Ours is a world that is both spectacularly rich and distressingly underprivileged. On January 1st 2019 the threat of a 25% tariff on goods from ‘China Inc.’ will roil shipping patterns and stress the intermodal supply chain, especially warehouse space. Front loading importers are already experiencing supply-chain disruptions from earlier rounds of tariffs. Alibaba’s Jack Ma warns that a trade war could have the same consequences as armed conflict. Xi denounces a winner-takes-all trade strategy. Donald Trump is clear- ‘America first doesn’t mean America alone.’ Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the International Court of Justice believes that multilateralism presents a framework for predictability and stability in a world in which we all have become neighbours. This makes unilateralism unfit to address common concerns.
Multilateralism today is distressed as we lose our grip on things that enable us to discuss interwoven global challenges. The U.S., Europe and their Gulf allies backed an untested group in Syria’s war. Vladimir Putin and Ali Khamenei tied the matrimonial knot of convenience. The NiNi youth who ‘neither study nor work’ are digital natives and they are mindful and mistrustful. Trust is declining within and among nations. Citizens are losing faith in political institutions. The paradox of this loss of trust is that nothing today can be achieved from within nationalism.
To become compliant with Global Forum, European Union and FATF requirements countries are required to enact legislation to ease the porous flow of information coupled by the administrative structures for mutual regard. To this end, the GORTT has tabled the Income Tax Amendment Bill 2018 and the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Bill 2018. João Pedro Vale de Almeida, the Head of Delegation of the European Union, calls for a world governed by commonly agreed rules and effective global institutions to guarantee stability, security, human rights, prosperity and development for a safer and fairer world. António Guterres, SG of the UN believes that global structures have a proven record of generating economic and social progress and preventing conflict. Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Vice-President of the UN General Assembly, feels that a fragmented, go-alone-approach to peace and security is unsustainable and that multilateralism is not a danger to national sovereignty. But despite these laudable public pleadings, the world economy is being piloted by isolationist policies.
In a dis-United Kingdom, a range of potential Brexit outcomes suggest that no single scenario has a high chance of actuality. This makes it impractical to use any specific base-case upon which projections can be lifted with accuracy. If a friction free agreement is achieved then growth is likely to stay at around 1.4% in the medium term. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, is preparing for any result along a continuum of possible outcomes. He stands ready to cut interest rates – or freeze plans to increase them – in order to support jobs and competitiveness, should England be plunged into a disorderly Brexit. Having lowered interest rates as an emergency measure after the Brexit vote, the Bank has steadily returned to raising the cost of borrowing. A smooth exit would leave the Bank on its present course for raising rates from their current level of 0.5%. Before March 29th 2019, the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, must be finalized among London, Belfast, Dublin and Brussels to avoid a return of ‘The Troubles’.
In England, as in the rest of the G20, digital infrastructure as an asset class is critical to competitiveness.
Investment in digital infrastructure is necessary for citizens to seize the opportunities of the future economy and to make countries truly inclusive.
According to some estimates, the projected global infrastructure gap from now to the year 2035 amounts to USD 5.5 trillion. Meanwhile, institutional investors around the world have USD 80 trillion in assets under management. Mobilizing private venture capital is crucial to closing the gap.
Today the cost of fuel, internet connectivity and nurturing cap-ability are intertwined. Use of the internet by the poor is severely dampened on Small Island Developing States where the cost of electricity is tied to the cost of fuel used to run power plants. The darkness this carries is cognitive. The cost of electricity in the Caribbean has been high over the last twenty years and has eroded competitiveness. This hinges on serious inefficiencies in the power sector and dependence on expensive imported petroleum products. In turn, these problems have contributed to the region’s high cost of doing business, increased external sector vulnerabilities, and have undercut growth in many Caribbean economies according to the IMF Working Paper – WP/16/53, (2016). Electricity tariffs increased by almost 80 per cent over 2002-2012, exceeding 0.30 US$/kWh for most Caribbean countries in 2012.
Nurturing talent and building capability for competitiveness are not delinked from the cost of fuel, the cost of electricity and the cost of internet connectivity. Reducing energy costs in the Caribbean could help improve growth and strengthen competitiveness. Barbados is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels. The absence of refining infrastructure dictates that the country import 100% of its petroleum products but it has managed to keep its electricity rates at approximately $0.28 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This is below the Caribbean regional average of $0.33/kWh. All West Indian islands have unique energy sector profiles. Outdated power systems coupled by episodes of high and volatile oil prices have resulted in high average electricity costs. Ahead of us is a fractured future in a glistening world of unprecedented opulence and dreadful deprivation on the dark side.