In TNT

Harambe:  Global finance system fragmenting: UN chief – Shafaq News (9/7/23)

The world risks a “great fracture” of its economic and financial systems, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday at a summit with Southeast Asia’s ASEAN bloc, China, the United States and others in Indonesia.

In a wide-ranging speech that touched on geopolitical tension, multilateral development finance and climate change, Guterres called on world leaders to find peaceful and inclusive solutions to the challenges facing the world.

“There is a real risk of fragmentation – of a great fracture in world economic and financial systems; with diverging strategies on technology and artificial intelligence and conflicting security frameworks,” he said.

He called for a mechanism to provide relief for debt-strapped developing economies, to include payment suspensions, longer lending terms and lower interest rates.

He also voiced support for re-channelling an additional $100 billion of International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights through multilateral development banks to increase liquidity and support developing economies’ needs.

Rich countries agreed in 2021 to re-channel the unused funds, an international reserve currency, to poor countries.

At a Paris summit in June this year, world leaders backed a push for multilateral development banks like the World Bank to put more capital at risk to boost lending.

World Bank president Ajay Banga outlined a “toolkit” at that summit, including offering a pause in debt repayments, giving countries flexibility to redirect funds for emergency response, providing new types of insurance to help development projects and helping governments build advance-emergency systems.

Guterres also said he remained “deeply concerned” over the “worsening political, humanitarian, and human rights” situation in Myanmar, a nation besieged by war since a 2021 military coup.

“I reiterate my urgent call on the military authorities of Myanmar to listen to the aspirations of its people, release all political prisoners, and open the door to a return to democratic rule,” he said.

In a statement on Wednesday, ASEAN chair Indonesia said regional leaders expressed “grave concern” over a lack of substantial progress on their five-point peace plan for Myanmar.

ASEAN leaders are set to hold talks with the United Nations later on Thursday.


Harambe:   Indonesia proposes critical minerals trade deal with US | Reuters (9/7/23)

Indonesia has asked the United States to begin talks on a trade deal for critical minerals so that exports from the Southeast Asian country can be covered under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, an Indonesian ministry said on Thursday.

The request was made when Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on the sidelines of meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Under guidelines for the U.S. law issued in March, Washington has required that a certain amount of critical minerals in electric vehicle (EV) batteries be produced or assembled in North America or a free trade partner, for EVs sold in the United States to be eligible for tax credits.

Indonesia does not have a free trade agreement with the United States, but the resource-rich country has ambitions to become a major player in the manufacturing of EVs and their batteries, leveraging its vast nickel reserves.

“Indonesia is a producer and holder of the world’s biggest nickel reserves amounting to 21 million metric tons, so Indonesia can become a supplier for … batteries and EVs in the U.S.,” Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, was quoted as saying by the Indonesian ministry of economic affairs.

“Indonesia invites the U.S. to discuss the formation of the Critical Mineral Agreement,” Jokowi added.

The president also hoped that Indonesia’s involvement in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) could allow its mineral exports to be recognised for “green subsidies” under the inflation act, according to the ministry’s statement.

The plan to propose a limited free trade deal with the United States was first brought up in April by senior Indonesian minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who said Jakarta wanted to offer Washington an agreement akin to the March deal between Japan and the Western power for EV battery minerals.

Harris, during the opening speech of the bilateral meeting, said she would continue to work with Indonesia to build supply chains that included “critical minerals required to expand our clean energy economies” and to boost trade between the two countries through IPEF.

Harambe:  President Biden’s visit (Sep 10-11) to create impetus for Vietnam-US ties: Ambassador  | Vietnam+ (9/7/23)

The visit of US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. to Vietnam on September 10-11 will be an occasion for leaders of both countries to look back at the past 10-year journey since the establishment of their comprehensive partnership, said Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh, former Deputy Foreign Minister and former Ambassador of Vietnam to the US.

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency ahead of the US President’s visit, the veteran diplomat said the visit is also an occasion for the two sides to create a new impetus and define the orientation for the relations in the next decades.

He expected that the two sides will expand cooperation to other fields, such as digital transformation and green transition, besides education-training and war aftermath settlement, in which he believes great room still remains for enhancing collaboration.

The ambassador stressed that the past decade has seen strong and comprehensive development of the Vietnam-US relations.

The two sides have been strengthening mutual understanding, building trust and creating a stable and long-term framework for win-win cooperation. Leaders of the two countries have made many mutual visits, creating the political foundation for bilateral ties to grow.

He noted that development has been seen across all pillars of the bilateral relationship, from politics-diplomacy to economy, trade, investment, science-technology, and education, and in both bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

Vinh particularly highlighted economic-trade collaboration as the bright spot in bilateral ties. He cited statistics that show two-way trade surged almost four times 10 years after the establishment of the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership, from 35-36 billion USD in 2013 to over 123 billion USD at present.

“I think that the talks between Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and President Biden (in the upcoming visit) will further deepen the guiding principle of bilateral relations which is to develop the ties based on respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institutions, mutual understanding, equal and win-win cooperation, and in the spirit of putting aside the past, overcoming differences and promoting similarities towards the future,” Ambassador Vinh said.