A huge BRICS focus on skill training

Brazil Russia, India, China and South Africa will collectively put together a plan aimed at skills-training that will encourage productivity and in turn, lead to a poverty alleviation.

Speaking at the First BRICS Employment Working Group Meeting held in Beijing on Wednesday, director of the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Hao Bin said: “China plans to get rid of poverty and build a moderately prosperous society by 2020. Skills training is one of the approaches for meeting the challenging target,” reports China Daily.

“Meanwhile, poverty is also a problem for other BRICS states. We hope we can work with others to draft an initiative or action plan to lift people out of poverty with the help of skills training.”

A meeting between the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers in Chongqing, China is scheduled for July.

The with existence of the $100 billion BRICS Bank and a currency reserve fund, it was only a matter before discussions concerning labour cooperation were needed.

Russia has previously praised the International Labour Organisation bfor being instrumental in setting up the BRICS Labour Ministers forum.

Labour rights issues  is a common concern among the BRICS countries, taking poverty and corruption into account.

According to BRICS Post, “unorganised workers in India constitute 93 per cent of the country’s total workforce with no social security coverage, while China makes almost half of the world’s goods”, despite coming under fire for  ‘overlooking’ some of the worst working conditions for its migrant workers.

South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

The BRICS nations make up approximately 43% of the world’s population.

– BRICS Post (TBP and Agencies)

Why a BRICS rating agency would make sense

A credit rating company remains a top priority on the BRICS agenda. According to Independent Online, this is “an effort to break the dominance of the big three developed-nation firms”.

By starting up a ratings agency (RA), the BRICS establishment aims to drastically decrease high borrowing costs as per S&P Global Ratings, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service’s assessments, while serving as a healthy competitor.

In June 2016, the chairman and managing director of the Export-Import Bank of India, Yaduvendra Mathur confirmed that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are in talks over a ratings company not dependent on clients’ revenue.

Independent Online reports that according to Bloomberg, “the biggest hurdle for a BRICS credit-assessment company would be convincing US and European investors the ratings are assigned without government pressure.

“Critics of S&P, Fitch and Moody’s say they are beholden to the companies they rate because their revenue comes from these clients.”

What purpose will the BRICS rating agency serve?

According to The BRICS Business Council,  the BRICS RA will: “offer an emerging markets-focused credit evaluation framework that will enable investors to evaluate and compare the credit risk of projects across emerging markets, and hence optimise their investment decisions in these countries.

The BRICS RA will have a methodology that will not only incorporate existing methodologies employed by the other rating agencies but also be more comprehensive, and will include insights based on its analysts’ experience and knowledge of BRICS and emerging markets.

Global investors will be able to follow the rating scale offered by BRICS rating agency to get a finer distinction of credit quality on a much wider list of companies, banks, insurance companies and government owned entities within the emerging market space.”

The current positioning of promising BRICS RA conversation lends to it eventually extending beyond the BRICS borders, opening doors to emerging markets.

– Independent Online

China has lessons to offer Africa on food production

The Citizen (Tanzania)
Content provided by Asianet-Pakistan

Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the current drought a national disaster and appealed for international help.

The presidential appeal reminded me of a story about a traveller journeying through a foreign land who encounters a stranger along the way in dire need of assistance.

Set upon by thieves and left to die, all those who passed by turned away, unwilling to help.

The foreigner, touched by the man’s plight, and finding himself able to help, gave him first aid, transported him, and paid for his medical care, proving himself a true “friend in need”.

Kenya, set upon by the drought, finds herself in the position of the injured man on the roadside, and China the foreign passer-by.

The Chinese government has pledged to provide drought relief to Kenya to the tune of $23 million (Sh2.3bn), which is expected to feed for about one month more than one million hardest hit by drought. The amount is enough to buy more than 21 tonnes of food.

The donation is due to arrive in April and is the largest that China has given to Kenya in history. But it is supplemented by other contributions made by Chinese companies.

The private companies’ donations remain an important part of their corporate social responsibility to Kenya. Interestingly, the food donations from the people of China exceeds the $23 million declared by their government.

The response by the people of China is part of a long tradition of support to African countries. In 2011 for instance, China gave to Kenya food aid to the tune of $20 million, while the larger Horn of Africa, where more than 12.4 million people were facing starvation, also benefited.

China is one of the most generous food donors in the world, an amazing fact given that the country stopped receiving food aid from the World Food Programme in 2005.

That same year, China became the third-largest food donor in the world, offering not just aid but lessons worth learning.

