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On Wednesday, the European Union Commission approved plans to . The Commission stated that the EU Energy Union would provide many benefits to the countries of the EU, lessening their dependence on energy supplies from foreign countries and boosting their economic power significantly. The ambitious plan is facing some criticism, and has yet to be approved by the European Parliament as well as the EU's member countries, but it certainly has the potential for major influence on European economics.

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As people in developed countries live longer lives, companies with are facing growing pension shortfalls. The estimates that the average 65 year old man today will live two years longer than it estimated 15 years ago. This has led to large differences in the amount budgeted for pension plans and the amount actually being spent. The increased longevity of these employees’ lives has caused many major companies’ balance sheets to be changed dramatically. Most United States companies use defined-contribution plans such as , and these leave workers on their own after retirement. These companies will not have to worry about increased life longevity when it comes to these payments.

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, an American provider of on-demand Internet media streaming, recently opened their online video streaming service to Cuba. This move made Netflix one of the pioneer American companies to expand in to Cuba, following the loosening of regulations early in 2015.

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On February 19, the . Germany had hoped that Greece would renew its existing deal that contains harsh austerity conditions, and a German Finance Ministry spokesman claimed that the proposed assistance package was “not a substantial proposal for a solution”. The Finance Minister himself, Wolfgang Schaeuble, stressed that no new payment of funds would be given to Greece until a new deal was made. Despite the Greek economy growing in all four quarters last year, it has been in recession for almost 6 years and must take measures to improve the condition of its economy.

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This past week, the Obama Administration cleared a plan to override federal regulations on oil drilling off of Alaska's coast in the Arctic Ocean. The proposal is intended to , both of which are believed to be abundant in fossil fuels, and follows a growing emphasis in the international system on the Arctic's natural resources. Last January, 1,400 participants from several countries gathered in Tromsø, Norway to stake their claims at the Arctic Frontiers conference. Russia's increasing interest in the region, coupled with its growing military presence throughout international waters, gave the conference unprecedented significance.

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Are you curious about what the population growth rate is in Nigeria? How about the oil exports from Saudi Arabia or the renewable energy generation in Germany? These questions are all answered in the redesigned country statistics pages on globalEDGE. These pages contain statistics that are broken down into four categories: people, energy, technology and infrastructure, and geography and environment. Learn more about a country you are interested in by checking out the new country statistics pages today!

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In part 4 of our international tourism blog series, we discussed the importance of cultural sensitivity as tourism increases in developing countries. In this blog, we will focus on how hosting international conferences can stimulate a country’s hospitality and tourism sector. Organizing global conventions requires an extensive amount of planning, data gathering, and business acumen. One of the most important decisions made is location. Attendees, reporters, and small enterprises will flock to the chosen venue. This presents a prime opportunity for significant amounts of resources and capital to be exchanged. But is it possible for a singular event to revitalize an entire economy?

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Globalization is occurring and the world is growing more interconnected and accessible, and as a result it is now easier to travel to other countries. Cultural awareness is increasing, and as a result, tourism is too as people want to experience the culture of other countries. The tourism industry accounted for and currently employs 266 million people worldwide. In perspective, the global tourism industry employs 1 in 11 people on this planet. One aspect related to tourism, that is often not considered, is that with benefits and new opportunities, come new challenges.

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In part 2 of our international tourism blog series, we looked at currency exchange rates and their effect on tourism. In today’s post, we turn to the tourism industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, and its future outlook. For many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, tourism presents a great opportunity for economic growth. Since 1990, the number of tourists arriving in Sub-Saharan Africa has , and the tourism industry now accounts for almost 3% of the region’s GDP. As more governments realize the industry’s growth potential, the competition for foreign visitors continues to increase, making the next decade an interesting one for the entire region.

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Exchange rates for currencies across the world are akin to a seesaw - they need a balance. As a result, the simplest differences in the exchange rates can have drastic ripple effects on economies due to the economic purchasing power principle. If your domestic currency is trading strongly (weakly) against a foreign currency, you have increased (decreased) your purchasing power and can purchase more (less) just from currency swapping. The effects of currency exchange on purchasing power can be in the form of , such as Japan, or based on the nature of United States. As you will see, exchange rates can have a drastic impact on tourism globally.

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In today’s blog post, we look at globalEDGE’s site traffic numbers, to give our users some interesting information about our site and its visitors. The traffic analysis, prepared by several of our team members with help from , looked at data from September 2013 to September 2014. The report found that globalEDGE was visited 1,531,166 times during this period, with over 73% of these visits from unique users. The average visitor viewed approximately 2.7 pages per visit, spending an average of 1 minute and 46 seconds per page.

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In 2014, international tourism grew by 4.7%, and strong growth is expected for 2015 as well. In fact, the anticipates that global tourism will grow by 3-4% in 2015, further aiding in the global economic recovery. 2014 marks the fifth consecutive year with above average industry growth, as the international tourism industry has shown strong resilience following the 2009 economic crisis. In recent years, . The question remains, will this growth continue into the foreseeable future?

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As foreign investors realize China is becoming more expensive for manufacturing, they are turning their eyes to countries in Southeast Asia. . A large proportion of the FDI has gone to the high-tech industry. While people are expecting the technology boom to continue into the future, Vietnam is preparing a series of regulations for the technology industry, which may slow down the growth of IT business in the country.

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The aphorism “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is now being internalized by the financial world. In a league of their own, activist investors are taking great measures to rebrand themselves as “engagement” funds. Typically, this designation is reserved for an individual or group that purchases a significant stake of a publicly traded company and tries to implement major changes within said company’s business model.

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McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm, containing information on the debt of over 47 different countries. The numbers show that total global debt has increased by $57 trillion since the 2007 financial crisis, making current global debt a record high of $199 trillion. Debt is now 286 percent of global economic output, a 17 percent increase from what it was during the financial crisis. These figures expose weaknesses and trends present in all markets and countries, and also imply that many of these economies might be headed on rocky roads toward bankruptcy or severe crisis, affecting the economy on a global level. Here is a closer look.

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Ask and you shall receive. The Greek population decided it was time for a change in government and just last week, Greece elected and swore in its new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister represents a leftist party and reflects the desire of the Greek people for reform just years after a major bailout. Tsipras ran his campaign based on the issue of .

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January was the first time in 6 months that the outpaced the S&P 500 as it gained 0.6%. Investors into emerging market stocks and bonds, after an outflow of $11 billion in December. Analysts note that low commodity prices allow for quick growth in these emerging economies. As emerging markets go through reforms in order to stabilize their currencies or stimulate growth in their economies, investors see this as an opportunity to obtain higher returns.

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Recently, Hershey blocked Cadbury's products from being imported to the United States by reaching a settlement with Let’s Buy British Imports, or L.B.B. These agreements forced L.B.B. to stop exporting Cadbury chocolates made overseas to the United States.

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An increase in the national sales tax sent Japan into a recession in the middle half of 2014, but increased exports have Japan poised for growth in the New Year. Japanese exports grew 13% in December from a year prior, while imports only increased 2% over the same period. This growth in exports reduced Japan’s trade deficit, which was at its .