McKinsey & Company Launches CustomerOne to Help Marketers Unlock Growth

End-to-end personalization and customer value management offering drives a 10 to 20 percent revenue lift for organizations

NEW YORK and LONDON, Nov. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — McKinsey & Company today announced the launch of CustomerOne, a proven approach and comprehensive toolkit designed to help organizations accelerate personalization and customer value management. CustomerOne draws on advanced analytics, ready-to-use assets and tools, and agile principles to optimize each stage of the customer journey. This offering helps organizations shift from business-driven campaigns to customer-centric, data-driven campaigns that are connected, intuitive, and personalized. It is derived from a battle-tested approach that has helped marketing teams realize up to a 10 to 20 percent revenue lift.

End-to-End Personalization, Every Time
Consumers today have a heightened desire for personalization and authenticity – a desire for the right offering, content, and experience. They are fickler, prone to change, and less loyal. Recent McKinsey research shows that roughly 40 percent of consumers have changed brands or retailers over the past 18 months, and more than 80 percent of those intend to continue with these newfound shopping and purchase behaviors.

Many organizations cannot sufficiently respond to their customers’ needs due to​​ isolated and incomplete data, incomplete analytics and insights on their customers, and siloed organizational structures.

CustomerOne delivers business impact by surfacing deep consumer insights, unlocking opportunities quickly through AI-driven technology, and rapidly enhancing the range of tools a team can deploy. It pairs this with a proven agile way of working and approach to capability building – driving lasting impact. Organizations adopting this accelerated path to customer value can realize twice the impact in half the time.

“The leaders who achieve the best results from personalization and customer value management focus on long-term drivers of growth and emphasize customer lifetime value. It’s a force multiplier and a business necessity,” said Greg Kelly, senior partner and global leader for the Marketing & Sales Practice at McKinsey & Company. “Those who can activate the capability at scale can put customer lifetime value on a new trajectory – driving double-digit revenue growth, superior retention, and richer, long-term relationships.”

“The results we’re seeing – for example, driving a threefold increase of cross-product sales at a telco provider – are a testament to the power of CustomerOne. This approach delivered more than $100 million in less than 20 weeks at an iconic retailer and reduced mortgage churn at a retail bank by 20 percent.”

Personalization Propels Outperformance
By combining a robust and agile operating model with cross-functional capability building to get personalized marketing into production, marketing teams can focus on rapid activation, testing and learning, and driving impact.

Furthermore, CustomerOne gives organizations direct access to McKinsey’s exceptional specialized functions and disciplines, with more than 2,000 marketing experts and more than 180 advanced analytics practitioners.

Five ways CustomerOne helps unlock growth:

  • It uses state-of-the-art machine learning and advanced analytics, powered by QuantumBlack, to quickly identify and size specific areas where personalization and customer value management can drive disproportionate value.
  • It uses thousands of algorithms and actionable insights to accelerate value capture – all in a matter of weeks.
  • It works with any martech stack to drive dynamic segmentation, real-time decisions, and cross-channel “last-mile” delivery.
  • It uses an agile operating toolkit that has been tested by more than 300 marketing squads, allowing teams to mobilize from day one using out-of-the-box assets, boot-camp-style training, and proprietary workflow-management tool.
  • It includes cross-functional capability building which empowers teams to run on their own and outperform market disruptors.

About McKinsey & Company
McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm committed to helping organizations realize sustainable, inclusive growth. We work with clients across the private, public, and social sectors to solve complex problems and create positive change for all their stakeholders. We combine bold strategies and transformative technologies to help organizations innovate more sustainably, achieve lasting gains in performance, and build workforces that will thrive for in this generation and the next.

About Marketing & Sales, McKinsey & Company
The mission of the McKinsey Marketing & Sales Practice is to help leaders of both consumer and business-to-business clients create Growth that Matters through meaningful transformations and marketing-driven profit. The practice helps its clients set their strategic direction, develop their marketing and sales capabilities, and connect their organization to realize the full potential of today’s omnichannel opportunities. Clients benefit from McKinsey’s experience in core areas of marketing such as branding, customer insights, marketing ROI, digital marketing, CLM pricing, and sales and channel management.

