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India-Australia Trade Deal: Cementing the Strategic Partnership

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India and Australia signed a bilateral trade deal on April 2, which will come into force in three-four months once the Australian Parliament ratifies it after elections there. Termed as   India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IndAus ECTA), the deal is expected to raise bilateral trade  to $45-50 billion after five years from the current level of $27.5 billion. Under the agreement, Australia offers zero duty access to India for about 96 .4 per cent of exports (by value), while India  offers zero duty up to 85 per cent of items, including coal, sheep meat, and wool, and a progressive reduction of duty for the remaining items,  including Australian wines, almonds, lentils, and certain fruits,  over 10 years.[i] Viewing the ECTA as an “early harvest deal”, both countries have decided to conclude the long pending Free Trade Agreement (FTA), officially dubbed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), as soon as possible.[ii] The major difference in the FTA has been India’s sensitivities about dairy, wheat, and beef, major export items of Australia,[iii] so ECTA will remain the official pact for some time. 

The deal, signed amid the Ukraine crisis in which both countries are not on the same page, however, suggests that strengthening cooperation between both the countries is necessary to ensure peace and tranquillity in the Indo-Pacific. When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morison held a virtual summit on March 21, both leaders “committed to holding Annual Summits to drive closer cooperation”.[iv]  As India is not part of any of the regional economic groupings such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), bilateral trade agreements strengthens India’s relationship with major economies of the Indo-Pacific.  

The trade pact is economically and strategically advantageous for both countries. Since India’s major import items from Australia are raw materials and intermediary products, India stands to get cheaper  raw materials which will boost the competitiveness of the Indian industry. Similarly, India’s labour-intensive sectors such as textiles and apparel, leather, few agricultural products, jewelry, electrical goods, and railway wagons will find a new market, hitherto dominated by Chinese, Japanese, and Western products.

For Australia, a close economic partnership with India is a strategic bulwark against the Chinese dominance in the Australian economy. China is Canberra’s largest trading partner, accounting for nearly one third of total trade (31 per cent), and the sixth-largest foreign direct investor in Australia ($44 billion in 2020)[v]. However, the trade-induced close relationship started deteriorating since the Covid pandemic began in 2020, when Australian PM Scott Morison demanded an independent enquiry into the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic from its source in Wuhan, China. Beijing retaliated with a series of restrictions on imports from Australia which include iron ore, beef, lobster, timber, and lamb, and warned of stopping Australian coal exports to China.[vi] In May 2020, Beijing slapped an 80 percent “anti-dumping” tariff on Australian barley, a move that was expected to cost Australia 500 million Australian dollars (USD 350 million) a year.[vii]

China accounts for 43 per cent of Australia’s total export worth USD116.82 billion in 2021[viii],  of which iron ore, coal, gold, frozen bovine meat, and wine have dominated the bilateral trade, which are also Australia’s major export basket.[ix] Despite the high pitched trade war between the two, Australian exports to China increased during the 2020-2021 period,[x] but Canberra wants to reduce its dependence on Beijing and negate using bilateral trade for strategic objectives by China.  India could be an alternative market for Australian iron ore and coal as New Delhi’s demand for these raw materials is rising while other sources of imports such as Indonesia and South Africa have become costly.[xi]

Under the deal, Australia would allow easy access for Indian students, and professionals, and a quota for Indian chefs and yoga teachers.[xii] This would change foreigners’ demographic profile in Australia by the next decade. Currently, India’s diaspora in Australia numbers approximately 700,000 but is the second-highest taxpaying diaspora after the British.[xiii] Easy visa access for Indian professionals will help outnumber Chinese-born Australians over the next decade, the largest Asian community in Australia.

