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‘World economy to grow by 3.5 per cent’

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The world economy will see annual growth of 3.5 per cent in 2019, according to a forecast by economists of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

They attributed the slowdown to the expected weakening of the US economy-the world’s largest-after its elevated growth this year, as well as financial market turbulence, the limited policy tools of major economies to handle an easing, as well as trade frictions among major trading powers.

The predictions are contained in the Yellow Book of World Economy 2019, published by the Social Sciences Academic Press (China).

In the United States, the authors posited, major economic indicators, such as GDP and employment have registered levels close to historic highs. That means 2018 may be a peak for the US economy, said Sun Jie, an author of the book and economist at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the CASS.

The Conference Board, a New York-based economics research institution, also said that the US economy may peak at the end of this year.

For 2019, many organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have forecast that the GDP growth of the US will weaken compared with this year.

The World Bank said US growth could ease to 2.5 per cent in 2019 from 2.7 per cent this year.

“The weakening will make the US Federal Reserve more cautious in raising interest rates,” Sun said.

World economic growth may also be affected by possible financial market turbulence caused by expected US interest rate hikes-which could lead to currency depreciation and monetary crisis in other countries, debt defaults in some high-debt-level countries, and possible asset price slumps in other countries as a result of the slowing US economy, the book said.

Meanwhile, compared with 10 years ago, the world’s economies have less policy room to cope next year with any crisis, the book said. In the US, the federal funds rate was 5.25 per cent before the global financial crisis in 2008, making it possible for the US Federal Reserve to continually cut interest rates in response to the crisis. Now, however, the rate is only 2.25 per cent.

The trade disputes between China and the US and those involving other countries, if they escalate, could spill over to affect global trade growth, reduce investor confidence and even lead to financial, military and political conflicts in a worst-case scenario, which would prove disastrous to the world economy, the book said.

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West Africa is the least trade integrated region in the world

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The Economic Community of West Africa States, ECOWAS, is the least integrated region in the world in terms of cross border trade, a report by the Borderless Alliance group has said.

 

According to the report, the non- application of ECOWAS directives relating to free movement of goods and people, ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, ETLS, and the Common External Tariff, CET, are some of the factors responsible for the low level of trade integration in the region.

Other factors militating against trade in the region include the high cost of transport & logistics, Long delays at ports and borders, harassment along transit corridors, mainly from uniformed services and corruption.

Speaking at a one day workshop on dissemination and launch of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme handbook, Mr Justin Bayili, Executive Secretary, Borderless Alliance said that while Europe recorded 71 per cent in intra-regional trade, Asia recorded 53 per cent, South America 48 per cent against 12 per cent recorded by the ECOWAS region.

Bayili disclosed that East Africa is more integrated than its West African counterpart citing Customs inter-connectivity for the success so far recorded in East Africa.

He said, “We want to make West Africa a borderless border, East Africa is more integrated than West Africa.

“In international trade, there are no restrictions but standards must be met, the same best practices on transit that are applicable in East Africa must be applicable in West Africa.

“Burkina and Togo are inter-connected, Burkina- Cote Ivoire is also inter- connected and this has reduced the cost of trade between these countries.”

He explained that lack of professionalism amongst operators in the ECOWAS trade corridor has also been identified as a problem.

Bayili also noted that some of the issues affecting the ETLS are national issues adding that they must be addressed by national administrations.

Earlier in his opening remark, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, said that barriers to trade increase the cost of trade and Africa has the highest cost of transporting goods between origin and destination across all modes of transportation.

He stated: “We must work assiduously to reduce these unnecessary costs by eliminating all the barriers to trade and make our products more competitive in the international market.

“Removing obstacles to intra-regional integration in the ECOWAS sub-region would be particularly beneficial to the small scale traders that conduct cross border commerce within the sub-region.

“The potential benefits include food security, job creation, poverty reduction, increased tax revenues for authorities and long term development outcomes.”

