Engagement and Momentum, IBBC’s 15th Anniversary Conference Report | Iraq Business News

From the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC):

The IBBC 15th Anniversary Mansion House conference presented a range of engaging ministerial and business attendees. As Iraq’s economy is expanding and diversifying, the delegates reflected this in the range of topics and debates. Baroness Nicholson and Christophe Michels welcomed everyone at this milestone time and thanked all founders and members who supported IBBC over the years and both were pleased to announce IBBC is now its strongest, most influential and confident with much optimism for the future.

Iraq’s top companies and minsters were freely available to discuss business with delegates, until the end of the day, including CEO’s of BP, TotalEnergies, Basrah Gas Company, Mitsubishi, EY, SC, Wood, Sardar Group, the Central Bank of Iraq, Trade Bank of Iraq, CJ ICM, UB Holdings, Martrade, Vitol and Government advisors and Ministers, including: H.E. Dr Abdulkareem Al-Faisal (Chair of PM’s advisory commission), Dr Luay Al Khateeb (Former Minister of Electricity), Professor Hamid Khalaf (PM’s Advisor on Education), Dr Fareed Yasseen (Climate Envoy), Mr Ezzeldin Sajid Yousif (CBI), and officials from the KRG Ministry of Agriculture. The British Home office and foreign office DBT officials also on hand as observers and engagers.

Central to discussions was H.E Hayan Abdul Ghani Al-Sawad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of oil, who outlined Iraq’s intent to end gas flaring by 2028, build three new refineries, become self-sufficient and diversify oil products, petroleum, and chemical manufacture for export and produce 5m barrels per day (and have already reduced imports from $5b to $1bn). He called for more private sector investment in oil production and gas capturing for energy production and fertilizers, while encouraging the expansion of solar power, carbon reduction and use of sea water in processes. You can see his speech here.

Chair of KRG Investment board Dr Mohammed Shukri speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Barzani said KRG is open to investment in various sectors including agriculture, renewables, construction materials, fertilisers, plastics, infotech and education.

Rupert Soames chair of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) articulated that trade is a stimulus for growth and while supply chains and economies are becoming hard to navigate, there is hope that a new reset will happen with the new UK Gov. Equally, Iraq can prove it can be well regulated and a reliable investment partner. He said working together with IBBC, CBI and governments presents an opportunity for all.

Dr Amet Selman of AAA holdings, principal sponsor, recognised the high level of collaboration between the UK and Iraq in contributing to food and climate security and supporting Iraq in its fertiliser requirements. Jon Wilks, Senior IBBC Advisor, who witnessed the birth of IBBC in 2009, was pleased to see it flourish, and knows that members care about Iraq and engage in real projects. As a former ambassador, he knows how important to have partners like IBBC and that the UK will be the strongest partner for Iraq.

Lord Howell made a significant macro speech on the eve of the UK, French and USA elections. He condemned the trivia of political debate, and warned ‘the world is on fire’, the forces of darkness and dangerous undercurrents are trying to destabilise democracy, there is war, climate change and digital disruption at the doors of states, struggling to uphold public services, stark choices face countries. We must look to strategies of resilience, honesty, civilised debate, to develop trust and respect in our political system and even survival strategies and rule of law if we are to prevail. 85% of the world depends on fossil fuels and its not practical to just stop, so a pragmatic timeline for transition and investment is necessary. Civilised debate and democracy must prevail. You can see his speech here.

This year a significant number of packed roundtables saw large numbers of attendees, including Finance (Hogan Lovells), KRG, Education (Prof Hamid), Exchange rate report (Prof Gunter), and full platform panels including the new Climate Change and AgirTech, chaired by Mr. Richard Cotton, with Dr. Shamal Mohammed, Dr Fareed Yasseen and Sara Akbar of Oilserv. Energy Transition chaired by Dr Luay Al Khateeb, Centre on Global Energy Policy, Oilserv, TotalEnergies, Basra Gateway, Wood and Hydro C completed a most engaging and dynamic discussion. To add to the round table discussions, a high-profile finance panel chaired by Mr. Ardil Salem of Hogan Lovells and speakers Mr. Jamil Choucair of Standard Chartered, Bilal al Sugheyer, IFC,  Mr. Taiseer Jawad of TBI, and Prof. Frank Gunter. The panel discussions focused on the development of the banking system in Iraq and the fluctuating dollar exchange rate in addition to the new regulatory framework and the new technological advancement that the Iraqi banks are perusing to meet international standards.

Transport session chaired by Prof. Frank Gunter, featured also with Mr Tugrul Titanoglu, CJ-ICM; and Mr Steve Alexandar, Sardar Group focused on regulatory change to open transport markets and a rare but required focus on the aged vehicle population in Iraq and its consequential pollution – with ideas for change.

The Rasmi Al Jabri Award for business excellence was awarded to Ms Hadeel Hassan of HHP Law in the presence of Rasmi Al Jabri’s grandsons. This prestigious annual business award recognises business excellence in Iraq and is now in its 4th year. The Previous winners are Al Burhan Group, Sardar Group and AAA.

Newcastle University exhibited the fascinating new online Gertrude Bell archive and the Heritage Session, chaired by Prof. Mohammed Al Uzri, saw top archaeologists John McGinnis and Prof Mark Horton of RAU, talk of the latest Nimrod palace discoveries and questioned why Iraq is not as well-known as Egypt in the media – an opportunity waiting to happen.

The previous day, IBBCs Tech Forum hosted top Microsoft Cyber expert Karl Niblock, who spoke about AI and its threats and opportunities, and Entrepreneurs Nadine Benchaff (AgriTech) and Omar Al Hasan (Iraq tech ventures and the station) spoke about barriers and opportunities to tech growth in Iraq. View discussion here.

The forum was followed by an evening reception at the Mansion House to celebrate the 15th anniversary of IBBC. IBBC Vice President Lord Green addressed a large audience alongside Baroness Nicholson and the evening’s Sponsor Sardar Group.

IBBC is grateful to all of its members for their support throughout the years and would like to tank AAA, CJ ICM, Hydro-C, TBI and Sardar Group for sponsoring this exceptionally rich and intense 15th anniversary event. We are were also grateful for the support and encouragement given by the Iraqi Embassy in London, the British Embassy in Baghdad and UK Visa and Immigration.

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Is Solana a Good Investment? Discover Its Future Potential and Market Insights

Is Solana a good investment? In 2023, Solana (SOL) emerged as a formidable competitor in the crypto market, with its price skyrocketing by tenfold in the aftermath of the FTX collapse. Currently processing over 50,000 transactions per second (TPS) and maintaining transaction costs below $0.001, Solana’s performance has caught significant attention. 

According to Visa’s recent deep dive, “It(Solana) holds promise for payments due to its speed, scalability and low transaction costs, helping to make it a good candidate for efficient blockchain settlement rails using stablecoins like USDC. The Solana blockchain network incorporates a number of key features and novel innovations that are worth unpacking for anyone interested in payment technologies”​​. 

Let’s delve into the factors contributing to Solana’s meteoric rise and assess its investment potential.

Is Solana a Good Investment?

Solana (SOL): Overview

Solana was founded to provide every individual with financial independence, possibilities, and security. Indeed, the Solana ecosystem exemplifies decentralization to perfection. Let’s look at how its features can benefit consumers. Here are the main use cases for Solana:

  1. Staking. The primary use case of the Solana Network’s native token SOL is staking. Through staking, users actively support the integrity of the network itself. SOL can either be staked directly onto the Solana network or delegated to active validators that do this for them. 
  2. Decentralized application development. The most obvious application of Solana blockchain is the construction of decentralized applications (dApps). Decentralized apps gained traction with the introduction of smart contract programmability on Ethereum. Solana also facilitates the construction of smart contracts, making it an ideal choice for dApp development. 
  3. Non-fungible token development. Solana has emerged as a preferred choice among NFT designers. The popularity of top Solana blockchain use cases in NFTs is demonstrated by the platform’s ability to mint over 21 million NFTs. Solana currently plans to introduce executable NFTs. The new source wallet’s open beta version allows users to access executable NFTs.
  4. Play-to-Earn game development. The creators of Solana blockchain believes that the future of gaming will revolve around Play-and-Own games. The concept of Play-and-Own can pave the way for the evolution of Play-to-Earn games on the Solana blockchain. Solana might help design Web3 games that give users control over their data.
  5. Decentralized finance. Solana has become an important element of the DeFi environment, with a diverse range of DeFi apps within its ecosystem. The Solana ecosystem includes decentralized exchanges, digital wallets, and automated contract systems. Solana might also enable the freedom to create asset management software and open-order book exchanges.
  6. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). The benefits of Solana may also encourage the use of blockchain to create Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. Solana provides fast transaction throughput and low transaction fees, which are excellent for DAOs. As of today, the Solana ecosystem has 140 DAOs, with each member playing an active role.