Cementing the strategic partnership

A close economic relationship is the last leg of Cold War legacies in India- Australia relations. When the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was formed in 1989 under the Australian initiative, India was found no economic and strategic value for Canberra, and the apathy continued for a while. Australia was the first country to withdraw from the first quad formation in 2007, citing ‘anti-China’ nature of the grouping. For instance, the Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson during his visit to China in July, prior to the Malabar 2007 Naval  exercise, stated that “Australia doesn’t want to do anything unnecessarily that upsets any other country [China]”, and not interested in “pursuing quadrilateral dialogue with India”[xiv]. However, the Quad members were worried about China’s high growth in defence spending and demonstration of new military technology such as ASAT missiles so did choose to continue bilateral engagements. Since then India-Australia strategic partnership has gradually picked up momentum, forming the ‘Strategic Partnership’ in 2009 and a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ (CSP) in 2020.[xv]

Australia has been keen to embrace India for strategic partnership, given China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea where Beijing has placed cruise missiles in the artificial islands, thus reaching the threat close to Australia.   Considering the importance to India in Australia’s security framework, the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper states that “India is in the front rank of Australia’s international partnerships with congruent security interests”[xvi]; Australian Department of Defence’s Defence Strategic Update of 2020, reiterates India’s role along with Japan in the Indo-Pacific for promoting “shared interests in global rules and norms”.[xvii] Australia joined the Malabar Naval exercise in 2020, five years after Japanese participation, which has now become the ‘Malabar quad’ naval exercise. In the strategic framework economic and security cooperation go hand in hand, so the trade deal would help cementing the strategic partnership between New Delhi and Canberra.


[i] PTI, “India, Australia ink trade pact; thousands of Indian goods to get duty-free access”, The Times of India, April 2, 2022, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/india-australia-ink-trade-pact-thousands-of-indian-goods-to-get-duty-free-access/articleshowprint/90615312.cms

[ii] PTI, “India, Australia hold talks on free trade pact”, The Hindu, February 10, 2022, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/india-australia-hold-talks-on-free-trade-pact/article38408641.ece

[iii] Kallol Bhattacharjee, “India, Australia edge closer to final ‘interim deal’ on trade”, The Hindu, February 11, 2022, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-australia-edge-closer-to-final-interim-deal-on-trade/article38414737.ece

[iv] Ministry of External Affairs, “Joint Statement : India-Australia Virtual Summit”, March 21, 2022, https://mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?dtl/35008/JOINT+STATEMENT++INDIAAUSTRALIA+VIRTUAL+SUMMIT  

[v] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, “China: China country brief”, https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/china/china-country-brief#:~:text=China%20is%20Australia’s%20largest%20two,per%20cent%20during%20this%20period).

[vi] “Australia called for a COVID-19 probe. China responded with a trade war,” ABC News, January 3, 2021, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-03/heres-what-happened-between-china-and-australia-in-2020/13019242, accessed on January 16, 2021. 

[vii] Minxin Pei, “China’s economic bullying will never work,” Nikkei Asia, July 8, 2020, https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/China-s-economic-bullying-will-never-work, accessed on January 16, 2021.  

[viii] Trading Economics, “Australia Exports By Country”, https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/exports-by-country,

[ix] Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) Data, “Australia”, https://oec.world/en/profile/country/aus

[x] Weizhen Tan, “Australia’s exports to China are jumping despite their trade fight”, CNBC, October 27, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/28/australias-exports-to-china-are-jumping-despite-their-trade-fight.html

[xi] Reuters, “Andhra Pradesh cancels Adani bids to supply imported coal”, The Economic Times, April 4, 2022,

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/andhra-pradesh-cancels-adani-bids-to-supply-imported-coal/articleshow/90627352.cms ,

[xii]  PTI, “India, Australia ink trade pact; thousands of Indian goods to get duty-free access”, The Times of India, April 2, 2022, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/india-australia-ink-trade-pact-thousands-of-indian-goods-to-get-duty-free-access/articleshowprint/90615312.cms

[xiii] Stephen Manallack, “India is Fast Becoming a Regional Security Power, Trade Deal with Australia Affirms That”, News 18, April 3, 2022, https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/india-australia-trade-turbo-charge-could-achieve-75-billion-in-five-years-4937066.html

