leadership competency levels. Big business will remain big and undisturbed.  The Covidian will march for truth. Small medium business mobilization will further grow as a reliable answer to the economy and jobs.This is how humankind will crawl towards critical thinking.

The rest is easy

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