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DUBAI: February 14, 2019. A new report published at, and in conjunction with, the World Government Summit this week says Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can save US$138 billion by 2030 if they adopt a circular economic model.

According to the Ideation Center, a PWC think-tank affiliate, under the prevalent linear economic model the region is depleting its resources at an accelerated rate - generating unprecedented waste and emissions that are causing “enormous” social, economic and environmental damage.

Circularity concrete GCC“GCC countries need to move away from the current linear model described as ‘take, make, use, waste,’ declared Ideation Center partner Marwan Bejjani. “For instance, the region’s households are responsible for the highest consumption of electricity in the world, while their gasoline consumption per capita compares to that of North America, the region with the most intensive usage of gasoline. This is not sustainable, so there is a pressing need to move to an alternative economic model before it is too late.”

In 2016 GCC recycling rates ranged from 10 percent in Saudi Arabia to close to 30 percent in Abu Dhabi, much lower than the EU average of 46 percent in the same year.

At present the GCC construction sector overwhelmingly uses conventional building methods that produce 35 to 40 percent of the waste in GCC cities compared to 25 to 30 percent in the EU.

The Ideation Center, as has already been promulgated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, says a GCC circular economy framework should be governed by three principles: Optimize the consumption of finite resources by sourcing renewable materials; design products that can be disassembled, reused, repaired, and/or upcycled; and use resources efficiently.

Yahya Anouti, principal with the Ideation Center Middle East, explained: “Incorporating circular principles into building construction and use, the way we transport people and goods, and consume products and utilities, the region can save US$23 billion in the built environment, US$69 billion in mobility, and US$46 billion in consumer habits between 2020 and 2030. [And an] extraordinary 150 million tons in C02 emissions, virtually the total emissions of the Netherlands in 2015.”

Anouti added that to make circularity work in the GCC would require coordinated implementation, financial incentives to encourage the right behaviour, and public awareness campaigns targeting both citizens and corporations.

BASEL: Valentine’s Day, 2019. Panalpina is giving customers advance warning by declaring a no-deal Brexit at the end of next month will mean additional formalities and/or duties: “As a consequence, hindrances to the flow of all sorts of goods at the UK/EU borders cannot be ruled out.”

In a stark advisory to UK importers and exporters, the company warned of supply chain disruption as a result of congestion and delay at ports and airports. “Also, the increased demand for storage space might lead to warehouse capacity crunches.”

Panalpina Tilburg NetherlandsAs a result, Panalpina has set up a special task force to provide its customers with airfreight solutions, Customs clearance and consulting, warehousing and value-added logistics, and supply chain redesign.

“There has rarely been a greater threat to international trade and supply chains that we knew of in advance. Brexit will have a massive impact on businesses not only in the UK, but throughout the world. Panalpina is committed to sustaining its customers’ supply chains,” declared the company's regional CEO for Europe, Christian Wurst.

“While uncertainty prevails, we are planning ahead for all possible scenarios. We are engaged in regular exchanges with the Freight Transport Association, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as government bodies, so we get informed first-hand about any relevant changes, for example regarding customs regulations,” he added.

According to the Netherlands foreign ministry, over 250 foreign companies, “predominantly British”, from the financial sector, media and advertising, life sciences & health and logistics are currently considering a move to the blooming country as a result of Brexit.

The ministry said 42 companies made a similar migration in 2018, producing 1,923 new jobs and investments of €291 million. They included the Japanese bank Norinchukin and media company TVT Media, financial services providers MarketAxess and Azimo, and maritime insurer UK P&I Club. This year Discovery and Bloomberg have announced they will do the same.

Pictured: Panalpina facility in Tilburg, Netherlands.

AMSTERDAM: February 12, 2019. According to the fifth edition of the DHL Global Connectedness Index (GCI), the world’s top five most globally connected countries in 2017 were the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, Belgium and the UAE. Making up the rest of the top 10 was Ireland, Luxembourg, Denmark, the UK and Germany.

Top 10 most connected countriesThe US ranked in 30th place overall – below Bulgaria and above Iceland. Russia was in 54th position and China 61st. The index measures the current state of globalization, as well as individual rankings for each country, based on the intensity of international flows and the geographical distribution of flows of countries’ international connections.

The new GCI report represents the first comprehensive assessment of developments in globalization across 169 countries and territories since Britain's Brexit and Donald Trump’s election as US president in 2016.

