An article in USA Today reports that “…[a]ccording to a landmark effort to assess the risks of global warming, Africa, by far the lowest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, is projected to be among the regions hardest hit by environmental change.
"We never used to have malaria in the highlands where I'm from, now we do," said Kenyan lawmaker Mwancha Okioma, at a briefing on climate change at the Pan African Parliament Monday. The new environmental committee, headed by Okioma, raised concerns about the severity of climate change on Africa and called for those responsible to help reduce its effects…
By reviewing four years of research on projected climate change in Africa, scientists with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change got a nuanced view of possible scenarios and assessed how these scenarios could play themselves out in a continent already stressed — water and food insecurity, infectious diseases, conflict, poverty.”
Reuters adds that “[r]ising temperatures in Africa are blamed for droughts, floods and storms while the continent's fabled wildlife is struggling to adapt to shifting ecosystems that could lead to mass extinctions. Scientists say Africa -- the world's poorest continent -- is already paying a high price for global climate change and must now figure out what it can do itself to slow the transformation.
Experts say global warming may be to blame for the gradual melting of snow atop Tanzania's famed Mt. Kilimanjaro, while Babagana Ahmadu, the African Union's director of rural economy and agriculture, says there is evidence that Lake Victoria, Lake Chad and parts of the Nile River are all gradually drying up due to warmer temperatures.”
WB: 11 constraints Prevent Mexico’s Economic Growth
On May 15 the World Bank presented a new study - Mexico: Beyond State Captivity and Social Polarization-, “according to the report the concentration on key economic sectors and the existence of public and private monopolies prevent Mexico’s economic growth.
The report found 11 constraints for competitiveness in the country including: taxes, education, corruption, labor, and energy.” [El Universal].
“[According to the report] if Mexico wants to improve its governance, promote democracy and achieve sustained growth, ‘it should get rid of the interest groups and powerful monopolies.’
Yasuhiko Matsuda, the lead author, mentioned that the most notable example ‘is the privatization on the telecommunications sector, where a public monopoly was just substituted by a private one.’” [La Jornada]
Yasuhiko Matsuda affirmed that “the positive effect of the public policies implemented in Mexico will be very low if they continue to be dominated by powerful groups.” [Excelsior]
World Must Do More For Africa, China's Premier Says
AFP reports that: “Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called on the world community Wednesday to do more to help Africa as he opened the annual meeting of the African Development Bank in Shanghai. ... ‘Africa needs to rely on itself to sustain development but international support and systems are also indispensable,’ Wen told delegates. … ‘We are truly sincere in helping Africa speed up its economic and social development for the benefit of African countries and its people,’ he said.” [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
Reuters writes that: “Premier Wen Jiabao fended off criticism on Wednesday that China is getting the better of the bargain in its drive to secure Africa's oil and minerals to feed the world's fourth-largest economy. … some critics say China is acting no differently from the continent's former colonial powers in sucking up its raw materials instead of developing indigenous industries.”
Financial Times notes that: “Wen Jiabao used the opening of the African Development Bank’s annual meeting in Shanghai gently to rebuke critics from the developed world who have taken issue with China’s expanding ties with Africa but fallen short on their own commitments. … By hosting the bank group’s meeting in Shanghai – the second time it has taken place outside Africa – China has created a potent symbol of its strengthening ties with the continent. … The Chinese premier said Beijing would also continue reducing tariffs on selected African imports. ‘We will fully deliver on our statement and we are working with African countries to implement these measures,’ he said. [Financial Times]
Xinhua adds that “[Wen Jiabao] said China calls on the international community, and especially the developed countries, to earnestly fulfil their pledges of assistance to Africa, take practical measures regarding debt reduction and forgiveness, trade conditions, market entry, and technology transfer, help Africa to strengthen its autonomous development ability, and achieve sustainable economic and social development. … China has taken active measures to alleviate Africa's burden of debt. China has excused a total of 10.9 billion RMB of debt owed to China by African countries. China has pledged and is now handling the forgiveness of a further amount of more than 10 billion RMB in African debt. … Wen Jiabao said China will honour its pledges in full, and work hard along with African countries to implement every one of these policy measures.” [Xinhua/BBC Monitoring/Factiva]
WTO's Lamy cautiously optimistic on revival of Doha talks
An article in Forbes reports “WTO Director General Pascal Lamy today expressed cautious optimism about successfully reviving the stalled Doha development round ahead of a meeting of the key players starting tomorrow. The four main players -- the EU, the US, India and Brazil, represented by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath and Brazilian Finance Minister Celso Amorim, are scheduled to meet in Brussels.
Speaking to reporters after an informal meeting of 20 trade ministers here, Lamy stressed that the meeting of the G4 will not supplant the wider multilateral forum of the World Trade Organisation. What the G4 can do is make a 'contribution to the central process,' he said.