[xiv] Tanvi Madan, “The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the ‘Quad’”, War on the Rocks, November 16, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/11/rise-fall-rebirth-quad/

[xv] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, “Joint Statement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Republic of India and Australia”,June 4, 2020,https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/india/joint-statement-comprehensive-strategic-partnership-between-republic-india-and-australia

[xvi] Australian Government, 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, https://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/minisite/2017-foreign-policy-white-paper/fpwhitepaper/foreign-policy-white-paper/chapter-three-stable-and-prosperous-indo-pacific/indo-pacific.html

[xvii] Department of Defence, Australian Government, Defence Strategic Update 2020, https://www.defence.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-11/2020_Defence_Strategic_Update.pdf

Research Fellow with the New Delhi based Centre for Airpower Studies. He can be contacted at :mpjoshy[at]gmail.com

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World Leaders Pledge to Fight for Freedom and Values with History at a Turning Point

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World leaders came together at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 against a backdrop of deepening global frictions and fractures and a once-in-a-century pandemic.
 
On Monday, President Zelenskyy addressed participants live from Kyiv. He said that the words “turning point” have “become more than just a rhetorical figure of speech” and emphasized that “values must matter”.
 
The war in Ukraine has created immense human suffering. And the wider impacts of the conflict are being felt around the world.
 
The World Economic Forum called for a “Marshall Plan” for the reconstruction of Ukraine. “In Davos, our solidarity is foremost with the people suffering from the atrocities of this war,” said Klaus Schwab, the Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman.  
 
The Special Dialogue on Ukraine session brought together 70 global CEOs alongside the Prime Minister of Ukraine (who joined virtually), with the President of the European Commission, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine and the First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine at Davos in person, alongside other dignitaries. CEOs offered concrete ways of how their companies can support the Ukraine government and its private sector in the reconstruction of Ukraine now, rather than waiting for the war to end.
 
The World Economic Forum offered its support in this endeavour, advancing discussions on new partnerships and market-driven solutions to enable a scaled up response to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and other global crises.
 
Meeting in person after a two-year hiatus, there were over 450 sessions at the meeting, which brought together 2,500 leaders and experts from around the world, including 300 government leaders and 50 heads of state. It was a critical opportunity to foster stronger global and regional cooperation to restore stability and create real impact.
 
Nature and climate
 
The energy crisis, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, must not deepen the world’s dependence on climate-warming fossil fuels. During the week, there was a focus on accelerating clean energy and climate solutions:

More than 50 companies have now joined the First Movers Coalition, which was launched by US President Biden and the World Economic Forum at COP26 to decarbonize the heavy industry and long-distance transport sectors – the sectors responsible for 30% of global emissions.

This week at Davos, John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, joined these companies in sending a powerful market signal to commercialize zero-carbon technology. Their market cap represents about $8.5 trillion across five continents and they are making unprecedented advance purchase commitments by 2030.

Eight new countries have joined the First Movers Coalition as government partners – Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the UK. All are committed to create early markets for clean technologies. Alongside the United States, there are nine committed government partners.

Some 70+ CEOs of the CEO Climate Leaders Alliance – the largest CEO-led climate action group globally – agreed on taking bold action to translate pledges into tangible emission reductions in line with 1.5C. Covering 26 countries and 12 industries and representing 120 companies in total, the alliance has a combined annual emission footprint greater than India or the EU.

CEOs agreed to push for progress on critical 2030 and 2050 global climate targets, mobilizing dialogue between governments and the private sector to deliver a successful outcome at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.

China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua announced his country’s contribution to plant and conserve 70 billion trees by 2030. The World Economic Forum and China Green Foundation will undertake concrete measures together through 1t.org China Action to support the fulfilment of China’s contribution.

A new $15 million investment over five years was announced to support entrepreneurs who can drive innovation in freshwater resource management – the initiative will be hosted by our UpLink platform.

CEOs also held dialogues with regional climate envoys, COP26, COP27 and COP28 leadership to make progress on global climate policies, including the importance of setting a global price on carbon and other key policy measures to fast-track the transition.