In spite of growing anti-globalization tensions in many countries, connectedness reached an all-time high in 2017, as the flows of trade, capital, information and people across national borders all intensified significantly for the first time since 2007. Strong economic growth boosted international flows while key policy changes such as US tariff increases had not yet been implemented.

“Even as the world continues to globalize, there is still tremendous untapped potential around the world,” explained DHL Express CEO John Pearson. “The GCI shows that currently, most of the movements and exchanges we’re seeing are domestic rather than international, yet we know that globalization is a decisive factor in growth and prosperity.”

The latest GCI shows that about 20 percent of global economic output is exported; some 7.0 percent of phone call minutes (including via the Internet) are international; and only 3.0 percent of people live outside the countries where they were born. The report also disproves the idea that distance is becoming irrelevant: most countries are more connected to their next-door neighbours.

“Surprisingly, even after globalisation’s recent gains, the world is still less connected than most people think it is,” noted GCI co-author Steven Altman, senior Research Scholar at the NYU Stern School of Business and executive director of NYU Stern’s Center for the Globalization of Education and Management. “This is important because, when people overestimate international flows, they tend to worry more about them. The facts in our report can help calm such fears and focus attention on real solutions to societal concerns about globalization.”

BERLIN: January 29, 2019. The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from Transparency International shows the US has declined four points to 71 since last year, dropping out of the CPI top 20 countries for the first time since 2011.

The 2018 CPI draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

2018 CPI Globa MapDenmark and New Zealand top the latest Index with 88 and 87 points respectively while Somalia, South Sudan and Syria are at the bottom with 10, 13 and 13 points. Brazil has fallen two points since last year to 35, earning its lowest CPI score in seven years.

Other countries with an Index score of 80 or better are Finland, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany and the UK.

“With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies – we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” said Patricia Moreira, managing director of TI. “Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption,” she added.

The highest scoring region is Western Europe and the European Union, with an average score of 66, while the lowest scoring regions are Sub-Saharan Africa, averaging 32, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia with an average of 35.

“Our research makes a clear link between having a healthy democracy and successfully fighting public sector corruption,” explained Delia Ferreira Rubio, TI chair. “Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and, as we have seen in many countries, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.”

 

NEW YORK, NY: January 08, 2019. After three years of decline, US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose 3.4 percent last year, according to new research from the Rhodium Group.

The increase is the second largest since 1996 and is only surpassed by the 3.6 percent rise in 2010 when emissions rebounded from a recession-driven 7.2 percent decline the year before.

US Dept. of TransportationTo meet the Paris Agreement target of a 26-28 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2025, the US will have to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions by 2.6 percent on average over the next seven years — and faster if declines in other gasses don’t keep pace. Rhodium says this is more than twice the pace the US achieved between 2005 and 2017 and significantly faster than any seven-year average in US history.

For the third year running, the US transportation sector was the largest source of emissions in 2018 as growth in demand for diesel and jet fuel offset a modest decline in gasoline consumption.

During the first nine months of the year, gasoline demand declined by 0.1 percent as modest efficiency gains offset a minor increase in vehicle miles traveled. But growth in demand for both trucking and air travel increased demand for diesel and jet fuel by 3.1 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.

The research company says this highlights the challenges in decarbonizing the transportation sector beyond light-duty vehicles where efficiency improvements and electrification are beginning to show improvements - “albeit not nearly a big enough one to meet medium- and long-term US emissions targets”.

Preliminary US fourth quarter data suggests an accelerated decline in gasoline demand, an uptick in diesel demand and moderation in jet fuel demand relative to the first nine months. “All told, we estimate that transportation emissions grew by one percent in 2018, roughly the same as the 2017 growth rate”.

Rhodium says the growth in US energy-related CO2 emissions last year has made it harder for the country to meet its Paris Agreement target. However, despite plans by individual US states to reduce CO2 levels, the decision by Donald Trump to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement by 2020 ensures a federal response to climate change remains in limbo.

DAVOS, Switzerland: January 25, 2019. The European Union and 47 other members of the World Trade Organisation have agreed to begin discussions in March this year to establish global rules on e-commerce.

At the moment there are no specific multilateral rules in the WTO regulating this type of trade so businesses and consumers have to rely on a patchwork of rules agreed by some countries in their bilateral or regional trade agreements.

WTO meeting DavosIf the WTO members reach agreement, the new rules would improve consumers' trust in the on-line environment and combat spam; tackle barriers that prevent cross-border sales; guarantee validity of e-contracts and e-signatures; permanently ban Customs duties on electronic transmissions; and address forced data localisation requirements including forced disclosure of source code.

