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Transition bonds: a new tool to fund the shift towards climate sustainability?

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As companies look to shift towards more environmentally sustainable modes of operation, transition bonds are increasingly being seen as a key financial tool for those in fossil fuel or heavy-polluting sectors.

Transition bonds are a relatively new class of debt instrument used to fund a company’s transition towards a reduced environmental impact or lower carbon emissions. They are often issued in fields that would not normally qualify for green bonds, such as large carbon-emitting industries like oil and gas, iron and steel, chemicals, aviation and shipping.

Amid a heightened awareness of the need to reduce carbon emissions, many expected transition bonds to play a key role in global financial markets in 2021.

However, data compiled by BloombergNEF found that, as of mid-May, just six had been issued this year. A total of 11 were issued during 2020 as a whole, according to analysis from non-profit organisation Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), so 2021’s figure to date does not represent a huge increase.

The deals for 2021 include the $300m sale from Castle Peak Power in February, the proceeds of which will be put towards the construction of a gas turbine unit at a power station in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong branch of the Bank of China’s issuance of a $780m transition bond in January for projects aligned with China’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

Elsewhere, in January the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development issued a A$280m ($216.6m) transition bond to finance its portfolio of green transition projects, while in February Italian energy infrastructure company SNAM launched a €750m dual-tranche transition bond to help meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2040.

Appetite for transitioning

While the uptake of transition bonds may have been a little slower than expected, there are some signs that they will play a more prominent role moving forwards.

In February this year the London Stock Exchange announced the establishment of a transition bond segment on its sustainable bond market, while there have been calls for Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to introduce a goal of selling 30 transition bonds by 2023.

In another significant decision, earlier this month the Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced that it would no longer fund coal mining or oil and natural gas production and exploration.

While this was a blow to companies dealing in fossil fuel production, the announcement was an encouraging sign for the future of transition bonds in emerging markets, as the bank noted that it would continue to provide financial support for plants transitioning to cleaner solutions.

“ADB will support developing member countries to mitigate the health and environmental impact of existing coal-fired power plants and district heating systems through financing of emission control technologies,” the bank said in a statement.

Looking ahead, transition bonds are principally expected to benefit from broader global trends towards sustainable or green finance.

Analysis from the CBI released in April found that, despite the severe economic impact of Covid-19, a record $700bn in green, social and sustainable finance was issued last year, almost double the $358bn recorded in 2019.

Indeed, in March S&P Global predicted that transition finance could account for $1trn of the estimated $3trn in annual funding needed to meet long-term climate goals.

Concerns over “transition-washing”

Although many are optimistic about the value of transition bonds, others are concerned about how much of an impact they will actually have in bringing about positive sustainable and environmental outcomes.

A common criticism revolves around just how ambitious many of these transition bonds are, with the absence of clear international standards raising concerns about the potential for “transition-washing” among companies.

To help address this concern, in December last year the Switzerland-based industry trade group International Capital Market Association published the Climate Transition Finance Handbook in order to provide a framework for transition strategies.

The guide, which aims to create general rules for transition-themed green bonds and sustainability-linked bonds, stated that bonds with the “transition” label should clearly stipulate how the funding will be used to support the Paris climate accord.

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Finance

The various ways you can buy gold

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Gold is usually valued as a commodity, currency, and investment for many years. This is why it’s still popular nowadays among investors because you can use gold as a hedge against inflation, currency devaluation, or deflation.

And, because of its ability to give you financial protection during times of economic uncertainty, it can be a good idea to invest in physical gold. Keep in mind that the gold market can be quite liquid and there are various ways in which you can gain exposure to gold including gold bars and coins. This page discusses the various ways you can buy gold.

Physical gold

Physical gold can offer you a direct exposure to gold. When gold is in bulk form, it’s called a bullion, and it can be minted into gold coins or cast into bars. The value of a gold bullion is usually based on its purity and mass rather than the monetary face value. Remember that if gold coins are issued with the monetary face value, the market value still depends on its fine gold content.

You can purchase physical gold from private mints, government mints, jewelers, and precious metal dealers. Because different gold sellers can give the same gold at different prices, it’s crucial for you to do research so that you can find the ideal deal. When you buy physical gold, you need to pay the full price.

Physical gold ownership can involve several costs like the insurance costs, storage costs, transaction fees, and markups related to purchasing and selling the commodity. Also, there can sometimes come with the processing fees as well as a small lot fees, especially if you are making small purchases. Collectively these costs cannot be that significant to affect you when you decide to invest a small portion of your portfolio in gold, but they can also be overwhelming if you want to have a large exposure. Check https://goldtrends.net/gold-ira-companies/ before you invest in gold.