For further information please contact:
Media Contacts
US : DiGennaro Communications: MaryLiz Ghanem McKinsey-DiGennaro@digennaro-usa.com / 917-518-8422
UK : 3THINKRS : Ruth Jones / Becca Ross mckinsey@3thinkrs.com / 0208 0872843

South African Qualification Authority and World Education Services Partner to Facilitate Qualifications Recognition for Refugees and Displaced People in South Africa

OTTAWA, Nov. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Last night, at the Groningen Declaration Network annual meeting, the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) and World Education Services (WES) signed a partnership agreement that will ensure eligible refugees and displaced individuals can have their qualifications assessed and recognized in South Africa.

A significant number of individuals seeking SAQA’s foreign evaluation services are refugees and those who have been forcibly displaced. They often face challenges in meeting SAQA’s application criteria to have their qualifications assessed for recognition.

WES will serve as a collaborative partner to SAQA in developing a pilot initiative in line with its Recognition Model for Refugees and Asylum Seekers to assess and recognize the credentials of those with incomplete or partial documentation. The one-year pilot will begin in 2022 to develop a customized model for South Africa that incorporates global best practices–including the methodology developed by WES through its Gateway Program, the UNESCO Qualifications Passport, as well as practices from the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). This unique pilot in South Africa will build on established practices and expand into the principles of RPL (recognition of prior learning)-informed documentation process used by WES in its assessment of credentials and qualifications of refugees and displaced individuals.

WES developed a recognized model for evaluating incomplete or partial documentary evidence in 2016. Canada was welcoming thousands of Syrian refugees who were educated and skilled but left their home with little to nothing. They faced challenges in proving their academic qualifications which was preventing them from being able to continue their education or find employment in Canada. After a successful pilot, the program scaled to what is now the WES Gateway Program that assesses the educational credentials of individuals in the U.S. and Canada who have been displaced due to adverse circumstances in their country of education and have limited proof of academic achievements.

“There are millions of people across the globe who are being forcibly displaced. It is imperative that there are appropriate systems in place to ensure that education and skills are recognized—no matter where someone lands. WES is honored to work with SAQA in building and testing a method that works for South Africa,” says WES’ CEO and Executive Director, Esther T. Benjamin.

In her statement, SAQA CEO, Dr Julie Reddy added, “SAQA is committed to providing lifelong learning opportunities, and enabling access to meaningful and sustainable livelihood opportunities to all people who live in South Africa. We welcome this opportunity to work with WES on this exciting and innovative project to validate and recognise the qualification achievements of the refugee community in South Africa.”

About WES

WES is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees to achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. For more than 45 years, WES has set the standard of excellence in the field of international academic credential evaluation. Through WES Global Talent Bridge, the organization joins with institutional partners, community-based organizations, and policymakers to help immigrants and refugees who hold international credentials fully to utilize their talents and education to achieve their academic and professional goals. Its philanthropic arm, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, supports catalytic leaders and organizations working to build inclusive economies and to ensure that immigrants and refugees can achieve their aspirations and thrive.

About SAQA

SAQA is a statutory entity that was established over 25 years ago to design and implement a transformative National Qualifications Framework to reform and integrate a fractured education and training system. It is the only entity mandated by the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to provide an evaluation and advisory service to recognise the foreign qualifications of its citizens and foreign persons who seek to pursue further studies and work opportunities in South Africa. SAQA is a key player in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Convention which provides a framework for the recognition of academic qualifications throughout Africa and has a special clause on creating a special dispensation for the recognition of qualifications of refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced persons.

For more information, contact: Anne Greenwood, Associate Director, Strategic Communications and Marketing, Canada, World Education Services. T: 416.972.5045 E: agreenwood@wes.org

Noteworthy Renal Research Progress Highlighted by George Clinical Scientific Leaders During ASN Kidney Week

OVERLAND PARK, KS., Nov. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — New kidney and metabolic research involving George Clinical teams and scientific leaders has received global attention during the 2021 American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week including contributions featured as abstracts, poster sessions, publications and presentations.

