How Come Block Chain Changes the World?

Have you ever heard of Block chain before? What exactly is Bloch Chain? How does it work?

Most people automatically associate Block Chain with Bitcoin. In reality, Bitcoin is just a subset of Block Chain – that is, Block chain is the platform that enables Bitcoin and other crypto currencies to be exchanged. 

In its elemental form, Block chain is a decentralized database system. Ledgers that store transaction data, are distributed across many nodes.

For example, think of a bank branch as a node. When you visit your local bank and deposit a sum of money, a transaction occurs. The bank verified the authenticity of the payment, records the transaction, and updates your account. Any problem with this process?

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Whenever you would like to engage in some form of trade and transfer ownership of an asset to another party, both you and the recipient must go through the bank to collectively approve of the transaction. The bank is the only (centralized) database storing your account information — it is a necessary third party for trades to occur. While banks have rules in place to control and govern the handling of money, it is difficult and costly to audit and prevent manipulation from happening. In essence the current system is slow, prone to errors, and liable to system tampering.

Block chain removes the need for a third-party intermediary to facilitate transactions of value, while also adding a layer of anonymity. When I engage in a transaction, my asset ownership information is already stored under a pseudonym. The network of Block chain nodes verifies my account, checking to see if my proposed transaction is in fact legal and feasible. When a valid transaction takes place, a series of mathematical principles cryptographically sign the data, providing a permanent stamp of approval. This data is then "hashed" onto the node's ledger, thus forming an immutable "chain" of transaction records. 

If I try to engage in fraud, or transfer money that I do not own, the nodes will instantly recognize this and halt the transaction.

How do Nodes Verify Transactions?

The truly disruptive potential of Block chain lies in its ability to provide a universal truth. When an individual node confirms a transaction, it will then notify every other node in the Block chain system, leading to every node's database being updated to account for the most recent transaction. This is why Block chain is often referred to as a distributed ledger system; each node contains the most up-to-date history of transactions. When all nodes in a system are agreeing with each other, there is only one source of truth.

Why is this significant?

Block chain is essentially impervious to fraud and corruption. If you tried to hack a specific node and change the details of a transaction (redirecting payments to another account, double-spending your money, or increasing the amount of money transferred), you'll find the task is near impossible to accomplish. Never mind the technical complexities of hacking a node. The reason you cannot change a transaction once it has been hashed, is that all decentralized nodes contain the same version of the (public) ledger. If there are 1000 nodes in a Block chain system, and you managed to hack one node, any revisions you make would automatically disagree with the ledger information stored in the other 999 nodes. If the nodes fail to reach a consensus, the proposed transaction is automatically stopped, thus drastically reducing fraud risk.

A New Age of Transparency?

Block chain is the harbinger of transparency. With all transaction records displayed in public, money laundering and fraudulent activities can be seriously reduced.  This may have major implications for corporations and governments, as corruption would easily be exposed. A public ledger truly democratizes knowledge and may lead to more efficient markets.

This is an important, albeit small subset of what Block chain can accomplish. Any transaction that involves an exchange can theoretically utilize Block chain; from capital markets to healthcare and voting, the possibilities are limitless.

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BHP sees softer iron ore market

Foreign trade has entered a difficult environment, how do you see the foreign trade iron ore industry? Mining giant BHP Billiton said it expected a slightly softer iron ore market in 2018, given construction is likely to grow at a slower pace globally.

"The iron ore market in 2018 will be volatile and more focused on high-quality products," said Arnoud Balhuizen, chief commercial officer of BHP.
"The change of China's development blueprint of focusing on economic quality and sustainability, from economic speed, has had an effect on the sector in the past year," Balhuizen said.

"Trends toward low emissions and high-quality products ask for more high-quality resources, and BHP is a company with lots of resources, which makes us a natural partner for Chinese companies."

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Australia said on Monday that it expected iron ore prices rise to average $51.50 a metric ton this year. That's a 20 percent decrease from 2017, thanks to rising global supply and moderating demand from top importer China, as its steel sector shrinks.

The China Iron and Steel Association also said it believed imported iron ore prices will not continue to rise, due to rising supply, high port inventories and more available steel scrap.

The rise in imported iron ore prices in the past couple of months was abnormal and the industry must be sober-minded about the oversupply of imported iron ore in the long term, said Jin Wei, head of the association, at a meeting held in Beijing on Saturday.

According to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Friday, China's iron ore imports increased by 5 percent year-on-year in 2017, hitting a record high of 1.08 billion tons.

But Balhuizen said, considering the market in 2017 was stronger than the previous year, consumption continues to be strong, and the robust demand from China's Belt and Road Initiative, he remains confident in the company's business and cooperation with China in the upcoming year.