Gold EFTs

EFTs are not like physical gold because you can buy them like shares on any stock exchange. The good thing about EFTs is that it allows you to get access to gold and you can avoid some costs like storage costs, markups, and many more. However, you should expect that you can lose a certain percentage of your investment’s value to the expense ratio of the fund. An expense ratio refers to the recurring annual fee that is charged to the funds to pay for administrative costs and management expenses. As a result, it’s always a good idea to weigh your options when it comes to choosing gold EFTs or having a gold IRA.

It’s also important to note that you need to pay a commission when you decide to purchase and sell an EFT. Many online commissions are usually affordable, but they can always add up if you happen to be an active trader. Besides, most brokers usually charge a high commission, especially for broker-assisted trades, special order types, and automated phone orders. To address the cost concerns that come with EFTs, some brokers are now giving commission-free online trading for some type of EFTs.

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How to ensure your Canadian public documents will be recognized in the EU?

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If you are moving to the EU for work or educational purposes, or you want to live there for a long time and you plan on using your Canadian public documents in different countries throughout the European Union, you must first go through a process so these documents are recognized in the EU. In Canada, this process is called Document Authentication and Legalization, however, others call it Attestation. Before going abroad, you might consider asking a professional company that handles document authentication Canada to help you out with the requirements needed, especially if time isn’t on your side.

Although you can organize the legalization of your documents yourself, if this is your first time authorizing these documents, it might take up a lot of your time and energy. Reputable agents can help speed up the process, so you can get on with the rest of your tasks before your travel to the EU.

What Business Documents do you need to Have Legalized Before entering the EU?

If you want to get your documents authenticated in Canada, you have to get the Department of Foreign Trade and International Affairs to stamp each document. If you are traveling to the EU for business, you might need to get the following documents authenticated:

  • Certificate of export
  • Shipping Document
  • Corporate documents that can be used while in the EU
  • Commercial invoice
  • Certificate of free sale
  • Pharmaceutical certificate
  • Distributorship Agreements

If you travel to the EU without these documents in order, you might find it difficult to carry out the work you had planned. Expect the European Union authorities to inspect these documents thoroughly. If you decide to go it alone instead of hiring an agent to help you out, make sure that you have plenty of time because a lot of these documents can take a long time to get legalized.

Personal Documentation

Although you won’t need these documents if you want to travel to the EU, if you plan on staying there for an extended period, you might need them at some stage. For these files to be recognized throughout the EU, you will need them authenticated. Here are a few examples of the documents you will want to get authorized before you hop on the plane:

If you arrive in the EU without this documentation authenticated, trying to get them recognized in the EU won’t be easy. To make sure your time in the EU goes smoothly, you should make sure that everything is finalized in Canada first.

Travelling to the EU during the Pandemic

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, a lot of areas around Europe have enforced quarantines on those entering from Canada. Each country has its own rules, so before you jet off, find out what the current situation is like. These Covid-19 regulations normally depend on the current situation in Canada, and most embassies will post details on their official website. If you can’t see them on their website, consider making direct contact with the embassy’s officials. Keep in mind that these rules are subject to change, so you should find out the details before you travel.

If you are fully vaccinated, you should have no problems getting into most countries throughout the EU. However, the EU doesn’t recognize every vaccine, even some that are approved by the WHO.

Most of the European countries are accepting fully vaccinated Canadians, but they will ask to see your proof of vaccination. Make sure you bring your travel health certificates with you, as they will show the dates when you received your first and last vaccination. If you haven’t received your vaccinations, then you might be allowed to enter without going into quarantine if you have already had the virus, as long as you have your PCR test completed.

What is the Visa situation for Canadian’s wanting to go to Europe?

At the moment, as long as you have your Covid-19 documents prepared and a valid Canadian passport with at least three blank pages, Canadians should have no issues entering the EU. However, this is going to change in the near future. From the beginning of 2023, Canadians who wish to go on a vacation or plan on working in the EU will have to apply for a travel pass. If you want to enter all the countries in the Schengen Area, you will need to apply for this travel pass online first. This pass is known as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). This electronic scheme was made so the EU can keep track of those travelling around the EU. Canada already has a similar system in place known as the Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization.