One of these lessons relate to how China, the most populous country in the world, is able to feed its own population, now approaching the 1.4 billion mark, and help other countries.

It is reassuring that China is committed to working with Kenya to take such lessons to heart and revolutionise its agriculture so that it can come out self-sufficient and in a position to feed other countries in need.

Kenya has the capacity to do this, gifted as she is with fertile land and underground water.

This assistance is part of China’s revolution in Africa – a revolution that is anchored on affordability and delivery. The president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, recently stated: “In conducting China’s relations with African countries, we adhere to the principles of sincerity and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests”.

China is not a new friend to Kenya. The two allies have interacted on development projects for a long while. It is refreshing to see that it is not all business it is an ally with a heart for the people.

As Chinese people, we believe in Kahlil Gibran’s view that “Your friend is your needs answered”.


Japan develops technology to improve health

Displayed with permission from euronews

“What better place than Japan to discover innovative healthcare solutions and technology that can improve people’s lives all over the world.

‘Spotlight shines a light on Japan starting with Honda. The company has developed a brand-new device to assist people with impaired mobility. We visited Honda’s headquarters to see what it’s all about,” reports Euronews’ Daleen Hassan.

Honda’s Walking Assist Device

Recent steps into a world beyond automobiles and airplanes may sound like a bit of a leap, but a personal mobility device has been created by Honda to help those in need.

Agile and lightweight at 2.7 kilograms, this Walking Assist Device has been developed for those who suffer from walking difficulties.

It can manage the stress load of a person’s legs and reduce fatigue. Euronews met Makoto Shibata from Honda’s development department who explained how it works.

“It is a very, very simple structure, we have two motors and a battery and computer in the backside, during walking this computer senses hip angle movement. This device can assist human leg movement.

‘The walking information goes to a tablet. It is like a racing car technique, between the car and the pit,” he said.

The device has been inspired by the development of the humanoid robot Asimo, where engineers conducted thorough research on the human bipedal system.

Since 2013 more than 50 hospitals in Japan have given patients and elderly people the opportunity to utilise it which has helped to optimise functions.

Walking assist device technology could change the way we look at the concept of mobility as a whole.

Mission Arm of Japan

“Health solutions are not just the prerogative of large corporations. Genta Kondo is a brilliant, young innovator who’s come up with an affordable 3D Printed robotic arm,” explains Daleen Hassan.

It is 7 o’clock on Wednesday morning and the weekly meeting of ‘Mission Arm of Japan’, a non-profit organisation where a group of engineers, designers, and physically disabled individuals are gathering to develop prosthetic products.

Gentta Kondo, 31-year-old co-founder of the Exii startup company, has combined robotic technology with 3D printing techniques.

With the simple concept of a sensor attached to the arm, muscle contractions are converted into finger and thumb movements.

“We are disclosing all the data for free on the internet so as long as you have the access to the internet you can basically download the data and just print it right way.

‘This kind of technology trend will improve people lives because they don’t have to stick with the professionals.Everybody can make a hand.

‘Making these things has become really easy and I want to tell the world that it is not that difficult. You can customise it to your taste and it’s also really fun to make one,” he said.

Providing practical solutions that can produce an immediate impact could change Takayoshi’s life. He was born with a birth defect in his left hand. Now, he is trying his new prosthetic, before finalising a design that suits him.

“Until now I was holding things with only my right hand, but this arm will allow me to hold things with my left as well. So I hope that I can do a lot of things with my two arms, I’m very hopeful about my life now,” he told euronews.

With $500 dollars, you could purchase a stylish 3D-printed arm at 10 times less than the cost of a typical prosthetic arm. A deal you can shake on.

Saving lives with paint

“Nearly half a million people die from Malaria every year. A Japanese company has developed a paint that repels mosquitos which are responsible for spreading the deadly disease. We visited Kansai Paint in Tokyo,” said Daleen Hassan.

Kansai, known as one of Japan’s largest paint manufacturers for automotive and industrial applications, has invented a paint that uses insecticides to repel mosquitos and other insects. The paint is destined for tropical climate countries.​

“In a situation where there are a lot of children dying from Malaria in Africa, we thought of developing a paint which could repel or even kill mosquitoes.

‘This paint contains ingredients which excite mosquitoes nerves. When mosquitoes land on a wall, they become nervous and paralysed because of these ingredients and would never bite a human. That’s the mechanism,” Yu Akaki,

Executive Officer, Kansai Paint explained.

