Event Highlights – Session Three – Power and Trade Flows
POWER AND TRADE FLOWS
2021 is a fresh start for many geopolitical alliances and trade relationships. We gather major international power brokers to share their visions for the way forward.
- H.E. Patrick Achi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
- H. E. Akbar al-Baker, Group CEO, Qatar Airways
- H.E. Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Finance Minister, The State of Qatar
- H.E. Ahmad al-Sayed, Minister of State, The State of Qatar; Chairman of the Board of Directors, Qatar Free Zones Authority
- H.E. Sheikh Ali Alwaleed Al-Thani, CEO, Investment Promotion Agency Qatar
- H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, The State of Qatar; Chairman, Qatar Investment Authority
- H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, Former Prime Minister, The State of Qatar
- Hon. Gordon Brown, Former Prime Minister, The United Kingdom
- David Calhoun, President and CEO, The Boeing Company
- Aliko Dangote, Founder and President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group
- E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey
- Luis Gallego, CEO, International Airlines Group
- Lord Gerry Grimstone, Minister for Investment, Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The United Kingdom
- Faruk Güler, CEO, ESBAŞ-Aegean Free Zone Development & Operating Co.
- The Hon. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic, Bangladesh
- Mo Ibrahim, Founder & Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
- S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, The Republic of India
- The Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
- Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization
- Yvonne Manzi Makolo, CEO, RwandAir
- Lord Mandelson, Chairman, Global Counsel
- Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, The Republic of India
- General David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.), Chairman, KKR Global Institute
- Daleep Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor, The United States of America
Bloomberg Moderators included:
- Tracy Alloway, Executive Editor, Asia News Desk, Bloomberg
- Tom Keene, Co-Anchor, Bloomberg Surveillance, Bloomberg
- Simone Foxman, Middle East Correspondent, Bloomberg Television
- Guy Johnson, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
- David Malingha, East Africa Bureau Chief, Bloomberg
- Jeanette Rodrigues, South Asia Managing Editor, Bloomberg News
- Zain Verjee, Host and Executive Producer, Qatar Economic Forum
- David Westin, Host, Bloomberg Television
Below are some highlights from the session. Click here to register and access the full interviews.
H.E. Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Finance Minister, The State of Qatar, clarified the country’s business objectives. “Looking to the future, our priority here in Qatar is diversification. We are focusing on three areas: Foreign Direct Investment; enabling the private sector with a move away from government-led economy, and the third area is the business environment and improving the ease of doing business in Qatar.” Read more Bloomberg coverage here.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization spoke about the future of trade. “I believe that trade will come back. Perhaps the growth trend will be lower than what we have seen in the past,” she said. She went on to say, “Some people say that there is a de-globalization going on but I prefer to think of it as a re-globalization in which those parts of the world that were left behind and those people who were excluded from periods of fast globalization will be brought back in.”
Lord Mandelson, Chairman, Global Counsel spoke to Bloomberg’s Tom Keene about global trade negotiations through the lens of Brexit. Mandelson said: “Sometimes speed in trade negotiation can be the enemy of what’s good, let alone perfect, because you’re so keen on getting a political result that you skip over the details and you don’t force the result on your terms.” He stressed the importance of being prepared to walk away from a trade negotiation or risk striking only optical trade agreements in place of those with real content and substance.
Aliko Dangote, Founder and President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group said that Dangote Group has had an unexpectedly successful year over the course of the pandemic. We thought we would go into the negative but we came out much much better because of all the innovation we put into place. The result in terms of profit after tax was both a 37% increase in the cement business and about a 35% increase in the food business from 2019 levels. Dangote pinpointed their ability to ensure that the conglomerate’s supply chains were not disrupted as crucial to this success.
The Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom spoke about his vision for a post-pandemic world. “If anything good can come from tragedy, we have at least been given a chance to build back better, and build back green,” he said. He referred to the progress the UK has made towards a more sustainable future. He said, “in the last 30 years, we in the UK have cut our carbon emissions by 44% and in the same period, we have expanded our economy by 78%. Only a decade ago, 40% of our electricity came from coal. Today the figure is below 2 percent and we aim to eliminate coal altogether by 2024. There is no reason why humanity should not prosper and safeguard our planet at the same time.” Read more Bloomberg coverage here.
H.E. Patrick Achi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire addressed the proposed sustainability laws coming out of the European Union that have implications for the country’s trade particularly when it comes to cocoa beans. The three key issues that the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire are working to address are deforestation, a fair cocoa price for producers and child labor. “We have been working on the legislation and now we are doing our best on the implementation side”, the Prime Minister said. He added that this same attention to sustainability will be applied in due course to all other raw materials produced in the country as well. Read more Bloomberg coverage here.
The Hon. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, People’s Republic of Bangladesh said that in fighting the pandemic the country has sought to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods. The PM said that Bangladesh had injected $15.1 billion in stimulus since the start of the pandemic and that during 2020-2021 the country saw its GDP grow by 6.1%, one of the highest in the world. Read more Bloomberg coverage here.
H.E. Akbar al-Baker, Group CEO, Qatar Airways; Luis Gallego, CEO, International Airlines Group; David Calhoun, President and CEO, The Boeing Company; Yvonne Manzi Makolo, CEO, RwandAir spoke to Bloomberg’s Guy Johnson about the critical importance of opening the world back up as people are vaccinated against, and tested negative for, Covid-19.
