Tuesday, January 10, 2017

World Bank predicts moderate global growth; China to cut steel, coal output; All Dutch trains now run on wind energy

1 World Bank predicts moderate global growth (BBC) There will be only a moderate pick up in global economic growth during 2017, the World Bank has predicted. Its Global Economic Prospects report is forecasting 2.7% growth compared with the 2.3% seen last year. That slight strengthening will be driven mainly by improvements in emerging markets and developing economies, the Bank says.

But there is heightened uncertainty after the US Presidential election, according to the report. The World Bank's new forecasts suggest we can expect the unconvincing global economic revival following the financial crisis to continue. Last year's growth figure was described as a "post-crisis low", with "anaemic" levels of investment and a further weakening of global trade.

For emerging market and developing economies, the rise in interest rates in the US and the strengthening dollar also led to a "notable tightening of financing conditions" - which means credit that is either more expensive or harder to get. But the Bank still expects growth to accelerate in these countries, partly due to higher commodity prices, such as oil and metals, which many of them export.

The Bank's economists also expect the slowdown in two large emerging economies, Brazil and Russia, to come to an end. For the developed economies the Bank forecasts continued weak growth of around 1.8%. That would be slightly better than 2016, but still slow compared to the period before the crisis.

2 China to cut steel, coal output (San Francisco Chronicle) China's top economic planner has pledged to continue cutting steel and coal production, which have been a source of trade friction with many countries.

China reached targets for cuts in production capacity last year, said Xu Shaoshi, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, adding that hundreds of thousands of steel and coal workers have been transferred to other jobs. Other industries such as cement and glass are also "actively" cutting capacity, Xu said.

China's trade partners accuse the country of dumping excess steel, coal, cement and glass on world markets. US President-elect Donald Trump has engaged in a war of words with Beijing, accusing China of unfair trade practices and threatening punishing tariffs.

When asked about Trump's tariff threats and the possibility that Beijing could launch retaliatory antitrust investigations against U.S. companies in China, Xu told reporters it was "normal" to have differences on trade issues and urged the US and China to "control these issues through dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and equality."

Xu said cutting production capacity of steel by 45 million tons and coal by 250 million tons in 2016 affected the jobs of 800,000 steelworkers and miners, with the government resettling 700,000 of them in new jobs by the end of last year.

He said China's economy is estimated to have grown by roughly 6.7 percent last year, within its official target range of 6.5 to 7 percent.

3 All Dutch trains now powered by wind (The Guardian) All Dutch trains have become 100% powered by electricity generated by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said. “Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon.

Dutch electricity company Eneco won a tender offered by NS two years ago and the two companies signed a 10-year deal setting January 2018 as the date by which all NS trains should run on wind energy.

Eneco and NS said that around 600,000 passengers daily are “the first in the world” to travel thanks to wind energy. NS operates about 5,500 train trips a day. One windmill running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles, the companies said. They hope to reduce the energy used per passenger by a further 35% by 2020 compared with 2005.

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