Youth activist Elizabeth Watuthi spoke on Safeguarding our People and Planet, sharing the local perspective and direct impacts of climate change in vulnerable communities, and youth climate activist Vanessa Nakate, speaking at the Staying on Course for Climate Action session, said: “When we talk about climate change we’re also talking about food security. It’s really important to understand the intersections of this crisis.”

The Forum’s Global New Mobility Coalition is launching the Urban Mobility Scorecards initiative. Over 30 companies, such as Visa, Hyundai, Uber, Volta Trucks and TIER, will work with policy-makers from cities and regions to better understand challenges and solutions to create a shared, connected and decarbonized mobility ecosystem.

A new Global Commission on the Economics of Water was launched to redefine the way we value and incorporate water into economic decision-making. It is led by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization; Mariana Mazzucato, Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose; Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of the Government of Singapore; and Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. 

Economic transformation

The Forum’s Chief Economists Outlook report warned of “dire human consequences” from the fragmentation of the global economy. It said that developing economies face trade-offs between the risks of debt crisis and securing food and fuel. The rising cost of living hits the world’s poorest communities hardest. The Ukraine conflict has exacerbated already fragile energy and food systems. Co-investment by the public and private sector is critical to restarting a new era of growth, one that integrates inclusion and sustainability at its core rather than an afterthought, and is the best way forward for shared prosperity.

A leading group of CEOs, ministers and academic experts agreed on the roadmap for the Market Creators Alliance to develop fairer principles for governments, businesses and public-private partnerships on innovation and industrial development. This will be launched later this year.

Four Futures for Economic Globalization: Scenarios and Their Implications outlines how the nature of globalization may shift as economic powers choose between fragmentation or integration in both the physical and virtual dimensions of the world economy.

The Government of Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates announced that they are joining the Food Action Alliance for driving food systems transformation. They are part of a growing group of first-mover countries. The new partnership will harness innovation to accelerate country goals on food security and nutrition, inclusive growth, sustainability and climate resilience, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Work, wages and job creation

The Jobs Consortium, a group of public and private sector leaders focused on investment in the jobs of tomorrow, held their inaugural meeting in Davos to drive a global recovery and investment agenda for the next two years. They aim to create growth in the jobs of tomorrow, new standards in the workplace and better wages for all, focusing on social, green and tech jobs as the high-growth, job-creating sector of the future.

Over 6 million refugees have left Ukraine to other countries since February, adding to the estimated 31 million people worldwide forcibly displaced across borders. The Refugee Employment and Employability Initiative was launched, a coalition of chief human resources officers from over 140 organizations who support the integration of Ukrainian refugees in Europe. This will pilot its work supporting learning and job opportunities for Ukrainian refugees in Europe in its first phase – aiming to expand to other regions of the world in the future.

Education and skills

The Reskilling Revolution initiative, launched at the Annual Meeting in 2020, has now mobilized a community of over 50 CEOs, 350 organizations and 15 countries all working towards a vision of giving 1 billion people better education, reskilling and upskilling. A network of country accelerators in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Georgia, Greece, India, Oman, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, with support from Denmark, Finland, Singapore and Switzerland, and a consortium of the largest online learning platforms are working together.

The initiative will now expand beyond adult learning to add a focus on education for children and youth. These efforts will be taken forward by a new Education 4.0 Alliance, bringing together 20 leading education organizations, and Bangladesh has become the first country to adopt the education accelerator model in Davos.

A new report, Catalysing Education 4.0 Investing in the Future of Learning for a Human-Centric Recovery, focuses on preparing today’s generation of school-age children with better collaborative problem-solving that could add $2.54 trillion – over $3,000 per school-age child – from this one skill alone.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice

The Gender Parity Accelerators are a global network of national public-private collaboration platforms working to close existing gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future. This year two G20 countries, Mexico and Japan, will initiate Gender Parity Accelerators in the coming months.