Despite the restrictions of a global pandemic, meaningful renal clinical research has advanced with the support of the organization over the past year with a broad set of studies concluding or continuing in chronic kidney disease (CKD), IgA nephropathy (IgAN), and a large-scale pooled analyses on kidney health outcomes.

Scientific leaders Vivekanand Jha, MD and Hiddo Jan L Heerspink, PhD authored posters, oral abstracts and spoke on panels of international interest.  Demonstrating the depth and breadth of ongoing renal research Professor Jha’s contributions included the Effects of daprodustat on Hemoglobin and Quality of Life in Patients with CKD: Results of the ASCEND-NHQ, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study for which George Clinical provided scientific leadership and project operations.  Professor Heerspink’s widespread renal progress evaluated new therapies for IgAN, the effects of multiple medications for patients with CKD and biomarkers that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of new renoprotective drugs.

“This impressive collection of studies represent not only the vanguard of renal clinical research but also meaningful progress in the field that will positively impact patient care and advance subsequent research for years to come,” said Chief Medical Officer Maria Ali.

In addition, the work of several other George Clinical scientific leaders and cross-functional teams was presented comprising: Dr. Jonathan Barratt’s work with The ALIGN study, a Phase 3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Atrasentan in patients with IgAN for which George Clinical provides scientific leadership and Dr. David Wheeler’s work on the effects of canagliflozin (CANA) on kidney outcomes which is a pooled analyses from the CANVAS and CREDENCE programs where George Clinical provides global scientific leadership, steering committee management, endpoint adjudication, and operational support.

Kidney and metabolic scientific leaders Dr. Martin Gallagher Dr. Adrian Liew, Dr. Roberto Pecotis-Filho and Dr. Muh Geot Wong also were highlighted for their work in numerous studies during Kidney Week.

About George Clinical

George Clinical is a leading global clinical research organization founded in Asia-Pacific driven by scientific expertise and operational excellence.  With over 20 years of experience and more than 350 people managing 38 geographical locations throughout the USA, Asia-Pacific region and Europe, George Clinical provides the full range of clinical trial services to biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic customers, for all trial phases, registration and post-marketing trials.

 

Contact:          mreabold@georgeclinical.com

Website:          https://www.georgeclinical.com

LinkedIn:         https://www.linkedin.com/company/george-clinical-pty-ltd

Twitter:            https://twitter.com/george_clinical

Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/georgeclinical

 

For more information, contact:

Donna McDonnell

Business Development Administrator

M +1-901-229-5345

dmcdonnell@georgeclinical.com

georgeclinical.com | georgeinstitute.org

Donna McDonnell
George Clinical
901-229-5345
dmcdonnell@georgeclinical.com

Digihost to Commence Trading on Nasdaq on Monday, November 15

TORONTO, Nov. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Digihost Technology Inc. (“Digihost” or the “Company”) (TSXV: DGHI; OTCQB: HSSHD), an innovative North American-based Bitcoin self-mining company, today announced that the Company has been approved to list on the Nasdaq Capital Market (“Nasdaq”), and that trading on Nasdaq is expected to begin on Monday, November 15, 2021, under the symbol “DGHI.” The ticker used for Digihost’s shares traded over-the-counter (OTC) under the current symbol “HSSHD” will seamlessly transition to the new ticker symbol “DGHI” on the first day of trading on Nasdaq. Digihost will also retain its listing on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol “DGHI.”

The Company expects the Nasdaq listing to enhance its investor profile and increase liquidity for its shareholders.

“A key goal of Digihost has been to provide our investors with greater liquidity through the listing of our shares on a major United States stock exchange. We believe that uplisting the Company’s shares from the OTC market to Nasdaq will also provide the Company with increased access to capital and institutional recognition. We are excited about this significant milestone for the Company and our shareholders and look forward to continuing to implement our growth strategy and building value for our shareholders,” commented Michel Amar, the Company’s CEO.