During tests the paint was found to have an 80% efficiency in repelling mosquitoes. This has led to improvements in health clinics across several developing countries, and the anti-mosquito paint has become vital, especially in nurseries and schools in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where a lot of people suffer from dengue fever.


Morocco hopeful for a boost in tourism from Chinese and Russian visitors

Security issues posed a majority threat to Morocco’s key tourism sector last year, resulting in very little growth in the sector. AFP reports that authorities haven’t given up, and are hopeful that visitors from China and Russia will up the numbers in the coming years.

According to the Moroccan Tourism Observatory, the country registered 10 million visitors in 2016 – a ‘barely perceptible rise of 1.5% from 2015’, it said.

A manager of a local guesthouse said: “Last year was better than 2015. And the first two months of 2017 augured an even better year.”

Currently, the Russians and Chinese account for 1% of total visitors to Morocco, but authorities are positive that this will soon change.

Reports show that the French make up almost a third of tourists to Morocco. “Europeans still top the list, but the number of Chinese visitors is growing,” Hanane said. “Since visas for the Chinese were abolished in June, a door has been opened.”


China, India hold strategic dialogue in Beijing

February 23, 2017
Displayed with permission from China Daily

China and India held a strategic dialogue in Beijing on Wednesday, during which they pledged to enhance cooperation.

According to a press release issued by Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar co-chaired the dialogue.

The two sides agreed to cement coordination on international and regional affairs and properly deal with differences and sensitive issues.

They upheld that China and India have similar national conditions and share common interests, so there is huge potential for bilateral cooperation.

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also met with Jaishankar. Wang said the two sides should advance strategic contact and reinforce mutual trust to contribute to regional and global prosperity and stability.


[EXTRACT] China and India to Lead World Economy by 2050

The long-term investment case for gold looks compelling following bullish reports this week from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Morgan Stanley. China and India are the world’s top two consumers of gold, and both countries are expected to make huge economic gains in the next few decades. This is likely to boost gold demand even more, which has a high correlation with discretionary income growth.

China alone consumed approximately 2,000 metric tons in 2016, or roughly 60 percent of all the new gold that was mined during the year, according to veteran mining commentator Lawrie Williams, who based his estimates on calculations made by BullionStar’s Koos Jansen. The 2,000 metric tons is a much higher figure than what analysts and the media have been telling us, but I’ve always suspected China’s annual consumption to run higher than “official” numbers.

According to PwC’s models, China and India should become the world’s number one and number two largest economies by 2050 based on purchasing power parity (PPP). China, of course, is already the largest economy by that measure, but PwC sees the Asian giant surpassing the U.S. economy on an absolute basis by as early as 2030.

As for India, it “currently comprises 7 percent of world GDP at PPP, which we project to rise steadily to over 15 percent by 2050,” PwC writes. “This is a remarkable increase of 8 percentage points, gaining the most ground of any of the countries we modeled.”

I think it’s also worth highlighting Indonesia, which is expected to replace Japan as the fourth-largest economy by midcentury. E7 economies, in fact, could end up dominating the top 10, with Mexico moving up to number seven and France dropping off. You can see the full list on PwC’s site.

China Set to Become High Income by 2027

Then there’s Morgan Stanley’s 118-page report, “Why we are bullish on China.” The investment bank sees a number of dramatic changes over the coming years, the most significant being China’s transition from a middle-income nation to a prosperous, high-income nation sometime between 2024 and 2027. (The high-income threshold is a gross national income (GNI) of around $12,500 per capita.) This would make China one of only three countries with populations over 20 million that have managed to accomplish this feat in the past 30 years, the other two being South Korea and Poland.

This trajectory is supported by a number of expectations, including, most importantly, Morgan Stanley’s confidence that China will manage to avoid a debt-related financial crisis, as some investors might now believe is forthcoming. The bank’s view is that the Chinese government will successfully provide “adequate policy buffers and deft management of the policy cycle” to ensure the growth of per capita incomes.

Other key transitions will additionally need to take place for the country to reach high-income status by 2027, including transitioning from a high investment economic model to high consumption and implementing meaningful state-owned enterprise reform. Although China is currently transitioning from a manufacturing economy to one that’s focused on consumption and services, the country will also need to emphasize high value-added manufacturing.

In addition, since President Donald Trump has officially withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), China.

The post Gold Gets a Shot in the Arm from Inflation and China; China and India to Lead World Economy by 2050 appeared first on ValueWalk.


Ministry intensifies efforts to boost exports

Dawn (Pakistan)
Content provided by Asianet-Pakistan

The Ministry of Commerce has stepped up efforts to explore new markets and increase the export of value-added goods.