As a blockchain, Solana has several features that offer unique advantages to the crypto space. Solana claims to support a minimum of 50,000 transactions per second (TPS), significantly surpassing the transaction capabilities of both Bitcoin and Ethereum. This phenomenal speed makes Solana one of the fastest blockchain networks available. Moreover, Solana offers some of the cheapest transaction fees in the cryptocurrency market, typically costing between $0.003 and $0.03. These are the main distinguishing features that differentiate Solana from other cryptocurrencies.

Solana’s Market Performance and Historical Data

  • 2020: Solana started small: the token’s value in April 2020 was only $0.74, and in June 2020, the token’s value surged to the $0.85 range. 
  • 2021: Solana had a very optimistic start to 2021; the token started the year at $4.23 and made a huge move in February to reach $13.31. In November SOL reached an amazing all-time high of $260.06, before taking a significant tumble at year’s close to settle at roughly $172.51.
  • 2022: 2022 began on a very negative note when the token fell to $93.4. In February, it fell even further, plunging to about $85.57. The SOL cryptocurrency recovered its bullish momentum in March, rising to a price range of $120. It likewise had slight increases on July 5, closing at $36.78; but on July 6 it dropped to $35.32. In November, SOL reached its all-time high of $260.06.
  • 2023: SOL started the year 2023 with a price of around $20. By December, it reached $112.56.
  • 2024: In March 2024, during a bullish market, Solana reached a new peak of $202.12. Over the past month, SOL price fluctuated between $125-$175. And according to various Solana price predictions, its price will reach $1,800 in 2030.

SOL Price Chart

Is Solana a Good Investment? - SOL USD Price Chart

CoinMarketCap, June 28, 2024

Solana’s Technological Advantages

Solana offers several technological advantages, including:

  1. Horizontal scaling. Solana features horizontal scaling mechanisms, which enable the network to maintain its excellent performance as it grows. Unlike other blockchains, which encounter congestion and slowdowns as more users and applications join the network, Solana can scale successfully, meeting growing demand without sacrificing speed or security.
  2. Stateless architecture. Solana’s stateless architecture improves scalability by lowering the amount of data that each validator must keep and process. This strategy reduces overhead and ensures that the network remains efficient as it scales. 
  3. Cost-efficiency is critical for startups and small businesses. Solana’s low transaction fees mean that new initiatives can launch and operate sustainably, free of the financial strain associated with high petrol fees on competing platforms. This economic feasibility encourages other projects to use Solana, enhancing the ecosystem with different and innovative solutions. 
  4. Solana’s security is enhanced by its advanced consensus mechanism, Tower BFT, which is based on the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) protocol. This ensures that the network can reach consensus swiftly and securely, preventing malicious attacks and ensuring transaction integrity. 
  5. Decentralized system. Solana’s security is further boosted by its decentralized architecture. With a large number of validators spread across the globe, the network is immune to attacks and censorship. This decentralization implies that no single party has power or influence over the network, hence maintaining trust and transparency.

Solana’s Strategic Partnerships: Enhancing DeFi and Developer Ecosystem 

Solana has partnered with many prominent companies, both within the DeFi field and outside of it. Solana’s partnership with Chainlink, a leading decentralized oracle network, is a testament to the platform’s commitment to the DeFi space. Another Solana’s partner, Serum, a decentralized exchange (DEX), represents an internal partnership within the Solana ecosystem. It leverages Solana’s speed and scalability to offer fast and cost-effective trading of digital assets. 

Solana’s engagement with ChainSafe, a blockchain technology company, demonstrates the company’s commitment to enhance the developer experience on its platform. ChainSafe’s contributions to Solana’s developer tools and ecosystem have enabled more developers to create dApps on Solana, resulting in more creativity. Other Solana’s partners include Saber Labs, Bonfida, Raydium, Mercurial Finance, MatricaLabs and more.

Is Solana a Good Investment? 

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Solana is the cryptocurrency’s transaction speed. Solana may be the most promising ‘Ethereum killer’ among cryptocurrencies, owing to its quickness. Solana’s Proof-of-History (PoH) and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) mechanisms validate transactions using coin ownership. This simplicity of verification also allows Solana to have cheaper fees than Ethereum. It also reduces Solana’s energy consumption and environmental impact compared to Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchains such as Bitcoin.

In addition to the high speed, Solana is also rapidly acquiring market share in the fast-growing non-fungible token (NFT) space. Solana NFT aficionados benefit from faster transaction speeds and reduced fees than those on the Ethereum network. Solana has a total of 260 dApps. The surge in demand for smart contracts and NFTs may pave the way for Ethereum and Solana to prosper over time.

When it comes to the environmental impact of Solana, Solana’s PoS and PoH verification processes require significantly less energy, potentially making the cryptocurrency a greener alternative to Bitcoin. Even the Ethereum community recognised the scalability concerns with a PoW architecture, converting the network to a PoS consensus mechanism by 2022. Solana’s energy consumption is supposedly 658 joules per transaction, which means that each Solana transaction uses less energy than a Google search.

Thanks to these advantages, Solana is seen as a prospective investment opportunity. With its revolutionary technology and vibrant ecosystem, Solana has piqued the interest of investors searching for the next big opportunity in blockchain. This anticipation of future product releases demonstrates a continuing attempt to develop and broaden Solana’s reach, which adds to its appeal as a potentially profitable investment. 

Many experts predict that Solana is going to become an even more widely used cryptocurrency in the future. For instance, CoinEdition analysts released an article where they are debating that by 2030, Solana would cost $3,200. With the current market trends directed towards DeFi and NFTs this may be a valid forecast for market cap giants like Solana.

Investing in Solana: Risks and Challenges

Solana’s progress, like that of many other emerging blockchain platforms, is sometimes regarded in terms of comparison to Ethereum, which dominates the category of blockchain smart contract platforms. In addition, one of the primary reasons for Solana’s supremacy in the cryptocurrency field is its superior technology, which enables high-speed transactions at minimal transaction fees. When developers build their venture on Solana, they can leverage these advantages to create scalable and efficient solutions that meet the needs of their target audiences. 

The future price of Solana will depend on a number of factors. First of all, the balance of supply and demand is a key component in determining the price of any cryptocurrency. The utility of the Solana network also plays a crucial role in determining the value of SOL, and the continuous development and improvement of the Solana protocol can significantly impact the price of the token. Other challenges include regulatory concerns, market volatility, and technological risks.

Whether Solana may be a profitable investment depends on a number of criteria, including one’s risk tolerance, investment horizon, and conviction in the platform’s technological and market potential. While Solana’s novel features and community passion make a compelling case, investors must also consider the problems it might face in establishing long-term dominance. As with any investment in the volatile cryptocurrency market, careful research is essential, and consulting with a financial expert before making a choice is always advisable.

Solana vs. Competitors: Analyzing Strengths and Market Positions in the Crypto Landscape

The competition is strong in the crypto field, and Solana’s popular competitors include Ethereum, Avalanche, Cardano, and Polygon. While Ethereum, Avalanche and Cardano are all independent projects, Polygon is a Layer-2 network that runs on top of Ethereum and it’s in a symbiotic relationship with Ethereum.

