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Boosting production, crucial for LDCs, post pandemic

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The world’s poorest countries will remain on the margins of the global economy if States are unable to boost economic production, and the international community fails to provide more support, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) warned.

Their ability to respond to and recover from crises such as COVID-19, and to advance towards sustainable development, is dependent on increasing production capacities, UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report 2021, released on Monday notes, calling specifically for increased investment in State and productive capacities for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) grouping.

“Today LDCs find themselves at a critical juncture,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan. “They need decisive support from the international community to develop their productive capacities and institutional capabilities to face traditional and new challenges.”

Massive investment required

UNCTAD defines productive capacities as “the productive resources, entrepreneurial capabilities and production linkages that together determine the capacity of a country to produce goods and services and enable it to grow and develop.”

Developing production allows the world’s LDCs to foster structural economic transformation, which will in turn help reduce poverty and accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report warns that reaching SDGs will require massive investment and spending, which go well beyond LDCs’ own financial means.

50 year struggle

The UN established the LDC category 50 years ago. The grouping of the world’s weakest economies has expanded from an initial 25 countries in 1971, peaking at 52 in 1991, and stands at 46 today, with only six countries progressing enough to no longer be considered an LDC.

Over the last two decades, only a handful of LDCs have displayed encouraging signs of structural transformation and meaningful productivity improvements, the report said.

Grim outlook

LCDs recorded the worst growth performance in about three decades during 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically highlighted their institutional, economic and social shortcomings, the report highlights.

LDCs’ limited resilience is reflected in their low COVID-19 vaccination rates, as only 2% of their population have managed to get shots, compared with 41% in developed countries.

Ms. Grynspan urged LDCs’ development partners to consider the special needs of the more than one billion living in these countries during UNCTAD’s upcoming conference in October, under the theme, From inequality and vulnerability, to prosperity for all.

Daunting financing needs

The UNCTAD report describes LDCs’ financing needs as ‘daunting’, especially in relation to structural transformation targets.

For example, the report estimated that the average annual investment required to reach the 7 per cent growth target (SDG 8.1) is around $462 billion, while the average annual investment requirements to end extreme poverty (SDG 1.1) in LDCs, is estimated at $485 billion.

The average annual investment required to double the share of manufacturing in GDP (SDG 9.2) is estimated at over $1 trillion. 

To generate sufficient development finance, LDCs will need to strengthen their fiscal capacities, increase domestic resource mobilization and improve the effectiveness of public expenditures, the report said but warned even this will not be enough.

“The international community has an essential role to play in supporting LDCs in their efforts to mobilize adequate financing for their sustainable development needs,” the report said. 

Investment

According to UNCTAD’s analysis, most LDCs will need three to five or more years, to recover the level of GDP per capita they had in 2019.

Domestic efforts to recover need to be supported by a new generation of international support measures that are more closely aligned to LDCs’ needs and 21st-century realities, Paul Akiwumi, director of UNCTAD’s division for Africa and least developed countries said.

“A purposeful industrial policy should be at the core of LDCs’ pursuit of green growth and structural transformation because these countries need to urgently diversify from their overdependence on primary commodities.”

Mr. Akiwumi added that increasing investment in state capacity and productive capacities must be at the heart of the next programme of action for these countries for the decade 2022 to 2031, to be adopted at the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs in January 2022.

He also urged LDC governments to adapt programmes negotiated at the international level to their unique national conditions and to resolve trade-offs when formulating their national developments plans.

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Blue Economy Offers Opportunities for Sustainable Growth in Tunisia

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With support from the World Bank, in June 2022, Tunisia launched its first report on the status of the blue economy. The report, titled in French “L’économie bleue en Tunisie: Opportunité pour un développement intégré et durable de la mer et des zones côtières” (The Blue Economy in Tunisia: An Opportunity for Integrated and Sustainable Development of the Sea and Coastal Areas), recommends initial guidelines for a national strategy in this area. Spearheaded by the Ministry of the Environment and the Secretariat General for Maritime Affairs, the report is the product of extensive consultation with stakeholders in the blue economy, including the public and private sectors, researchers, and various civil society organizations.

Tunisia has more than 1,300 km of coastline. Its coastal areas are home to 7.6 million people (more than 66% of its population) who depend heavily on coastal and marine resources for their livelihoods. The report identifies avenues for sustainable development of the blue economy through tourism, fishing and aquaculture, maritime transport, ocean-based renewable energy, marine biotechnology, and other activities.

The blue economy offers an opportunity for sustainable development and wealth creation for Tunisia through sustainable use of marine and coastal resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and healthy marine and coastal ecosystems,” said Alexandre Arrobbio, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia. “I welcome the Government’s commitment to developing the blue economy in Tunisia as part of its next development plan,” he added.

The report identifies three strategic objectives: (i) promotion of economic growth of maritime activities (ii) social inclusion and gender equality, and (iii) sustainability of natural resources and ecosystem services. To achieve these objectives, five areas of intervention are proposed: establishment of institutional governance; promotion of resources and financing mechanisms; support for job creation, poverty alleviation, the inclusion of vulnerable groups, and gender mainstreaming; development of knowledge of marine and coastal capital; and strengthening of resilience to climate change.

Following the publication of this report, the Tunisian Government and the World Bank will continue their cooperation for the development of the blue economy in Tunisia. The World Bank has mobilized the PROBLUE Trust Fund to undertake the second phase of technical assistance, supporting a roadmap for the development of the blue economy in Tunisia. In the second phase of assistance to Tunisia, the Bank will conduct analyses and offer advice on institutional policies and promotion of public and private investment, in addition to providing support for strategic and operational dialogue with relevant stakeholders.