The Valuable 500 initiative announced a unique mentorship programme – Generation Valuable – for people with disabilities to build the future executive leadership, driving disability inclusion by revolutionizing the boardrooms of tomorrow.

The Edison Alliance launched a new programme to speed up digital inclusion in the life-critical sectors of health, education and finance. It launched a new network of “lighthouse countries”, including Bahrain, Bangladesh and Rwanda, working with the UN Development Programme to further the alliance’s 1 billion lives vision of providing people with affordable, digital solutions by 2025.

Trade and supply chains
 
Business and government leaders highlighted the potential of trade facilitation, finance and trade technology to tackle supply chain barriers. Trade ministers gathered in Davos to hear from business and civil society and prepare for next month’s World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. Leaders called for diversifying trade and investment relationships to bolster development and support common values. Indigenous and labour leaders called for inclusive outcomes from trade. Food security was high on the agenda.

The World Investment for Development Alliance was launched together with OECD Secretary-General Matthias Cormann, the World Bank, UNCTAD and other partners, to increase collaboration in addressing investment policy and practice.

The Forum’s Platform for Trade and Investment, together with the Digital Cooperation Organization, launched a Digital FDI initiative to support investment in the digital economy in developing economies.

The World Economic Forum convened Friends of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, a group of heads of state and business leaders, which advanced a framework on how public-private partnerships can support the implementation of the AfCFTA.

Global supply chain disruptions make it harder to reach children with life-saving supplies. This week UNICEF co-signed an extended charter with the World Economic Forum and 16 logistics leaders to prioritize support for humanitarian supply transports.

Health
 
COVAX the multilateral initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines was conceived in Davos two years ago. In the past seven days it has shipped its 1.5 billionth dose.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous disruptions to healthcare – reversals in testing and treatment of life-threatening diseases. Crucial steps have been taken to help counteract these setbacks. These include:

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria announced its first pledge from the private sector in Davos. It has raised a third of the $18 billion needed to reverse setbacks caused by the pandemic.

Building on recommendations developed in partnership with the European Union COVID-19 lung cancer taskforce, the Forum, together with the Lung Ambition Alliance, launched the Global Lung Cancer Collaboration to bring together organizations in healthcare delivery, research, diagnostics, biopharma, patient advocacy and non-governmental organizations to facilitate greater collaboration and solutions to eliminate lung cancer as a leading cause of death.

An Accord for a Healthier World was launched at Davos by Pfizer this week, providing all its current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the US or EU on a not-for-profit basis to 45 lower-income countries. Pfizer called on global health leaders and organizations to join the accord, bringing their expertise and resources to close the health equity gap and help create a healthier world for 1.2 billion people. Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are the first five countries to commit to join the accord. Health officials in these countries will help identify and resolve hurdles beyond supply to inform the roll-out in all 45 lower-income countries.

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Health and Healthcare signed an MoU with Saudi Arabia in support of the Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare. This partnership will increase collaborative efforts to build a global healthcare movement on value-based health systems and people-centred care, alongside global government policy-makers, industry and academia through accelerating public-private partnerships.

Tech frontiers

The World Economic Forum unveiled the concept of a Global Collaboration Village, a major initiative to harness the potential of the metaverse to create a place where international cooperation can be strengthened.

The Defining and Building the Metaverse initiative was launched bringing together key stakeholders to define and build the parameters of an economically viable, interoperable, safe and inclusive metaverse.

The Global Coalition for Digital Safety has committed to developing emergency protocols for protecting digital safety during wars, particularly to tackle online exploitation and abuse, violent extremist and terrorist content, and mis- and disinformation. This will complement the broader work of the coalition to make the internet safer by tackling harmful content and conduct online.

The Annual Meeting hosted its first public panel on Unlocking Quantum, with leaders committing to focus on how technologies and deeper analytics could transform decarbonization and accelerate the fight against climate change. They will work with Qlimate, Volkswagen and the Netherlands government on identifying and scaling solutions.

