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Alibaba Conducts Workshop for Rwandan Government Officials on Enabling a Digital Economy

Betty Tűndik

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– 12 delegates from the government of Rwanda participated in four-day workshop at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China to learn about FinTech, logistics, eCommerce and big data technologies

This week, delegates from the government of Rwanda completed the first New Economy Workshop held at Alibaba Group‘s headquarters in Hangzhou. During the four-day workshop, twelve government leaders met with Alibaba executives across multiple businesses to learn about the transformative impact and promise of a new digital economy as well as how to drive economic growth by accelerating digital finance, logistics, e-commerce and big data industries.

The New Economy Workshop program aims to empower participants to use their knowledge to continue supporting the development of Rwanda’s digital economy. Participants included the CEO of Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), the Rwandan Ambassador to China and representatives from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), Higher Education Council (HEC), Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (RURA), Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda Energy Group (REG), and the Ministry of ICT & Innovation (MINICT).

The workshop follows the launch of the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub in Rwanda witnessed by President Kagame and Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma last October. Under the eWTP agreement, the government of Rwanda and Alibaba committed to work together to strengthen the country’s economic development by promoting policy innovation and providing capacity building to empower the growth of Rwanda’s digital economy.

“At Alibaba we have seen first-hand the transformative impact digital technology can have in building an inclusive society. This New Economy Workshop is meant to not only provide capacity building to Rwanda’s policy makers, but also to inspire them to become advocates for Rwanda’s digital transformation and for the country’s technology entrepreneurs,” said Angel Zhao, President of Alibaba’s Globalization Leadership Group.

“The Alibaba ecosystem has enabled millions of people to participate in the global economy and improve their standard of living through the use of technology,” said George William Kayonga, Chief Executive Officer, National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB). “I see great opportunity for Rwanda to similarly build a digital economy allowing us to move rapidly up the learning curve using the Alibaba experience as our guide.”

This week’s New Economy training is the latest example of Alibaba’s ongoing commitment to support Rwanda’seconomic development:

  • In October 2018, the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub was launched in Rwanda. Through this partnership, Rwanda and Alibaba work together to enable cross-border trade of Rwandan products to Chinese consumers and facilitate China outbound tourism to Rwanda.
  • In August 2018, fifty lecturers from Rwanda’s top universities attended the first Global E-commerce Talent (GET) Program organized in partnership with the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Council and the Rwandan Development Board. GET is a five-day course to boost the competencies of Rwandan university teachers and deepen their understanding of the e-commerce industry, so they can train future entrepreneurs.
  • In partnership with UNCTAD, Alibaba Business School is training 1,000 entrepreneurs from emerging markets over five years. Two hundred of those entrepreneurs will come from Africa. Five Rwandan entrepreneurs have already graduated from the eFounders Fellowship program.
  • As part of eWTP collaboration, Alibaba Business School will host the first Alibaba Netpreneur Training program from March 2-13, 2019 for approximately 40 entrepreneurs contributing to digital transformation, who are currently operating in the Rwandan market, or are in the process of expanding to the Rwandan market. For those interested in participating, visit this page for more information and to apply now. Applications are open until January 20, 2019.

 

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Ric Edelman’s Advisor Blockchain and Cryptoassets Council Kicks off Barron’s Independent Advisor Summit

Vlad Poptamas

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Ric Edelman, one of the nation’s most prominent financial advisors and creator of The Advisor Blockchain and Cryptoassets Council, held the third meeting of this growing group of influencers on March 20 at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.

Firms presenting at the event included Multicoin Capital, Bitgo, Digital Assets Data, FRST Corporation, ZenLedger, Gemini and Perkins Coie.

Immediately following the morning meeting, ABCC partnered with Barron’s to stage the Blockchain and Cryptoasset pre-event, in conjunction with the Barron’s Top Independent Advisor Summit. The event offered Continuing Education Credits to those in attendance.

Nearly 80% of the financial advisors attending the event said they know little to nothing about blockchain and cryptoassets, and 97 percent said they do not recommend cryptoassets to clients.

“The lack of knowledge by so many of the nation’s leading financial advisors demonstrates the urgency of teaching advisors about this important emerging asset class,” said Edelman, who has been named three times by Barron’s as the nation’s #1 Independent Financial Advisor. He noted that 80 percent of the advisors surveyed said clients are asking them about cryptoassets and added, “Advisors who can’t answer their clients’ questions about bitcoin will lose credibility with their clients, and they may end up losing the clients.”

Edelman gathered experts from many of the leading firms in the field. Kingdom Trust was the premiere sponsor. Additional sponsors included Bitwise Investments, Blockforce Capital, Fidelity Digital Assets, Grayscale Investments, Orion Advisor Services, Pantera Capital, State Street Global Advisors and Van Eck.

ABCC is developing additional conferences. To learn more, go to www.advisorbcc.com.

 

SOURCE Advisor Blockchain and Cryptoasset Council

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European Commission Press Releases

Sustainable Finance: High-Level Conference takes global cooperation on sustainable finance to the next stage

Vlad Poptamas

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The European Commission is today hosting a high-level conference on a global approach to sustainable finance.

