It is no small irony that as global trade grows at the healthiest clip in years, trade tensions escalate to levels not seen in decades. In 2017, trade expanded at its fastest annual pace in six years, growing 4.7%. Export growth was robust in every region of the world last year as exports in Asia grew by 10.7%, in North America by 7.3% and in Latin America by 13% – the kind of synchronised growth that we haven’t seen in a decade.

As impressive as these figures are, with their positive implications for economic growth and job creation, actions taken by governments to restrict trade could derail these post-crisis gains and pose a real threat to the global economy. It is therefore vital that the current tensions do not escalate further.

As yet, much of the current anti-trade rhetoric has not translated into action. However, the rhetoric itself can be damaging. The mere threat of trade sanctions can spook markets, divert trade flows and affect prices in ways that curtail economic growth, and some warning lights are already starting to blink. For example, purchadinh managers’ indices show a sharp slowdown in export orders since January this year.

To appreciate the intrinsic danger posed by rising trade tensions we have to consider the interconnected nature of today’s global economy. Nearly two-thirds of goods traded have components that were made in at least two different countries. As the economist Richard Baldwin argues, erecting trade barriers in this economy is like building a wall in the middle of a factory.

These production chains have grown in part because the global trading system offers a stable and predictable environment in which to conduct business. This stability should be highly prized – indeed, it is the pillar on which decades of growth and development have been built. Thanks to this system, businesses can plan their investments with a degree of certainty – they know what the rules will be and can forecast their costs based on stable tariffs. The same applies for governments. Yet continued stability in trade is largely taken for granted. I deal with trade ministers on a daily basis, but it’s very rare that I have a finance minister on the phone asking about the outlook for the global trading system. With goods and services exports representing 28% of global GDP, the stability of global trade is the great assumption at the heart of economic plans in treasuries around the world.

Imagine a scenario where that pillar started to fracture. What if tariff levels were no longer bound at the historically low levels we see today, if we could not rely on members honouring their services commitments, or if the system of settling trade disputes was undermined? Certainly the consequences would be dramatic. If, for example, tariffs returned to the levels before the multilateral trading system was created we could see trade flows fall by 60%, while the global economy could contract by 2.4%. That’s even bigger than the contraction after the 2008 crisis – the biggest crisis we’ve seen for 80 years. It’s an extreme example, but it shows just how important the trading system is.

The system may not be perfect, but it works. We need to ensure that it continues to do so. Otherwise we would put the strong growth and recovery that I mentioned above at risk.

At the same time, we must listen to the concerns that lie behind the moves to restrict trade. Among other things, we must address government-introduced distortions that lead to overcapacity and other imbalances which are at the core of trade and political tensions. Moreover, the anxieties felt by workers are real and must be addressed. Jobs have been lost in manufacturing and in agriculture production. But the majority of these jobs, around 80%, have been lost due to automation and new technologies, rather than trade. These are structural changes and this phenomenon is global – it is not only happening in the advanced economies. McKinsey research suggests that by 2030 manufacturing jobs will fall by 22% in China and 15% in India. Technology is the force that is driving economic change today. A misdiagnosis of this situation, which leads us to choke off global trade, would only bring greater harm.

The fact is we are entering a new economic era. This demands a response of appropriate magnitude. It demands new thinking. Governments will need to look afresh at how they support and train their workers to equip them for this brave new world. International institutions which underpin the global economy will also have to evolve – and that includes the WTO. But one thing will not change. Cooperation will remain the best way to tackle the biggest challenges we face – and the best way to support the growth and development that benefits us all. This cooperation is our most precious resource – and in the years to come I will be working to ensure that we see more of it, not less.

Source: The Guardian, WTO, Roberto Azevedo

I was watching Thom Zimnys documentary about the creation of Bruce Springsteens ‘The River’ album 1980. Magic TV with unplugged versions and unique comments from The Boss.

Bruce Springsteen tells his provate story about the recording of The River, the best double album ever made. He shares anecdotes and personal stories, while offering the songs in a very intimate vintage. Bruce and his acoustic guitar, on his garage, simply.

The documentary. ‘Bruce Springsteen – The ties that bind’, shows amazing unpublished pictures, unheard demos and outtakes. It is close, it is unique and it is outstanding TV.

When Springsteen tells about how he write the last verse of Point Blank, it is just one of those moments you never forget.

In addition, Bruce Springsteen tells us about his life and creativity.

For a Springsteen fan it is a gift. For everybody else, just something you can’t miss.

Two Hearts Unplugged

Here are 20 funny statistics about the FIFA 2018 World Cup starting in Russia in a few days.


Manchester City has more players in World Cup than any other club team (16), closely followed by Real Madrid (15), FC Barcelona (14), Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Tottenham (all 12).


A total of 736 players from 311 clubs have been awarded the World Cup in Russia – remarkable is that Leicester (8) has more participating players than both Arsenal (7) and Liverpool (7).