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World News

Countries grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after crash killed 157 people

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Aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes Monday after one crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board.

The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday is drawing renewed scrutiny of the plane just four months after a similar crash of the same model that killed 189 people in Indonesia.

Chicago-based Boeing said it did not intend to issue any new guidance to its customers. It does plan to send a technical team to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

“Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” the company said in a statement.

A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines, Asrat Begashaw, said the carrier had grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8 planes until further notice as an “extra safety precaution.”

The airline had been using five new 737 Max 8s and awaiting delivery of 25 more. Asrat said the search for body parts and debris from the crash was continuing.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration said that it ordered airlines to ground all 737 Max 8 aircraft, in line with the principle of “zero tolerance for security risks.”

It said it would issue further notices after consulting with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

Chinese carriers and leasing companies operate 96 Boeing 737 8 MAXs, according to the government, with dozens more believed to be on order. China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the aircraft.

Indonesia also grounded 11 737 Max 8s for inspections to ensure flight safety and that the planes are airworthy, said Director General of Air Transportation Polana B. Pramesti.

Cayman Airways also said it was temporarily grounding two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Real time flight radar apps showed dozens of the aircraft still operating around the globe.

The head of Indonesia’s national transport safety agency, Soerjanto Thahjono, offered to aid the Ethiopian investigation into Sunday’s crash.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board likewise said it was sending a team to help Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the probe into the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.

Like the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which happened minutes after the jet’s takeoff from Addis Ababa, the Lion Air jet that crashed off Indonesia had erratic speed during the few minutes it was in the air.

Safety experts cautioned, however, against drawing too many parallels between the two disasters.

“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

The situation will be better understood after investigators analyze the Ethiopian plane’s black boxes, said William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. An airline official said Monday that the black box and cockpit voice recorder had been found, but the box was partially damaged.

Waldock said the way the planes both crashed — a fatal nosedive — was likely to raise suspicion. Boeing will likely look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max, he said.

“Investigators are not big believers in coincidence,” he said.

Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes to scores of airlines and has orders for more than 5,000.

Shares in the company fell more than 9 percent Monday in pre-market trading.

Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said reports of large variations in vertical speed during the Ethiopian jetliner’s ascent were “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem.”

Other possible causes include engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes, he said.

Ethiopian has a good reputation and the company’s CEO told reporters no problems were spotted before Sunday’s fight. But investigators also will look into the plane’s maintenance, which may have been an issue in the Lion Air crash.

Days after the Indonesian accident, Boeing notified airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.

The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.

Indonesian investigators are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered the automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome.

The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on at least four previous flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.

Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane.

AP

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Money

Kylie Jenner is the youngest self-made billionaire of all time – Forbes

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Kylie Jenner has become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, according to Forbes billionaires’ list.

The youngest Kardashian family member is making her fortune from her best-selling cosmetics business.

The 21-year-old founded and owns Kylie Cosmetics, the three-year-old beauty business that generated an estimated $360m in sales last year.

She reached the milestone earlier than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who became a billionaire aged 23.

“I didn’t expect anything. I did not foresee the future.

“But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back,” Ms Jenner told Forbes.

The list shows Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, remains the world’s richest man.

His fortune totals $131bn, according to Forbes, up $19bn from 2018.

But the billionaires’ combined worth is down from $9.1 trillion at $8.7tn.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth is among those falling.

It has dropped by $8.7bn (£6.6bn) in the past year to $62/3bn, according to the Forbes list.

His shares in Facebook at one point lost a third of their value as the company battled privacy scandals.

Amazon’s share price has been good for Mr Bezos’ bank balance and the gap between him and the number two, Bill Gates, is a little wider, even though Mr Gates’ fortune has swelled to $96.5bn from $90bn last year.

Of all the billionaires on the list only 252 are women, and the richest self-made woman is real estate mogul Wu Yajun of China, worth an estimated $9.4bn.

