European inclusion under threat warns WEF paper

A report from the World Economic Forum has called for a strengthening of city diplomacy through a network that connects cities in the fight against terrorism, crime and violence. (Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
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European inclusion under threat warns WEF paper

LONDON: Europe’s leaders must embrace a bold and innovative program of reform to secure a peaceful, prosperous and stable future, according to a report by the World Economic Forum ahead of its Davos summit next week.

One of the key findings of the WEF paper was that Europeans, especially younger people, believe that a core set of European values, based on inclusion and equality, openness and diversity, and sustainable growth are coming increasingly under threat.

To preserve these values for the future, the paper outlines a number of innovative ideas aimed at addressing the region’s challenges.

These cover five major policy areas: human-centric economy; security and defense; migration and borders; democracy and governance; and energy and sustainability.

“Collectively, these themes cover more than two-thirds of the policy areas where most Europeans say they want greater intervention by the EU,” said the report.

Among other things, it call for a strengthening of city diplomacy through a network that connects cities in the fight against terrorism, crime and violence; a European SecurityForce to augment national defense systems as well as provide new roles such as coast guard and border patrols; and a common digital identity for refugees and asylum seekers to better manage migration
flows and improve integration of immigrants.

A second WEF paper, also released on Friday focusing on startups and corporates aims to help Europe develop more world-class technology companies by providing a blueprint for greater collaboration between the two worlds.


World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

Updated 21 August 2018
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World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

  • The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter
  • Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China

OSLO: The managers of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, expressed concern Tuesday about global trade tensions, which could heavily impact its value.
The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter, helping erase a loss of 171 billion kroner in January-March that was attributed to a volatile stock market.
The Government Pension Fund Global, which saw its total value swell to 8.33 trillion kroner by the end of June, manages the country’s oil revenues in order to finance Norway’s generous welfare state when its oil and gas wells run dry.
But Norway’s central bank, which runs the fund, said geopolitical and trade tensions presented a risk.
“It’s fair to say that increased trade barriers or even trade wars will not be beneficial for the fund as a long-term global investor,” Trond Grande, the deputy chief of Norges Bank Investment Management, told reporters.
Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China. Accusing Beijing of unfair competition, the US administration is considering slapping a new round of levies worth $200 billion on Chinese goods.
Talks between the two slated for Wednesday and Thursday aimed at resolving the dispute have however eased concerns somewhat.
Following US-Turkey tensions that sent the Turkish lira and the Istanbul stock market tumbling, the Norwegian fund said its assets there were worth less than the 23 billion kroner they were at the beginning of the year.
“We’ve seen the market rise for a long time, that there are different political and geopolitical events in the world that can affect the market, and we have to be prepared for the fact that (the value of) the fund can go down a lot,” Grande concluded.
The fund’s strong second quarter was attributed primarily to its share portfolio, which accounts for 66.8 percent of its investments and which rose by 2.7 percent.
Real estate holdings, which account for 2.6 percent of its holdings, rose by 1.9 percent, while bond investments, which represent 30.6 percent, remained flat.
Faced with falling oil revenues in recent years, the Norwegian government has been tapping the fund to finance public spending since 2015. But with oil prices recovering, the fund registered its first inflow in three years in June.