29 years, 203 days – Costa Rica has the world’s oldest player group with 29 years and 203 days on average. Mexico, Panama, Argentina and Egypt also twist them 30-line.


25 years, 337 days – Nigeria has the World Cup’s youngest squad and includes 19-year-old goalkeeper Francis Uzoho. France, England, Tunisia and Serbia land all four in over 26 years.


So many players in this year’s World Cup were born in France. In addition to the French national team, there are mainly France-born players in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal.


Serbia is together with Germany, Sweden and Iceland’s longest national team with an average length of 186 cm. Denmark, with its 185 cm in average length, has the World Cup’s longest player in Jannik Vestergaard (199 cm). Even Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois measures 199 cm. In the Swedish team, Robin Olsen is 198cm long.


Saudi Arabia has the world’s shortest squad group with an average of 177 cm. Peru (178), Japan (178), Argentina (179) and Mexico (179) complete the top five. The shortest player in the championship is Saudi Arabia Yahya Al-Shehri with his 164 cm.


Mexico has the player group with the most national matches behind it. A total of 1426 matches and 62 national matches per game per player. Then follows Panama (1411), Costa Rica (1171), Belgium (1054) and Japan (1004).


Tunisia has the least number of international matches in its squad of all World Cup countries (462). But England (465), Senegal (516), Morocco (522) and Serbia (563) are not much better.


One of the World Cup’s 736 players joined the World Cup 2002 – Mexico’s Rafael Marquez. 21 players participated in the World Cup 2006, 61 in South Africa 2010 and 200 in the Brazil World Cup 2014.


All of the English national team players come from the domestic league system. Of Russia’s 23 players, 21 will come from the Russian league – Saudi Arabia has 20 out of 23 players.


Sweden and Senegal are the only two national teams that do not have any players from their national league.

19 years

19 years, 161 days – Daniel Arzani is the world’s youngest player with 19 years and 161 days at Australia’s opening match. France’s Kylian Mbappe is second youngest.

45 years

45 years, 150 days – Egypt’s goalkeeper Essam El Hadary has reached 45 years of age and is the oldest player of the World Cup with six years of age. Mexico’s Rafael Márquez will be 39 years and 121 days when the World Cup premiere is here.


World Cup players are 19 years old, but nobody is younger than that. For the first time since 1990 there is no one who is 18 or younger at the World Cup. Theo Walcott was just 17 when he was taken in England’s squad in the 2006 World Cup.


With his ten goals, Germany’s Thomas Müller has the most championship goals in the lap of all players of the year – but is still in play compared with the countryman Miroslav Klose. James Rodriguez (6) has the second most in this year’s World Cup.


Premier League have more World Cup players than any league. 106 players come from the English High School Division, compared to La Liga’s 78 players, Bundesliga’s 62 and Serie A’s 58.


Only six of Morocco’s 23 World Cup players are born in their home country. The remaining 17 are born in France, Holland, Spain, Belgium and Canada. There is a significant difference to Tunisia, which has the least number of foreign-born players in the squad, nine.


World Cup’s longest player than goalkeepers. Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois and Denmark’s Jannik Vestergaard are the two longest players in the final and measure 199 cm.


Seven players have the opportunity to be goalkeepers on their birthday, including Mohamed Salah, Odion Ighalo and Kristoffer Nordfeldt. It has only happened on six occasions earlier in history. Michel Platini has succeeded at two different World Cup matches.

UK has received the reaction to the Customs backstop paper that was presented on Thursday.

At a press conference EU Brexlt Head Negotiator Michel Barnier slearly said, “The backstop cannot be extended to the whole UK”.

Further more Barnier explained, that even though te EU and its member states are ready to make exceptions on Ireland to solve the NI/ROI situation such privileges are not on offer to the rest of the UK by virtue, not of malice, but its decision to leave the union.

We will se what happens over the next two weeks.

There is still some way to go to solve this issue. My view is that the best way forward is to create the best possible Customs and Border process within the existing international legislation, this possible for EU and others to accept, but doing it in new innovative ways using a broad multi-tier trusted trader programme moving duty colelction and necessary non-tariff barriers away from the border and use modern technology for the minimum friction border crossing.

You can see the Barnier speech here: Barnier Comments Press Conference

International trade has dominated the global headlines recently. Much of the discussions have been focused on the threat of a trade war, the tit-for-tat tariffs, and the health of the global trade order. While extremely important, these conversations are missing a brighter side of international trade – how innovative technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution are transforming trade by making the processes more inclusive and efficient.

Technological disruption isn’t new for the global trade system. The steam power revolution connected the world like never before. The invention of shipping containers laid the foundation for globalization. More recently, technologies such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to read container numbers, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and QR codes to identify and trace shipments, and basic digitization of trade documents have improved the reliability and efficiencies of the international trade.

