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World Insights: Global economy facing “turning point” amid challenges

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DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) — The global economy has regained steam after a difficult COVID-19 pandemic, but experts at the World Economic Forum (WEF) say a recovery is far from certain.

Under the theme “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” the WEF’s 2023 annual meeting concluded here on Friday. The gathering came amid unprecedented global challenges such as high inflation, an energy crisis, climate change and geopolitical conflict.

Growth is on an upward trajectory and could witness a more robust recovery in 2023 through global cooperation and following China’s adjusted COVID-19 response measures.

CAUTION STILL NEEDED

The global economic outlook is not as bad as feared a couple of months ago, “but less bad doesn’t quite yet mean good,” Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), told a closing panel at the WEF. “We have to be cautious.”

Georgieva said headline inflation was heading down. China’s optimized COVID-19 response is expected to boost global growth, with the IMF forecasting the Chinese economy will reach an estimated 4.4 percent, far outpacing global growth.

Signs of declining inflation, resilient consumer spending and strong labor markets, among others, suggest that growth could rebound in the short term.

“Be careful not to get on the other side of the spectrum, from being too pessimistic to being too optimistic. Stay in the middle of realism that seems to serve the world well,” Georgieva said.

The WEF issued its Global Risks Report 2023, saying that conflict and geo-economic tensions have triggered a series of deeply interconnected global risks, with the cost of living crisis being the most significant short-term risk. At the same time, climate change and climate adaptation are the most considerable long-term concern.

Georgieva said that future growth prospects depend on how supply chain security is managed.

“If we diversify rationally, the cost of this adjustment would be low — we put it down to 0.2 percent of GDP. If we trash trade that has been an engine for growth for so many decades, the cost can go up to 7 percent loss of GDP, equaling 7 trillion U.S. dollars,” she said.

“Labor markets are holding firm so far, but interest rates are yet to bite, and if they bite more severely, then we can see unemployment going up. And it is very different for a consumer to have a cost of living crisis and a job than the cost of living crisis and no job,” Georgieva said.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde was also cautious about the global economic outlook.

“The greatest tragedy in this moment would be if central banks were to lurch away from a focus on assuring price stability prematurely, and we were to have to fight this battle twice,” said former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

Despite recent signs of improvement, “relief must not become complacency,” Summers noted.

COOPERATION BRINGS OPTIMISM

Attendees at the forum said cooperation would be for global growth. WEF President Borge Brende expressed confidence that “we can shape a more resilient, sustainable and equitable future,” but “the only way to do it is together.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for urgent action on several interconnected challenges, including the global economic crisis and climate. He underlined the need to “forge the pathways to cooperation in our fragmented world.”

Leslie Maasdorp, vice president and chief financial officer of the New Development Bank, told Xinhua, “Without multilateral cooperation, you cannot really deal with challenges that are cross-national … I believe that the one positive lesson we can learn from COVID is that we are interconnected.”

Though challenges still threaten the global economy, attendees voiced hope that a severe recession may be avoided.

“We are now heading to a year where hopefully the corporates, the consumers, the state, policymakers will continue to have that resilient, determined approach to engineer the transitions that must take place,” Lagarde said.

“The situation around the world must be improving a little bit,” said Lagarde. “Players are moving from defense mode, that they had effectively been in 2021 and 2022, towards a more competitive mode.”

In his closing remarks on Friday, Brende said despite the many complex issues facing the global community, progress had been made at the annual meeting, especially in tackling the most urgent crises of food, energy and climate.

“For me, the greatest lesson of the week has been that although the world is more fragmented today, it does not need to be tomorrow,” Brende said.

EXPECTATIONS FOR CHINA

Business leaders worldwide have been pessimistic about the global economy in recent months, but now, cautious optimism is emerging. They are confident about the robust growth of the Chinese economy and expect China to be a “key driver” of a global recovery.

China’s economy posted steady growth in 2022 despite pressures including COVID-19 breakouts and a complex external environment, with its gross domestic product growing 3 percent year on year to a record high of 121.0207 trillion yuan (about 17.95 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2022, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

The 2022 GDP growth was published at the time when the WEF was underway. With the better-than-expected data, optimism over both the Chinese and global economies spread in Davos.

