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

Eskom’s move towards renewable

South Africa’s power utility, Eskom received a loan of USD 480 million from the BRICS New Development Bank for the Medupi Thermal Power Plant (TPP) on 2 April. NDB held the Fourth Annual Meeting of Governors on Monday, 1 April to 2 April in Cape Town, South Africa. 

 READ:South Africa to host the 4th Annual Meeting of the New Development Bank

“The loan will be used for financing of retrofitting flue-gas desulfurization to make Medupi TPP compliant with South Africa’s environmental standards coming into force, thus preventing suspension of its operation”, the NDB sad in a statement. 

Medupi TPP has a planned capacity of 4,800 MV – approximately 10% of the total generating capacity in South Africa. The construction of the power plant began about 12 years ago and was meant to bridge the gap as Eskom’s power plants were aging and breaking down constantly. The power utility implemented stage 4 load shedding last month. 

On the same date, the New Development Bank and Eskom Holdings SOC Limited signed the Loan Agreement for Renewable Energy Integration and Transmission Augmentation Project. The multilateral funding institution will provide a loan with a sovereign guarantee amounting to USD 180 million.  

“The project will integrate a total of 670 MV of renewable energy into Eskom’s grid”, said the NDB. 

By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

NDB AND DBSA SIGN LOAN AGREEMENT FOR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS REDUCTION AND ENERGY SECTOR DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

New Development Bank (NDB) and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) signed the Loan Agreement for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Energy Sector Development Project. Under the Agreement, the NDB will provide a loan without a sovereign guarantee to the national financial intermediary DBSA with an amount of up to USD 300 million.

The Loan Agreement was signed by Mr. Xian Zhu, NDB VP & COO and Mr. Patrick Dlamini, DBSA CEO during the 4th Annual Meeting of the New Development Bank in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Energy Sector Development Project is designed to support renewable energy projects in South Africa and help the economy to shift to a more sustainable energy path through structural transformation of the energy sector with emerging renewable technologies.

The objective of the Project is to facilitate investments in renewable energy that will contribute to the power generation mix and reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in South Africa, in line with the South African Government’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010 and its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as articulated in the National Development Plan 2030.

The loan will be in the form of a two-step loan of up to USD 300 million to DBSA, which in turn will be on-lent to the DBSA’s identified subprojects, within particularly the wind, solar, and biomass energy sectors.

The project will bring significant developmental impacts through the subprojects, particularly related to environmental and social benefits from the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, increase in generation capacity from renewable energy sources, and increase in the efficiency of the energy sector in South Africa. The project is also expected to contribute to unlocking private sector investment, and increasing the availability of long-term funds for projects in the energy sector in the country.

 

ISSUED BY: THE NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK 

BRICS New Development Bank positive on Asian economies

Annual reports from the Boao Forum for Asia say that Asia remains competitive in creativity, tech innovation, and economic openness. Some are concerned whether Asia can keep its competitiveness in face of global volatility, but Leslie Maasdorp, vice president of the BRICS New Development Bank is bullish on the momentum of Asian economies.

“There is no question as the reports suggested. Asia right now is and will continue to be a significant growth engine in the world economy,” he told CGTN.

He mentioned that, in addition to traditional growth engines, the openness of the economy, application of new technology as well as innovation become the new sources of growth in Asia.

2018 witnessed some serious currency depreciation in emerging economies, between 10 and 40 percent against the U.S. dollar. Maasdorp said that it’s fundamentally because of a strong U.S. dollar, not a domestic problem.

“Emerging markets suffer from the direct impact of the movement in the U.S. interest rate. If the U.S. dollar rises, it directly leads to the reversing capital flows out of the emerging markets. So many of the emerging markets, like Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey, suffer from this,” he explained.

“Let’s take Turkey as an example. The impact of that significant depreciation in the Lira has taken huge and immediate effect on other emerging markets,” he added.

He noted that for Asian economies or any other emerging market, the key thing is to insulate from any extremeness of global volatility. “You can do this in a number of ways. One way is to have strong savings and investment rate, which is Asian economies have,” he said.

He also said that other emerging markets are not so fortunate as their investment flows are influenced by external volatility. And he thought commodity-based economies are more easily affected by external factors as they are pricing commodities in U.S. dollars.

As the U.S. Fed signals no rate hike for 2019, he believed that depreciation pressure would be absolutely eased. “A stable U.S. interest rate that is predictable for the future should provide a better environment for investment decision,” he stressed, projecting that emerging economies would develop in a more stable and predictable environment.

 

ISSUED BY: CGTN Global Business

 

Generation Rent: Is it by choice?