H.C. Wainwright & Co. served as advisor to Digihost in connection with the Nasdaq listing, and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP represented the Company as U.S. legal counsel in connection with the Nasdaq listing. Peterson McVicar LLP serves as Canadian counsel to the Company.

About Digihost Technology Inc.

Digihost Technology Inc. is a growth-oriented blockchain technology company primarily focused on Bitcoin mining. Through its self-mining operations and joint venture agreements, the Company is currently hashing at a rate of 400PH with plans to expand to a hashrate of 3.6 EH by the end of 2022.

For further information, please contact:

Digihost Technology Inc.
www.digihost.ca
Michel Amar, Chief Executive Officer
T: 1-818-280-9758
Email: michel@digihostblockchain.com

Cautionary Statement
Trading in the securities of the Company should be considered highly speculative. No stock exchange, securities commission or other regulatory authority has approved or disapproved the information contained herein. Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Forward-Looking Statements
Except for the statements of historical fact, this news release contains “forward-looking information” and “forward-looking statements” (collectively, “forward-looking information”) that are based on expectations, estimates and projections as at the date of this news release. Forward-looking information in this news release includes expectations in respect to listing and trading on Nasdaq and future plans and objectives of the Company. Other forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning: hashrate expansion, diversification of operations, potential further improvements to profitability and efficiency across mining operations, potential for the Company’s long-term growth, and the business goals of the Company factors that could cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those described in such forward-looking information include, but are not limited to: trading volume, volatility and other factors affecting liquidity and prices for the common shares on Nasdaq; continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may have a material adverse effect on the Company’s performance as supply chains are disrupted and prevent the Company from operating its assets; a decrease in cryptocurrency pricing, volume of transaction activity or generally, the profitability of cryptocurrency mining; further improvements to profitability and efficiency may not be realized; the digital currency market; the Company’s ability to successfully mine digital currency on the cloud; the Company may not be able to profitably liquidate its current digital currency inventory, or at all; a decline in digital currency prices may have a significant negative impact on the Company’s operations; the volatility of digital currency prices; and other related risks as more fully set out in the Annual Information Form of the Company and other documents disclosed under the Company’s filings at www.sedar.com. The forward-looking information in this news release reflects the current expectations, assumptions and/or beliefs of the Company based on information currently available to the Company. Although the Company believes that the assumptions inherent in the forward-looking information are reasonable, forward-looking information is not a guarantee of future performance and accordingly undue reliance should not be put on such information due to the inherent uncertainty therein.

Barrows Hotel Enterprises Focuses on Hotel Improvements

Barrows Chairman Erwin Jager

Chairman and CEO Erwin Jager of Barrows Hotel Enterprises

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Barrows, the provider of hotel investment and advisory services for hotels in the Middle East and Africa is expanding its professional core activities with Property Improvement Projects and Hotel Improvement Projects As part of the preparations for the scheduled SPAC Merger in 2023.

The organization has been involved in hotel investments since 2008 and advising hotel operators on acquisitions and operational issues. Now that the market is moving strongly, the company sees enormous growth opportunities in the Middle East and Africa to accelerate the implementation of the PIP and HIP activities according to Barrows Chairman Erwin Jager.

Significant investments have been made in recent months in new software that monitors the project management processes of PIPs and HIPs. The first agreements for PIPs have been signed by the various hotel operators and will provide a lot of work for Barrows in the coming months.

“The company will undergo a transition in the next 6 months in its core activities that should increase sales and profits. In addition to the PIP and HIP activities, we are focusing strongly on restructuring 4 and 5 star hotels that have problems as a result of lack of succession, financing problems or other management issues. It is precisely with these activities that we can add our value. We know the market inside out and can apply a wide range of solutions that increase the value of real estate and the operational activities.

The company aims to grow in the coming years through acquisitions within the industry. There is an enormous oversupply of hotels in the market, making improvement plans an absolute necessity to guarantee guest satisfaction and continuity in occupancy. The technology offers so many opportunities that we need to scale up without any doubt. We have no time to lose if we want to achieve our goal,” said Erwin Jager.