A trickle of optimistic noises from the various parties has buoyed wider confidence. Over the course of this week, India's Nath and Schwab of the US both acknowledged that some progress has been achieved during talks at the OECD ministerial sessions. But Lamy warned against misguided optimism. 'I don't think there will be an agreement over the next few days.'”
The Daily Times (Pakistan) adds that “Talks aimed at reducing global trade barriers worldwide were launched in the Qatari capital Doha in 2001 but have foundered ever since, principally on trade in agricultural products. Rich traders, the United States and the European Union in particular, are under pressure to slash trade-distorting farm subsidies and to lower customs duties on agricultural goods from the developing world.
Emerging market powers such as India, China and Brazil, have for their part been pressed to make their markets more accessible to industrial goods and services from developed nations. Lamy said the time had come for the major players “to go the extra mile — the United States on subsidies, the European Union, India and Brazil in tariffs China in services for instance.”
The Financial Express (India) writes that “India said on Wednesday it was encouraged by signs of flexibility by the United States in global free trade talks but warned the long-delayed negotiations were still moving slowly. Some progress was made at discussions this month among officials from the United States, India, the European Union and Brazil, four key members of the World Trade Organisation, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said.”
Vietnam to issue 1 billion USD in bonds to international market
“In an effort to keep pace with nationwide infrastructure development, the Government has approved a 1 billion USD bond issuance to the international market for 2007. According to the Finance Ministry, the bonds are to be officially issued in September to fund the key industrial projects of Dung Quat oil refinery, ship purchases for the Vietnam Shipping Lines (Vinalines) and a power plant in Laos.
Market experts have predicted that the issuance will be a great success and open a new channel for raising capital for investment development within the country.” [Thai News Service/Factiva]
“Moody's Corporation, an investment and economy rating, has raised Viet Nam's reliable rating from stable to positive, after the firm had originally lifted the country's rank in 2005.
Moody's forecast that the country would continue to maintain its capability of attracting a large volume of foreign investment while ensuring a high rate of savings.
The Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) has recently elevated Viet Nam's risk rank from five to four, a remarkable figure that has aided the reduction of the credit insurance rate for Viet Nam's loans.” [Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies/Factiva]
“Vietnam's foreign debt is hovering close to 33 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is valued as a safe rate risk by the World Bank.” [Asia Pulse/Factiva]
In related news, “The World Bank (WB) will provide Vietnam with preferential credit of over 156 million U.S. dollars to support the country's efforts in reducing poverty among ethnic minorities and communities in remote and mountainous areas. Under agreements signed here Thursday between the WB and the State Bank of Vietnam, 50 million dollars of the fund will be used to help the country reach its target of improving socioeconomic situation in 4,144 poorest communes and villages.” [Xinhua/ Factiva]
Slovenia can still achieve economic growth of 4.7 percent this year as forecast by a government institute despite lower projections by the European Commission, the finance minister said on Thursday. "There are no signs in the first quarter to indicate that economic growth is slowing. If anything, it is just the opposite," Andrej Bajuk told reporters on the sidelines of a World Bank conference at this
Alpine lake resort
…President of the World Bank, Paul D. Wolfowitz [reportedly] began Wednesday to negotiate the terms under which he would resign, in return for the dropping or softening of the charge that he had engaged in misconduct, bank officials said. Mr. Wolfowitz was said to be adamant that he be cleared of wrongdoing before he resigned, according to people familiar with his thinking. [New York Times]
The International Monetary Fund has reached a preliminary agreement to provide emergency loans to help the government of Ivory Coast get back on its feet after four years of conflict. “The negotiations resulted in an agreement, in principle, on the main features of an economic program for 2007 that could be supported by Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance provided certain preconditions are met," the IMF said Wednesday in a statement. [Dow Jones International News]
Zimbabwe faces shortages of bread and flour, the government has warned, which may cause even more hardship. It says the planting of this year's wheat crop is well behind target and the season ends in two weeks' time. Zimbabwe's agricultural sector has been in decline since the government's chaotic seizure of white-owned farms began seven years ago. The government blames shortages of fuel and fertiliser, but disturbances are still reported on commercial farms.
The World Bank's Nepal office Thursday warns of suspending its assistance projects in unrest areas in Nepal with consideration of its staff's security not assured. Condemning the killing of an engineer named Navaraj Bista recently, the Country Director of the Bank for Nepal Ken Ohashi said, "Development workers, be they engineers, teachers, or health care providers, should not be subjected to political violence. If their safety is not assured, we will be forced to assess whether our development assistance should continue in such areas." [Xinhua News]
Five global banks will raise $5 billion in loans to make existing buildings up to 50 percent more energy efficient with New York, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and Johannesburg among the first 15 cities to take part. Under the plan, unveiled on Wednesday by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, city governments and building owners will repay the loans plus interest with savings made from reduced energy costs created by the energy-efficient retrofit.