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Analysis

Commentary

Mercosur momentum for EU deal

by David Smith in Mendoza | Wed 26 Jul 2017

Mercosur, Latin-America's subregional trade bloc, held its latest summit last week in Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina. The assembly signalled a fundamental shift, from politics to trade, which this under-achieving coalition has needed for years. Reaching a trade agreement with the European Union, a well-worn issue stalled since the millennium by protectionist rhetoric, is again a priority. EU negotiators believe Argentine President Mauricio Macri's leadership offers the best chance in years of concluding a deal.

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Banking, fintech: a potent force

by Piyush Gupta in Singapore | Mon 24 Jul 2017

The digital revolution has been accelerated by the merging of mobile technology, networks and big data. Between them, they have redefined many industries. From transport to retailing, whole sectors are being disrupted, and companies such as Uber, Alibaba, and Airbnb are seriously challenging the status quo.

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South Africa must call in IMF

by Desmond Lachman in Washington | Mon 24 Jul 2017

While much of the world economy appears to be on the mend, South Africa is in trouble. Per capita income has been in decline for several years and the economy is in recession for the second time in eight years. In view of the favourable global economic environment, the country’s predicament is even more troubling. To restore investor confidence and stop the downward economic spiral, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba should consider calling in the IMF.

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EU still offers example for Asean

by National University of Singapore authors | Fri 21 Jul 2017

The European experiment is under pressure, tested by the rise of nationalist politics. But for Asean, the EU still serves as an example of what might one day be possible, even if they have not tread identical paths towards union. Asean's size and diversity present promising opportunities. Its GDP is projected to more than double by 2020, and the bloc could become the world's fourth largest economy by 2050. Asean offers far looser integration than the EU, and the diversity of economies in Asia has meant embracing flexibility over rigidity.

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The return of hard power

by David Skilling in Singapore | Wed 19 Jul 2017

Military spending is increasing strongly in many parts of the world, particularly Asia and the Middle East. China’s defence outlay is estimated to have gone up by around 120% since 2007. The rise in expenditure reflects a changing global context in which hard power is back. In advanced economies, declining military expenditure appears to be coming to an end. Of particular note is the way small countries are increasing both spending and their strategic focus on military issues. This is a signal that should be taken seriously.

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Solar energy in Europe’s south

by George Papaconstantinou in Athens | Tue 18 Jul 2017

If Greece is to overcome its economic crisis it has to abandon the borrow-and-import model of past decades and find a new economic paradigm that allows it to achieve a sustainable recovery. A promising source of growth, and exports, is solar energy. Greece has 300 days of sunshine a year and 50% higher solar radiation – which converts into power – than central European countries.

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Onus is on Africans

by Kingsley Moghalu in Washington | Mon 17 Jul 2017

Nigeria, like many African countries, has made progress in the quest for good governance, but is a long way from where it could be after 57 years of independence. Citizens at home as well as the African diaspora around the world have a vital role to play in improving leadership in the continent. As Ameena Gurib-Fakim, the president of Mauritius, has put it, the onus is on Africans: 'People have to start asking the right questions. Politicians, leaders, policy-makers in normal democracies are all accountable to the people.'

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Folly of leaving EU customs union

by Denis MacShane in London | Fri 14 Jul 2017

Of the many claims about Britain’s exit from the European Union, the most odd is that leaving the EU customs union opens the door to a massive expansion of exports. There is nothing to stop Britain trading and exporting worldwide from within the customs union. Renegotiating hundreds of trade and regulatory agreements will take years and require a massive new bureaucracy funded by taxpayers. Britain should signal now to the EU that leaving the customs union is not a priority.

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EU-Japan pact is bad omen for Britain

by Joergen Oerstroem Moeller in Singapore | Thu 13 Jul 2017

The free trade agreement between the European Union and Japan, announced on 6 July before the G20 summit began, is good news for global free trade. The EU estimates the accord will save it €1bn in customs duties annually and boost exports to Japan to more than €100bn per year from €80bn. For Britain, it is bad news and an omen of what lies ahead after Brexit. If one takes the EU-Japan pact as a template, the UK will have no settled free trade agreements with any major country until at least 2024.

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May’s offer to EU citizens lacks substance

by Danae Kyriakopoulou in London | Wed 12 Jul 2017

From a strictly economic standpoint, Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement guaranteeing EU citizens’ right to stay in Britain appeared to be a positive move. But this week the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator called the proposal a damp squib and accused May of offering EU workers in the UK ‘second-class citizenship’. Examination of May’s offer reveals significant ambiguities, which could make the British economy the ultimate loser.

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