Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

Gross domestic product in the Gaza Strip, above, declined by eight percent last year, while there was only minor growth in the West Bank. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019
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Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

  • The MF has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy
  • ‘If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained’

MANAMA: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that major economic growth was possible in the Palestinian territories if all sides showed urgency, as she took part in a US-led conference boycotted by the Palestinian leadership.
The International Monetary Fund has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy, with tax revenue blocked in a dispute with Israel which has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
“If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained,” said Lagarde.
The IMF chief is attending a conference in Bahrain to discuss the economic aspects of a United States plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which has already been rejected by the Palestinians as it fails to address key political issues.
Lagarde said for the US plan to work “it will require all the goodwill in the world on the part of all parties — private sector, public sector, international organizations and the parties on the ground and their neighbors.”
Citing examples of post-conflict countries, Lagarde said that private investors needed progress in several sectors including strengthening the central bank, better managing public finance and mobilizing domestic revenue.
“If anti-corruption is really one of the imperatives of the authorities — as it was in Rwanda, for instance — then things can really take off,” she said.
The plan presented by White House adviser Jared Kushner calls for $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and its neighbors within a decade.
The proposals for infrastructure, tourism, education and more aim to create one million Palestinian jobs.
Gross domestic product in the Gaza Strip declined by eight percent last year, while there was only minor growth in the West Bank.
Kushner, opening the conference on Tuesday, called the plan the “Opportunity of the Century” — and said the Palestinians needed to accept it before a deal can be reached on political solutions.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the conference, saying that the US and Israel are trying to dangle money to impose their ideas on a political settlement.
Washington says it will unveil the political aspects of its peace deal at a later date, most likely after Israel’s September election.


BMW and Tencent to open computing center in China for self-driving cars

A BMW self-driving test vehicle at an event announcing the German automaker’s partnership with China’s Tencent Holdings in Beijing. (Reuters)
Updated 1 min 28 sec ago
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BMW and Tencent to open computing center in China for self-driving cars

  • BMW’s planned Chinese computing center follows the opening earlier this year of a similar computing center in Munich

BEIJING: German automaker BMW and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings are teaming up to launch a computing center in China that will help develop self-driving cars in the world’s biggest auto market, the companies said on Friday.
The computing center, which will start operations by the end of the year, will provide cars with data-crunching capabilities to help them drive semi-autonomously and, eventually, autonomously.
The two companies did not disclose the investment in the center. Sources familiar with the deal said the center will be built in the eastern city of Tianjin.
The establishment of the center “will support BMW’s autonomous driving development and innovation in China,” Jochen Goller, head of BMW’s China operations, said in a statement.
“BMW can, therefore, develop autonomous driving solutions that fit better with the specific driving conditions in China.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Center will give cars data crunching capabilities.

• Investment in facility not disclosed.

• To be located in Tianjin city.

BMW said the new computing center will leverage Tencent’s cloud computing and big data, and provide the automaker with infrastructure needed to develop the autonomous cars.
The Munich-headquartered automaker says it will likely introduce semi-autonomous, or L3 classification, cars in China in 2021 which would need massive computing power to analyze real-time flow of digital information on road and traffic conditions.
Driverless cars need sophisticated data-crunching capabilities as they rely on so-called artificial-intelligence, or neuro-network technology, to help them “learn” from experience and could eventually drive themselves without human intervention.
BMW’s planned Chinese computing center follows the opening earlier this year of a similar computing center in Munich.