Trade tensions ‘a major challenge’

TRADE tensions and risks associated with rapid digital transformation will be the main challenges facing the post-pandemic world, a top official has said.

Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa also urged countries to be wary of changing energy scenarios, inflation and global inequality.

He made the remarks during a keynote speech at the Global Think Tank Summit 2021, held at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa.

The first-of-its-kind summit in Bahrain was jointly organised by Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) and the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Programme (TTCSP) at The Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania.

“Global trade tensions are increasingly affecting geopolitical stability,” Shaikh Salman said.

“Majority of international institutions were established after the world wars based on trade and geo-political relations.

“It is time to re-evaluate these organisations based on their roles and suitability to the current conditions,” he said, referring to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.

He also indicated the increasing competition between large economies, which could have a ripple effect across the globe.

“We have to seriously reassess the situation today,” he said.

The minister highlighted impending transformation in the energy sector over the next two decades – with countries generating power locally from solar roof panels and back-up batteries.

“Large scale power production may not be a big factor in the future, and the increasing demand for energy at the local level may change the dynamics of the infrastructure – through efficiency or in terms of services provided by governments,” he said.

The minister said countries were pumping more money and providing liquidity to reduce the risk of economic collapse and ensure stability of projects during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are witnessing global inflation and high prices of logistical materials in addition to high energy prices across the world,” he said.

He cited the US where oil prices rose three-fold during the pandemic and Europe which witnessed an eight-fold increase. This would put ‘great pressure on the global economy’, he said, highlighting some countries’ inability to repay their debts due to inflation.

He also highlighted rapid strides in technology and the need to protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.

“We must look for solutions to provide the required protection for countries and individuals,” he said.

Shaikh Salman pointed out that the pandemic revealed rising inequality among people and countries.

“We saw inequality in providing the ingredients for recovery due to differences in policy formulation.

“We also saw the different approaches of countries.

“It is important to shed light on these issues in the global system, otherwise we will face problems which was evident in the provision of coronavirus vaccines.”

He however lauded Bahrain’s effort under the leadership of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, in designing a methodology to address the pandemic.

The GDN reported yesterday that Bahrain is ranked first globally in the Nikkei Covid-19 Recovery Index for November, following the drop in active cases, increase in vaccination rollout, and the continued adherence to health precautionary measures.

“This reflects the country’s progressive role in spearheading Covid-19 mitigation efforts,” added Shaikh Salman.




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