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Emerging Markets Daily - August 29
Baghdad Middle East Summit, Crypto Game Attracts Developing World, UAE Opens Travel to Vaccinated, Vietnam and Coffee Supply Chains, Indian App Opens in Nigeria
The Top 5 Stories Shaping Emerging Markets from Global Media - August 29
Baghdad Regional Summit Aims to Build Dialogue Among Rivals
“Senior officials from Saudi Arabia and Iran attended a regional summit together for the first time in more than five years on Saturday as efforts are stepped up to cool tensions in the Middle East.”
“The foreign ministers from the two nations, which cut diplomatic ties at the beginning of 2016, gathered at the conference in Baghdad that was ostensibly intended to rally support for Iraq…”
“Other leaders and officials attending the meeting included those from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, which have endured a particularly bitter relationship in recent years, as well as the heads of state of Qatar and Egypt, two other states that have been adversaries. French President Emmanuel Macron, who backed Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s efforts to host the conference, was also present…”
“Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric who took office this month, has said he will continue negotiations to revive the (nuclear) deal. But he has suggested that regional issues will be the focus of his foreign policy and has promised to extend the ‘hand of friendship’ to Iran’s neighbors.” Andrew England reports.
Crypto Game Draws Players From Developing World Hoping to Cash In
“An ethereum-based game called Axie Infinity has pulled in millions of real-world dollars for the company that created it, with people mostly from developing countries playing with the game's colorful and competitive creatures to try to earn some cash for themselves.”
“Inspired by Pokémon, the Axie Infinity game is experiencing a surge in players seeking to participate in its play-to-earn model. Its growing popularity is part of the reason Sky Mavis, the game's creator, has seen a jump in revenue. The Vietnam-based game studio has logged $485 million in revenue since July, dwarfing the $21 million it had made since launching in 2018, according to a report this week by Bloomberg. Daily active users reached more than 1 million in August.”
“Two crypto analysts told Insider's Vicky Ge Huang about three ways to cash in Axie's growth. Players can earn two types of tokens - Smooth Love Potions and Axie Infinity Shards - through breeding, raising and battling virtual creatures called Axies. The SLP and AXS tokens can be used in the game or can be sold on a crypto exchange. Axies are non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, that can be sold or purchased.”
“The Bloomberg report said most players are based in developing countries whose economies were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Philippines, Brazil and Venezuela. In ‘the pursuit of a new income stream during the COVID pandemic,’ thousands of people from developing countries have been playing the game, according to a white paper updated in December on Axie Infinity's website.”
“A jump in the price of AXS has opened the door for people in struggling economies to earn some money. Demand from the Philippines climbed enough for crypto exchange Binance to offer an SLP-peso trade, the report said, and there's also the lure of cryptocurrencies in places where local currencies are weak.” Business Insider reports.
UAE Opens Up Travel To All Vaccinated People
“The United Arab Emirates will open up tourist visa applications to everyone who has been vaccinated with one of the shots approved by the World Health Organization, a potential boost to the country’s key tourism sector.”
“The decision applies to citizens of all countries, including those arriving from previously banned nations, state-run WAM reported late on Saturday. The move is part of the country’s strategy to support ‘national efforts to achieve sustainable recovery and economic growth,’ the news agency said.”
“The new rules go into effect on August 30. Passengers arriving on tourist visas must register their vaccination status on the government’s health app and undergo rapid testing at the airport, according to WAM.” Adveth Nair reports.
Vietnam Mobility Restrictions Disrupts Global Coffee Supply Chains
VN Express Business News
“Global coffee supply chains have been disrupted due to mobility restrictions in southern Vietnam amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. With export hub Ho Chi Minh City continuing to be under social distancing due to surging number of infections, traders and suppliers told Bloomberg that exporters are struggling to transport beans to its ports for shipment.”
“Shortage of containers and soaring freight rates have worsened the situation. The Vietnam Coffee-Cocoa Association has urged the government to ease the curbs…”
“Vietnam is the second biggest coffee producer globally behind Brazil. Last year its exports fell marginally and were worth $2.74 billion.” VN Express reports.
Speaking of coffee, check out our recent column - “Globalization in a Mug”
And a statistic from the column below: Which countries are most addicted to coffee?
Indian Microblogging App — Koo — Launches in Nigeria
The Independent (Nigeria)
“Koo, a microblogging and social networking app, has launched in Nigeria. Founded in India by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidwatka, the platform is aimed at enabling Nigerians to express themselves in the digital space.”
“This was made known during a virtual media briefing, which held recently to introduce the app into the Nigerian market. Koo was launched in 2020 and allows users to share personal updates and opinions across numerous topics of interest in 400 characters.”
“The microblogging app has since amassed a user base of over 7 million people since its launch, with seven Indian languages as well as English currently available on the platform in India. This has enabled more non-English-speaking Indians to participate in the online dialogue.” Justus Adejumoh reports.
What We’re Also Reading…
US Warns of New Terror Threat in Kabul
“The US warned its citizens to leave the vicinity of Kabul airport immediately owing to ‘a specific, credible threat’ of an imminent attack, with the Taliban scaling up its armed presence around the site ahead of an August 31 deadline for the American withdrawal.”
“The alert from the US embassy in Kabul came hours after President Joe Biden warned that another terror attack in the area was ‘highly likely in the next 24-36 hours’. A suicide bombing on Thursday killed more than 100 Afghans and 13 US troops.”
Hurricane Ida Shuts in US and Oil and Gas Production
S&P Global Platts
“Close to 90% of total US oil and gas production came offline in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Ida by Aug. 28, and Louisiana's refining and petrochemical operators began closing some plants ahead of the heavy winds and storm surge of a major hurricane. Ida is expected to become the first major hurricane of 2021 to significantly impact oil, gas, power and refining operations.”