Friday 26 January, International Customs Day, the WCO would launch its Theme for 2018: “A secure business environment for economic development”. He emphasized that the modern business environment could not be separated from digitization, and the work of the Projects Team was very much aligned with the Theme for 2018; the WCO DM was continuing to help Customs and other government agencies to streamline and simplify regulatory procedures and data requirements, facilitate trade and travel, and enable digital collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.

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Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has stepped up efforts to promote cross-border trade by embracing e-commerce to be able to “minimise physical barriers”. to trade across the region. Dr Francis Mangeni, the COMESA director of trade and customs, said that trade facilitation is a key priority for Africa, and a “digital free trade area (FTA) is a practical way of increasing intra-regional trade and creating wealth”.

Mangeni added that the online FTA will be rolled out soon enabling member states to trade commodities, goods and services without need to travel.

In a statement, Mangeni added that providing traders with the necessary digital tools will help boost intra-regional trade and enhance competitiveness of COMESA members in global trade. The official was speaking after a two-day workshop on the digital free trade area held in the Seychelles last week.

Speaking in an interview with The New Times about the development, Geoffrey Kamanzi, the PSF director for trade facilitation and negotiations, said the move is a “timely measure that will help reduce the cost of doing business within the bloc”.

It is also a unique opportunity to further realize the potential of free trade through ICT, as well as contribute to greater regional integration.

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Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development launches 2025 targets to support “Connecting the Other Half”

Davos, 23 January 2018

Fifty per cent of the world’s population is expected to be connected to the Internet by the end of 2019. This leaves the other half – an estimated 3.8 billion people – unconnected and unable to benefit from key social and economic resources in our expanding digital world. In response, the United Nations’ Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has set seven ambitious yet achievable 2025 targets in support of  “Connecting the Other Half” of the world’s population.

The targets were launched today at a joint meeting of the Commission and the World Economic Forum, held during the 2018 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The 2025 targets specifically seek to expand broadband infrastructure, and Internet access and use by populations around the world, in support of achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations and the international community in September 2015 – and in so doing, to improve livelihoods and economies.

Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development 2025 Targets:

  1. By 2025, all countries should have a funded national broadband plan or strategy, or include broadband in their universal access and services definition.
  2. By 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries, at less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita.
  3. By 2025 broadband / Internet user penetration should reach: 75% worldwide, 65% in developing countries, and 35% in least developed countries.
  4. By 2025, 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.
  5. By 2025, 40% of the world’s population should be using digital financial services.
  6. By 2025, unconnectedness of Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises should be reduced by 50%, by sector.
  7. By 2025, gender equality should be achieved across all targets.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development brings together a high-powered and influential community – including top industry CEOs, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development. Leaders in their field, they each believe strongly in a future based on broadband and offer rich insights and experience.

The Commission engages in high-level advocacy to promote broadband in developing countries and underserved communities and is co-chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and industry leader Carlos Slim Helú of the Carlos Slim Foundation. One of the central roles of the Commission is to promote the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda. In so doing, Commissioners work together to devise practical strategies – including private-public partnerships – that advocate for higher priority to be given to the development of broadband infrastructure and services, to ensure that the benefits of these technologies are realized in all countries, and accessible to all people.

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For most of the year, Davos-Klosters is a quiet Alpine village, but for a week in January, this town hosts some 3,000 leaders from around the world. So what exactly happens once they’ve all assembled?
Watch the video to find out everything you need to know about WEF and Davos.

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The trade facilitation initiative was launched by the UPU and the Moroccan government in Rabat on 18 January with a view to helping more Moroccan small  businesses trade their wares on the global market.

The UPU Easy Export Programme brings together designated operators and key trade facilitation stakeholders in national government to help countries implement solutions to boost their micro, small and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) participation in the export market. Morocco is among the first countries to pilot the programme.

UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein and Moroccan Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Rkia Derham, chaired the launch ceremony, which was attended by other high-level officials, including Moroccan Secretary of State for Artisanal Industry and Social Economy Jamila El Moussali and Poste Maroc Director General Amin Benjelloun Touimi.

The UPU Director General remarked on the difficulties MSMEs face in accessing the financial and informational resources required to participate fully in the economy, despite their significant contribution the job market, particularly in emerging economies.

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The need for greater respect and opportunities for women is becoming an ever more prominent feature of the public conversation. Longstanding advocates for women’s empowerment are feeling energized, while countless others — women and men alike — are being persuaded of the urgency of this task. This year at the World Economic Forum the challenge of female empowerment is also firmly on the agenda, because giving women and girls the opportunity to succeed is not only the right thing to do but can also transform societies and economies.

The economic facts speak for themselves: raising women’s labour force participation to that of men can boost GDP, for example, by as much as 9% in Japan and 27% in India. IMF research has uncovered myriad other macroeconomic benefits: reducing gender gaps in employment, as well as in education, can help economies diversify their exportsappointing more women onto banking supervision boards can challenge cozy group-think, thereby supporting greater bank stability and financial sector resilience; and tackling gender inequality can reduce income inequality, which, in turn, can drive more sustainable growth.

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Global Economy to Edge Up to 3.1 percent in 2018 but Future Potential Growth a Concern

Current Slack in Global Economy Expected to Fade

WASHINGTON, January 9, 2018— The World Bank forecasts global economic growth to edge up to 3.1 percent in 2018 after a much stronger-than-expected 2017, as the recovery in investment, manufacturing, and trade continues, and as commodity-exporting developing economies benefit from firming commodity prices.

However, this is largely seen as a short-term upswing. Over the longer term, slowing potential growth—a measure of how fast an economy can expand when labor and capital are fully employed—puts at risk gains in improving living standards and reducing poverty around the world, the World Bank warns in its January 2018 Global Economic Prospects.

Growth in advanced economies is expected to moderate slightly to 2.2 percent in 2018, as central banks gradually remove their post-crisis accommodation and as an upturn in investment levels off. Growth in emerging market and developing economies as a whole is projected to strengthen to 4.5 percent in 2018, as activity in commodity exporters continues to recover.

“The broad-based recovery in global growth is encouraging, but this is no time for complacency,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “This is a great opportunity to invest in human and physical capital. If policy makers around the world focus on these key investments, they can increase their countries’ productivity, boost workforce participation, and move closer to the goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.”

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ICAO ​Recognizing that increasing investment in transportation infrastructure will be critical to integrating global economies and driving long-term economic growth, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a new Resolution in December aimed at strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

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Telenor sends its employees back to school.

New year, new resolutions. For the CEO of Telenor Group, that means ensuring his employees get up to speed with digitalization and actually become what other telcos still aspire to – a digital service provider. Sigve Brekke has challenged the company’s 30,000 employees in 12 countries to carry out 40 hours of training and education in 2018 (which adds up to 1.2 million hours in total) to transform the workforce for a digital future.

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