Characteristic Solana Ethereum Bitcoin Cardano Avalanche
Transaction Speed (TPS) in testnet 65,000 20-30 5-10 1,000+ 4,500+
Transaction Fee $0.003-$0.03 $1-$6 $1.7-$10 $0.1-$0.2 $0.01-$0.01
Energy Usage, kWh/transaction 0.00018 →0 703 0.51 4.8
Consensus Mechanism PoH + PoS PoS (PoW until 2022) PoW PoS PoS
Maximum Supply No limit No limit 21 million 45 billion 720 million

Solana and Ethereum: Different Approaches to Blockchain

Solana and Ethereum are like two motors that use the same fuel, that is, cryptocurrency, but in different ways. Ethereum has transitioned from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake, hoping for a greener, more energy-efficient ride. The Ethereum 2.0 upgrade aims to reduce energy consumption and improve scalability. In PoS, validators use their ETH as collateral to validate transactions and maintain network security. Solana, on the other hand, was created with Proof-of-Stake from the ground up but incorporates Proof-of-History (PoH), resulting in a supercharged engine that executes transactions at lightning speed. Both networks can be seen as potentially profitable investments.

Comparing Solana and Avalanche

Solana and Avalanche present attractive features however, their market performances and technical indicators create a complex image. Even with solid fundamentals and a strong ecosystem, Solana is currently dealing with downward momentum, while Avalanche’s customizability and potential for interoperability offer significant upside, particularly if it can rebound from its current lows.

Solana vs. Cardano: Technical and Community Differences

As leading smart contract platforms, Cardano and Solana take markedly different approaches to scaling, consensus, governance, and other key mechanisms, appealing to distinct audiences and applications. This comparison highlights their major technical and community divergences. Solana currently facilitates high transaction speeds, and drastically higher throughput than Cardano’s estimated 1,000 TPS limit. However, real-world conditions introduce variability from these peak benchmarks based on factors like hardware capabilities.

In general, any investment choice will depend on a particular investor’s risk tolerance and the desired portfolio size. It’s also important to do your own research and research the assets you’re planning to buy.

Conclusion

Solana is a unique platform that has clearly established itself as a leader in the cryptocurrency market. Its outstanding technology, efficient infrastructure, and increasing community have made it the preferred choice for developers, investors, and users alike. Solana may prove to be a solid investment for crypto enthusiasts and financial experts as it continues to expand and develop. It’s also important to always do your own research before investing in Solana or any other cryptocurrency.

If you’re looking for a way to buy Solana, you will find detailed guidelines in the article on how to do it via StealthEX.

How to Buy SOL Crypto?

Just go to StealthEX and follow these easy steps:

  • Choose the pair and the amount you want to exchange — for instance, ETH to SOL.
  • Press the “Start exchange” button.
  • Provide the recipient address to transfer your crypto to.
  • Process the transaction.
  • Receive your crypto coins.
Buy SOL Coin

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Don’t forget to do your research before buying any crypto. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Tags: invest in crypto investment SOL SOL to ETH Solana



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The dirty little secret no politician will admit: There is no way to ‘go for growth’

Investment professionals and politicians who spurned Liz Truss’s “go for growth” strategy for the British economy are slowly waking up to an uncomfortable truth.

The former U.K. Prime Minister’s plan, which relied on unfunded tax cuts that were perceived to be inflationary, may have been the only growth plan for Europe’s economies to escape over-indebtedness and low productivity without having to turn to austerity or greater state control of the economy. Not that any of them are prepared to admit it.

Britain’s Institute of Fiscal Studies on Monday described parties’ reluctance to admit as much on Monday as “a conspiracy of silence” arguing Labour’s pledge to rule out tax hikes was a “mistake.” “We wish Labour had not made those tax locks and it will be difficult [politically] to break,” IFS director Paul Johnson said about the party currently leading the polls.

But it’s not just British politicians who are refusing to face up to reality. In France, where an impending snap parliamentary election threatens to empower extremists on both sides of the political spectrum — to the cost of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party — there is a similar reluctance to admit there are only bad options on the table.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire highlighted last week, after French bonds began to wobble, that anything short of centrism risks placing France under the supervision of Brussels and the International Monetary Fund.

What he failed to point out is that even supposedly sensible centrists face having to do the unthinkable in the longer run.

“They have to go to financial repression because high growth as a strategy out of over-indebtedness is not going to be funded by the bond market,” Russell Napier, an influential investment advisor who authors the Solid Ground newsletter, told POLITICO. “I think it doesn’t matter who you vote for, you end up with roughly the same thing. So the market’s not maybe saying ‘we’re very sanguine about Labour [in the U.K.].’ They’re just saying: ‘It doesn’t really matter who you vote for. We are heading toward this route.’”

Incoming financial repression

That route, in Napier’s opinion, means it’s time for financial repression: putting a lid on the free movement of capital and having the government and other technocratic institutions increasingly determine which sectors benefit from public sector funding, and even more critically, from private sector funding too.

The pathway takes Europe much closer to the dirigiste policies that dominated the continent in the post-war period and away from the market-based liberalism that investors have become used to over the past four decades.

Truss’s risky tax cuts had hoped to avoid a push towards state-guided credit rationing by unleashing the power of the private sector and the financial industry to stimulate such a high rate of growth that the accompanying inflation just wouldn’t matter — especially if the Bank of England’s interest rate policy acted in support.

But the dilemma facing France, one of the EU’s largest economies, encapsulates three further political complexities: Paris does not control its own monetary policy, its public sector spending capacity is restricted by fiscal rules created in Brussels — which it is now officially in breach of — and any move to direct private sector financing domestically could clash with the bloc’s greater efforts to create a single capital markets and banking union.

That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for any incoming French government to experiment with a “dash for growth”, either of the free-market Truss variety, or — which is more relevant for France — the free-spending government interventionist one.

Politicization of the ECB

For Macron, the stakes are abundantly clear. In a speech to the Sorbonne University in April, he said: “We must be clear on the fact that our Europe, today, is mortal. It can die. It can die, and that depends entirely on our choices. But these choices must be made now.”

But in the same speech he, too, advocated a wholesale reordering of Europe’s economic framework largely because he — like the populists on either side of him — can’t afford everything he wants.

The current economic model, he said, is no longer sustainable “because we legitimately want to have everything, but it doesn’t hold together.”

Like all of the French presidents of the last 25 years, Macron has faced this constraint on domestic policymaking by trying to co-opt the one institution that has no formal constraints on creating money out of thin air — the European Central Bank. In his Sorbonne speech, he stressed that “you cannot have a monetary policy whose sole objective is to address inflation.”

The ECB’s mandate can only be updated by changing the whole EU treaty, something for which Europe’s leaders have no appetite. But even within its current legal straitjacket, the ECB has found plenty of ways to support national governments when it can, with a sequence of tools and programs that have allowed it to buy their bonds and keep their borrowing costs below where they would naturally have been.

It’s the newest of these tools that is likely to play a key role in the next few weeks. The ECB has stopped net purchases of bonds as part of its broader policy to bring inflation down, but it has one tool — so far untested — that it can use to alleviate any market stress after the elections: the so-called Transmission Protection Instrument.

The TPI allows the ECB to buy the bonds of individual governments whose borrowing costs it considers out of step with macroeconomic fundamentals. The idea is to ensure that its single monetary policy applies reasonably equally across the whole euro area. But it creates substantial scope for the ECB to exercise financial repression on behalf of those it considers aligned with its own mission.

It implies that the ECB knows better than markets what the value of a government promise to pay is. And in not setting any ex ante limits to the scale of its interventions, it has bestowed upon itself enormous power to take on the markets if it disagrees with them strongly enough.

It’s this power that Macron may want to harness if he is still able to present a budget he can call his own after July. But by the same token, he will want to ensure that the ECB denies that support to his opponents if they emerge victorious, just as it did to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Greece’s Alexis Tsipras a decade ago.

According to Napier, whether the ECB ultimately decides to use the TPI or not, the decision will have political implications, not least because it will change the parameters of what the central bank is really prepared to do save the euro, and on whose behalf.

“If you think Macron is an ally of the [European] project, then you don’t use it until after there’s some type of chaos,” Napier said.

Many things could still change between now and July 7. The far right National Rally’s Jordan Bardella, for example, has already walked back some of the party’s spendiest plans, aiming to reassure markets that conflict with the EU over its fiscal rules can be avoided.

But in an interview with the FT published on Thursday, Bardella upset the bond markets again by saying he’d campaign for a big rebate from the EU budget, only hours after his ally and mentor Marine Le Pen signaled that a National Rally government would try to wrest away Macron’s powers as commander-in-chief.