Malaysia’s Finance Minister announced his country will be the first location for a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in the ASEAN region. And, the Dubai Future Foundation, with support from the Government of UAE, has signed a collaboration agreement to continue the operations of C4IR UAE. The centre will focus on blockchain, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. 

Samantha Cristoforetti became the first astronaut to join the Annual Meeting live from space aboard the International Space Station, orbiting the planet at 17,500 miles an hour. The Live from Space session looked at how government and business can collaborate to ensure that space exploration benefits people and the planet.

In a closing address, Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, called for “a sustainable, resilient globalization which uses natural resources sparingly and, above all, takes the needs of future generations into account”, adding that a new approach to globalization would be “based on solidarity which benefits all citizens – in all parts of the world.”

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Reskilling Revolution: Leaders Preparing 1 Billion People for Tomorrow’s Economy

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Investing broadly in the skills of the future for both today’s and tomorrow’s next-generation workforce could add an additional $8.3 trillion in increased productivity to the global economy by 2030.

The Reskilling Revolution initiative, a coalition of 50 CEOs, 25 ministers and 350 organizations committed to realizing these gains for their economies, societies and organizations, marked two years of progress at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos today. Their work will benefit over 100 million workers on their journey towards reaching 1 billion people by 2030 with better education, skills and economic opportunity.

Accelerating the Reskilling Revolution

Global inequities in lifelong learning and childhood education, a pandemic that closed schools and workplaces and rapid technological change are highlighting the need to double down on reskilling, upskilling and the future of learning. The Reskilling Revolution initiative, launched at the World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting in January 2020, is working to provide 1 billion people with better education, skills and economic opportunity by 2030.

At its heart is a commitment from over 50 CEOs to inspire global business leadership on the upskilling, reskilling and human capital investment agenda. By working together with a growing network of national-level country accelerators launched to date in 12 countries – Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Georgia, Greece, India, Oman, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, with knowledge support from Denmark, Finland, Singapore and Switzerland – the Reskilling Revolution has mobilized a multistakeholder community of over 350 organizations across 12 countries and is on track to benefit 100 million people on its journey towards 1 billion.

“In an era of multiple disruptions to the labour market – the pandemic, supply chain changes, the green transition, technological transformation – the one ‘no regret’ investment all governments and business can make is in education, reskilling and upskilling. It is the best pathway to expanding opportunity, enhancing social mobility and accelerating future growth,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.

Enabling Education 4.0

Two years into its work the initiative will expand beyond adult reskilling and upskilling and integrate a focus on education for children and youth. These efforts will be taken forward by a new Education 4.0 Alliance, bringing together 20 leading education organizations at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2022.

A new report from the project, Catalysing Education 4.0 Investing in the Future of Learning for a Human-Centric Recovery, focuses on preparing today’s generation of school-age children with better collaborative problem-solving that could add $2.54 trillion – over $3,000 per school-age child – from this one skill alone.

The report, developed with support from the LEGO Foundation and in consultation with leading education experts from the public, private and educational sectors, finds that investment in the skills of the future for primary and secondary school learners would create an additional $489 billion in Europe, $458 billion in South Asia, $333 billion in East Asia, $332 billion in Latin America, $266 billion in the Middle East, $235 billion in North America, $179 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, and $163 billion in Central Asia.

Meanwhile, China ($356 billion), the United States ($218 billion), Brazil ($143 billion), Mexico ($80 billion) and Italy ($72 billion) are the five countries standing to gain the most, while the benefits relative to the size of their economies today would be greatest in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

To unlock this education transformation, the Education 4.0 initiative will focus on three key investment areas: new assessment mechanisms; adoption of new learning technologies; and empowerment of the teaching workforce.

Expanding the Accelerator network

Complementing the Skills Accelerators, the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting also featured the official launch of the first school-age focused Education 4.0 Accelerator, a national-level public-private collaboration platform for action. The Education Accelerators – complementing a network of successful Closing the Skills Gap Accelerators – aim to mainstream technology-enhanced learning experiences, implement new measurement mechanisms, empower educators and mobilize investment in the sector.