Barrows Hotel Enterprises internationally manages over 10,000 hotel rooms in more than 10 countries. The company started in 2008 as a real estate investor in the residential market in Dubai. Since 2012, Barrows has changed its strategy and today the company is fully focused on the fast-growing hotel industry in the MENA region.

For more information:
media@barrowshotels.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/9793e80e-4832-4c08-9369-ae1fa3710bfb

Cambodia Hits Back at US Sanctions Over Naval Base

Cambodia on Friday angrily condemned a U.S. decision to sanction two senior military officials over a contentious naval base, accusing Washington of showing “utter contempt” for its sovereignty.

The U.S. Treasury Department this week announced it was freezing any U.S. assets and criminalizing transactions with senior defense ministry official Chau Phirun and naval commander Tea Vinh over alleged corruption linked to the Ream Naval Base.

Washington accused the pair, along with other Cambodian officials, of conspiring to inflate costs at the base to pocket the proceeds.

“Cambodia strongly deplores the long-arm jurisdiction of the United States over Cambodian officials on the basis of groundless allegations driven by geopolitical motives,” the Cambodian foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The smear campaign and unilateral sanction of the United States against public figures of a sovereign state… [displays] an utter contempt for the independence of another country as well as acts as a serious interference in its domestic affairs,” the statement said.

The Cambodian foreign ministry also warned that the move was “another step in the wrong direction” for ties between the two countries.

The base on the Gulf of Thailand has been a running sore in U.S.-Cambodia relations in recent years, with Washington suspecting it is being converted for use by China.

Cambodia has been dismantling facilities at the base that were built partly with American money and played host to U.S. exercises.

Satellite imagery taken in August showed the construction of two new buildings, likely indicating that China is pushing ahead on a new agreement, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Hun Sen has repeatedly denied his country would host the Chinese military at the base.

Senior U.S. officials have warned Cambodia that hosting a Chinese base would damage relations with Washington.

China has been increasingly assertive over its extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, raising tensions with numerous Asian nations, but Cambodia has increasingly appeared as an ally.

Source: Voice of America

Dog therapy pilot project to be launched in two Thai prisons

Thailand’s Department of Corrections is working on the launch of a pilot dog therapy project in prisons in Nakhon Ratchasima, Ratchaburi and Rayong provinces, according to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin.

He said that the project could help in improving the mental health of inmates and provide job opportunities for prisoners in pet grooming services, such as haircutting, dog bathing and nail trimming, after they are released from prisons.

He said that the pilot project, to be launched at Nakhon Ratchasima, Klong Pai, Rayong and Khao Bin prisons, will initially focus on aging inmates, those who repeatedly violate prison regulations and psychiatric prisoners.

The dogs will be specially selected to suit the prisoner volunteers, with the help of a pet dog association, said Somsak, adding that progress will be assessed regularly and, if the pilot is a success, it will be expanded to other prisons.

The project is based on Thailand’s Department of Mental Health’s 2018 republication of a 2014 study called “The Benefit of Pet and Animal-Assisted Therapy to the Health of Older Individuals”, conducted by E. Paul Cherniack and his team from the the University of Miami (UM) Miller School of Medicine to determine the effectiveness of pet therapy in treating depression and psychiatric problems among aging people.

The study showed that pets can help improve the mental health of patients and address loneliness and separation from society.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

U.S. journalist jailed for 11 years in army-ruled Myanmar

A court in military-ruled Myanmar on Friday jailed American journalist Danny Fenster for 11 years, his lawyer and his employer said, despite U.S. calls for his release from what it said was unjust detention.

Fenster, 37, the managing editor of online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was found guilty of incitement and violations of immigration and unlawful associations laws, his magazine said, describing the sentences as “the harshest possible under the law”.

He is the first Western journalist sentenced to prison in recent years in Myanmar, where a Feb. 1 coup by the military against an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi ended a decade of tentative steps towards democracy and triggered nationwide protests.