In other words, the threat of major market instability in July remains alive and well. And, as Napier put it: “If bond yields blow up in France they can blow up anywhere.”

(Additional reporting by Geoffrey Smith)

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We can tackle climate change, jobs, growth and global trade. Here’s what’s stopping us

We must leave behind established modes of thinking and seek creative workable solutions.

Another tumultuous year has confirmed that the global economy is at a turning point. We face four big challenges: the climate transition; the good-jobs problem; an economic-development crisis, and the search for a newer, healthier form of globalization.

To address each, we must leave behind established modes of thinking and seek creative workable solutions, while recognizing that these efforts will be necessarily uncoordinated and experimental.

Climate change is the most daunting challenge, and the one that has been overlooked the longest — at great cost. If we are to avoid condemning humanity to a dystopian future, we must act fast to decarbonize the global economy. We have long known that we must wean ourselves from fossil fuels, develop green alternatives and shore up our defenses against the lasting environmental damage that past inaction has already caused. However, it has become clear that little of this is likely to be achieved through global cooperation or economists’ favored policies.

Instead, individual countries will forge ahead with their own green agendas, implementing policies that best account for their specific political constraints, as the United States, China and the European Union have been doing. The result will be a hodge-podge of emission caps, tax incentives, research and development support, and green industrial policies with little global coherence and occasional costs for other countries. Messy though it may be, an uncoordinated push for climate action may be the best we can realistically hope for.

Inequality, the erosion of the middle class, and labor-market polarization have caused significant damage to our social environment.

But our physical environment is not the only threat we face. Inequality, the erosion of the middle class, and labor-market polarization have caused equally significant damage to our social environment. The consequences are now widely evident. Economic, regional, and cultural gaps within countries are widening, and liberal democracy (and the values that support it) appears to be in decline, reflecting rising support for xenophobic, authoritarian populists and the growing backlash against scientific and technical expertise.

Social transfers and the welfare state can help, but what is most needed is an increase in the supply of good jobs for the less-educated workers who have lost access to them. We need more productive, well-remunerated employment opportunities that can provide dignity and social recognition for those without a college degree. Expanding the supply of such jobs will require not only more investment in education and more robust defense of workers’ rights, but also a new brand of industrial policies for services, where the bulk of future employment will be created.

The disappearance of manufacturing jobs over time reflects both greater automation and stronger global competition. Developing countries have not been immune to either factor. Many have experienced “premature de-industrialization”: their absorption of workers into formal, productive manufacturing firms is now very limited, which means they are precluded from pursuing the kind of export-oriented development strategy that has been so effective in East Asia and a few other countries. Together with the climate challenge, this crisis of growth strategies in low-income countries calls for an entirely new development model.

Governments will have to experiment, combining investment in the green transition with productivity enhancements in labor-absorbing services.

As in the advanced economies, services will be low- and middle-income countries’ main source of employment creation. But most services in these economies are dominated by very small, informal enterprises — often sole proprietorships — and there are essentially no ready-made models of service-led development to emulate. Governments will have to experiment, combining investment in the green transition with productivity enhancements in labor-absorbing services.

Finally, globalization itself must be reinvented. The post-1990 hyper-globalization model has been overtaken by the rise of U.S.-China geopolitical competition, and by the higher priority placed on domestic social, economic, public-health, and environmental concerns. No longer fit for purpose, globalization as we know it will have to be replaced by a new understanding that rebalances national needs and the requirements of a healthy global economy that facilitates international trade and long-term foreign investment.

Most likely, the new globalization model will be less intrusive, acknowledging the needs of all countries (not just major powers) that want greater policy flexibility to address domestic challenges and national-security imperatives. One possibility is that the U.S. or China will take an overly expansive view of its security needs, seeking global primacy (in the U.S. case) or regional domination (China). The result would be a “weaponization” of economic interdependence and significant economic decoupling, with trade and investment treated as a zero-sum game.

The biggest gift major powers can give to the world economy is to manage their own domestic economies well.

But there could also be a more favorable scenario in which both powers keep their geopolitical ambitions in check, recognizing that their competing economic goals are better served through accommodation and cooperation. This scenario might serve the global economy well, even if — or perhaps because — it falls short of hyper-globalization. As the Bretton Woods era showed, a significant expansion of global trade and investment is compatible with a thin model of globalization, wherein countries retain considerable policy autonomy with which to foster social cohesion and economic growth at home. The biggest gift major powers can give to the world economy is to manage their own domestic economies well.

All these challenges call for new ideas and frameworks. We do not need to throw conventional economics out the window. But to remain relevant, economists must learn to apply the tools of their trade to the objectives and constraints of the day. They will have to be open to experimentation, and sympathetic if governments engage in actions that do not conform to the playbooks of the past.

Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard Kennedy School, is president of the International Economic Association and the author of Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017).

This commentary was published with the permission of Project Syndicate — Confronting Our Four Biggest Economic Challenges

More: Biden administration’s antitrust victories are much-needed wins for consumers

Also read: ‘Dr. Doom’ Nouriel Roubini: ‘Worst-case scenarios appear to be the least likely.’ For now.

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Speed is everything for patients: together we can bring medicines faster

Working in our industry brings huge responsibility. We deal with people’s lives, and our  medicines give people an opportunity to improve their health, often at the most overwhelming time for them. I had a strong reminder of that recently.

Last month, I met with a colleague, Heiko, who lives in Germany. His young daughter has central nervous system (CNS) neuroblastoma — a type of cancer that tends to affect children under the age of five.

Heiko and his family have been navigating the health system for months, including an overload of information in the form of complex ‘oncological-speak’, treatment guidelines and health insurance claims. They have also been dealing with constant travel to specialist centers — all while juggling the emotional burden of caring for a sick child and the daily challenges of home and work life.

He shared something that stuck in my mind the night I spoke with him, which serves as an important reminder for all of us working in health care.

“Trust must be bigger than fear.”

When their health is at stake, friends, families and colleagues put their trust in their local health care system — every part of it, including industry — in the hope of protecting the future for them and their loved ones.

As Heiko put it to me, “Speed is everything. If you gain enough speed, you gain enough time. And if you have time, you have the hope of more options that can help you.”

Faster, more equitable access to new, life-saving medicines for people living in Europe is a goal that I believe we all share. There are challenges in achieving this, but we at Roche are committed to addressing these, together with everyone involved.

It is the inequality in access to medicines that is untenable.

Teresa Graham, CEO, Roche Pharmaceuticals, and chair EFPIA’s Patient Access Committee | via EFPIA

The average time that patients in the EU wait to get access to a new medicine is around 517 days. Uptake of new technologies can be low and slow, but it is the inequality in access to medicines that is untenable. If you have cancer in Germany, you may need to wait, on average, 128 days to access a new medicine, but if you are a patient in Romania it will take you 918 days to receive the same treatment.

I am concerned that Europe’s policymakers believe this can be fixed with legislation alone. And, even if it could, families like Heiko’s do not have the luxury of waiting four to five years for the ongoing revision to the EU pharmaceutical legislation to attempt to resolve these issues.

Improving access to medicines requires solutions that are developed in partnership with everyone who has a stake in their delivery: industry, member states, health regulators, payers, patients and health care providers. With the right ambition and desire for collaboration, we can act now.

The crucial first step is for governments and policymakers to treat spending on health care and innovation as an investment in economic growth and societal advancement. Improving health care and expanding access to innovation are vital for reducing pressure on health care systems, maintaining a healthy and productive society, and driving future economic growth.

Governments and policymakers have a pivotal role in enabling and encouraging this cycle of improved health and economic benefit. We must take a strategic view of investing in innovation, acknowledging the wider societal value it provides, and find sustainable ways to manage immediate fiscal challenges that do not limit or delay access to new medicines and technologies.

The industry is also driving changes. One concrete commitment pharmaceutical companies have made is to file new medicines for pricing and reimbursement in all member states within two years of EU approval of a new medicine. This will improve timely access to the latest innovations.

The industry has also established a portal for tracking access delays and ensuring companies are held accountable in meeting the two-year filing commitment.

With the right ambition and desire for collaboration, we can act now.

