In the midst of uncertainties, there’s more to enjoy life with
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2019 - 12:00am

First off, let me wish everyone a sincere greeting for a happy new year. We’ve experienced so many uncertainties in 2018, and while some things seem to be looking to turn for the better, it will certainly not be a walk in the park this year.

Still, in the closing weeks of the year just ended, we were able to see some good news, especially on the international stage.

Crude oil prices had significantly dropped, to a level that was almost the same as 2017 and a couple of years before. Of course, this is no guarantee it will stay as blissfully low priced as we wish. It would be nice, though, if this would be so for the rest of 2019 and beyond.

We heard the leaders of two of the world’s biggest economies calling a truce to a tit-for-tat trade war that has put the rest of the world in tenterhooks. Negotiators on both sides are trying to work out an agreement by the first week of March when the 90-day deadline expires.

The whims of US President Trump, however, hangs like a Damocles’ sword over China’s head, and as the world is now so familiar, one or two tweets from the American leader may abruptly end current trade discussions.

The recent arrest in Canada of Huawei’s chief finance officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is the Huawei founder’s daughter, at the request of US authorities has added uncertainties to the talks. The timing is suspect, having happened right after talks between the US and China started.

So far, China has already withdrawn retaliatory tariffs against US goods and ordered of a big volume of American-made products, even as it formally lodged a demand for Canada and the US to clarify the reason for Meng’s apprehension and detention.

Digital silk road

Meng’s arrest, however, brings to fore the growing distrust by governments of Western countries including the US of a possible security data risk when using Huawei products. There has been no solid proof pointing to this, but the persecution continues.

New Zealand and Australia have already stopped the use of Huawei products from its 5G systems, while Britain’s head of MI6 recently gave a statement leading to the removal of Huawei-made components in its 5G network. The US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Germany have raised concerns.

There are fears that the trade war is turning out to be a digital war, where China’s “digital silk road” initiative is turning out to be a bigger threat as Huawei, the center of China’s tech crown, surges ahead in the 5G and artificial intelligence game.

The good news is that Huawei is making concessions by offering technology reconfigurations to clients in a bid to retain their patronage. Perhaps, this is something that the US has been waiting for to ease its continuing pressure at the negotiating table.

The road to global free trade may hopefully be reopened in the coming months, and economies and business may once again focus on its task of raising productivity that could bring affluence to more people.

Stress test

We take note of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ New Year’s message over the weekend. He spoke about the world undergoing a stress test, with climate change still a very real issue, geo-political divisions becoming even more serious, inequality further deepening, and migration issues escalating as more people seek refuge from wars and a better life.

Guterres enumerated parcels of good news that spell hope for tomorrow. Yemen’s warring tribes have called a ceasefire, and ongoing talks seem more optimistic. The UN has described the Yemen strife as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands of people killed and more than 14 million on the verge of famine after four years of war.

A border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea showed signs of easing with the recent signing of a peace deal. In South Sudan, leaders agreed to stop using violence to resolve political differences. A rulebook that will guide signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change has been signed.

Personal wishes

The world’s problems are truly overwhelming, perhaps seemingly insurmountable. But small successes, no matter how insignificant or minute they may seem, should inspire us to continue trying to improve on just about anything.

Coming up with resolutions at the start of the year may have been replaced by some smart app or tech innovation, and may need not be pledged on the first of January, but as long as it urges us towards the path of self-improvement, let’s do it. Here are a few.

For starters, I resolve to become even more approachable to members of my family, friends and colleagues, to give them quality time and (hopefully) quality advice when needed. Here’s wishing happiness to them in anything they embark to accomplish.

I pledge to continue improving on myself, to never fear asking questions and searching for answers to broaden my understanding of things. It surprises me that I have never considered my age as a barrier to learning more. I hope more people walk this same path.

I pray for an open mind in everything that I undertake. It’s so tempting to sit judgment about an issue or an incident without fully understanding the facts. Then again, it’s so easy to insist on being right even when all indications point to the contrary.

Happy New Year to everyone! There may be more uncertainties to face in 2019, but also a lot more to enjoy life with.

Facebook and Twitter

We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us on www.facebook.com/ReyGamboa and follow us on www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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