You must apply for this before your travel to the EU, but until then, you can still enter with a valid passport. A lot of folks misunderstood the new process and thought it was going to start in early 2021, but the EU released a press release to explain that the changes will be enforced in 2023. However, this isn’t a visa that grants people access to the EU.

What is the Legalization of a Document?

Authentication or legalization of a document that is issued in Canada is a process that will verify, prove, and confirm the genuineness of the position of an official. Each document needs to be stamped by authorized people to allow for it to be recognized throughout the EU.

A lot of the time, the process is theoretically easy. You must submit the documents to get Global Affairs Canada. Every single document must get an official stamp if they are to be recognized. Once they are all stamped, you might have to submit them to the country’s embassy in Canada on where you are planning on going to in the EU so they can be legalized.

Conclusion

Although the process sounds easy, if you are an individual company wanting to do business in the EU, the process can cause a lot of stress. Trying to source the correct documentation and other paperwork might prove to be a lot more challenging than you initially thought. If you have invested heavily, and you are desperate to get to the EU as soon as possible, the process might take a lot longer if you plan on doing it all yourself.

There are plenty of agents out there that can help you through the entire process. They will review your documents before you hand them over to Global Affairs and the embassy, and they will be able to give you expert advice on the process. Experienced agents will understand the current requirements that the Global Affairs officials are looking for. Without having these documents organized before your trip who will struggle to do business in the EU. If you do business without having the paperwork on hand, you could find yourself in trouble with authorities in the EU, which will reflect badly on your business the next time you plan on working inside the European Union.

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Hungary: Reforms to raise productivity would strengthen recovery from COVID-19

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Hungary’s economy is emerging from the crisis caused by COVID-19, yet sustaining the country’s robust pre-pandemic levels of growth will require reforms to foster productivity and job creation, according to a new OECD report.

The latest OECD Economic Survey of Hungary says that with labour shortages being felt as the economy picks up, it is vital to invest in vocational training, digital skills and apprenticeships to match skills with market requirements. Improving transport links and the availability of housing would make it easier for workers in low-employment areas to take up jobs elsewhere. Creating a more competitive and transparent business environment and accelerating firms’ adoption of digital technologies would also bolster the recovery.

“Hungary’s economy was doing well before the crisis, and with external demand picking up, prospects for a solid recovery are good. It is important to use this period, and the forthcoming inflow of EU funds, to raise productivity and competitiveness to ensure a strong and lasting recovery,” said OECD Director of Economic Country Studies Alvaro Pereira, presenting the report alongside Hungary’s Secretary of State for Financial Policy Gábor Gion.

The COVID-19 crisis hit Hungary’s export-oriented economy hard, ending a period of steady growth over 2016-19 that lifted incomes and brought down the unemployment rate to a 30-year low. Policy support to workers and firms, and the swift rollout of vaccines, has smoothed the path to recovery, and the Survey projects growth of 4.6% in 2021 and 5% in 2022, following a drop of 5.1% in 2020. An annual injection of EU structural and Next Generation COVID recovery funds equivalent to around 3.5% of GDP in total from 2021 will support growth if invested well.

Short-term risks remain, such as the impact of a global shortage of semiconductors on Hungarian car production. Targeted support to households and businesses should be continued as long as is needed. Once the recovery is self-sustained, the focus should return to strengthening public finances ahead of looming increases in health and pension spending from an ageing population, the Survey says, including by completing an ongoing increase in the retirement age to 65 by 2022 and linking further increases to gains in life expectancy.


The ageing and shrinking workforce makes it urgent to raise labour productivity. In addition to strengthening vocational and tertiary education, it is key to produce more of the highly skilled engineers and ICT graduates that businesses increasingly demand. In this context, the Survey recommends making high-speed mobile Internet cheaper and helping firms to rapidly adopt digital technologies. Intensifying efforts to fight corruption, including continuing to strengthen the institutional framework, and ensuring the independence and accountability of the judicial system would improve the investment climate and support business dynamism.

Worker mobility could be enhanced by improving transport connections from rural areas into cities, modernising housing regulations to expand the private rental market, and easing some of the rigid licensing and certification requirements on professional occupations. Hungary could also consider increasing the duration of unemployment benefits from the current three months.

Finally, Hungary’s economy would benefit from a more growth-friendly tax structure. The Survey suggests continuing to reduce labour taxes and phasing out distortionary taxes on turnover in sectors like energy, finance and retail which hinder new entry and investment. This could be balanced by increasing consumption, property and environmental tax revenues, while simplifying the value-added tax system by moving to a lower but broader-based VAT rate.

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