Deputy Minister Landers to lead the South African delegation to the 109th Session of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Luwellyn Landers, will lead the South African delegation to the 109th Session of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers and the 44th Session of the ACP-European Union Council of Ministers, scheduled to take place from 21–24 May 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.

One of the key issues for discussion at the Ministerial meetings is the status of the post-Cotonou negotiations, given that the existing agreement between the ACP and the EU will expire on 29 February 2020. Discussions on the regional protocols (Africa-EU, Caribbean-EU and Pacific-EU) commenced earlier this year, following the December 2018 decision of the 108th Council of Ministers that the post-2020 agreement shall comprise a foundation plus three regional protocols.

African Regional Consultations were hosted by Eswatini, in its capacity as the Chair of the African Central Negotiating Group, in Ezulwini on 3 May 2019. African Ministers, supported by technical teams from the African Union, agreed on a draft framework agreement for the African Regional Protocol and negotiations with the EU are expected to commence in Brussels shortly.

In addition to the post-Cotonou negotiations, the ACP is also in the process of carving a new vision, mission and mandate, through a revision of its founding document, the Georgetown Agreement. The 109th Ministerial will consider a draft revised agreement incorporating input from Member States.

As South Africa is serving in the sub-committee on Development Finance and Intra-ACP Programming for the period 1 February 2019-31 January 2020, the South African delegation will also participate in the ACP and ACP-EU Ministerial meetings on Development Finance.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

The US-China Trade War forecasted to get worse

The US-China trade war is “going to get worse before it gets better,” an expert said on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump announced that he would increase tariffs on $200 billion in goods from 10% to 25%. China responded by upping the tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. The relations between the two countries are on a decline – trade talks between the US and China stopped abruptly.

American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, Google revoked Huawei’s operating license for its Android devices, a source familiar with the matter said on Sunday – Googles decision is believed not to be separate from the trade war.

READ MORE:Google cuts Huawei’s access to androids licencing

 

Additional reporting: CNBC

By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) make plans for digital currency

South_African_Reserve_Bank_logo

SARB is looking in to the development of creating a digital currency which will be backed by the Rand; they have plans to test out at least three different types of currency models and launch it year. SARB is also looking into finding vendors and seeing if it’s feasible and viable.

SARB has been conducting research in to electronic legal tender (ELT) since 2016, as to better understand its implications and to keep up with global trends. The South African Central Bank will issue the digital currency which will be backed by the SARB and South African Government.

Thus far SARB has only dipped their toes in to digital currency to better their understanding, the next stage will be the application of what they’ve learned so far, they have already identify potential test areas they would like to pursue.

Source: businesstech.co.za

Google cuts Huawei’s access to androids licencing

The US-China trade war is escalating and Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei has now become a casualty to the US technology trade ban with China. Alphabet the parent company of Google has suspended Huawei’s smart phone division from accessing Android services.

Android which is also owned by Google will be restricted its service licence from Huawei which could have big implications in the future of the smart phones manufacture as well as future phone revenues. Google has stated that the restrictions are in line with US government policy imposed on Chinese technology companies.

The reason for the technology ban is because of China’s alleged abuse of US intellectual property. For consumers of Huawei smart phones this means that future updates of their android software may be disable, Huawei will still have access to Android Open Source Project (AOSP) licence to develop its software.

The AOSP licence does not encompass applications such as Gmail, YouTube, and the Chrome browser according to businesstech.co.za; these applications require a commercial agreement with Google.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

China retaliates to US trade tariffs

Beijing has responded to the US increase in tariffs on Chinese goods of $200 Billion with their own tariff of $60 billion on US exports. There was hope that the US and China would find a way to reconcile before the trade war deepens and becomes a crisis.

These new tariffs do not show positive prospects for the coming days, with the US also expecting to put new duties on all Chinese goods entering the US valued about $300 billion, as reported by edition.cnn.com. China media has also promised that China will survive its trade war.

China believes that US President Donald Trump is the only reason for this trade war and that one man has brought the US and China under great risk and uncertainty. At the moment neither the US and China  look to be ready to surrender – this could result in  further escalation of the trade tensions.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

How BRICS can use AI to lead in the 21st century

In October 2017, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in an online conference with people in China. During the conference, one of the participants asked what China-Russia ties would look like in 2050.

Medvedev’s response did not make headlines. It should have – because he talked almost entirely about artificial intelligence (AI). Several months later, in May 2018, a similar development took place.

Following a trip to China by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China and India launched an AI corridor, boosting co-operation between Indian software companies and Chinese firms in high-tech manufacturing and information technology projects.

As with Russia, this development did not make headlines. In June 2017, a Sino-India standoff occurred over disputed territory near the three-way border between India, its ally By Abishur Prakash

How BRICS can use AI to lead in the 21st century Bhutan, and China. The dispute lasted a few months and nearly led to war. Then, in an effort to “reset” or mend ties, India and China turned to AI.

A few months after this, in July 2018, at the 10th BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg, a memorandum of understanding was introduced to bolster co-operation on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as “Industry 4.0”.