In March 2018, the European Union committed to lead the way in reforming the financial system to support the transition towards a sustainable economy, with the adoption of the first ever Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth and the successful first edition of the High-Level Conference on sustainable finance. One year on, today’s conference provides the opportunity to foster international cooperation, explore synergies, and demonstrate strong commitment towards a coherent international financial system that supports channelling private capital towards sustainable projects. This is also part of the Capital Markets Union’s (CMU) efforts to connect finance with the specific needs of the European economy, thereby contributing to the EU’s carbon-neutral agenda.

President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “This conference sends a strong signal about the need to scale up sustainable finance globally. It shows the determination of the EU and its partners to enable the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy, supported by private capital. The establishment of an international network on sustainable finance would support this goal beyond the EU. Given the urgency and importance of this project, I hope this momentum continues well into the next years.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “The European Union will stand by its commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement. As part of this agenda, the EU was an early mover on sustainable finance by recognising that boosting private capital is essential for supporting the transition towards a climate-neutral and sustainable economy. By now, other countries have made substantial progress in this area. It is time for us to join forces and make sustainable finance go global.”

In its recently adopted Reflection Paper Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030, the Commission considered that it would be opportune to establish an international network of jurisdictions from emerging markets, developed and developing countries that are committed to advancing sustainable finance.

Already yesterday, Vice-President Dombrovskis held informal discussions with high-level representatives from leading non-EU jurisdictions, notably Argentina, Canada, China, India, Japan, and Morocco to explore the way forward for establishing such a Network. These discussions were also attended by representatives from international organisations and initiatives. A follow-up meeting at a working-level will be organised shortly.

In this vein, the Commission also welcomes and supports the initiative for a Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, co-led by Finland and Chile, and supported by the World Bank. The Coalition’s work on accelerating the transition to a climate-neutral economy through fiscal and economic policies is much needed and matches with the Commission’s ambition to achieve transition to a climate-neutral economy by 2050. It would complement the Network on sustainable finance, which would focus on coordinating on national and regional financial services policy initiatives that embed sustainability in the financial sector.

Next steps

Given that about €6.2 trillion of annual investment in low-carbon infrastructure, such as energy, transport, buildings and water is needed globally until 2030 to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the objective of scaling up of sustainable finance is of particular importance. In the European Union alone, the achievement of the Paris-aligned energy and climate policy targets will require an additional annual investment of €180 billion between 2021-2030 compared to business as usual. Increasingly stretched public funds will not meet those investment needs alone. The Commission will continue its efforts to maintain strong international cooperation on sustainable finance by working very closely with all relevant international partners, with the aim to achieve greater alignment of the various financial services policy frameworks and tools that embed sustainability in the financial sector.

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European Commission Press Releases

EU budget: Tax cooperation between EU Member States receives welcome boost following funding agreement

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: iisd.org
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The Commission has welcomed today’s provisional agreement to provide funding for the EU’s tax cooperation programme (‘Fiscalis’) during the next EU budget period of 2021-2027.

This agreement paves the way for Fiscalis to continue its key contribution in supporting and ensuring close tax collaboration between Member States. In turn, it helps to establish fairer and more efficient tax systems and lower administrative burdens for citizens and businesses in the EU’s Single Market.

Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici said: “Today’s agreement will allow the Fiscalis programme to continue supporting Member States to work together to find innovative solutions to the problems facing our tax administrations. When coupled with new technology, this work can have a hugely positive effect in our overall fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion, thereby protecting our Single Market. The Fiscalis programme may have a small budget, but it has a big added value.”

The programme will support cooperation between Member States’ tax administrations and better contribute to the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance, by:

  • Putting in place better and more connected IT systems, which each Member State would otherwise have to develop individually. This includes developing and maintaining interoperable and cost-effective IT solutions to support tax authorities in implementing EU legislation;
  • Sharing good practices and training to boost efficiency: this includes helping prevent unnecessary administrative burdens for citizens and businesses (including SMEs) in cross-border transactions and significantly adding to the 423,000 tax professionals trained since 2014;
  • Continued and enhanced support for deep cooperation between tax authorities, in particular joint actions in risk management and audits – 1,000 of which have been organised between Member States since 2014;
  • Fostering Union competitiveness and fair competition, boosting innovation and facilitating the implementation of new economic models.

Next steps

This provisional agreement now has to be formally approved by both the European Parliament and the Council, while the budgetary aspects are subject to the overall agreement on the EU’s next long-term budget, proposed by the Commission in May 2018.

Background

The EU’s Fiscalis Programme has proven itself indispensable in helping tax administrations to cooperate better across the EU to improve tax collection and fight tax fraud. First designed in 1993 purely as a training and exchange programme for tax officials, Fiscalis has become a game-changer for the EU’s taxation landscape over the last 20 years. It offers a flexible and simple environment for tax cooperation, with substantial benefits and impact despite its relatively limited size. In one year alone (2015), it helped Member States to assess over €590 million in taxes for possible recovery through joint EU controls.

Today’s agreement comes at a time where public sentiment against tax avoidance runs high, with 74% of EU citizens calling for EU action against tax avoidance and tax evasion, and with EU governments needing to recoup more than €50 billion a year lost to Value Added Tax (VAT) fraud alone. A strengthened programme will help address this issue. The Fiscalis programme will also offer support in the upcoming challenges of the next decade, such as the digitalisation of taxation activities, new economic models or the internationalisation of financial instruments, which go well beyond the Union borders.

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