The meeting in Davos included trade ministers from Albania, Argentina, Australia, Kingdom of Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, European Union, Georgia, Honduras, Hong Kong, China; Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lao PDR, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Russian Federation, Singapore, Switzerland, Taipei, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, the UAE, United States and Uruguay.

With Brexit Britain due to leave the EU in March, apparently it wasn’t on the list.

“It is encouraging to see so many partners joining this important trade initiative,” declared EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström. “Electronic commerce is a reality in most corners of the world, so we owe it to our citizens and companies to provide a predictable, effective and safe online environment for trade. We look forward to working with all interested WTO members, flexibly and pragmatically, to create a truly comprehensive and ambitious set of rules."

UPS CEO David Abney commented: “UPS urges all trade ministers joining in the launch of negotiations of an e-commerce framework to work together in a timely fashion in negotiating a high standard rules-based trading system that will provide for efficient customs clearance, enable fluid digital transactions, establish transparency and trust and facilitate cross-border movement of information.”

Centre of picture: World Trade Organisation director general Roberto Azevêdo meeting trade ministers in Davos for discussions that included the future of e-commerce.

LONDON: December 19, 2018. UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a staunch Brexiteer, has acknowledged that UK food prices will rise after March 2019 next year as a result of post-Brexit congestion at the Port of Dover (pictured).

His admission follows publication by the European Commission (EC) of transport plans in the event of a ‘no deal’ on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement between Britain and the European Union.

Port of dover reefer containersThe Commission says it will support “the provision of certain air services” for 12 months after Britain leaves the Union without agreement – assuming they are reciprocated by the UK government – and a nine-month allowance for UK truck operators to import goods into Britain – subject to the same reciprocity and “fair competition” conditions.

In a no deal scenario, all relevant EU Customs legislation on UK/EU imports and exports delivered by sea surrounding the UK will continue to apply, including time-limits for entry summary declarations and pre-departure declarations.

The EC adds: “It is essential, however, that Member States take all the necessary steps to be in a position to apply the Union Customs Code and the relevant rules regarding indirect taxation in relation to the United Kingdom.”

With the failure of the UK Parliament and Tory government to agree on prime minister Theresa May’s plan to leave the EU, the UK government is now implementing emergency plans for the future provision of food and medicines.

In response, the EC is urging Member States to also prepare for two possible outcomes: If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified before March 30, 2019, EU law will cease to apply to, and in, the UK on January 01 2021, i.e. after a transition period of 21 months during which the EU Single Market and Customs Union will still apply.

However, continues the EC: “If the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified before 30 March 2019, there will be no transition period and EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK as of 30 March 2019. This is referred to as the ‘no deal’ or ‘cliff-edge’ scenario.”

As a notably supporter of Brexit and continued member of the British government’s inner circle of ministers, Gove has equal responsibility for taking the UK over the “cliff edge” in less than 100 days.

HARARE: January 21, 2019. A little more than a year after removing Robert Mugabe from power, Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has cut short a trip to Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan where he had sought loans and foreign investment to prop up an imploding economy.

In a tweet 24 hours earlier that few in his country could have read because his government had severed access to the Internet and social media, Mnangagwa said he was cutting short his trip that had included a fund-raising visit to Davos and the World Economic Forum. "In light of the economic situation, I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings,” he declared.

Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko According to the country's state-owned Herald newspaper, Mnangagwa and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) have signed agreements covering education and training, science and technology, agriculture and a scheme to make Zimbabwe a logistics hub in sub-Saharan Africa with rail links connecting the country to China via Belarus.

The Herald reported Lukashenko saying he considered Zimbabwe an important and strategic partner in Africa and was “ready, willing and able to support the country’s economic development agenda”. According to Belarus chief of Presidential Affairs Victor Sheiman, the logistics rail scheme involves China, Belarus and Zimbabwe “and several Southern African countries” with a joint venture to be registered “in the coming weeks”.

Belarus has also agreed to invest in Zimbabwe irrigation systems, residential housing, roads “possibly with China”, a 100MW solar power plant, a control system and a distribution network, said the newspaper.

Sheiman is reported to have told the Herald that in February a transport company “with an initial 1,000 trucks would be registered so as to facilitate commerce via ports; while a logistics firm would establish a hub that would service the region at a scale allowing companies and countries to plan for orders and movements years in advance”.

