Britain eyes bespoke trade arrangement with EU, UK finance minister says

British finance minister Philip Hammond said the UK would develop a trade deal that is not a ‘Canada model.’ (Reuters)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Britain eyes bespoke trade arrangement with EU, UK finance minister says

BEIJING: British Finance Minister Philip Hammond said it is likely Britain will want to negotiate a bespoke arrangement for future trade deals with the EU.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing on Saturday with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and Chinese Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin, Hammond said he expected that the UK would develop a trade deal that is not a “Canada model.”
Hammond, who is in China on an official visit, was referring to a deal similar to the one the EU agreed to last year with Canada.
Shi told reporters that China believes Britain and the EU are able to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both sides.
The European Union agreed on Friday to move Brexit talks onto trade and a transition pact but some leaders cautioned that the final year of divorce negotiations before Britain’s exit could be fraught with peril.
EU leaders, who had offered British Prime Minister Theresa May a rare summit round of applause over dinner in Brussels the night before, took just 10 minutes to agree that she had made “sufficient progress” on divorce terms last week and to give negotiators a mandate to move on to the main phase of talks.
Summit chair Donald Tusk said the world’s biggest trading bloc would start “exploratory contacts” with Britain on what London wants in a future trade relationship, as well as starting discussion on the immediate post-Brexit transition.
The Brexit negotiations have been a vexed issue for the global economy as markets feared prolonged uncertainty would hit global trade and the growth.
A transition period is now seen as crucial for investors and businesses who worry that a “cliff-edge” Brexit would disrupt trade flows and sow chaos through financial markets.
Hammond’s China visit is the latest instalment in long-running economic talks between the two states but it has now taken on new importance for Britain as it looks to re-invent itself as a global trading nation after leaving the EU in 2019.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.