Under the new market initiative, the seventh round on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand is scheduled to be held on 7 March in Bangkok. Both sides have already completed the text of the agreement and shared their initial request lists and tariff reduction modalities. The first round of FTA negotiations was held in September 2015 in Bangkok.

On the FTA with Turkey, both sides have held five rounds of negotiations to remove trade barriers. This FTA covers trade in goods and services and a chapter on investment.

The fifth round of the Pakistan-Turkey FTA negotiations was held in December 2016. However, no date was given to finalise this agreement.

To initiate an FTA with South Korea, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of South Korea and the Ministry of Commerce in April 2014. It was agreed that both sides would conduct a joint feasibility study to explore the possibility of an FTA.

Both sides have completed their respective studies and are now in the process of formulating joint recommendations. Under the same MoU, a Joint Trade Commission was also established and its first meeting was held in Seoul on June 8, 2015.

Efforts are being made to conclude a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Afghanistan. The draft of the Pak-Afghan PTA was shared with Afghanistan in January 2015. The response from Afghanistan is still awaited, the official said.

Pakistan and Mercosur, a South American sub-regional bloc, signed a framework agreement on July 20, 2006. Its full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Its associate countries are Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname.

As per the agreement, both sides agreed to negotiate a PTA leading to an FTA.

In December 2013, 2014 and 2016, the Ministry of Commerce requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to approach the Mercosur secretariat for the resumption of talks. Its response is still awaited.

The Pakistan-Argentina Joint Trade Committee was set up in 2004. So far, two meetings of the committee have been held. On the proposal of the Argentinean government, the Ministry of Commerce has obtained approval from the federal cabinet to start negotiations to sign the subject MoU.

All relevant stakeholders have concurred with the text of the MoU, which has been forwarded to the Argentinean side through MoFA.

The PTA was signed during a D-8 summit in Bali in May 2006. It came into force on August 25, 2011. All actions required to be taken on part of Pakistan, like notifying and sharing of the concession list with other D-8 member-countries, stand completed.

Being a multilateral agreement, it has not become effective so far for incomplete formalities, like the ratification and submission of offer lists by some of the member-states.


SA to increase agricultural exports to BRICS nations, says Zuma

During the State of the Nation Address held at Parliament on Thursday 8 February 2017, President Jacob Zuma said that the country will increase its export of agricultural products with BRICS partners over the next few years.

He said the decision follows the agreements reached with the BRICS nations.

“We will implement agreements on the export of pulses, mangos and pork to India. We will also export twenty thousand tons of beef to China per year for a period of 10 years,” said Zuma.

He added that the country would continue to pursue the reform of the international system as the current system undermines the ability of developing countries to contribute and benefit meaningfully.

“Our cooperative partnerships with other regions are bearing fruits. The BRICS New Development Bank has recorded encouraging progress,” he said.

Zuma also welcomed the decision to establish the BRICS Credit Rating Agency taken at the 8th BRICS Summit held in Goa, India in October last year. He said the BRICS Credit Rating Agency would ensure that countries can
assist each other in assessing their own economic paths instead of depending on rating agencies outside of the BRICS block. Earlier this week, Quartz India reported that BRICS nations were forging ahead with the agency as they have started engaging with financial experts about the agency’s model and methodology.

Meanwhile China has revealed that it plans to reform the agricultural sector to improve the lives of people in rural areas by 2020. Shangai Daily reported that the country plans to improve structures in the agricultural sector, promote green production and encourages innovation amongst others.

– Image: BuzzSouthAfrica

Committee for strengthening relations with China, Russia and India holds meeting

February 1, 2017
Sudan News Agency Khartoum Khartoum
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

The higher committee for strengthening Sudan relations with China, Russia and India Wednesday held regular meeting at the Republican Palace, chaired by the committee’s deputy chairman, Dr. Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz.

In a press statement, Dr. Al-Jaz said that the meeting was focused on easing the administrative procedure for those who endeavor to invest in the country.

He said that the meeting has agreed on establishment of the united window and that the concerned institutions and ministries shall adopt the required measures for reactivating the procedural work and carrying out the field follow up work.

Dr. Al-Jaz indicated that the meeting also reviewed progress of work in enhancing the pattnership with China through Al-Rahad Agricultural Scheme.

He disclosed arrival of 37 Chinese investors who will particiapate at the agricultural forum which is organised by the Arab Authority for Agricultural Production and to deliberate about the investment at the livestock and fisheries.