World  Business and Economic Analysis 

From lucky to plucky

WHEN people call Australia “The Lucky Country”, they often do not realise that Donald Horne, the writer who coined that phrase in a book of the same name in 1964, meant it as a criticism. “Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck,” he wrote. “It lives on other people’s ideas…” Horne intended the phrase as a warning to Australians, and a plea for more curiosity from its leaders.

The country’s good fortune has long rested on wealth from its mineral resources and farmland. Now, however, with the prices of the commodities it exports hitting rock-bottom, Australians are beginning to realise that more must be done to encourage the formation of innovative businesses. Instead of living on other people’s ideas, in other words, it needs to generate its own.
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Among Australia’s 2.6m registered businesses, the survival rate compares well with America’s and Canada’s, and is better than New Zealand’s. But a study published last month by the government’s Productivity Commission found that few young Australians start their own firms; that only about 0.5% of newly formed businesses are startups as commonly understood (innovative, ambitious and with high growth potential); and that only 1-2% of existing businesses can be described as innovating. This puts Australia on a par with Canada, say, but behind America and Britain. The commission concluded that one reason why Australia lags is that entrepreneurs need “other entrepreneurs nearby to connect and work with.”

Fortunately, Australia now has both a shining example of a tech startup becoming a global success, and a former tech entrepreneur as prime minister. Atlassian, a software firm whose products are used by developers and project managers, listed on the NASDAQ exchange in America last month, making its founders, Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, Australia’s first tech billionaires. And in September Malcolm Turnbull, a lawyer and investor turned politician, unseated Tony Abbott as prime minister and leader of the Liberal Party. In the 1990s Mr Turnbull had made a fortune investing in OzEmail, an Australian internet-service provider.

Atlassian’s blunt slogan befits its Australian roots: “Open company, no bullshit”. Though it has offices in San Francisco, its headquarters remain in Sydney. Its founders, two university friends, started it in 2002 with a A$10,000 (then $5,400) credit-card loan. Fourteen years later, Atlassian’s customers include NASA, Netflix and Facebook and the company is valued at $5.6 billion. “When we began, there was no startup culture in Australia to follow,” says Mr Farquhar. “The attitude, fear of failure, was a problem.” Some say it still is.

Three days before Atlassian’s listing, Mr Turnbull gave a speech that Australian business leaders hailed as a welcome change in official attitudes to promoting innovation. Mr Abbott had cut a backward-looking figure, stopping public funding for wind energy and describing coal as “good for humanity”. Mr Turnbull called for an “ideas boom” to replace mining booms as the country’s new growth source, and told Australians they were falling behind most other rich countries in turning their ideas into commercial ventures. He promised about A$1 billion ($720m) in incentives, including tax breaks for investors in startups and venture-capital partnerships.

Mr Turnbull’s pitch to brand himself as the leader of the future, and to get his compatriots to rethink their “Lucky Country” attitudes, may take more than tax breaks. To begin to create the sort of community of entrepreneurs and innovators the Productivity Commission called for, Atlassian tried to buy a 19th-century former railway workshop near Sydney’s business district. In November, however, the New South Wales state government sold the site instead to a consortium led by Mirvac, a property company.

Mirvac plans to use much of the site for new offices for the Commonwealth Bank, though it will convert a former locomotive shed into spaces for tech firms and other startups. Even so, Mr Farquhar laments the sale as a lost opportunity to build a larger tech ecosystem that could help spawn more companies like his. Australia, he says, must decide if it wants to be a software producer for the world or a consumer, “missing this whole revolution and left wondering how we are going to pay for it”.

Mr Turnbull is putting his faith in a strengthening of links between science and business. He has restored a A$111m budget cut that Mr Abbott made to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s chief science agency, the outfit that invented the technology behind Wi-Fi.

Larry Marshall, the CSIRO’s head, was struck by Australia’s somewhat timid approach to business risk when he returned to his home country in 2015 after working as an entrepreneur for 26 years in Silicon Valley. He suggests would-be tech pioneers could find a model in Australia’s “incredibly risk-tolerant” frontier economy. Facing enormous distances and tough terrain, miners and farmers have survived only by innovating. The CSIRO has, for instance, collaborated with BHP Billiton, Newcrest Mining and others on better ways to drill ores, detect their grades and raise productivity. Cotton farmers now mainly use varieties the CSIRO has developed, which need less water and pesticides to deliver high yields. The challenge, Mr Marshall argues, is to channel the old economy’s risk-taking into new industries in which Australia has a good chance to excel: high-value food and biotechnology.

Some are already following in Atlassian’s wake. Alec Lynch and Adam Arbolino launched DesignCrowd in Sydney eight years ago after an earlier startup failed. Undeterred, Mr Lynch saw a chance to change the “slow, risky and expensive” way people procure projects from local graphic designers. DesignCrowd lets customers set budgets and receive ideas from designers around the world. After self-funding at first, capital came in from local angel investors and Starfish Ventures, a Melbourne venture-capital firm. DesignCrowd now has revenues of almost A$20m a year, four-fifths from outside Australia, and has opened offices in San Francisco and Manila.

