Tag: World Economic Forum

Biden’s ‘Buy America’ policy affects US trade ties, Beijing hints at the possibility of new Cold War
Asia Pacific Focus

Biden’s ‘Buy America’ policy affects US trade ties, Beijing hints at the possibility of new Cold War

On Monday, US president Joe Biden signed a new executive order to focus on enhancing the US manufacturing and industrial sector. The Democratic president signed the executive order to promote the country’s long-standing ‘buy America’ policy. Biden used it to eliminate legal loopholes that limit the federal agencies in providing a favorable push to “Made in America” products. Biden’s order stands in line with his predecessor Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ policy.

While emphasizing about the existing ‘Buy American Act of 1933’, Biden said that the new order would make federal agencies to prioritize buying goods produced on US soil, but “these preferences have not always been implemented consistently or effectively”.

An official from the Biden administration said, “The dollars the federal government spends… are a powerful tool to support American workers and manufacturers. Contracting alone accounts for nearly $600 billion in federal spending.”

“I don’t buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Biden told reporters before signing the order. “American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now.” But Biden’s vision for American domestic industry sparked conflict with one of its biggest trade rival, China.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping called out against Biden’s protectionist policies and warned against the emergence of a new ‘cold war’, if the trend continues. Speaking at the World Economic Forum event, Xi said that nations should adopt a multilateral approach to combat the ongoing economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of promoting reverse globalization, and favoring “decoupling and seclusion”.

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Though Xi avoided directly mentioning US or Biden’s executive order his words made it clear that his nation would not adhere to the dictates of the new administration in Washington. “To build small circles or start a new cold war, to reject, threaten or intimidate others, to wilfully impose decoupling, supply disruption or sanctions, and to create isolation or estrangement will only push the world into division and even confrontation” Xi said.

Xi added, “No global problem can be solved by any one country alone. There must be global action, global response, and global cooperation.” Besides, the Chinese President proposed the creation of an open world economy, which would “uphold the multilateral trading regime, discard discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and takedown barriers to trade, investment, and technological exchanges.”

The Chinese leader also condemned the bully behavior employed by one nation to take advantage of others, hinting at US formidable purchasing power. He said, “State-to-state relations should be coordinated and regulated through proper institutions and rules. The strong should not bully the weak. Decisions should not be made by simply showing off strong muscles or waving a big fist”.

How the UAE avoided food shortages among COVID-19, World Economic Forum explains
Middle East & Africa

How the UAE avoided food shortages among COVID-19, World Economic Forum explains

The World Economic Forum has published a detailed report on how the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provided sufficient food supplies during the lockdown imposed in response to COVID-19. The paper describes the steps taken by the UAE over the past four years to become more self-sufficient in their food supplies, limiting its dependence on imports. The forward-looking policies of the UAE leadership have allowed the Gulf country to overcome the health emergency of COVID-19 without difficulty, establishing itself as a model to follow for other countries around the world.

The effort – part of a broader push to produce more home-grown food amid fears climate change could trigger instability in the global food trade – started after the country was hit by food export bans during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the World Economic Forum affirms, indicating thatwhen the UAE went into lockdown in April to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, residents had the same reaction as millions of others around the world – they started panic-buying.

Nonetheless supermarket shelves have remained fully stocked, partly because the UAE has long had policies in place to ensure an uninterrupted supply of food from abroad,IsmahaneElouafi, Director general of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) noted. “Thanks to the work being done to harness the benefits of innovation, agriculture is becoming possible and profitable in a country with harsh climatic conditions,” Elouafi said.

According to data from the World Bank, the contribution of agriculture to the country’s gross domestic product rose from $2.39 billion in 2012 to $3.06 billion in 2018. Currently ranking 21 out of 113 countries on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Food Security Index, the UAE aims to be in the top 10 by 2021 and number one by mid-century. By then, the federal government hopes half the food Emiratis consume will be produced locally, compared to 20% today. Under the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy – which was officially launched in 2018, but had already been woven into government policy for several years before – the country has worked to boost domestic food production. It has built infrastructure, including complexes for cattle-breeding – and introduced financial measures, from exempting value-added tax on food produced on local farms to paying subsidies on fodder.

The report also shows how to meet the country’s freshwater needs, the government is increasingly turning to energy-intensive desalination methods. Another challenge is that less than 1% of the UAE’s land is arable, according to the World Bank. The focus is on finding ways to farm with fewer resources – which is where technology and experimenting with new crops can help, said Sajid Maqsood, associate professor in the College of Food and Agriculture at United Arab Emirates University.

In recent years, the UAE has seen a rise in the number of vertical farms, in which crops are grown stacked under LED lighting and watered with mists or drip systems. In Dubai, the country’s business and tourism hub, airline catering service Emirates Flight Catering and vertical farm operator Crop One Holdings have launched a $40-million joint venture to build the world’s largest vertical farm. Crop One Holdings says the 130,000 square-foot (12,077 sq m) farm – due to be completed this year – will produce 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg) of pesticide- and herbicide-free fruits and vegetables daily, using 99% less water than traditional farms.

The Dubai-based ICBA works with local ministries, farmers’ associations and businesses to introduce climate-resilient crops such as quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum to farmers. “The global food production system is currently dominated by just a few staple crops – this needs to change,” IsmahaneElouafi affirmed. For Kapoor at Madar Farms, which has been growing leafy greens and microgreens in vertical systems since 2017, the move into tech-enabled agriculture is inevitable to deal with challenges like climate change and the novel coronavirus. As The world will have to shift toward controlled-environment agriculture.

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