As AI and robotics create new opportunities and challenges, BRICS member states are starting to look to each other for support. The writing is on the wall for anyone paying attention. BRICS, a grouping of nations that represent 25% of the global economy, is looking to AI for its future.

For now, AI is being used to strengthen ties between members. But in the future, BRICS could go beyond this. The bloc could start using AI to redefine and restructure geopolitics – a move that could take the world in brand new directions.

Full Article in BRICS Journal Issue 7

How innovation is playing an increasingly central role in India diplomacy

Innovation is increasingly becoming a buzzword in India. In 2016, the country launched its flagship innovation programme, Atal Innovation Mission, focused on scaling start-up incubation centres and promoting innovation culture among schoolchildren by providing them with hands-on experience in 3D printing, the internetof things (IOT) and robotics.

A consistent policy focus on innovation seems to have helped India improve its ranking in the Global Innovation Index, from 81st in 2015 to 57th in 2018. Notably, this strong domestic policy focus is supplemented by the country’s ongoing diplomatic efforts in forging strong economic ties with other nations, based on innovation – a strategy known as ‘innovation diplomacy’.

India’s ongoing efforts in promoting bilateral investment and cooperation in the area of innovation had a strong impact in 2017. The theme of innovation, R&D and start-ups remained an important agenda point in almost all the bilateral visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in other diplomatic engagements.

The launch of the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund in August and India’s hosting of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (convened by the US) in November reflected the serious intent of the Indian government with regard to innovation diplomacy.

Full Article in BRICS Journal Issue 7

French President Macron plans tax cut to end yellow jacket movement

 (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

President Emmanuel Macron held multiple town hall meetings in order to address the growing social unrest of the French people in the form of the Yellow Jacket Movement. They have been protesting Macron’s reforms and calling for him to resign.

After holding 10,000 meetings the French president came to a conclusion that the main reason for the ongoing protest was France’s very high tax rate which is rated to be the highest among developed countries, according to bbc.com.

The reduction in tax may come at the expense of social welfare, as France is also the one of the highest in social spending among developed countries – 46.2% of national output (GDP) from tax revenue and with social welfare spending of 31.2% of GDP in 2018.

 

Source: bbc.com

 

 

100 days of Bolsonaro’s Presidency – wins, struggles & blunders

Elected with 55.1% on October 2018 and officially sworn in as the President of the Republic of Brazil, succeeding Michael Temer, on 1 January 2019—Bolsonaro is a day away from reaching  100 days in office. With 99 days in office, Bolsonaro’s Presidency has had few wins, struggles, and blunders.

The Brazil economy has grown the second year in a row, the country’s trade surplus reached US$ 3,67 billion in February, inflation estimate has reduced and jobs have been added to the economy. The President has attained some of his campaign promises: “he signed a decree easing restrictions on gun ownership as an anti-crime move, privatized some state-run companies, installed a Cabinet with eight members of the military”, reported by Washington Post.

Bolsonaro visited the US in March and during the trip, he declared himself a bold devotee of the US. This trip infuriated most Brazilians, with most taking to Twitter with the #BolsonaroEvergonhaOBrasil – #BolsonaroShamesBrazil. Citizen’s of the Republic accused President Jair Bolsonaro of prejudice, misrepresenting Brazilians and trying to please US President, Donald Trump, which many Brazilians found offensive including members of his base. The hashtag trended across the world. Many cartoons were created showing Bolsonaro as Trump’s pet and subordinate.

Twitter post: @moema4

READ MORE: Trump to designate Brazil as a “Major Non-NATO ally”

The month of March was marked with Bolsonaro’s Presidential visits, it was first the US, followed Chile. The Chile visit sparked controversy, the President praised Chile’s former military dictatorship that led to the first-ever boycott of a presidential visit by influential Chilean politician. This caused in Chile anger and a rare political boycott.

RELATED STORY:Bolsonaro’s official trips spark controversy

The President concluded March with a visit to Israel. Day 2 of the visit Bolsonaro visited the Western wall which caused Palestinians to be angry. Bolsonaro’s plan to move Israel’s capital to Jerusalem angered the Muslims. Recent reports have had the right-wing leader saying he has not changed his mind about moving the capital.

The Bolsonaro Presidency has been marked by insults to adversaries and allies, fighting among his administration and praise for Brazil’s dictatorship (1964 -1985) – Washington Post.

 

By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

BREXIT deadline closes in with deadlock still in place

BREXIT is still at a standstill as Prime Minister Theresa May is weighing her options as to how to pass the  BREXIT deal and avoiding a no deal situation. Some leaders in the EU have stated that a no deal divorce will be seen as the lesser even if May’s deal is not passed by the British Parliament.

May is now holding talks with oppositions Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbin in a new effort to pass her deal which has failed to be passed three times in the British Parliament. There calls for either May to compromise her deal or resign as many believe she no more than sitting duck prime minister now.

The EU has given the United Kingdom (UK) till the 12 April 2019 as the new deadline for BREXIT.  Time is running out for the UK leaders to come to an agreement as a no deal scenario looks to be the most like option if parliamentarians can’t come to an agreement for the British people.

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka