Category Archives: current-topic-views
Spain’s Rafael Nadal fought off tenacious Argentine Diego Schwartzman to win through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday, ensuring he remains world number one after the tournament ends.
SEOUL: Seoul welcomed confirmation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that 22 North Korean athletes would compete in next month’s Winter Olympics, saying on Sunday it would aid peace and the easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
In the first of a series of preparatory visits, North Korean music and arts officials arrived in South Korea on Sunday to inspect sites for performances during the Olympics.
“North Korea’s participation in the Olympics will be a catalyst for building peace and easing tensions on the Korean peninsula,” said South Korea’s presidential Blue House in a statement released on Sunday.
The visit to the South marks the first by North Koreans since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May last year and sought to re-engage with the North.
“President Moon has previously stressed that the Pyeongchang Olympics should be an important turning point in solving North Korea’s missile issues,” the Blue House statement said.
The seven-member North Korean delegation, led by musician Hyon Song-wol, will check venues for performances by a 140-strong art troupe at the Olympics.
The officials are scheduled to spend two days inspecting art centres in Seoul and Gangneung city, which will also host several of the Olympic events.
South Korean broadcaster YTN reported the delegation had arrived in Seoul early Sunday under a heavy police presence, then boarded a train to Gangwon province, where the Olympics will be held from February 9-25.
Pyongyang said on Sunday it also plans to send another team of sports officials to inspect Olympic venues and accommodations from January 25-27, South Korea’s unification ministry said.
In a diplomatic breakthrough after a year of escalating tension over the North’s nuclear and missile programme, the IOC announced on Saturday that North Korea will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games and compete in three sports and five disciplines.
Until the IOC confirmation, a figure skating pair were the only North Koreans to have secured a spot at the Games through the conventional qualifying competition, although they lost their place after failing to register.
Sunday’s North Korean delegation had been scheduled to visit on Saturday but cancelled just before the visit with no explanation. Officials from both Korea’s used a cross-border hotline to quickly reschedule the visit.
Also on Sunday, South Korean officials said Pyongyang had accepted proposals for South Koreans to travel to North Korea for joint athletic training at the Masikryong Ski Resort and a cultural event at Mount Kumgang, a once popular tourist area.
DAVOS: European leaders will be out in force at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week to defend multilateralism before US President Donald Trump arrives to deliver his “America First” message.
Politicians, business chiefs, bankers and celebrities will meet in the Swiss Alps under the banner “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” for the four-day gathering against an unsettling global backdrop.
A decade after the bankruptcy of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers helped trigger a global financial crisis, economic growth has returned and stock markets are hitting record highs.
Yet there is a nagging fear among many in Davos that the brighter economic outlook could turn out to be little more than a mirage if the daunting array of geopolitical threats – from protectionism and climate change to cyber attacks and outright war – gather pace in 2018.
“Not all geopolitical threats are threats to financial markets,” Axel Weber, the chairman of Swiss bank UBS and former president of the German Bundesbank told Reuters. “But I agree that there may be a disconnect, which has been going on for some time already and may well continue for some time.”
The Global Risks Report published by the WEF last week showed that many see a heightened risk of political and economic confrontations between major powers this year.
Trump, the first sitting US president to attend the forum since Bill Clinton in 2000, is a source of much of this anxiety after a volatile first year in office in which he has turned American foreign policy on its head.
The forum will open on Tuesday with a speech by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and end on Friday, when Trump is due to address the massive auditorium where Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke last year, offering to fill the global leadership void created by an inward-looking Washington.
White House officials said over the weekend that a government shutdown in the United States was unlikely to prevent Trump from making the trip, although the budget director Mick Mulvaney said it was now “in flux”.
In the days between Modi and Trump, the leaders of Europe’s biggest countries, absent from Davos last year and emboldened by their own economic recovery, will offer an alternative vision to Trump and Xi, who the Europeans say has failed to deliver on his promise of a year ago to open China up to foreign investment.
EUROPE’S NEW STAR
The charge will be led by French President Emmanuel Macron, the new star of European politics, who in an audacious move, has invited many of the business leaders who will be in Davos to the Palace of Versailles on Monday to press them to invest in France.
When he speaks in Davos on Wednesday, the former investment banker will offer his own “diagnosis” of globalisation and set out a vision for addressing widening inequalities, global warming and the rise of nationalism, his advisers say.
“I don’t think Macron will be able to resist being the counter-Trump,” said Robin Niblett, director of the Chatham House think tank in London.
Macron will be joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, returning to the world stage after months of political limbo at home, and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, back in Davos after a 20-year absence, is also due to speak.
The WEF is a marathon of panel discussions, lunches and cocktail parties that delve into subjects as diverse as terrorism, artificial intelligence and wellness.
This year’s conference will include several sessions on sexual harassment, a nod to the #MeToo movement that erupted after allegations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Criticised in past years for not representing women, the WEF appointed seven female co-chairs this year, including Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM.
Among the other leaders attending are British Prime Minister Theresa May, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and several African leaders, including Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Last year, the sole envoy from the Trump camp in the week leading up to his inauguration was Anthony Scaramucci, the New York financier who was sacked after just 10 days as White House communications director.
For the first time in years, Iran will not be represented. WEF officials could not say whether the late cancellation by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had anything to do with Trump’s decision to speak.
NEW DELHI: India will overtake China to be the fastest growing large economy in 2018 and the country’s equity market will become the fifth largest in the world, says a report.
According to a Sanctum Wealth Management report, when the rest of the world offers low growth and insufficient structural change, India, by contrast, is seen as a reforming economy with the prospect of strong long-term growth.
“India will become the fastest growing large economy in the world, eclipsing China. Indian equity market will jump to become the fifth largest in the world,” the report noted.
At a time when developed economies are cheering 2-3 per cent growth, India is focused on breaching 7.5 per cent, it said.
Moreover, India also benefits from a favourable contrast to other emerging markets. In particular, the fact that China is downshifting to a slower pace of growth.
“Prospective returns for equities are much higher than the 6-8 per cent that one can expect from fixed income,” it noted.
However, if inflation or rates rise, markets are not likely to register further gains. Muted earning could also impact market performance.
“Considering the fact that Nifty50 is in a broader uptrend, a sustained move beyond the 10,490-10,580 levels could lead to a rally towards 11,200-11,500 levels in the medium term,” it noted.
As per the report, a major factor that has changed is that the domestic buyer now sets market prices. Domestic mutual funds bought equities worth USD 15.3 billion against USD 8 billion by foreign investors in 2017.
The report that identifies various big-picture trends at play this year in the domestic and global economy, noted that Aadhaar, Jan Dhan, Demonetisation, GST, are working to create a new inclusive infrastructure in India.
“Given the rapid pace at which the Indian economy is developing, investors today are faced with the need to make crucial investment decisions amidst multiple cross currents, using a complex array of choices,” Sanctum Wealth Management Chief Executive Officer Shiv Gupta said.
Veteran Leander Paes and Purav Raja on Sunday suffered a straight-set defeat at the hands of the Colombian pair of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the pre-quarterfinals to bow out of the Australian Open.
LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM): Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leadership has distanced itself from the recently launched Free Karachi campaign in the United States.
“The meeting also unanimously informed hereby that the Movement and its founder and leader Altaf Hussain has nothing to do with the recently surfaced “#FreeKarachi” campaign“, the MQM said in a statement.
The decision was taken in a meeting of its senior leaders held at the MQM International Secretariat here.
The meeting was attended by seniors from Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Belgium, South Africa and other countries.
It deliberated on issues relating to Pakistan, international and MQM organisational matters.
The statement comes after taxis lined up with #FreeKarachi banners to participate in the Dr Martin Luther King Day parade earlier this week in Washington and similar demonstrations were held in New York.
NEW DELHI: A government cannot run industry and regulation on businesses should be kept to a minimum to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) and spur domestic financing, according to a minister.
Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said that a committee had been set up under the chairmanship of the Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, to look at regulatory issues.
“The ultimate idea is that regulation should not stifle the possibilities of investment. I get a sense now that people have again started looking at investments,” Prabhu told this correspondent in a freewheeling interview here ahead of his visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum‘s (WEF) annual conference.
Prabhu also maintained that the government cannot run industry and a new industrial policy was in the works aimed at reducing regulations and promoting modernisation of existing industry. It will also seek to encourage new and emerging industries, even those which are not seen today.
The minister is slated to hold a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from many countries, including Australia and the UK, participating at the WEF in Davos, besides holding meetings with leading business leaders from around the globe in an attempt to attract more FDI into the country.
Taking note of India’s jump in the global “ease of doing business” rankings from 130th place to 100th, Prabhu said the government was in the process of initiating a number of measures, which might not have been captured in this particular ranking study. “In the next few years’ time, we will see it (the ranking) improving again and again,” he said.
Prabhu said the change in rankings was largely because of the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) regime which was the single-largest and most significant reform post-Independence. It was also “a great positive” step in the direction of bringing transparency and greater reliability.
On the core focus areas for India to boost exports, he said the government was in the process of drawing up strategies across five main components — promotion of services, value-addition in goods, focus on agriculture, improving standards, and logistics.
“We have identified champion sectors with untapped potential for value-addition, employment generation and technology upgradation to promote services. Focus will be on improving the ease of doing business across these sectors,” he said.
India, he said, was poised to become the third-largest economy in the world and the onward journey of becoming a $5 trillion economy was “inevitable and unstoppable”.
“Today, global output is higher than the global trade. We need to re-strategise our global trade. India’s journey towards achieving $5 trillion economy sooner is not possible without expansion of our basket of global trade,” Prabhu said.
Envisaging a new high in India’s economic scenario, he said: “If we grow by more than eight per cent we will reach there in the next 6-7 years; if we grow by today’s pace of around 7 per cent we will reach there in 1-2 years more.”
Asked about the steps being taken to reduce India’s logistics costs, Prabhu said earlier there was no dedicated team dealing with logistics, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken the decision to create a separate logistics division within the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
He said steps were being undertaken to create a digital logistics platform for the industry to increase the speed of movement of goods and reduce costs.
“If a consignment is to be transported from, say, Mumbai to Kolkata, why not part-use rail and part-use road? But the right decision can be made only when we know the exact cost and time taken. A digital platform can make that happen,” he said.
Dwelling on the strategy to boost the “Make In India” initiative, he said it will be successful only if it happens at the state and district levels.
As Railway Minister Prabhu had undertaken a programme of developing a joint tourism circuit on the western coast of India, including the Konkan and Goa regions.
Now as the Minister for Commerce and Industry, he wants to take the Make-in-India concept to the Konkan.