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Geopolitics

Tracking The Dirty Money Trail To End Illegal Logging

International organized crime networks earn billions of dollars every year from illegal logging. A new World Bank report suggests that if authorities really want to save the forests, they should follow the money.

Illegal logging in Madagascar (Erik Patel)
Illegal logging in Madagascar (Erik Patel)


*NEWSBITES

Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football field is cut down by illegal loggers around the globe, according to a World Bank report released this week. What can law officials do to stop it? "Follow the money," says the World Bank, which has been working on the issue for more than a decade.

The report, entitled "Justice for Forests," suggests that large-scale illegal logging would not be possible without the organized crime networks that are paying corrupt officials at the highest levels of government. Revenue from the timber mafias' illegal logging – which represents 20-40% of the global timber trade - is estimated at between $10 billion and $15 billion per year, plus $5 billion more in lost tax revenue and unpaid royalties.

If law enforcement authorities really want to crack down on the practice, they'll need to apply the same tools already being used in the fight against money laundering, the World Bank urges. "We need to fight organized crime in illegal logging the way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering," says Jean Pesme, manager of the Bank's Financial Market Integrity unit.

More than 170 countries already share a number of conventions, paving the way for broad international cooperation to track down these illicit funds and freeze accounts. Interpol, which has been working with the World Bank on this subject since 2008, will soon be setting up a dedicated team to tackle international "forest crimes'.

Read the full article in French in Le Monde

Photo - Erik Patel

*Newsbites are digests, not full translations.

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Future

Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGO — TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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