WASHINGTON/LONDON: November 28, 2018. The United States and Britain have concluded a new bilateral air services agreement for a post-Brexit trading environment.

The new deal provides the legal framework to continue air services for the 20 million passengers and more than 900,000 tons of cargo flown between the two countries annually.

AA aid for CA wildfiresWillie Walsh, IAG Group CEO commented: "It’s critical that Britain maintains full access to international aviation markets so it can continue to develop its global trading links. This agreement is a significant positive development which we welcome. The agreement, which closely follows the Model US Open Skies Agreement, facilitates strong competition and is clearly pro-consumer.”

The UK government says it has also concluded a similar agreement with Canada Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco and Switzerland.

US airline trade association Airlines for America (A4A) has also welcomed the new US air agreement: “Today’s announcement provides much needed certainty that when the UK exits the European Union there will be no disruption to air service for the traveling and shipping public,” said Nicholas Calio, A4A president and CEO.

“Continued connectivity also will benefit the 720,000 men and women employed by the US airline industry. We deeply appreciate the sense of urgency that both governments and their negotiators brought to concluding this agreement,” he added.

Pictured: Providing relief to those affected by the recent California wildfires, almost 100 Arizona-based American Airlines employees put together 20,000 American Red Cross hygiene kits at the carrier’s cargo facility at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). According to the airline it was the largest disaster relief effort in its 92-year history. John Daley, managing director of PHX for American commented: “It’s important that we lend a hand to those in need, not only to the thousands of our colleagues who call California home, but also to all of those who have been impacted.”

WASHINGTON: January 10, 2019. As Donald Trump continues his obsession with building a wall on the US/Mexican boarder, over 500 US business leaders and investors have written to all members of the 116th Congress to address instead a real economic threat to America - climate change.

E2 entrepreneursAt the end of November the Trump administration published the country’s 4th National Climate Assessment, produced and agreed by 13 government agencies, that details how exhausted fisheries, declining crop yields from agriculture, deteriorating infrastructure, lost tourism dollars, and extreme weather damages, will cost the US economy an estimated US$500 billion a year by 2100.

Organized by E2 Environmental Entrepreneurs and signed by executives and entrepreneurs from the real estate, investment, agriculture, energy and technology sectors nationwide, the letter calls on legislators to ensure the US reaches the emissions reduction goals set out in the Paris Climate agreement; stops the Trump administration rollbacks of automobile efficiency and emissions standards and power industry clean air standards; and advances policies to quickly deploy clean energy and clean vehicles and upgrade the country’s electricity grid.

“Businesses and investors across the country are already experiencing the losses and other economic impacts of climate change – whether from horrific fires in the West, hurricanes and flooding in the East or crop losses in the Midwest. The conclusions are clear: It’s only going to get worse if we do nothing,” declared E2 executive director Bob Keefe. “Right now, this Congress is our best hope in Washington to get America back on track with policies that can help our environment while also creating jobs and driving economic growth. Congress must act, and act immediately,” he added.

DUBAI: November 28, 2018. The US Department of State is to include a Virgin Hyperloop One exhibit in the US Pavillion at Expo 2020, the first World’s Fair to be held in the Middle East.

“Expo 2020 follows on a rich 150-year-old global tradition of World Expos that have had a significant positive impact on transformative technologies and global cultural symbols,” said Ryan Kelly, head of Marketing and Communications for Virgin Hyperloop One.

US Pavillion Expo 2020 Hyperloop One“The Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the telephone [and] the television were all former showcase items. However, Expos are not just about iconic buildings and innovations, but interactive gatherings whereby nations come together to work together on common goals while experiencing the cultural richness of the host nation,” he added.

DP World, the largest investor in Virgin Hyperloop One, will be positioned next to the US Pavilion and exhibit DP World Cargospeed, the hyperloop concept for cargo.

"Historically, cargo has always driven innovation in transportation and we see hyperloop technology as absolutely essential to the expanding market of on-demand, sustainable global shipping,” commented Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One chairman. “Having Virgin Hyperloop One featured as a prominent symbol of global innovation at Expo 2020 is thrilling for us since we are so invested in the company—not just financially, but as believers in their unique technology.”

In addition to DP World, Virgin Hyperloop One investors include Virgin Group, Caspian VC Partners, Sherpa Capital, Abu Dhabi Capital Group, SNCF, GE Ventures, Formation 8, 137 Ventures and WTI.

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