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Economy

The Blockchain will transform cross-border business

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Cryptocurrencies are, slowly yet steadily, changing the way people do business. The idea of having currency free from the whims of national governments in a crypto coin society and the possibility of making local or international transactions without any banks’ meddling is certainly an attractive one. But there are even more great things that blockchains bring to the table, writes Colin Stevens.

A few years ago, the word “Blockchain” was known only to a very select few. Nowadays, most people have heard of blockchains, even though they might just know it as ‘that thing that makes bitcoin work.’ While cryptocurrencies are the first widespread application of blockchain technology, this is far from the only use for it. Being secure, decentralized ledgers, blockchains can be applied in many fields

One area looking to new innovation using the blockchain is the cross-border money movement in multi-commodity trading business, which is very complex. There are a number of stakeholders, intermediaries and banks operating together to make deals happen. The supply chain deals are massive in value and happen very frequently.

Blockchain technology has been attracting attention from financial institutes, and the topics about “distributed ledger blockchain” have been widely discussed by banks. Many of them have setup innovation labs to conduct proof of concepts to be able to harness the power of blockchain and distributed ledger. Blockchain technology can help facilitating the process of cross-border money transfer and the advantages when compare to the traditional procedure.

The benefits of using blockchain for cross-border money transfer

It leads to the exclusion of any middlemen, central agencies, or correspondents from the payment processing. Transaction is amidst the parties who have entered into a bilateral agreement, thus ensuring trust is in place.

Reduced cost with minimal charges along the payment chain. In addition, SWIFT charges for the processing of the messages if the messages are routed through it. As a result of such charges, the correspondent banks/central agencies add to the cost of processing the payment, for activities like receiving, collating, and netting payment messages before retransmitting confirmations/denials to the respective banks.

Reduced turnaround time for settlement as there is no need for central agencies and movement of messages.

The intraday liquidity need not be ensured with the central banks. Since it is a distributed ledger and the nodes of the networks have a copy of the balances as they are maintained in the settlement accounts with the other banks, the balances are properly maintained.

Since the details of the transaction are encrypted and hashed, there is hardly any possibility to modify the data.

Subject to no messages being transmitted, the challenges around the standardization are minimized too.

Increased payment transparency with distributed ledger as sender and receiver are the nodes of the network/chain.

Blockchain is the future of cross-border payments. Companies that realize its potential and begin exploring ways to incorporate it will have a distinct advantage over competitors who stick with the status quo.

Ali Amirliravi, CEO of the Trade Finance Fintech company LGR Global

Ali Amirliravi, CEO of the Trade Finance Fintech company LGR Global

Ali Amirliravi, CEO of the Trade Finance Fintech company LGR Global, and founder of the new Silk Road Coin is a member of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce - an international association with the aim of increasing trade amongst members and states.

He predicts massive benefits to international business by the use of blockchain enabled cross border digital payments.

He told eureporter “inefficiencies within the digital payments and money movement industries are hurting businesses and consumers. By adopting new technologies and optimizing processes, we can not only improve speed and security, but really help to maintain the bottom line - a must in an industry with such slim margins. The time is now for stakeholders and banks to look to disruptive new technologies such as blockchain to solve existing problems and build out a new paradigm for international finance. Those that don’t act now will simply be left behind”

The universal use of the blockchain will make business much more straightforward for the companies themselves, this increased transparency and optimization will also make the companies much more attractive to outside investors.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Brexit

UK can overcome post-Brexit fishing 'teething' woes, minister says

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Britain believes it can resolve the post-Brexit “teething issues” that have prevented Scottish fishermen from exporting goods to the European Union because of customs delays, Food and Environment Minister George Eustice (pictured) said, write Kate Holton and Paul Sandle.

Some EU importers have rejected truck loads of Scottish fish since Jan. 1 after the need for catch certificates, health checks and export declarations meant they had taken too long to arrive, angering fishermen who are facing financial ruin if the trade cannot be resumed.

Eustice told parliament his staff had held meetings with Dutch, French and Irish officials to try to “iron out some of these teething problems”.

“They are only teething problems,” he said. “When people get used to using the paperwork goods will flow.”

Eustice said with no grace period to introduce the rules, the industry was having to adapt to them in real time, dealing with such issues as what colour of ink can be used to fill in forms. He added that while the government was considering compensation for sectors hit by the post-Brexit changes, he was now focusing on fixing the delays for fishermen.

Logistics providers, which are now struggling to deliver goods in a timely manner, have said the change to life outside the single market and customs union is much more significant and while delivery times can improve, it will now cost more and take longer to export.

To get fresh produce to EU markets, logistics providers now have to summarise the load, giving commodity codes, product types, gross weight, the number of boxes and value, plus other details. Errors can mean longer delays, hitting French importers that have also been hit by the red tape.