Mr Lynch foresees a “mini startup boom” emerging in Australia. And he is optimistic that the interventions of the tech-friendly prime minister can only help Australia go from being the Lucky Country to one that makes its own luck.

Source :Economist


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By: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon



 In his most recent article, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has touched upon the issue of climate change, threats of a warming planet and the need to implement the Paris Agreement. 

Seventy years ago, the United Nations was created from the ashes of the Second World War.  Seven decades later, in Paris, nations have united in the face of another threat – the threat to life as we know it due to a rapidly warming planet.

Governments have ushered in a new era of global cooperation on climate change – one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity.  In doing so, they have significantly advanced efforts to uphold our Charter mandate to "save succeeding generations".

The Paris Agreement is a triumph for people, the environment, and for multilateralism.  It is a health insurance policy for the planet.  For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb their emissions, strengthen resilience and act internationally and domestically to address climate change.

Together, countries have agreed that, in minimizing risks of climate change, the national interest is best served by pursuing the common good.  I believe it is an example we could gainfully follow across the political agenda.

The victory in Paris caps a remarkable year.  From the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, from the historic Sustainable Development Summit in New York to the climate conference in Paris, this has been a year in which the United Nations has proven its ability to deliver hope and healing to the world.

Since my first days in office, I have c alled climate change the defining challenge of our time.  That is why I have made it a top priority of my tenure.  I have spoken with nearly every world leader about the threat climate change poses to our economies, our security and our very survival.  I have visited every continent and met communities living on the climate front-lines.

I have been moved by suffering and inspired by the solutions that will make our world safer and more prosperous.

I have participated in every United Nations climate conference.  The three Climate Summits I convened mobilized political will and catalyzed innovative action by governments, business and civil society.  The Paris Action Agenda, along with the commitments made at last year’s Climate Summit, show that the answers are there.

What was once unthinkable is now unstoppable.  The private sector is already investing increasingly in a low-emissions future.  The solutions are increasingly affordable and available, and many more are poised to come, especially after the success of Paris.

The Paris Agreement delivered on all the key points I called for.  Markets now have the clear signal they need to scale up investments that will generate low-emissions, climate-resilient development.

All countries have agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and, given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees.  This is especially important for the nations of Africa, Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

In Paris, countries agreed on a long-term goal to cap global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in the second half of the century.  One hundred and eighty-eight countries have now submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which show what they are prepared to do to reduce emissions and build climate resilience.

Currently, these national targets have already significantly bent the emissions curve downwards.  But, collectively, they still leave us with an unacceptably dangerous 3 degrees Celsius temperature rise.  That is why countries in Paris pledged that they will review their national climate plans every five years, beginning in 2018.  This will allow them to increase ambition in line with what science demands.

 The Paris Agreement also ensures sufficient, balanced adaptation and mitigation support for developing countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.  And it will help to scale up global efforts to address and minimize loss and damage from climate change.

Governments have agreed to binding, robust, transparent rules of the road to ensure that all countries do what they have said they would do.  Developed countries have agreed to lead in mobilizing finance and to scale up technology support and capacity building.  And developing countries have assumed increasing responsibility to address climate change in line with their capabilities.

In acknowledging this historic achievement, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the leadership and vision of the business community and civil society.  They have highlighted both the stakes and the solutions.  I salute them for their outstanding display of climate citizenship.

Now, with the Paris Agreement in place, our thoughts must immediately turn to implementation.  By addressing climate change we are advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Paris Agreement has positive implications for all the Sustainable Development Goals.  We are poised to enter a new era of opportunity.

As Governments, business and civil society begin the mammoth project of tackling climate change and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations will assist Member States and society at large at every stage.  As a first step in implementing the Paris Agreement, I will convene, as requested by the Agreement and by the Convention, a high-level signing ceremony in New York, on 22 April next year.

I will invite world leaders to come to help keep and increase momentum.  By working together, we can achieve our shared objective to end poverty, strengthen peace, and ensure a life of dignity and opportunity for all.


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Deputy oil minister has announced that Iran will be put back on Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system in the next few days.

“Provided that the US will remain fully committed to JCPOA, the SWIFT will be restored offering the opportunity for economic growth,” noted Mansour Moazemi.

Pointing to the sharp decline in global oil prices, Moazemi said “in order to compensate for the loss in oil incomes, the bulk of country’s non-oil exports needs to increase from 48 billion dollars to 60 to 70 billion dollars.”

He stressed that the lifting of sanctions will offer the possibility to enlarge Iran’s non-oil exports during the post sanction period.

Moazami, who is also head of energy committee of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, noted Iran’s capability to increase daily crude production by 500 barrels emphasizing “in six months’ time after the removal of international sanctions, the goal of increasing daily oil exports by one million barrels will be achieved.”

Deputy petroleum minister for planning and monitoring of hydrocarbon resources refuted the Western media claim that the increase in Iran’s oil exports will cause turbulence in the world market; “the bale should be put on some OPEC countries which have deployed an extra 1.8 million ballers of crude oil to the market.”

“With the sanctions relief, it would become possible to provide financial resources and technology required for oil industry projects,” maintained Moazemi concluding “we need to properly manage imports and use the sanctions removal opportunity to bring new technologies.”



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