At the same time, from trade agreements written before digital commerce, transactions that go accompanied with large amount of paper work, to trade financing that still depends on traditional banking methods, the global trade system has failed to take full advantage of cutting edge technologies that could make trade more efficient, more inclusive, and less costly.

The good news is that we may be on the brink of change. Different technologies in different parts of the technology adoption life cycle, when combined, could fundamentally change the way resources are allocated and international trade operates. Governments and businesses need to understand the current trends in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Here are the 5 technologies that will disrupt global trade:

1. Blockchain

Blockchain and blockchain-based distributed ledger technologies can have tremendous impact on the global supply chain. Trade organizations such as Dubai Chamber lf Commerce and Industry have also launched an initiative to leverage blockchain technology to address global trade issues such as high costs and lack of transparency and security.

In addition to making movement of goods more efficient and reliable, blockchain-based solutions are disrupting the world of trade financing. For example, blockchain is being used to simplify the long and tedious process of obtaining a Letter of Credit (LoC), a payment mechanism used in international trade.

Deloitte has helped an Indian private sector bank redesign its LoC issuance by developing a blockchain solution (based on the Ethereum platform) that reduced the issuance time from 20-30 days to hours. In some other instances, companies such as Skuchain are by-passing the LoC altogether by providing real-time tracking of goods and inventory financing that de-risks transactions, and allows financiers to provide working capital relief to all supply chain partners at the lowest cost of capital in that chain.

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can be used to optimize trade shipping routes, manage vessel and truck traffic at ports, and translate e-commerce search queries from one language into other languages and respond with translated inventory.

More than efficiencies gains and better consumer services, AI is also being used to make global trade sustainable. For example, Google launched Global Fishing Watch in 2016, which is a real-time tool using machine learning to combat illegal fishing by providing a global view of commercial fishing activities based on ship movements and satellite data. It can be used by governments and other organizations to identify suspicious behaviours and develop sustainable policies.

3. Trading services via digital platforms

It’s increasingly easier to trade services online – digital platforms like Upwork allow users to find service providers from all over the globe for a wide range of services, and can find anything from a web developer in Serbia, to an accountant in Pakistan, to a virtual assistant in the Philippines. Meanwhile, startups such as the international learning platform VIPKID pairs up American educators with Chinese children to teach English online. These digital platforms seamlessly connect the customers with service providers, in a way that wasn’t possible before when such professional services were mostly delivered in person.

4. 3D-printing

The jury is still out on the impact of 3D-printing on global trade. There are studies that predict that once high-speed 3D-printing is mass-adopted and cheap enough, global trade may decrease by as much as 25%, since 3D -printing requires less labor and reduce the needs for imports. Others argue that such views are too optimistic and don’t take into account the complexity and reality of mass manufacturing. Regardless of the positions, the impact of 3D-printing on global trade is real, especially as faster and cheaper methods of 3D-printing become available.

5. Mobile payments

From Apply Pay to Alipay to M-Pesa, mobile payments are transforming the way we live and connecting more people to market opportunities. According to the World Bank Global Inclusion Index, the number of people who gained access to bank accounts increased by 20% between 2011 and 2014, and mobile money accounts were a major drive for financial inclusion, especially in emerging economies.

For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12% of adults (64 million adults) have mobile money accounts (compared to just 2% worldwide), and 45% of them only have a mobile money account. As the newly banked population becomes connected to mobile payments, it’ll be much easier for them to participate in global trade, either as consumers or businesses.

Uphill battle for new technologies

It must be noted that these technologies also pose difficult governance challenges, both domestic and cross-border. From lack of governance framework, to incompatible licensing and taxation requirements, to outdated trade agreements, we can’t simply assume that these technologies will automatically take root and bear fruits.

Public and private stakeholders must work closely together to establish the framework and foster the environment for these new technologies to unleash their positive potential while mitigating the potential harms. In particular, the stakeholders should adopt the multi-stakeholder and human-centered agile governence approach to allow room for experimentation, and to gather input from a diverse set of participants. In addition, in the absence of a global standard, regional governing bodies should take charge and lead the effort to harmonize the regional rules on issues such as data flows, licensing, and taxation.

Technological innovations offer an exciting future for international trade among today’s uncertainties, with the right governing approach, these innovations will usher in more inclusive and efficient trade growth in the years to come.

Source: WEF Ziyang Fan, Christian Rodriguez Chiffelle

Soon the FIFA World Cup in football starts. The 21st Woröd Championship will be played in Russia. This will be a än amazing tournament. From the 14th June to te 15th of July 32 teams will play to win the trophy. So far eight coubtries have won, namely; Brazil (5), Germany (4), Italy (4), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), France (1), Spain (1) and England (1).

So who will win this time? Most people are sayong, Germany (again). Germany has an amazing team. But. I don’t think they will win this time,

My favourites are as follows:

1. France

2. Brazil

3. Spain

It will be a fantastic summer for all football lovers.