The number of self-made women reached 72 for the first time, up from 56 a year ago.

According to Forbes there are fewer billionaires around – 2,153 of them on the 2019 list, down from 2,208 in 2018. This, in part, explains why their average net worth is $4bn, down from $4.1bn. Forbes also found that 994 of them are less well off than a year ago.

Luisa Kroll, assistant managing editor of wealth at Forbes, said: “Even with strong headwinds, resourceful and relentless entrepreneurs find new ways to get rich.”

There are 52 UK citizens on the list. At the top are the Hinduja brothers, Srichand and Gopichand, who control the Hinduja Group conglomerate, with a net worth of $16.9bn.

Behind them, ranked as the wealthiest single individual in the UK, is James Ratcliffe, founder of the chemical group Ineos, and worth $12.1bn.

Another newcomer is Safra Catz co-chief executive of software firm Oracle, who according to Forbes earns a $41m salary and ranks as one of the world’s highest paid female executives.

The US has 607 billionaires, more than any other country. China has the next largest number with 324. But the list of Chinese billionaires has seen some big changes – it has 44 newcomers to the list while 102 have dropped off.

The weakness of the euro has not been kind to European billionaires who make a poor showing with only two in the top 20: Bernard Arnault (ranked 4th), the chief executive of the French luxury goods company LVMH, and Amancio Ortega (ranked 6th), who founded retail group Inditex which owns brands such as Zara.

Forbes said 247 people who were on the billionaires list last year have now dropped off. Among them are Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, fashion designers and co-founders of Dolce & Gabbana.

The group chairman of supply chain management company Li & Fung, Victor Fung, is also no longer classed as a billionaire by Forbes, after being on the list for 18 years in a row.

BBC

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Politics

Egypt’s parliament approves extended presidential tenure

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Egypt’s parliament has overwhelmingly approved proposed constitutional changes that would allow Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to potentially stay in office until 2034.

The changes, which must be approved by a referendum to enter into force, would also further authority of the Armed Forces in “maintaining the foundations of the civil state.”

Egypts parliament, which has 596 members, saw 485 votes in favor of the changes. The body is largely made up of supporters of the president. According to The Associated Press, the amendments will be submitted to a committee to finalize the language, then parliament will vote again.

Egyptian human rights groups are expressing alarm. Eleven groups signed a statementsaying that the amendments “effectively serve to destroy the constitutional separation of powers, concentrating all authority into the presidents hands and solidifying his authoritarian rule.”

In 2013, then-Defense Minister El-Sissi led a coup against Egypts first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, following mass popular protests against him. Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, was in office for one polarizing year.

Since then, el-Sissi has launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, and rights groups say he has jailed tens of thousands of his political opponents (though he deniesthat Egypt has any political prisoners). He was elected to a second term in 2018, in a race where “six potential candidates were either jailed or dropped out,” as NPRs Jane Arraf reported.

According to Egypts constitution, passed in 2014 after the coup, this term should be his last.

“The President of the Republic shall be elected for a period of four calendar years,” the constitution currently reads. “The President may only be reelected once.”

The amendments would also strengthen the presidents power over the judiciary. For example, it would allow him to appoint the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the prosecutor general, and other senior position.

Proponents of the changes say they are necessary for Egypts stability.

According to Mada Masr, earlier this month as the proposed amendments were submitted, parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal said: “We are not restricting any of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, and we are not touching the principle of equality between Egyptians in regards to rights and obligations. …These amendments serve the Egyptian people and the higher interests of the state.”

But for opponents, such as the human rights groups, its another nail in the coffin for Egyptian hopes for democracy following the 2011 ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

“Not only do these individually-tailored provisions flout fundamental legal precepts, they also upend the peaceful rotation of power championed by the Egyptian people in 2011 to prevent another decades-long dictatorial rule similar to that of former President Hosni Mubarak, toppled after 30 years in power,” the groups said.

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