BHP said that it expected projects involved with the Belt and Road Initiative will drive up to 150 million tons of steel demand, which will positively affect BHP's global business layout.

Of that amount, 80 percent would be used in structures and reinforced concrete, with 20 percent going into machinery and other equipment. Spread over a 10-year period, this amounts to an additional 15 million tons per annum, or 3 to 4 percent incremental demand growth for steel in regions participating the Belt and Road Initiative, the company said.

The demand for infrastructure investment in countries and regions participating the initiative is huge, and such investment will drive significant demand for construction materials and equipment, leading to an increase in direct and indirect demand for steel, Balhuizen said.

"This is a considerable lift, as it doubles the growth rate of local steel demand observed since 2011, and we firmly believe that China will double its accumulated stock of steel in use, which is currently between five and six tons per capita," he said.

According to the Mining giant BHP Billiton, Chinese steel production is yet to peak and it will be increase in 2018.

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How can You Find Products for Your Import Business

How to find goods for your import business? You have six options:

Travel abroad on an import search mission.
Wait for foreign manufacturers to contact you.
Attend trade shows.
Contact foreign embassies' trade development offices.
Contact the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration.
Track down lead on the internet and in trade publications.

Traveling abroad is, in most people's minds, the most delightful of all these options. It's not always practical in terms of time, money or other commitments you may have, such as your day job or family, but it's not a must, either, so don't fret if you can't manage it.

The big plus is that you can view foreign products in a realistic setting, checking out what sells where, why and for how much. You may know here at home, for example, that Swiss watches and Japanese electronics are top sellers, but so does everybody else. But if you travel in Mexico, for example, you'll see that everybody on every street corner is savoring paletas, frozen Popsicle-type treats made with fresh fruit and cream. If you put this person-on-the-street observation together with your own domestic observation that smoothies--fresh fruit and yogurt frozen drinks--are the rage, you might decide that paletas could be a good import.

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If you're interested in general merchandise, traveling in search of goods can be the best way to garner immediate results. As in domestic exporting, there are many manufacturers out there who've never considered selling their products abroad, even though the market may be extremely profitable. And the most effective way to find these companies is through
field research.

But keep this caveat in mind: Don't limit yourself by looking only at what products you want to import. Consider also what kinds of strategies you'll use to make your profits. Are you more interested in importing products with brand-name identities, or do you lean toward low price and high volume?

If you're going with the low-price/high-volume route, you'll want to focus on countries that are low-cost-goods producers, like China, India, and Mexico. Because these countries usually have emerging economies, your importing mission (indeed your entire trip) may be a little more complicated and require a little more patience. But don't be daunted. This is the stuff of adventure. And if you're not the adventurous type, think about this: The potential profits in these types of ventures are often much greater for the newbie importer than going with the brand-name route.

Trade shows are a terrific way to meet foreign manufacturers, distributors and representatives. Like church-sponsored singles dances, everybody there is in attendance for the purpose of attracting somebody else. So get out there and mingle!

Foreign trade shows or fairs, set up by foreign governments to showcase their own manufacturers, are held to tempt you, the potential importer. You'll have to travel abroad to attend some shows. Others come to you. Call the embassy or consulate of the country you're interested in to find out when and if they have trade shows scheduled and where.

While you're making those calls to consulates and embassies, ask for their trade development office. Many countries and geographic regions sponsor offices where you can find specific information on manufacturers of everything from toothpicks to truck tires to fur coats. Often a single phone call is all it takes to get a long list of suppliers eager to do business with importers. Don't be shy. These people are on the job just to match you with a supplier back home. Let them get to work!

The government's International Trade Administration can also help you locate various trade groups and development agencies that will help you find specific kinds of manufacturers or suppliers.

Like a good bounty hunter, you'll want to explore every avenue. Don't forget the many terrific online trade lead sites. Especially when you want to buy products from China, you can’t miss sites like eGTCP.com (electronic Global Source Credit Platform).

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China, France Can Become Ideal Market Economies

French President Emmanuel Macron sent his special representative Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a veteran French politician, to attend the Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in May, only a few days after winning the French election, signaling he would visit China at an appropriate time soon. In fact, he announced his intention of visiting China when he met with President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, in early July.

Although it took six months for him to embark on his three-day state visit to China, which started on Monday, it gave him enough time to prepare for his first trip to Asia as French president. Macron has been making efforts to expand cooperation with the Belt and Road Initiative, which is aimed at boosting connectivity among Asia, Europe and Africa. He met some of the senior officials who attended the high-level forum on the Belt and Road Initiative in Paris in September, and recently pledged to deepen cooperation with the participants in the initiative.