With multiple ongoing legislative changes currently taking place in Europe — from the revision of the EU’s Pharmaceutical Legislation, to the EU’s reform of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and the introduction of the European Health Data Space (EHDS) — we have a unique opportunity to build a stronger and better European environment for life sciences and health care that serves patients’ best interests. One major opportunity for collaboration is the implementation of the EU’s HTA regulation. This aims to address access delays by streamlining and accelerating highly fragmented HTA processes across Europe. There is only one year to go before this either becomes a meaningful contributor to faster access decisions for patients or — if not adequately in focus during 2024 — risks becoming an additional hurdle for patient access to essential treatments. In order to avoid this scenario, industry involvement in the implementation of EU HTA is crucial to leverage expertise, co-design relevant processes, and ultimately ensure a workable system.

Such actions can reduce some of the delays in accessing new medicines, but they will not solve everything. The majority of delays come from the variation and delays in individual countries’ reimbursement and health care systems. That is why it is critical that member states, payers and health systems collaborate with industry to develop tailored access solutions. 

However, there are also proposals on the table today that are concerning and at face value will not lead to improved access for patients. For instance, the EU Commission is proposing to reduce a company’s intellectual property rights — specifically regulatory data protection (RDP) — if a medicine is not available in all member states within two years of receiving marketing authorisation. This would only hinder innovation, without delivering faster, more equitable access to new medicines.

If this were to go ahead as proposed, Europe would become a less attractive place for research. A recently-published study on the impact of the European Commission’s proposal estimated that it would reduce Europe’s share of global R&D investment by one-third by 2040.

I firmly believe this proposal must be reconsidered and focused on policy solutions that ensure patients in Europe continue to benefit from innovation.

As Heiko says, speed, time and hope are all people have. Often, patients are waiting for the next innovation, during which time, their disease progresses or their condition deteriorates. This makes the next clinical trial, the next regulatory approval, the next standard of care, the next reimbursement decision absolutely vital for those who simply cannot wait.

Across industry, there are more than 8,000 new medicines in the global pipeline today. This is the hope Heiko needs, and families like his are trusting us all to deliver.

Speaking with Heiko reminded me that the most effective treatment is the one that makes it to the patient when they need it. It is now our collective responsibility to find the path to making this happen for patients everywhere in Europe.



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IBBC’s Two-Day Conference Success: ‘Building a Sustainable Future for Iraq’ | Iraq Business News

From the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC):

IBBC’s two-day conference success ‘Building a sustainable future for Iraq’.

IBBC held an expanded two- day conference in Dubai to coincide with Cop 28 to focus on ‘a sustainable future for Iraq’, with one day dedicated to Education and Training and one for Business, Investment, and Energy.

IBBC welcomed its largest delegations to date, reflecting both the scope of the discussions and the interest in Iraq.

Of particular note was interest in the Education and Skills day, which not only enjoyed the largest turnout from business members and top UK Education speakers for Iraq anywhere, but also leading figures; UK’s Lord Boateng who made a keynote speech; Wayne David MP, Shadow Minster for Middle East and Dr. Jamal Abdulzahra Mezaal Khoailed, Advisor to the Iraqi President; Professor Hamid Khalaf Ahmed, Iraqi PM Advisor & Executive Director at the Higher Committee for Education Development in Iraq, and the UK’s largest recent contingent of universities operating and engaging with Iraq. The British Ambassador to Iraq, Mr Stephen Hitchen and Professor Alaa Alzwghaibi, of the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education also spoke.

Key topics focused on vocational training, skills, and education relevant for the modernisation and development of Iraq, the new Iraqi Government scholarship fund and academic and business collaboration, a new initiative and advisory board between business and Govt set up to focus university courses to the relevant needs of Iraq’s economy. Leading IBBC businesses also contributed, including Sardar Group, SAP, Hydro-C and a special presentation to Basra Gas Company who are recruiting and developing Iraqi graduates (40% of whom are women) for employment.

The Education day was opened by its main sponsor Dr Amir Sadaati of GEMS. It was chaired throughout in exspert manner by IBBC’s Health and education Advisor, Professor Mohammed Al Uzri.

Full list of speakers also include:

Professor Mary Stiasny, University of London; Dr Mohammed Shukri, Kurdistan Regional Government; H.E. Mr Alan Hama Saeed Salih, Ministry of Education Vocational Training, IRCS Centre for Vocational Training; Dr Yaseen Ahmed Abbas, President of Iraqi Red Crescent Society; Dr Tony Degazon, City and Guilds; H.E Dr Naji Al Mahdi, Chief Qualification and Awards KHDA, Dubai; Dr Ahmed Kanan Al-Jaafari, Supervision and Scientific Research Apparatus; Mr Gavin Busuttil-Reynaud, AQA- Alphaplus; Dr Hazim Al-Zubaidi, MOHESR, Iraq; Mr Peter O`Hara, University of London; Dr Kenan Barut, Cambridge University Press & Assessment; Mr Mahul Shah, Occupational English Test (OET); Mr Muhammad Zohaib, Chief Executive LRN; Dr Stephen Land PhD, University of Dundee; Professor Paul Coulthard, Queen Mary University of London; Professor Paul A. Townsend, University of Surrey; Professor Angela Simpson University of Chester.

Day two saw a deeper focus on business and the conference theme ‘Building a sustainable future for Iraq’. As in previous years the Business Day was chaired by IBBC’s GCC representative and Board Member Mr Vikas Handa.

Sustainability is directly linked to the environmental challenge on going at Cop 28 and affecting Iraq directly. As Dr Fareed Yaseen, Iraq’s Climate Envoy  said –

‘Iraq is in the front line of climate change, and its affecting all areas of the country from desertification of agriculture, to migration and water shortage and the possibility areas of the country may become uninhabitable from heat. Iraq is catching up in its compliance with Cop, having started late in 2009. Key is to adapt and develop a sustainable economy, a resilient private business sector, investment, work force training and agriculture.’

President of IBBC Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, welcomed delegates and ministers:

H.E. Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE, who stated trade with Iraq has increased 12.5% this year and we will collaborate on climate change; Dr. Abdulkareem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Ministers Advisory Commission, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Sudani; Dr Mohammed Shukri, Chairman, Kurdistan Board of Investment, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Barzani;  Ambassador Stephen Hitchen, HM Ambassador to Iraq; Mr Wayne David MP, UK Shadow Minster for the MENA, articulated how Labour would focus their foreign policy if elected in ’24,

Panels included a Finance and Investment panel led by member Mr Raed Hanna of Mutual Finance; Mr Bilal Al-Sugheyer, IFC; Mr Mohammed Al-Delaimy, TBI; Dr Boutros Klink, SCB; Dr Sameer Al-Waely, Central Bank of Iraq, Mr Hani Idris, UAE Barnach Director of the International Development Bank,  at which the formation of a new foreign exchange bank was announced by the CBI.

A vibrant Energy session outlining the dramatic progress the oil and gas companies are undertaking to invest in capturing gas (for conversion into electivity) reduction in Co2 through process engineering, and cleaner air, gas and oil production, speakers included Chairman: Mr Vikas Handa; Mr Laith Al Shaher, IBBC Advisory Council; Ms Dunia Chalabi, TotalEnergies; Mr Zaid Elyaseri, BP; Mr Hassan Heshmat, Hydro – C; Mr Andrew Wiper, Basrah Gas  Company; Mr Muhanad Al-Saffar, Siemens Energy Iraq; Mr Rasheed Janabi, GE Vernova.

The Tech forum focused on how tech and data can help Iraq adapt to climate change and carbon transition, including insightful presentations from SAP, EY, Neom, UK’s Climate business advisor  (new report available here) and UAE’s Hyperloop engineer, to show us the way forward in building and infrastructure tech. (recording video here) Batoul Husseini, SAP MENA; Ahmed Gailani, UK GOV CCC committee; Owais Afridi, Director, Consulting of EY sustainability practice in MENA; Prof. Dr Sabih G. Khisaf, ICE; Mr Hussam Chakouf, NEOM.

IBBC’s MD Mr Christophe Michels hosted a roundtable discussion for 3 KRG Ministers, Dr Mohammed Shukri, Chairman, Kurdistan Board of Investment, Ms Begard Talabani, Minister for Water Resources & Agriculture, and Mr Kamal Muslim, Minister of Trade and Industry. A final panel asked, ‘What constitutes Business Successes?’