H.E. Akbar al-Baker said: “I’m extremely frustrated because what is happening every day is that governments are changing protocols of who they will let enter and who they will put in quarantine and who they will restrict from entering their countries. It is confusing the airlines and the passengers. I hope the governments realize they are damaging not only their economies but the aviation industry as a whole.”
Luis Gallego echoed this frustration: “I think the situation we have right now we cannot allow anymore. I think vaccinated people should be able to travel freely. Vaccines are effective at protecting people and we need all the governments to be more ambitious. We need the world to come back and to protect economies and jobs.” Gallego praised the EU’s plan, set for July 1, that will allow vaccinated people and those with negative tests to travel. He said the UK should follow suit given that the traffic light system, which is currently in place, is not working.
David Calhoun said: “I think that domestic recoveries in these large developed countries are testament to the effectiveness of our vaccines and the confidence that the flying public has in the vaccine, because they’re coming back in a very robust way. Vaccinated people from around the world should be allowed to travel to one another’s countries and I think that is the way it will develop but we’ve got to get a little less politics involved and a little more science, because these vaccines are in fact effective.”
Yvonne Manzi Makolo agreed, adding, “Vaccinated people should be allowed to travel freely and those who are not vaccinated, as long as they have negative Covid certificates, should be allowed to travel. Otherwise all these arbitrary rules that are being put in place, and the quarantining, is really disrupting the industry and it will take a lot longer for us to recover.” Makolo also said that Rwanda’s experience in dealing with Ebola in the region has really helped the country to contain Covid, particularly when it has come to basic infrastructure such as beds in hospitals, testing capabilities, training of personnel from a disinfection perspective and proper use of PPE.
H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, Former Prime Minister, The State of Qatar, gave his assessment on SPACS and European banking: “SPACS are already overdone in my opinion. When you see everybody is in SPACs you need to be careful. It has been successful but I don’t know how long it will be successful from here.”
“I believe it’s better for European banks to merge now, they are too small to survive by themselves. The market is being taken by the giant banks in Europe. If they don’t do something quickly in Europe they will have more difficulties to compete with the American and the Chinese.”
When asked about any impact that the mooted G7 global corporate minimum tax might have on free economic zones, H.E. Ahmad al-Sayed, Minister of State, The State of Qatar; Chairman of the Board of Directors, Qatar Free Zones Authority DOHA, said: “tax is one component, yes it’s important, but it is not everything. When companies decide to expand their operations they are considering multiple things including the workforce, an advanced regulatory environment, connectivity, logistical offerings and other incentives before they open an international operation.” Dr. Faruk Güler, CEO, ESBAŞ-Aegean Free Zone Development & Operating Co., agreed with H.E. Ahmad al-Sayed’s assessment. “When we ask the investors here who are coming to the free zone, the tax advantage is number 5 in their decision making. There are other reasons to choose the free zones. The most important thing here in the world is inflation, I believe.”
H.E. Sheikh Ali Alwaleed Al-Thani, CEO, Investment Promotion Agency Qatar said that Qatar is looking to diversify their economy away from hydrocarbons and are focusing on building up other sectors. He continued to say that Qatar is focusing on building an overall resilient economy with the ability to withstand external shocks. In addition to establishing food security and supply chain resilience, he added that the QIA is looking at sectors such as sports, cyber and media and emphasized the importance of partnerships between the private and public sectors in order to attract investors.
Lord Gerry Grimstone, Minister for Investment, Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The United Kingdom said that in his opinion Brexit uncertainties have now been removed making the United Kingdom an attractive investment destination in Europe. Lord Grimstone stressed that the UK is aiming to become net zero by 2050 which will create enormous investment possibilities. He added that since the pandemic has started, investors are extremely interested in life sciences as well as infrastructure. “We have to make sure that investment is safe for the country”, he said.
Mo Ibrahim, Founder & Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation responded to a question about whether the pandemic has further weakened the democratic landscape in Africa by saying, “yes, I think so”. He said he’s been worried about democracy in Africa for some years and while the pandemic was a blow, the global environment did not help. He explained, that is “because of what I call the rise of strong men across the globe actually. You can see a lot of those people around and it’s very tempting for imitation for some of our guys”. Read more Bloomberg coverage here.
Daleep Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor, The United States of America, emphasized the importance of U.S. collaboration with partners and allies across the world. Serving as a basis for this ambition is the recent announcement that the U.S. will donate 500 million Covid-19 Pfizer vaccines to the 100 lowest income countries in the world, a pledge that mobilized the G7 to match it. The second major initiative Singh highlighted is Build Back Better for the World. This plan will see the G7 put forward a “high standards, transparent climate friendly alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative with the collective aim being to amass hundreds of billions of dollars towards this”, Singh said.
India has sought support from the U.S. and Europe to boost its vaccine production, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Republic of India said. The world’s biggest producer of vaccines exported or gifted shots to over 90 countries initially, but halted that in April amid a spike in infections and a shortage of innoculations for its own citizens. When India started its vaccine program “we were living up to our obligations with the Covax, we were supplying to some of our neighbors,” Jaishankar said. “Now when the second wave hit us, obviously we looked to purpose the deployment of vaccines primarily at home. But I am quite confident as the production picks up, again we see ourselves playing a global role.”
Responding to a question about China’s importance in the world when it comes to global security, General David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.), Chairman, KKR Global Institute said, “the most important relationship in the world, by far, is that between the US and China and it is not just for our two countries it is for the rest of the world as well.” He said the individual who oversees the Indo-Pacific area at the White House recently said, “the era of engagement is over and the area of competition has arrived, to characterise the US-China relationship.”