Timeframe: April 2 to April 8, 2022
Contributors: Affan Bin Saber, Anika Bushra, Farhan Uddin Ahmed, GM Sifat Iqbal, and Safin Mahmood
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Iran, Saudi Arabia foreign ministers hold landmark meeting in Beijing
Top diplomats from Iran and Saudi Arabia met in Beijing, the first formal meeting between the two countries foreign ministers in more than seven years, CCTV reported.
Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV showed Crown Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdullahian shaking hands and sitting side by side during Thursday’s meeting in the Chinese capital.
Iranian state TV said the two ministers had met to discuss the details of reopening the embassy.
In a joint statement after the meeting, Faisal bin Farhan and Amir Abdullahian said their agreement to normalize relations would help bring “security and stability” to the Middle East.
“The two sides attach importance to the implementation of the Beijing Agreement and its activation to expand areas of mutual trust and cooperation and help build security, stability, and prosperity in the region.”
Thursday’s meeting comes a month after the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties and reopen embassies by May.
Source: TRT World
2. Economics & Business
Substituting imported goods with cosmetics and toiletries from Bangladesh
With increased efforts by local producers on research and innovation to create new goods, the nation’s cosmetics and toiletry products are increasingly replacing the imported ones. Due to the availability of several new and high-quality items on the market, according to industry sources, a sizable portion of customers of personal and homecare products have moved to utilizing locally produced ones.
Prices of international brands became unaffordable for the great majority due to the application of hefty import tariffs on imported personal care products, and industry insiders saw the inflow of fake goods as a significant concern. Once the government levied up to 20% regulatory charge (RD) on the commodities on May 24, 2022, the import of personal care products fell by approximately 50% until February 2023. Data from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) show that from May 2022 to February 2023, the nation imported 11,529.45 tonnes of personal care products worth Tk 9.37 billion, compared to Tk 14.23 billion during the same time last yearThe domestic consumer goods market in Bangladesh is estimated to be worth 500 billion Tk. Food and drink goods make up the remaining Tk 250 billion, while toiletries and cosmetics make up the majority. Three main market players for cosmetics and toiletry products, Unilever Bangladesh Ltd (UBL), Square Toiletries Ltd (STL), and Kohinoor Chemicals Company Bangladesh Ltd, have provided data for the FE correspondent’s sample poll (KCCL). According to Shamima Akhter, director of corporate relations, partnerships, and communications at UBL, Unilever, the leading manufacturer of home and personal care products, more than 95% of its portfolio is now made in the country.Several of the company’s items have become import equivalents throughout the years.Until 2013, a lot of Unilever goods, including Dove Shampoo, were imported into Bangladesh. The firm has been making it locally for the past ten years. In 2015, UBL also introduced the well-known worldwide brand TREsemme Shampoo, which is now produced locally. The locally made goods are also rapidly replacing another item, the moisturizer Pond’s Bright Beauty. The business has introduced 48 new products in the previous five years, including the first mosquito defense lotion ever created.
The country is still relatively high-tariff with a variety of direct and indirect tariffs, according to Zaved Akhtar, CEO and Managing Director of Unilever Bangladesh.”In order for local industries to thrive and serve the home market, the government can streamline the structure of the duties on raw materials. A good illustration are the improvements that have been made in recent years.”As Bangladesh will become a middle-income country, it will need to rationalise many of these to ensure market access, while at the same time protecting internal revenue collection and promoting local industries, he opined.
Source: Financial Express
Eleven Latin American countries announce plan to tame inflation
Leaders of 11 Latin American countries, including its two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico, have announced plans to work together to tackle hyperinflation.
The initiative was unveiled on Wednesday after a virtual meeting convened by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The aim, he said, was to provide access to “food and basic commodities at better prices” through measures such as the removal of import tariffs and other trade barriers.
According to a statement released after the talks, which also included the leaders of Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Venezuela, “reducing the cost of these goods for the poorest and most vulnerable” is a priority. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Islands.
Like the rest of the world, Latin America is suffering from high inflation partly attributed to deficits linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic.
Inflation for the entire region ended 14.8 percent in 2022 and hit nearly 95 percent in Argentina — the highest in more than 30 years, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Source: TRT World
3. Science & Technology
ChatGPT to be blocked in Germany if needed
In comments released on Monday, the German commissioner for data protection said that Germany would restrict ChatGPT due to data security concerns, following Italy’s example.Ulrich Kelber stated, “In principle, such action is also feasible in Germany,” adding that this would nevertheless come under governmental authority. He did not, however, describe any present intentions to carry out such a move.
According to Kelber, Germany has asked Italy for further details behind its interim ban, which forced Microsoft-backed OpenAI to deactivate ChatGPT there. The ChatGPT chatbot from OpenAI is under investigation for allegedly violating the terms of service for data collecting, according to an announcement made last week by Italy’s data protection authorities.The government also charged ChatGPT, which receives funding from Microsoft, with failing to verify the users’ ages. The software is supposedly only available to users who are at least 13 years old. The vast gathering and storing of personal data in order to “train” the algorithms behind the platform’s operation, according to the Italian agency, is not justified by any laws.
According to a UBS research released last month, it is projected to have achieved 100 million monthly active users in January, only two months after introduction, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history.
Source: Gadgets 360
NASA Names Astronauts to Moon Mission in more than 50 years
NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced the four astronauts who will venture around the Moon on Artemis II, the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration through Artemis. The agencies revealed the crew members Monday during an event at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The crew assignments are as follows: Commander Reid Wiseman, Pilot Victor Glover, Mission Specialist 1 Christina Hammock Koch, and Mission Specialist 2 Jeremy Hansen. They will work as a team to execute an ambitious set of demonstrations during the flight test.
The approximately 10-day Artemis II flight test will launch on the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket, prove the Orion spacecraft’s life-support systems, and validate the capabilities and techniques needed for humans to live and work in deep space.
The flight, set to build upon the successful uncrewed Artemis I mission completed in December, will set the stage for the first woman and first person of color on the Moon through the Artemis program, paving the way for future for long-term human exploration missions to the Moon, and eventually Mars.
Plastic wet wipes Ban planned in England to Tackle pollution
England plans to ban wet wipes that contain plastic to curb water pollution, informed the environment minister Therese Coffey. The ban will aid England in improving water quality as the rivers or waterways are considered unclean. As of 2021, around 90% of wipes contained plastic. These plastics do not degrade and clump together over time which clogs sewage and disrupts the pipe’s flow.
Companies such as Boots and Tesco have stopped the sale of wet wipes that have plastic integrated into the products.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is obtained solely from the aforementioned third parties. Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is not responsible for any misinformation or misrepresentation.