“There is absolutely no basis to convict Danny of these charges,” said Thomas Kean, editor-in-chief of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s top independent news outlets.

“Everyone at Frontier is disappointed and frustrated at this decision. We just want to see Danny released as soon as possible so he can go home to his family.”

Fenster was arrested while trying to leave the country in May and has since been held in Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, where hundreds of opponents of the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, were jailed, many beaten and tortured, during decades of dictatorship.

He was charged with additional, and more serious, offences of sedition and violations of the terrorism act earlier this week, without an explanation by authorities. Those charges are punishable by a maximum 20 years in prison each.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said Fenster’s jailing was also intended as warnings to the United States and the media.

“The junta’s rationale for this outrageous, rights abusing sentence is first to shock and intimidate all remaining Burmese journalists inside Myanmar by punishing a foreign journalist this way,” he said.

“The second message is more strategic, focused on sending a message to the U.S. that the Tatmadaw’s generals don’t appreciate being hit with economic sanctions and can bite back with hostage diplomacy,” he said.

‘PLAIN TO SEE’

Fenster’s family has repeatedly called for his release, saying they were heartbroken about his detention.

His trial had not been made public and a spokesman for the junta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States has been pushing for Fenster’s release. The U.S. embassy in Myanmar did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s verdict.

The State Department had earlier said his detention was “profoundly unjust” and “plain for the world to see”, urging the junta to release him immediately.

The American is among dozens of journalists who were detained in Myanmar after protests and strikes erupted following the coup, hampering the military’s efforts to consolidate power. Independent media has been accused by the junta of incitement.

More than 1,200 civilians have been killed in protests and thousands detained since the coup, according to activists cited by the United Nations.

Myanmar authorities overlooked Fenster in a recent amnesty for hundreds of people detained over anti-junta protests, which included some journalists.

During nearly half a century of harsh rule by the military, news reporting was tightly controlled by the state but Myanmar’s media blossomed after the quasi-civilian government introduced tentative reforms from 2011.

Since the February coup, however, the military has rescinded media licenses, curbed the internet and satellite broadcasts and arrested dozens of journalists, in what human rights groups have called an assault on the truth.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report in July that Myanmar’s rulers had effectively criminalised independent journalism.

Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, called the sentence a “reprehensible outcome” in a deeply flawed case.

“Danny should have never been arrested in the first place and to sentence him to a combined 11 years shows how far Myanmar authorities are willing to go to signal that they do not respect independent media,” she said.

Frontier Myanmar’s publisher, Sonny Swe, who spent eight years in prison during the previous era of military rule, announced Fenster’s imprisonment on Twitter under the message: “A lot of things are going so wrong in this country.”

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Biden, Xi Support APEC Declaration Ahead of US-China Summit

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies concluded their virtual APEC Leaders’ Meeting on Friday, agreeing on a series of commitments regarding the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery and climate change mitigation.

Following the meeting chaired by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, leaders adopted a declaration under the theme of “Join, Work, Grow. Together,” which highlights policy actions to respond to COVID-19.

According to organizers, the declaration “lays out commitments in accelerating economic recovery and achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, including further actions in tackling climate change, empowering groups with untapped economic potential, supporting the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises and addressing the digital divide.”

The 21 APEC member economies account for nearly 3 billion people and about 60 percent of global GDP, spanning the Pacific Rim from Chile to Russia to Thailand to Australia.

Officials said they made significant progress during some 340 preliminary meetings. APEC members had agreed to reduce or eliminate many tariffs and border holdups on vaccines, masks and other medical products important to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The APEC meeting came on the heels of an unexpected U.S.-China declaration made Wednesday at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, where the world’s two biggest CO2 emitters said they would work together to achieve the goal set out in the 2015 Paris climate agreement of limiting warming since pre-industrial times to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) by the end of the century.

While the declaration was thin on details, Washington and Beijing pledged to cooperate on cutting emissions and to create a joint working group that will meet regularly to address the climate crisis over the next decade. Analysts called these small positive signs ahead of the Biden-Xi virtual summit scheduled for Monday.