We heard passionate family insights about innovation, persistence, hard work, and adaptation from Mr Amar Shubar, Management Partners; Mr Andrew Martin, Al Busttan; Mr Richard Cotton, AAA Holding Group Ltd; Mrs Samar Al Mafraji, Sardar Group; Mr Aziz Khudairi, Khudairi Group.

The conference ended with Mr Christophe Michels thanking everyone involved and looking forward to the Spring Conference at The Mansion House in London on June 27th 2024.

IBBC is grateful to all of its Members for their support and contribution. Special thanks go to conference sponsors: AAA HoldingAl BusttanGEMS, TBISardar Group, Hydro-C and Basrah Gateway Terminal.

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Making water the engine for climate action

Much progress has been made on water security over recent decades, yet for the first time in human history, our collective actions have pushed the global water cycle out of balance. Water is life: it is essential for health, food, energy, socioeconomic development, nature and livable cities. It is hardly surprising that the climate and biodiversity crises are also a water crisis, where one reinforces the other. Already, a staggering four billion people suffer from water scarcity  for at least one month a year and two billion people lack access to safely-managed drinking water. By 2030, global water demand will exceed availability by 40 percent. By 2050, climate-driven water scarcity could impact the economic growth of some regions by up to 6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product per year.

Meike van Ginneken, Water Envoy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Right now, the world’s first Global Stocktake is assessing the progress being made toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and global leaders are convening at COP28 in Dubai to agree on a way forward. We have a critical opportunity to catalyze global ambition and recognize that water is how climate change manifests itself. While wealthier, more resilient nations may be able to manage the devastating impacts of climate change, these same challenges are disastrous for lesser developed, more vulnerable communities.

Rainfall, the source of all freshwater, is becoming more erratic. Changes in precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture are creating severe food insecurity. Droughts trap farmers in poverty, as the majority of cultivated land is rain-fed. Extreme drought reduces growth in developing countries by about 0.85 percentage points. Melting glaciers, sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion jeopardize freshwater supplies. Floods destroy infrastructure, damage homes and disrupt livelihoods. The 2022 Pakistan floods affected 33 million people and more than 1,730 lost their lives, while 2023 saw devastating floods in Libya among other places.  

Now more than ever, it is urgent that we work together to make water the engine of climate action. Already, many countries are investing in technology and climate-resilient water infrastructure. Yet, we need more than technology and engineering to adapt to a changing climate. To advance global water action, we must radically change the way we understand, value and manage water with an emphasis on two necessary measures.

First, we need to make water availability central to our economic planning and decision-making. We need to rethink where and how we grow our food, where we build our cities, and where we plan our industries. We cannot continue to grow thirsty crops in drylands or drain wetlands and cut down forests to raise our cattle. In a changing climate, water availability needs to guide where we undertake economic activity.

In a changing climate, water availability needs to guide where we undertake economic activity.  

Second, we must restore and protect natural freshwater stocks, our buffers against extreme climate events. Natural freshwater storage is how we save water for dry periods and freshwater storage capacity is how we store rainwater to mitigate floods. 99 percent of freshwater storage is in nature. We need to halt the decline of groundwater, wetlands and floodplains. But our challenge is not only about surface and groundwater bodies, or blue water. We also need to preserve and restore our green water stocks, or the water that remains in the soil after rainfall. To reduce the decline of blue water and preserve green water, we need to implement water-friendly crop-management practices and incorporate key stakeholders, such as farmers, into the decision-making process.

Addressing the urgency of the global water crisis goes beyond the water sector. It requires transformative changes at every level of society. National climate plans such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans are key instruments to make water an organizing principle to spatial, economic and investment planning. Much like the Netherlands did earlier this year when the Dutch parliament adopted a policy that makes water and soil guiding principles in all our spatial planning decisions. Right now, about 90 percent of all countries’ NDCs prioritize action on water for adaptation. NDCs and National Adaptation Plans are drivers of integrated planning and have the potential to unlock vast investments, yet including targets for water is only a first step.

To drive global action, the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan co-hosted the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, bringing the world together for a bold Water Action Agenda to accelerate change across sectors and deliver on the water actions in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. To elevate the agenda’s emphasis on accelerating implementation and improved impact, the Netherlands is contributing an additional €5 million to the NDC Partnership to support countries to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce water-related climate vulnerability and increase public and private investments targeting water-nexus opportunities. As a global coalition of over 200 countries and international institutions, the NDC Partnership is uniquely positioned to support countries to enhance the integration of water in formulating, updating, financing and implementing countries’ NDCs.

One example showcasing the importance of incorporating water management into national planning comes from former NDC Partnership co-chair and climate leader, Jamaica. Jamaica’s National Water Commission (NWC), one of the largest electricity consumers in the country, mobilized technical assistance to develop an integrated energy efficiency and renewables program to reduce its energy intensity, building up the resilience of the network, while helping reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. With additional support from the Netherlands, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with Global Water Partnership (GWP)-Caribbean, the government of Jamaica will ensure the National Water Commission is well equipped for the future. Implementation of climate commitments and the requisite financing to do so are key to ensuring targets like these are met.

Water has the power to connect. The Netherlands is reaching out to the world.

Water has the power to connect. The Netherlands is reaching out to the world. We are committed to providing political leadership and deploying our know-how for a more water-secure world. As we look towards the outcomes of the Global Stocktake and COP28, it is essential that we make water the engine of climate action. 



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AWS digital sovereignty pledge: A new, independent sovereign cloud in Europe

From day one, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has believed it is essential that customers have control over their data, and choices for how they secure and manage that data in the cloud. Last year, we introduced the AWS Digital Sovereignty Pledge, our commitment to offering AWS customers the most advanced set of sovereignty controls and features available in the cloud.

AWS offers the largest and most comprehensive cloud infrastructure globally. Our approach from the beginning has been to make AWS sovereign-by-design. We built data protection features and controls in the AWS cloud with input from financial services, health care and government customers — who are among the most security- and data privacy-conscious organizations in the world. This has led to innovations like the AWS Nitro System, which powers all our modern Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and provides a strong physical and logical security boundary to enforce access restrictions so that nobody, including AWS employees, can access customer data running in Amazon EC2. The security design of the Nitro System has also been independently validated by the NCC Group in a public report.

With AWS, customers have always had control over the location of their data. In Europe, customers who need to comply with European data residency requirements have the choice to deploy their data to any of our eight existing AWS Regions (Ireland, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Stockholm, Milan, Zurich and Spain) to keep their data securely in Europe. To run their sensitive workloads, European customers can leverage the broadest and deepest portfolio of services, including AI, analytics, compute, database, internet of things, machine learning, mobile services and storage. To further support customers, we’ve innovated to offer more control and choice over their data. For example, we announced further transparency and assurances, and new dedicated infrastructure options with AWS ‘Dedicated Local Zones’.

To deliver enhanced operational resilience within the EU, only EU residents who are located in the EU will have control of the operations and support.

Announcing the AWS European Sovereign Cloud

When we speak to public-sector and regulated-industry customers in Europe, they share how they are facing incredible complexity with an evolving sovereignty landscape. Customers tell us they want to adopt the cloud, but are facing increasing regulatory scrutiny over data location, European operational autonomy and resilience. We’ve learned that these customers are concerned that they will have to choose between the full power of AWS or feature-limited sovereign cloud solutions. We’ve had deep engagements with European regulators, national cybersecurity authorities, and customers to understand how the sovereignty needs of customers can vary based on multiple factors, like location, sensitivity of workloads, and industry. We recently announced our plans to launch the AWS European Sovereign Cloud, a new, independent cloud for Europe, designed to help public sector organizations and customers in highly-regulated industries meet their evolving sovereignty needs. We’re designing the AWS European Sovereign Cloud to be separate and independent from our existing ‘regions’, with infrastructure located wholly within the European Union, with the same security, availability and performance our customers get from existing regions today. To deliver enhanced operational resilience within the EU, only EU residents who are located in the EU will have control of the operations and support for the AWS European Sovereign Cloud. The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will launch its first AWS Region in Germany available to all European customers.

Built on more than a decade of experience operating multiple independent clouds for the most critical and restricted workloads.