Bangladesh will be the first country to pioneer this new model in Asia. Dipu Moni, Minister of Education, Bangladesh, said: “Bangladesh is committed to ensuring high-quality education for all children and youth. We are delighted to partner with the World Economic Forum to launch the first Education Accelerator in South Asia and to be part of this global network to advance the Education 4.0 agenda.”

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Sanctions against Russia: do they have any point?

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It’s hard to recall a day since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine when there was no mentioning about new sanctions being imposed against Russia. On May 9th, the EU announced that it had almost finished preparations for the sixth package of sanctions, and rumors on the Internet are already mentioning the seventh.

What are sanctions?

In brief, sanctions are a list of political and economic decisions applied by states and organizations in order to protect national interests, international law, and defense from threats to international peace and security. As a rule, they are temporary and are removed when the cause/threat has been eliminated.

According to the EU’s official website, “Restrictive measures (sanctions) are an essential tool in the EU’s common foreign and security policy (CFSP), through which the EU can intervene where necessary to prevent conflict or respond to emerging or current crises. In spite of their colloquial name ‘sanctions’, EU restrictive measures are not punitive. They are intended to bring about a change in policy or activity by targeting non-EU countries, as well as entities and individuals, responsible for the malign behaviour at stake.”[1]

How many sanctions have been imposed against Russia in total?

On May 8th, the Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin shared a post on his Telegram channel that “10 128 sanctions have been imposed against our country. More than against any other state in the entire history of their existence.”[2] From this number, 2,754 were introduced in the period from 2014 (the Crimean issue) and before the beginning of the special operation in Ukraine.[3] The rest – more than seven thousand – were introduced in a short three-month period. According to The Castellum.AI, a service which takes a record of sanctions and updates weekly, as of May 9, their number has already exceeded 7,600, making Russia the state with the largest number of sanctions imposed. For comparison: 3,161 sanctions have been imposed against Iran, 2,608 – against Syria, and 2,077 – against North Korea.[4] Other states can “boast” with the list containing less than 1,000 sanctions. Thus, in a short period of time, Russia not only got on the list of sanctioned countries, but also topped it.

The sanctions have affected almost every sector of Russia – from individuals, which list already counts numbers in the hundreds, to the spheres of energy, economy, trade… The enumeration can go on for a long time. It can be said that there is practically not a single area left that wasn’t affected by sanctions: for example, one of the articles published by the Atlantic Council had the heading “What’s left to sanction in Russia?” And yet, at almost all the examples given, it is mentioned that sanctions have already been imposed in this area.[5]

So is there anything else that can be included in the sanctions lists? The question itself is good, but alas – it will take quite a long time to search for the answer: sanctions are already everywhere.

So is there any point in sanctions?

This is quite an interesting question, although in this situation it would be more accurate to say that sanctions have not only a point, but also consequences.

As it was mentioned above, sanctions are usually temporary, but Russia has been living with almost 3,000 sanctions imposed against it for more than 8 years. Has it brought any tangible results in influencing Russia? No. Have those who introduced them achieved the result what they had introduced those sanctions for? No. Have these sanctions been lifted? No. Therefore, is there any point in imposing them on Russia? The answer is still the same – no, because as it can be observed,  these sanctions are in the list of existing ones, and Russia still continues to exist, quite successfully adapting to them. And there are a lot of sanctions – 2,754 (for the period before the Ukrainian issue), but the thing is that the country against which they were introduced does not complain about its size and capabilities either.

There is a point in sanctions, and first of all – for Russia.