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Agriculture

Agriculture: Commission publishes list of potential eco-schemes

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The Commission published a list of potential agricultural practices that eco-schemes could support in the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Part of the CAP reform currently under negotiation between the European Parliament and the Council, eco-schemes are a new instrument designed to reward farmers who choose to go further in terms of environmental care and climate action. This list aims to contribute to the debate around the CAP reform and its role in reaching the Green Deal targets. This list also enhances transparency of the process for establishing the Strategic CAP Plans, and provides farmers, administrations, scientists and stakeholders a basis for further discussion on making the best use of this new instrument.

The future CAP will play a crucial role in managing the transition towards a sustainable food system and in supporting European farmers throughout. Eco-schemes will contribute significantly to this transition and to the Green Deal targets. The Commission published the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies in May 2020. The Commission presented its proposals for the CAP reform in 2018, introducing a more flexible, performance and results-based approach that takes into account local conditions and needs, while increasing EU level ambitions in terms of sustainability. The European Parliament and Council agreed on their negotiating positions on the reform of the CAP on 23 and 21 October 2020, respectively, enabling the start of the trilogues on 10 November 2020. The Commission is determined to play its full role in the CAP trilogue negotiations as an honest broker between the co-legislators and as a driving force for greater sustainability to deliver on the European Green Deal objectives. A factsheet is available online and more information can be found here.

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EU

Hungry for change: An open letter to European governments

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In 2020, the entire world knew what it was to be hungry. Millions of people went without enough to eat, with the most desperate now facing famine. At the same time, isolation took on a new meaning, in which the lonely and most remote were deprived of human contact when they most needed it, while the many victims of Covid-19 were starved of air. For all of us, the human experience fell far short of satisfying even the most basic needs, writes Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.

The pandemic has provided a taste of a future at the limits of existence, where people are bereft, governments are stymied and economies wither. But it has also fuelled an unprecedented global appetite for change to prevent this from becoming our long-term reality.

For all the obstacles and challenges we face in the weeks and months ahead, I start 2021 with a tremendous sense of optimism and hope that the growling in our stomachs and the yearning in our hearts can become the collective roar of defiance, of determination and of revolution to make this year better than last, and the future brighter than the past.

It starts with food, the most primal form of sustenance. It is food that determines the health and prospects of almost 750 million Europeans and counting. It is food that employs some 10 million in European agriculture alone and offers the promise of economic growth and development. And it is food that we have learned impacts our very ecosystems, down to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we enjoy, come rain or shine.

Even before the pandemic, 2021 was destined to be a “super-year” for food, a year in which food production, consumption and disposal finally received the requisite global attention as the UN convenes the world’s first Food Systems Summit. But with two years’ worth of progress now compressed into the next 12 months, 2021 takes on a renewed significance.

After a year of global paralysis, caused by the shock of Covid-19, we must channel our anxieties, our fear, our hunger, and most of all our energies into action, and wake up to the fact that by transforming food systems to be healthier, more sustainable and inclusive, we can recover from the pandemic and limit the impact of future crises.

The change we need will require all of us to think and act differently because every one of us has a stake and a role in functioning food systems. But now, more than ever, we must look to our national leaders to chart the path forward by uniting farmers, producers, scientists, hauliers, grocers, and consumers, listening to their difficulties and insights, and pledging to improve each aspect of the food system for the betterment of all.

Policymakers must listen to Europe’s 10 million farmers as custodians of the resources that produce our food, and align their needs and challenges with the perspectives of environmentalists and entrepreneurs, chefs and restaurant owners, doctors and nutritionists to develop national commitments.

We enter 2021 with wind in our sails. More than 50 countries have joined the European Union in engaging with the Food Systems Summit and its five priority pillars, or Action Tracks, which cut across nutrition, poverty, climate change, resilience and sustainability. And more than two dozen countries have appointed a national convenor to host a series of country-level dialogues in the months ahead, a process that will underpin the Summit and set the agenda for the Decade of Action to 2030.

But this is just the beginning. With utmost urgency, I call on all UN Member States to join this global movement for a better, more fulfilling future, starting with the transformation of food systems. I urge governments to provide the platform that opens a conversation and guides countries towards tangible, concrete change. And I encourage everyone with fire in their bellies to get involved with the Food Systems Summit process this year and start the journey of transitioning to more inclusive and sustainable food systems.

The Summit is a 'People’s Summit' for everyone, and its success relies on everyone everywhere getting involved through participating in Action Track surveys, joining the online Summit Community, and signing up to become Food Systems Heroes who are committed to improving food systems in their own communities and constituencies.

Too often, we say it is time to act and make a difference, then continue as before. But it would be unforgivable if the world was allowed to forget the lessons of the pandemic in our desperation to return to normal life. All the writing on the wall suggests that our food systems need reform now. Humanity is hungry for this change. It is time to sate our appetite.

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