The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will be sovereign-by-design, and will be built on more than a decade of experience operating multiple independent clouds for the most critical and restricted workloads. Like existing regions, the AWS European Sovereign Cloud will be built for high availability and resiliency, and powered by the AWS Nitro System, to help ensure the confidentiality and integrity of customer data. Customers will have the control and assurance that AWS will not access or use customer data for any purpose without their agreement. AWS gives customers the strongest sovereignty controls among leading cloud providers. For customers with enhanced data residency needs, the AWS European Sovereign cloud is designed to go further and will allow customers to keep all metadata they create (such as the roles, permissions, resource labels and configurations they use to run AWS) in the EU. The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will also be built with separate, in-region billing and usage metering systems.

Delivering operational autonomy

The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will provide customers with the capability to meet stringent operational autonomy and data residency requirements. To deliver enhanced data residency and operational resilience within the EU, the AWS European Sovereign Cloud infrastructure will be operated independently from existing AWS Regions. To assure independent operation of the AWS European Sovereign Cloud, only personnel who are EU residents, located in the EU, will have control of day-to-day operations, including access to data centers, technical support and customer service.

Control without compromise

Though separate, the AWS European Sovereign Cloud will offer the same industry-leading architecture built for security and availability as other AWS Regions. This will include multiple ‘Availability Zones’, infrastructure that is placed in separate and distinct geographic locations, with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting customers’ business continuity.

Continued AWS investment in Europe

The AWS European Sovereign Cloud represents continued AWS investment in Europe. AWS is committed to innovating to support European values and Europe’s digital future. We drive economic development through investing in infrastructure, jobs and skills in communities and countries across Europe. We are creating thousands of high-quality jobs and investing billions of euros in European economies. Amazon has created more than 100,000 permanent jobs across the EU. Some of our largest AWS development teams are located in Europe, with key centers in Dublin, Dresden and Berlin. As part of our continued commitment to contribute to the development of digital skills, we will hire and develop additional local personnel to operate and support the AWS European Sovereign Cloud.

Our commitments to our customers

We remain committed to giving our customers control and choices to help meet their evolving digital sovereignty needs. We continue to innovate sovereignty features, controls and assurances globally with AWS, without compromising on the full power of AWS.



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Israel Hamas war: The outcome the financial markets expect

Energy and defence-related investments are set to yield in the next 12-18 months, according to analysts.

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Weeks after Hamas’s devastating attack on Israel – provoking fierce retaliation by Israel that has prompted fears of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza – the immediate shock that the assault had on the markets appears to be wearing off.

Yet given the huge impact that instability in the Middle East can have on the global economy, a pressing concern for investors arises: which investments would be a safe option amid the potential for escalated conflicts in the region?

BCA Research, a global investment strategy firm, wagers the answer lies in oil and defence-related investment.

The reason, their research shows, is that the war between Israel and Hamas is likely to spill over from Gaza’s borders, prompting a significant oil shock – a forecast that seems ever more possible following reports that the US military struck Iran-backed militias in Syria, in a self-proclaimed act of self-defence.

BCA Research has put the probability of the conflict drawing in Hezbollah and other militant groups in Lebanon and Syria at 45% by mid-October.

Indeed, on Monday morning, the Israeli Defense Forces confirmed that they had struck targets in Syria and Lebanon, in what it called a “response to launches from those areas into Israel”.

Matt Gertken, chief geopolitical strategist at BCA Research, said that there’s even a significant risk that the fighting will extend to bring Iran openly into the fray too, even if it’s unlikely on balance.

“The United States does not want a full-scale confrontation with Iran. They don’t want to interrupt the oil flow,” he said. “The Iranians also share an interest with the US. But it’s still at a one-third probability. It’s still a very high risk for the global economy.”

How oil and defence investments could outperform

With a potential escalation of the war on the cards, there’s a high risk of a major spike in oil prices within the next 12 to 18 months, according to BCA Research.

The war in Gaza won’t be the sole cause, the firm says: Russia, still ensnared in Western sanctions stemming from its continued invasion of Ukraine, is also likely to cut oil production.

“Constraints on the supply chain could push oil prices up,” said Gertken.

But oil isn’t the only market tapped to soar in value – BCA Research has also put its bets on the defence sector.

The chief strategist noted that the US is increasing defence spending to protect its allies, and Europe is also allocating more funds to defence, which are promising signs of increased profits for investors.

Gertken warned however that defence and energy stocks “should be viewed relative to other cyclical equities (stocks whose price is affected by how the economy performs, ed.)”.

As the current global economic outlook, including the IMF’s own, suggests a slowing GDP growth for the upcoming year, the so-called cyclical stocks are facing a weaker performance compared to 2023. 

“Within this category, however, energy and defence stocks are likely to outperform,” said Gertken.

What does the market expect?

As news from Israel and Gaza continues to unfold, investors have been edging towards safe haven investments, such as gold and US treasury bonds.

Yet the impact of the war on the global financial markets and oil prices has been moderate so far.

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The lack of volatile changes in the oil market is the result of two opposing effects.

Osama Rizvi, energy and economic analyst for Primary Vision Network, said that oil prices were on the verge of decreasing (due to a slowing of the global economy that reduced the demand for oil) just before the Israel Hamas war began.

Many large investors are still taking this outlook into consideration: Major hedge funds and money managers are channelling swathes of investment away from oil.

In the previous week, they slashed half of their long-term investments in oil, cutting down their contracts to purchase oil, from about 398 million barrels to about 197 million.

“This was the fastest rate this happened in the previous decade,” Rizvi said.

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At the same time, oil prices were also pushed up by investors who put their bets on an escalating war in the Middle East – which would consequently limit supply and drive up prices further.

As for the next period, Rizvi suspects there will be no major surprises. Assuming the war stays confined to its current borders, he expects no more than a $3-4 rise in Brent oil prices.

However, if Iran enters the fray through a proxy war and seals off access to its 700,000 barrels of oil per year, there’s likely to be a $10 dollar jump, according to the analyst.

The third scenario is the most troubling: A full war involving major powers like the US, where Israel is in direct conflict with Iran.

“If that happens, according to Bloomberg economics, that has the potential to wipe out almost $1 trillion from the global GDP, essentially tipping the world economy into recession, and also the potential of oil prices to hit $150 or beyond that,” Rizvi said.

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How this Middle East crisis differs from the others

Looking at previous crises in the Middle East, not everyone is convinced that the situation will truly escalate and put oil shocks on the cards.

However, there is a “major difference” now in geopolitics that makes the current war different from the ones that came before it, according to Gertken.

“I think probably the most underrated element of this conflict is that Iran has achieved nuclear breakout capacity. So it is a different Middle Eastern crisis this time around than in previous ones,” he said. 

He explained that the underlying question from a strategic point of view is whether the US and Israel are willing to allow Iran to possess militant proxies or nuclear weapons that could impact the region.

“To put it simply, does Iran get to have nuclear weapons and Hezbollah, or do they only get to have one of those two things?,” Gertken said. “And that’s the reason why I think this is an important and dangerous juncture.”

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How the global outlook is driving investors’ hands

Even if a potential conflict with Iran is contained, there’s still the looming possibility that the US economy will face recession in the next 12-18 months, according to BCA Research.

The firm expects headline or energy inflation to be too high to enable the US Federal Reserve (or Fed, the US central bank) to start cutting interest rates.

This, coupled with high energy prices, is squeezing demand and dragging the economy, Gertken explained.

One of the main indicators of whether the US is facing a recession – which Gertken expects to span from 2024 to early 2025 – is its unemployment rate.

“If the US unemployment rate starts rising over the next six months, the first thing it does is it tells investors that the US is going into a recession,” he said. “And we have a very high likelihood of Europe going into recession and we have a weak Chinese economy.”

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Gertken also noted that the moment a possible recession takes place in the US can have a huge impact on the country’s election results and in turn global stability. He explained that a recession unfolding before the election would reduce the odds of the Democratic Party winning the re-election.

“What has the most impact for global stability is whether the US political party changes,” Gertken said.

What are the crisis-safe investments?

Rising geopolitical risks usually drive up the price of gold and the dollar – investors tend to almost automatically move their money into these assets because they’re prone to withstanding global crises.

Gold has long been resistant to geopolitical shocks and recently, in spite of the increase in real interest rates, it has remained relatively highly-priced.