Following numerous bans on the export of various kinds of products, as well as the departure of many companies operating in various fields, the Russian government introduced a number of measures to support different areas, and which have already started to show positive results. According to Rosstat, several sectors of the Russian economy showed positive dynamics as soon as measures were introduced (compare to the same period of 2021): the mining industry grew by 7.8%, energy, heat and gas supply – by 1.5%, water supply and waste disposal – by 7.2%.[6] There is also an increase in the food sector – by 1.1%, and medical production increased by as much as 46.8% compared to March 2021, and turned out to be 9.1% higher than in February 2022. As Rosstat data shows, according to a preliminary estimate of the country’s GDP for the 1st quarter 2022, there is a positive growth of 103.5% compared to the same period last year.[7] The Economist noted that “as imports slide and exports hold up, Russia is running a record trade surplus.”[8] The Institute of International Finance estimates that “in 2022 the current-account surplus, which includes trade and some financial flows, could come in at $250bn (15% of last year’s gdp), more than double the $120bn recorded in 2021”. As a result, the world sees that rather than damaging Russia, sanctions are contributing to its strengthening. [9]

The consequences of the sanctions, however, were faced not only by Russia and Belarus (which also got quite an amount of them because of good relations with Russia), but also by the rest of the world, including even the part that had nothing to do with this issue. And the consequences of those 7 thousand+ recently imposed sanctions are especially severe.

Some countries are already complaining about food shortages, as their supplies have been seriously reduced due to sanctions. People are dissatisfied with the increase of prices for various products and goods, but this is caused by the increase of fuel prices – which people are also dissatisfied with. Shocks and turmoil in the social and economic sectors started to affect the political situation both within countries and their international policies, as they have to choose whether to join the sanctions or try to stay away.

Why “try”?

Even at the first weeks of the conflict, the United States were seen trying to put pressure on states to either join the sort of “sanctions coalition” or stay away, preventing any attempts to help Russia. As it turned out, one of these countries was China: back in April 2022, the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that the sanctions imposed against Russia should give China (and President Xi personally) an idea of the consequences that it could face in case of providing assistance to Russia: “<it> gives President Xi, I think, a pretty good understanding of what might come his way should he, in fact, support Putin in any material fashion.”[10] If there was an attempt to put pressure on China, which is far from being the last figure in the international arena, then what can be said about other states – especially European ones?

Hungary is now becoming one of the stumbling blocks, as it refuses to support sanctions with regard to the embargo on fuel imports. According to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, it will be equal to an atomic bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy, since it simply will not have time to adapt – it will take at least five years and a large number of investments. Nevertheless, he noted that Hungary is ready for negotiations – if the proposals are consistent with the interests of the state.[11] However, according to information, a video conference between Ursula von der Leyen and Viktor Orban, held on Monday last week, did not lead to a compromise, thus delaying the adoption of the sixth – the heaviest, according to EU representatives – package of sanctions.[12] Against this background, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed the opinion that the sixth package of sanctions could be adopted in a reduced form, since “we must observe unity in the EU.”[13]

So…what can be expected in the future?


[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/banking-and-finance/international-relations/restrictive-measures-sanctions/overview-sanctions-and-related-tools_en

[2] https://t.me/vv_volodin/427

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/banking-and-finance/international-relations/restrictive-measures-sanctions/sanctions-adopted-following-russias-military-aggression-against-ukraine_en

[4] https://www.castellum.ai/russia-sanctions-dashboard

[5] https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/whats-left-to-sanction-in-russia-wallets-stocks-and-foreign-investments/

[6] https://rosstat.gov.ru/folder/313/document/163079

[7] https://rosstat.gov.ru/folder/313/document/165370

[8] https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2022/05/13/russia-is-on-track-for-a-record-trade-surplus

[9] https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2022/05/13/russia-is-on-track-for-a-record-trade-surplus

[10] https://www.reuters.com/world/us-says-china-could-face-sanctions-if-it-supports-russias-war-ukraine-2022-04-06/

[11] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/hungary-cannot-support-new-eu-sanctions-against-russia-present-form-pm-orban-2022-05-06/

[12] https://www.ft.com/content/abba000b-992a-45a3-941a-3616e335ccc5

[13] https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/14676015?utm_source=yandex.ru&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=yandex.ru&utm_referrer=yandex.ru

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