The Glasgow statement moves the two countries significantly back toward a cooperative relationship in the many areas where Biden and Xi have complementary or similar interests, said Charles Morrison, adjunct senior fellow at the East-West Center, a research group established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and the United States.

“What I would like to see is a collaborative examination of where they have common ground and next an implementation strategy,” Morrison added.

According to the White House, during his address at the virtual meeting, Biden “underscored his commitment to strengthening our relationship with APEC economies in order to advance fair and open trade and investment, bolster American competitiveness, and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Xi’s pledge

Xi made a similar pledge in his address, saying China would “unswervingly” expand its opening up to the outside world and share China’s development opportunities with the world and Asia-Pacific countries, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Jennifer Bouey, Tang chair for China policy studies at the RAND Corporation, an American global policy research group, noted, however, that Beijing recently passed two new privacy and security laws that limit data sharing under the pretext of national security and the public interest.

“They also become a barrier for China’s collaboration not only with the U.S. but with the world at large,” Bouey said.

Issues remain

APEC members failed to reach a consensus on a U.S. proposal to host APEC gatherings in 2023. Russia rejected the bid because of a U.S. blacklist of its diplomats set in April, when Washington sanctioned the Kremlin for interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and hacking federal agency systems.

“The Russians simply did not want to accept the United States’ ability to make persona non grata for the Russian so-called diplomats who are no longer welcome in the United States, and the United States was not going to negotiate over security issue,” said Patrick Cronin, the Asia-Pacific security chair at the Hudson Institute, a Washington research group.

There are no other bidders to host the 2023 meetings, though APEC works on a consensus basis so all members must agree.

“One economy is still undergoing consultations and has not yet joined consensus,” a White House official told VOA. “We hope this impasse is resolved quickly to ensure we can continue the positive momentum on economic cooperation through APEC.”

Meanwhile, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen used the APEC meetings to rally support for her bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade pact that Beijing also is seeking to be a part of. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province and has vowed to block Taipei’s bid.

Lengthy process

CPTPP members likely will negotiate with Beijing and settle on the issue of Chinese membership first before Taiwan’s bid — a process likely to take years.

“It needs approval from, among others, Japan, Canada and Australia, none of which are inclined to roll out the red carpet for China right now,” said Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center, a global policy group in Washington.

Daly said there’s a chance, however, that more countries gradually will come to accommodate China.

“We know that China is patient, that they are gradualist, and that they will work with the other parties, one by one,” he said. “And China goes into this still as the leading trading nation in the world, and the lodestone of Asian economics.”

The Biden administration has not indicated interest in joining CPTPP, the 11-nation trade pact formed in 2018 after former President Donald Trump in 2017 pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama to deepen U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region and counter China’s growing influence there.

Source: Voice of America

Anti-establishment group protests charter court’s ruling in Bangkok

A group of anti-establishment protesters under the umbrella name “Ratsadon” (the people) gathered in front of the Criminal Court in Bangkok on Friday to push their demands for reform of Thailand’s monarchy, following a controversial ruling by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday.

In the decision on Wednesday, the court found that three core Ratsadon leaders had attempted to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, through speeches they gave in August last year in which they demanded reform of the royal institution.

The ruling has since drawn much criticism from the anti-establishment movement and sparked much debate on the definition of ‘reform’ and ‘abolition’.

Wanwalee Thamsattaya, one of the movement’s leaders, spoke in front of the Criminal Court today, protesting that those who had given those speeches were merely exercising their rights and freedoms. Their demand for reform, however, has since been perceived by some as a form of treason, she said.

Today, the protesters also read a statement in English, in an attempt to communicate with the international community. It highlighted their desire to reform the royal institution’s budget allocation, to allow criticism of the monarchy and to reform the country’s controversial lèse majesté legislation.

Police were deployed to secure the court premises and to direct traffic in the area, but the protest ended peacefully, with no reports of clashes between the demonstrators and the authorities.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service