Gertken said that one reason for this is that countries like Russia and China, who are positioning themselves for a trade confrontation with the US, are stocking up on gold.

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“And that adds a tailwind,” he said.

Dollar investments could see temporary dips as the currency is trading inversely to oil, but fundamentally, they are considered to be a safe haven.

Currencies such as the Japanese yen and Swiss Franc are also solid choices in a crisis, as are US Treasury yields.

The bond market has recently seen a big sell-off but Gertken believes that these investments will start attracting more money flows.

“I think bonds can actually do fairly well because inflation is falling,” he explained. “I do think bonds are still havens and I think in particular developed market bonds, and the US would be included in that category.”

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For investors, looking beyond the next 12 months, commodities could also bring good yields. Silver and copper, suggests Rizvi, are potentially good investments, adding that these two generally see increasing demand and rising prices when economies do well.

“Given the condition of the global economy, if one takes a position in copper, on the downward direction, that can give you good yields moving forward,” he said. “Because all of this (the current limited economic growth, ed.) will have to unwind at some point in 2024 or 2025 when the Fed starts to unwind their monetary policy.”

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How the Israeli-Hamas war affects financial investments

Energy and defence-related investments are set to yield in the next 12-18 months, according to analysts.

ADVERTISEMENT

Weeks after Hamas’s devastating attack on Israel – provoking fierce retaliation by Israel that has prompted fears of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza – the immediate shock that the assault had on the markets appears to be wearing off.

Yet given the huge impact that instability in the Middle East can have on the global economy, a pressing concern for investors arises: which investments would be a safe option amid the potential for escalated conflicts in the region?

BCA Research, a global investment strategy firm, wagers the answer lies in oil and defence-related investment.

The reason, their research shows, is that the war between Israel and Hamas is likely to spill over from Gaza’s borders in the next 12 months, prompting a significant oil shock – a forecast that seems ever more possible following reports that the US military struck Iran-backed militias in Syria, in a self-proclaimed act of self-defence.

BCA Research has put the probability of the conflict drawing in Hezbollah and other militant groups in Lebanon and Syria at 45%.

Matt Gertken, chief geopolitical strategist at the firm, said that there’s a significant risk that the fighting will extend to bring Iran openly into the fray too, even if it’s unlikely on balance.

“The United States does not want a full-scale confrontation with Iran. They don’t want to interrupt the oil flow,” he said. “The Iranians also share an interest with the US. But it’s still at a one-third probability. It’s still a very high risk for the global economy.”

How oil and defence investments could outperform

With a potential escalation of the war on the cards, there’s a high risk of a major spike in oil prices within the next 12 to 18 months, according to BCA Research.

The war in Gaza won’t be the sole cause, the firm says: Russia, still ensnared in Western sanctions stemming from its continued invasion of Ukraine, is also likely to cut oil production.

“Constraints on the supply chain could push oil prices up,” said Gertken.

But oil isn’t the only market tapped to soar in value – BCA Research has also put its bets on the defence sector.

The chief strategist noted that the US is increasing defence spending to protect its allies, and Europe is also allocating more funds to defence, which are promising signs of increased profits for investors.

Gertken warned however that defence and energy stocks “should be viewed relative to other cyclical equities (stocks whose price is affected by how the economy performs, ed.)”.

As the current global economic outlook, including the IMF’s own, suggests a slowing GDP growth for the upcoming year, the so-called cyclical stocks are facing a weaker performance compared to 2023. 

“Within this category, however, energy and defence stocks are likely to outperform,” said Gertken.

What does the market expect?

As news from Israel and Gaza continues to unfold, investors have been edging towards safe haven investments, such as gold and US treasury bonds.

Yet the impact of the war on the global financial markets and oil prices has been moderate so far.

The lack of volatile changes in the oil market is the result of two opposing effects.

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Osama Rizvi, energy and economic analyst for Primary Vision Network, said that oil prices were on the verge of decreasing (due to a slowing of the global economy that reduced the demand for oil) just before the Israeli-Hamas war began.

Many large investors are still taking this outlook into consideration: Major hedge funds and money managers are channelling swathes of investment away from oil.

In the previous week, they slashed half of their long-term investments in oil, cutting down their contracts to purchase oil, from about 398 million barrels to about 197 million.

“This was the fastest rate this happened in the previous decade,” Rizvi said.

At the same time, oil prices were also pushed up by investors who put their bets on an escalating war in the Middle East – which would consequently limit supply and drive up prices further.

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As for the next period, Rizvi suspects there will be no major surprises. Assuming the war stays confined to its current borders, he expects no more than a $3-4 rise in Brent oil prices.

However, if Iran enters the fray through a proxy war and seals off access to its 700,000 barrels of oil per year, there’s likely to be a $10 dollar jump, according to the analyst.

The third scenario is the most troubling: A full war involving major powers like the US, where Israel is in direct conflict with Iran.

“If that happens, according to Bloomberg economics, that has the potential to wipe out almost $1 trillion from the global GDP, essentially tipping the world economy into recession, and also the potential of oil prices to hit $150 or beyond that,” Rizvi said.

How this Middle East crisis differs from the others

Looking at previous crises in the Middle East, not everyone is convinced that the situation will truly escalate and put oil shocks on the cards.

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However, there is a “major difference” now in geopolitics that makes the current war different from the ones that came before it, according to Gertken.

“I think probably the most underrated element of this conflict is that Iran has achieved nuclear breakout capacity. So it is a different Middle Eastern crisis this time around than in previous ones,” he said. 

He explained that the underlying question from a strategic point of view is whether the US and Israel are willing to allow Iran to possess militant proxies or nuclear weapons that could impact the region.

“To put it simply, does Iran get to have nuclear weapons and Hezbollah, or do they only get to have one of those two things?,” Gertken said. “And that’s the reason why I think this is an important and dangerous juncture.”

How the global outlook is driving investors’ hands

Even if a potential conflict with Iran is contained, there’s still the looming possibility that the US economy will face recession in the next 12-18 months, according to BCA Research.

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The firm expects headline or energy inflation to be too high to enable the US Federal Reserve (or Fed, the US central bank) to start cutting interest rates.

This, coupled with high energy prices, is squeezing demand and dragging the economy, Gertken explained.

One of the main indicators of whether the US is facing a recession – which Gertken expects to span from 2024 to early 2025 – is its unemployment rate.

“If the US unemployment rate starts rising over the next six months, the first thing it does is it tells investors that the US is going into a recession,” he said. “And we have a very high likelihood of Europe going into recession and we have a weak Chinese economy.”

Gertken also noted that the moment a possible recession takes place in the US can have a huge impact on the country’s election results and in turn global stability. He explained that a recession unfolding before the election would reduce the odds of the Democratic Party winning the re-election.

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“What has the most impact for global stability is whether the US political party changes,” Gertken said.

What are the crisis-safe investments?

Rising geopolitical risks usually drive up the price of gold and the dollar – investors tend to almost automatically move their money into these assets because they’re prone to withstanding global crises.

Gold has long been resistant to geopolitical shocks and recently, in spite of the increase in real interest rates, it has remained relatively highly-priced.

Gertken said that one reason for this is that countries like Russia and China, who are positioning themselves for a trade confrontation with the US, are stocking up on gold.

“And that adds a tailwind,” he said.

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Dollar investments could see temporary dips as the currency is trading inversely to oil, but fundamentally, they are considered to be a safe haven.

Currencies such as the Japanese yen and Swiss Franc are also solid choices in a crisis, as are US Treasury yields.

The bond market has recently seen a big sell-off but Gertken believes that these investments will start attracting more money flows.

“I think bonds can actually do fairly well because inflation is falling,” he explained. “I do think bonds are still havens and I think in particular developed market bonds, and the US would be included in that category.”

For investors, looking beyond the next 12 months, commodities could also bring good yields. Silver and copper, suggests Rizvi, are potentially good investments, adding that these two generally see increasing demand and rising prices when economies do well.

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“Given the condition of the global economy, if one takes a position in copper, on the downward direction, that can give you good yields moving forward,” he said. “Because all of this (the current limited economic growth, ed.) will have to unwind at some point in 2024 or 2025 when the Fed starts to unwind their monetary policy.”

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