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Ray Dalio: Dollar-dominated global order is ‘fading away’

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Photo: Asia.Nikkei

With the dollar losing clout and the world dividing into competing currency and economic blocs, American investor Ray Dalio said it will be countries less vulnerable to global conflict like those in Southeast Asia that prosper in coming years.

Dalio, who founded the $150 billion U.S. hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, said that the current world order is changing in ways more similar to the time leading up to and during World War II than the post-war period. “We are seeing each country’s populism and nationalism growing in preparation for greater conflicts,” he said.

Dalio saw greater risk and consequences for a war today than during the Cold War, “because the Soviet Union was never a comparable power to the United States” economically. China has emerged as that economic rival, he said.

And then there is the matter of the dollar’s declining clout. The era of a “dollar-dominated world order” and a globalized economy was “fading away,” Dalio said. “We are now going to have the major powers and their allies form economic, currency, and military blocs.”

In addition to the U.S., Europe and Japan – both mature economies home to key currencies – “have run up very large debts and have developed a dependence on their central banks to print money to buy the government debts,” he said. The increase in debt monetization “will mean that holders of debt assets will get bad inflation-adjusted returns.”

He instead recommended investing in countries that have sound finances, have no serious internal conflicts, are less vulnerable to international war, and are continuing to innovate.

His list included members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations like Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as India and countries in the Saudi Arabia-led Gulf Cooperation Council.

Those desiring globalization will now look beyond the United States, China and Europe,” he said.

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All-In on AI: How Smart Companies Win Big With Artificial Intelligence

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Launching today, “All-In on AI” examines how extensive AI adoption offers a distinct competitive advantage to companies across a wide variety of industries. Widespread AI adoption is no longer merely the tech industry’s prerogative; small to midsize companies and legacy businesses older than Silicon Valley can also benefit by integrating AI into their business strategies. “All-In on AI” delves into real examples of such companies that have transformed their business models, products, processes, strategies, cultures and more by fully embracing AI.

With less than 1% of large companies using AI extensively, the book uncovers and outlines the untapped potential of AI in a quickly accelerating digital world. It draws on the experience of its authors: Tom Davenport, a renowned author, academic, and specialist in business innovation, analytics, and artificial intelligence; and Nitin Mittal, the AI innovation award-winning leader of Deloitte’s AI business, and principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP. By analyzing case studies and working with companies that have seen widespread AI integration transform their business, the authors thoroughly illustrate what it means to be “AI fueled,” from strategic archetypes for adoption to the human side, technology and data, capabilities, and industry use cases.

“All-In on AI” focuses on the transformative capabilities of aggressive AI adoption, rather than the experiments and narrow deployments that characterize most companies’ approaches. The “all in” approach to AI can help companies differentiate themselves from the competition. The book also calls for an assumption of augmentation, in which artificial intelligence and human capabilities can interact in business. It lays out what leaders will need to take into consideration when applying AI broadly across a company’s enterprises.

“At Deloitte, we determined that AI would play a major role in our organization’s future, and we have invested in embedding AI across our audit, tax, consulting and risk advisory businesses. Our commitment to becoming AI fueled means that our professionals and AI systems work closely and collaboratively, augmenting each other” said Jason Girzadas, Deloitte’s managing principal of businesses, global and strategic services. “’All-in on AI’ provides a roadmap for any business leader committed to transforming their business through the power of AI.”

“All-In on AI” will help readers learn:

  • How companies with an “all-in” approach to artificial intelligence can transform their business models, operations and customer relationships and differentiate themselves from non-AI powered counterparts.
  • Why company leadership and culture are fundamental for a successful AI-powered transformation.
  • How AI can enable new business strategies, process designs and products/services for innovation and growth.• How case-study companies have sustainably achieved AI integration at a large scale. 
  • How to develop ethical AI capabilities through transparency, fairness, reliability, privacy, safety, robustness and more.

Learn more about “All-In On AI” and purchase the book on the website.

About the authors
Tom Davenport is the president’s distinguished professor of information technology and management at Babson College, a visiting professor at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, a fellow of the MIT Initiative on the digital economy, and a senior advisor to Deloitte’s AI practice. He pioneered the concept of “competing on analytics” with his best-selling 2006 Harvard Business Review article (and his 2007 book by the same name). He has published over 20 books and over 300 articles for Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and many other publications. He writes columns for Forbes, MIT Sloan Management Review, and the Wall Street Journal. He has been named one of the world’s “Top 25 Consultants” by Consulting magazine, one of the top three business/technology analysts in the world by Optimize magazine, one of the 100 most influential people in the IT industry by Ziff-Davis magazines, and one of the world’s top 50 business school professors by Fortune magazine. He’s also been a LinkedIn Top Voice for both the education and tech sectors.

Nitin Mittal is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP. He currently serves as the U.S. artificial intelligence (AI) strategic growth offering leader. He is the 2019 recipient of the AI Innovator of the Year award at the AI Summit, New York. He specializes in advising clients to achieve competitive advantage through data and AI powered transformations that promote amplified intelligence and enable our clients to make strategic choices and transform ahead of disruption.
Throughout his career, Mittal has served as a trusted advisor on data, analytics and AI and has worked across a number of industry sectors. His primary focus has been working with life sciences and health care clients, implementing large scale data programs that promote organizational intelligence, and the use of advanced analytics and AI to drive insights and business strategy.

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