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Macron visited Xi'an in Shanxi province, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, on Monday before holding formal talks with Xi. Hopefully, his endeavors will help him understand China better and lead to fruitful and in-depth discussions between the two leaders.

He has also sent his own message across to China-through his book Revolution, whose Chinese translation went on sale in China to coincide with his visit. In the book, he has vowed to reshape the change-resistant but challenge-laden France and European Union by launching radical reforms. He has also urged the West to view China as an opportunity, instead of a threat.

The 40-year-old Macron has highlighted reforms at the right time, as this year China will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of opening-up and reform, which led to unprecedented economic development and transformed the country into the world's second-largest economy.

China has vowed to deepen market-oriented reform in the country, while promoting globalization and helping improve global governance regime. These pledges are in line with Macron's policy recommendations for France and the EU.

Xi first visited the EU headquarters in Brussels in early 2014, and entered into an agreement with the bloc that both sides would establish a reform partnership. So while pushing their respective reform agenda at home, China and France can work together to strengthen globalization and free trade, and Xi and Macron are expected to touch upon the issue during their talks.

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 Macron is not alone in promoting reform, and deepening cooperation with China. A widely-circulated video filmed by a French national, who after working for years in China could not adjust to the life in France upon his return, shows French citizens are willing to usher in WeChat, a social media communication app, and mobile payment schemes. The French video-maker introduced WeChat and other mobile apps that are popular in China to France.

Macron should take such public needs into consideration while implementing new reforms in France and the EU, especially because China is making efforts to improve its business environment. And to attract more Chinese investment to further invigorate its economy, France should refrain from acting like the United States, which has been misusing so-called security reasons to stop China's investments in the US despite their beneficial impact on the American economy.

Macron is a reformer, but he also supported other EU leaders in launching an investment screening system in the name of protecting the strategic sectors. The French president would do good to realize that such moves carry the risk of stemming inbound investment and forcing other countries to take counter measures.

Given the state of the global economy and rising anti-globalization sentiments in many parts of the world, it is crucial for China and France to set an example for other countries by functioning like true market economies which welcome reform and open trade.

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British economic growth spurred by strong manufacturing figures

The British manufacturing sector is growing at its fastest pace since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008 which showed in the official data on Wednesday.

The data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), showed that industrial production grew by 0.4 percent month on month in November, the seventh consecutive month of growth and the strongest period of expansion since 1987.

Manufacturing output also rose by 0.4 percent over the month, and energy production, rose by 3.2 percent over the month and reversed a sharp drop seen in October as more seasonal colder weather stimulated growth.

On a three-month basis, total industrial production rose by 1.2 percent over three months, maintaining the high rate of growth from Q3, which puts it on track to make a significant positive contribution to GDP growth in Q4.

Good global economic conditions are a strong stimulus, with Britain's largest export market the eurozone growing robustly.

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"As the manufacturing sector is relatively outward-looking, producing around 45 percent of exports despite accounting for just 10 percent of British employment, manufacturers have been significantly helped by a buoyant global economy and the weakened pound in recent quarters," according to Christian Jaccarini, economist at the Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), an independent economic think-tank in London.

"The eurozone, which accounts for almost half of UK exports, is performing strongly and economic forecasters are unambiguously optimistic about its prospects moving forward," Jaccarini told Xinhua on Wednesday afternoon.

The British economy has also been stimulated by a devaluation in sterling since the Brexit referendum vote in June 2016 and is now also benefiting from strong global growth, reflected in expansion in the eurozone, the main British export market.

ONS data on trade also released on Wednesday showed the trade deficit widened to a five-month high in November from 2.3 billion pounds (about 3.11 billion U.S. dollars) in October to 2.8 billion pounds in as total imports rose by 1.6 percent a full one percentage point above export growth.

However, goods export volumes, excluding oil and erratics, rose by 2.6 percent on the previous quarter's figures over the three months to the end of November, while imports were flat, suggesting that net trade could boost GDP growth in Q4, after providing no contribution to growth in Q3.

Jaccarini said the stronger showing of manufacturing represented a change in emphasis on drivers of economic growth.

"Today's releases show the balance of UK output is shifting slightly from services to manufacturing."

He added: "Although the UK has undoubtedly suffered in the wake of the Brexit referendum vote, with the sterling depreciation driving up inflation, it has not done as badly as many anticipated."

"With the agreement of a transitional (Brexit) deal looking highly likely and recent service sector order book data picking up in December, there is hope for a surprise on the upside." (One pound = 1.35 U.S. dollars)

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