    Image credit: blog. Zurple. com

A new trend amongst Millennials has begun to take shape as the economic situation of the current day vastly differs from previous generations. Advancements in technology have made  Millennials more inclined to rent more than previous generations.

Renting which used to be seen as a stepping stone to ownership is now how Millennials live their lives and define their futures by. As inflation, stagnated wages, economic constraints and advancement in technology put certain tradition norms out of reach for Millennials.

Having children and getting married after graduating has also been put on the backburner as Millennials. More emphasis on their own personal futures and goals, as the costs of obtaining a house mortgage and purchasing car become more impossible each year. More Millennials have decided to forgo certain norms until their in better financial positions.

This brings us to how renting is seen as more cost effective and more flexible for the generation of the internet. The renting of housing forgoes other added costs like rates, insurance and utilities which gives renter more of their disposal income to save or pursue their goals. Renting also brings the freedom to move whenever they want and to wherever they want to.

Thanks to technology renting is becoming more prevalent. Millennials are not only renting the living spaces but are also renting their holidays thanks to apps like AirBnB, they renting their transportation  with apps like Uber and Taxify even the way Millennials enjoy their Entertainment is through subscription to streaming services like Netflix and Apple Music.

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

 

  

Brazil trade balance reaches US$ 3.67 bn surplus in February

A positive trade balance occurs when exports outpace imports – Photo: EBC

The Brazilian trade balance posted a surplus of US$ 3.673 billion in February, the result of US$ 16.293 billion in exports and US$ 12.620 billion in imports. The numbers were released by the Ministry of Economy on Friday.

The trade balance is the result of the difference between imports and exports over a given period. When positive, it means that the country sold more products abroad than it imported. In the reverse scenario, it turns negative.

Main categories

February’s exports consisted of US$ 8.363 billion in sales of basic goods (such as soy and corn), US$ 5.956 billion in manufactured goods (such as cars) and US$ 1.974 billion in semi-manufactured goods, such as cast iron and soybean oil. As for imports, the top purchases from abroad were of industrial ovens, electric motors, crude oil, diesel oil, cars, medicines, and others.

 

Brazil gov news 

 

SA, World Bank work to boost investment climate

South Africa and the World Bank have signed an agreement that will boost the local business environment while also helping to enhance foreign direct investment into the country.

Signed on Monday in Johannesburg, the Advisory Services Agreement was signed between the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the World Bank Group.

The partnership is aimed at improving the business environment for domestic entrepreneurs and undertaking policy and institutional reform to enhance foreign direct investment inflows.

Business regulation, investment policy and promotion, and market regulation and competition policy are the focus areas of the partnership.

The advisory agreement formalises the partnership between the Government of South Africa and the World Bank Group to support the national reform effort led by the dti, the Department of Economic Development and National Treasury.

World Bank support to South Africa will be provided in partnership with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Prosperity Fund of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The project will deploy a Country Private Sector Diagnostic, a standard World Bank Group tool to identify industry sectors that can attract significant domestic and foreign investments and deliver positive development impacts in the near term.

Director General at the dti, Lionel October, said the department will gain insight into best practice from the partnership.

“Support from World Bank Group and its development partners promotes South Africa’s growth agenda. The dti and InvestSA hope to gain insights into best practice from the partnership.

“I would like to assure you that we are committed to addressing the employment deficits that we face, and this will start with providing the right environment for the private sector to flourish. The four-year programme will be led and coordinated by InvestSA,” said October.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa committed government to ensure business competitiveness and an enabling business environment as a cornerstone of the drive for both domestic and foreign direct investment and the jobs that they are expected to generate.

Improving investment

 Government has set the target of improving its current rank of 82/190 in order to be, within three years, among the top 50 economies in the annual Doing Business Report published by the World Bank Group.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is a member of the World Bank Group, expressed its commitment to help South Africa in its efforts.

“IFC is committed to working across the World Bank Group to help South Africa achieve best practices and real impact in its reform efforts. The target set by President Ramaphosa of generating investment of $100 billion within five years is important. It sets the tone for the policies needed to attract foreign direct investment,” said Kevin Njiraini, IFC Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Early deliverables under the support programme will be inputs into South Africa’s Investment strategy.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Nigel Casey said the UK is keen on supporting South Africa to attract an additional $100 billion of investment into South Africa.

“The UK is the largest investor in South Africa, but we’re determined to build on that here and elsewhere in Africa. We also strongly support President Ramaphosa’s ambition to attract an additional $100 billion of investment into South Africa.

“Today’s announcement is part of how we are going to support government’s ambitions and deliver on our own ambition about the role that UK investors should play.”

The UK, Casey said, will make use of its R900 million Prosperity Fund in South Africa.

 

– SAnews.gov.za