Maasdorp was confident in China’s expected growth, a sentiment shared across the banking sector. Although he predicted a “bumpy period” in the first quarter of this year and potentially in the second, there are strong expectations for more robust growth driven by consumption in the year’s second half.

Haitham Al Ghais, secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, praised China for factoring renewable energy into its growth strategy.

“We are extremely proud of the steps taken by the Chinese government to promote renewable energy as a part of the energy mix as required for China to fuel its continuous development and economic growth,” he said.

“We are very confident in the Chinese economy and the strength of the leadership and the government and the people of China,” Al Ghais said.

Source(s): Xinhua

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IASL is seeks A contractor to refurbish the Maafaru airport terminal

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BY: FATHIMATH LAUZA.

Island Aviation Services Limited (IASL) is looking for a contractor to refurbish the Maafaru International Airport terminal. IASL has asked interested Maldivian enterprises to submit proposals by February 12.

According to General Manager Mumthaz Ali, the goal of the terminal upgrade is to expand the airport’s capacity, add additional Maldives Immigration counters, and develop commercial and VVIP lounges.
He stated that the terminal will be a two-story structure, with the first level housing the VVIP lounge and the second housing the commercial lounge and offices.

Furthermore, the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) is planning to rebuild and enlarge the runway at Maafaru International Airport. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has provided a USD27 million grant to the project (ADFD). The expansion of the runway and terminal is projected to greatly boost the airport’s capacity.

The renovation and extension are part of Maafaru International Airport’s second phase of development. MTCC is in charge of extending the runway by 650 meters, enlarging the strip, recovering land, and constructing coastline protection buildings. Other activities include improving the runway pavement, enlarging the taxiway, and modernizing the AGL and power systems.

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State reserve at USD 827.7M by end of last year, a significant improvement

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Statistics publicized Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) show that the state reserve stood at USD 827.7 million at the end of last year.

The ‘Economic Update’ publicized by MMA on Thursday showed that the gross international reserve, or in other words, the foreign currency reserve of the central bank, increased to USD 827.7 million by the end of last December.

This marks a three percent increase compared to the previous year. At the end of 2021, the state reserve stood at USD 805.8 million.

The reserve significantly improved in December 2022 compared to November 2022 with an addition of USD 223.5 million – marking a 37 percent increase. At the end of November 2022, the reserve stood at USD 604.2 million.

Tourism sector performed significantly well in the last quarter of last year. Statistics by Tourism Ministry showed that Maldives recorded 184,051 tourist arrivals in December alone, marking a 12 percent increase compared to December 2021.

As per MMA, the number of fisheries exports from the Maldives also significantly increased during December 2022. The central bank said that number of total exports had also significantly increased last year.

Economic experts cite the increased tourist arrivals to the Maldives and increased exports from the Maldives as a positive impact on the Maldivian economy.

While statistics from MMA shows Maldivian economy making steady improvements – Finance Ministry had recently announced measures to cut down state expenditure which is currently in force.

Source(s): sun.mv

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OPEC+ committee recommends staying course on oil output policy

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VIENNA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) — Leading oil officials on Wednesday recommended to maintain the current oil output policy of OPEC+, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, amid an uncertain global economic outlook.

The OPEC+ agreed in October 2022 to cut production by 2 million barrels per day from the following month until the end of 2023. The cut equals to about 2 percent of the annual global oil demand.

Members of the OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) “reaffirmed their commitment” to the current output plan at a virtual meeting on Wednesday and “urged all participating countries to achieve full conformity and adhere to the compensation mechanism,” according to an OPEC statement.

The JMMC comprises oil ministers from the OPEC+ countries. It has no decision-making power but provides policy recommendations for the OPEC+ ministerial meeting, the group’s decision-making body. It has also the authority to request additional OPEC+ ministerial meetings “at any time to address market developments,” according to OPEC.

The JMMC has reviewed the oil production data for November and December last year and “noted the overall conformity” for the OPEC+ countries, OPEC added.

The next JMMC meeting is scheduled for April 3. The next OPEC+ ministerial meeting, where the group will formally decide its output policy, is set for June 4.

Source(s): Xinhua

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