Tag: Trade

Africa’s agricultural production systems need a radical change – ECA’s Karingi

“Regardless of the approach or transformative pathway chosen to change food systems and trade regimes, African countries need to undertake radical change in agricultural production systems, adopt agribusiness and promote regional agricultural value chains as a vein for regional integration.” The statement was made by Stephen Karingi, Director of the ECA’s Regional Integration and Trade Division this week in Cote d’Ivoire, at the opening of a symposium themed: Implementing Agro-Industrialization and Regional Value Chains for Africa’s Agricultural Transformation.

“Despite a handful of landmark political commitments, Africa is the only region in the world that has witnessed an increase in the number of food insecure people and has a mushrooming agricultural and food trade deficit,” said Karingi.

A call to arms underlines the opening of the Africa Trade Facilitation Forum

The Africa Trade Facilitation Forum segment of the ongoing Africa Trade Week opened here today with a rallying call to urgently address trade facilitation gaps that impact on trade and the movement of goods in order to boost intra-African trade, deepen integration and transform African economies.

“Time is running out,” was the resounding warning at the high-level opening, where speakers stressed that “the global trading landscape is rapidly changing in ways that could leave Africa marginalized if steps are not urgently taken to boost African producers’ competitiveness and integration into international markets.”

AFTER DEATH OF TPP, CHINA MAKES MOVES TO DOMINATE ASIA WITH NEW TRADE PACTS

For all the horrible chapters and faults of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), it seems President Obama was right about one thing – without the trade pact, southeast Asian countries are now looking to China for economic opportunity.

This past week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru, Barrack Obama spent his time addressing the representatives assuring them that the United States and the southeast Asian countries would continue to find a way to cooperate economically. Yet despite Obama’s optimism, the real winner that seems to be emerging from the summit is China.

The Iran-Russia-China Strategic Triangle

The developing economic, political and military links binding Iran, China and Russia in what I see as an emerging Golden Triangle in Eurasia, are continuing to deepen insignificant areas. This, while it seems to be US geopolitical strategy in a prospective Trump Administration to distance Washington from both Iran and from China, while dangling the carrot of lessened confrontation between Washington and Moscow–classic Halford Mackinder or Kissinger geopolitics of avoiding a two-front war that was colossally backfiring on Washington by trying to shift the power balance. At present, the dynamic of the past several years of closer cooperation by the three pivotal states of the Eurasian Heartland is gaining strategic momentum. The latest is the visit of China’s Minister of Defense and of Russian senior officials to Teheran.

On November 14-15 in Teheran, during a high-level visit of the Chinese Defense Minister, General Chang Wanquan, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, the two major Eurasian nations signed a deal to enhance military cooperation. The agreement calls for intensification of bilateral military training and closer cooperation on what the Iran sees as regional security issues, with terrorism and Syria at the top of the list. Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, said Iran is ready to share with China its experiences in fighting against the terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Dehghan added that the agreement represents an “upgrade in long-term military and defense cooperation with China.”

CUBA, Sí

It is still naive to think that the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba are now on a nice glideslope with respect to trade and tourism between the two countries. Similar naive assumptions were made regarding Russia, thinking that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia would naturally take its place in the community of nations. Things did not really pan out that way.

While Cuba is opening its door to the free world, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. Cuba refused humanitarian assistance from the Archdiocese of Miami to aid victims of Hurricane Matthew rebuilding in Eastern Cuba, while accepting aid from Japan. Flights to Cuba on American carriers are half full. And American businesses report they are still preparing to do business with Cuba, not actually doing business. Cuba’s economic growth remains slow, with Venezuelan subsidies decreasing and the “peace dividend” from improved relations with the U.S. hasn’t happened yet. The U.S. – Cuba relationship is not a full blown one yet in the economic, diplomatic, or cultural sense, the lifting of the limit on Cuban cigars notwithstanding.

The National Security Case for a TPP Lame Duck Vote: Not!

When Congress meets for its lame-duck session after the elections, it should resist pressure to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Notwithstanding President Barack Obama’s best efforts to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement to Congress and the public on economic grounds, presidential and congressional candidates are shunning the TPP as a winning campaign issue. Even Senator Rob Portman, a former U.S. trade representative, doesn’t mention the TPP in his electoral “Jobs and Growth” agenda. The economic forecasting arguments for TPP are very weak—even according to the “heroic assumptions” of proponents, such as no change in the U.S. trade balance or net employment as a result of the TPP. So, what arguments do the TPP proponents have left?

Protectionism Is Not the Answer

Since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency, he has ridden a wave of right-wing populism to become the Republican presidential nominee. Throughout this entire process, he has adopted a protectionist, anti-immigration, and nativist political platform. While Trump’s success in politics has shocked the American public, his rise is only part of a global trend towards protectionism as political parties like UKIP in the UK, the National Front in France, and AfD in Germany have steadily gained in the polls. All of these protectionist political parties claim that their policies will “make their country great again.” However, there is no economic basis to these claims and implementing these protectionist policies will cause severe damage to the global economy.

Since the end of World War II, the world has rapidly become more globalized and connected. However, since the 2008 Financial Crisis, the world has experienced a period of unprecedented economic stagnation, leaving hundreds of millions of people impoverished and facing a bleak future. Unfortunately, this has fostered political discontent and extremism throughout the world. Like previous times of economic hardship, this has encouraged the rise of nationalistic, right-wing political forces that have rejected globalization. The rise of the Brexit movement in the UK and Euroskeptic political parties reflect this trend.

TTIP: we were right all along

Throughout the crisis – and ostensibly as a response to it – Europe has increased its focus on external competitiveness as a means to transform both the EU and eurozone into a huge German-style, export-led economic machine (as emphasised by the Global Europe strategy). Various experts and economists have pointed out that this is a fundamentally misguided strategy.

In recent years, however, the EU has negotiated numerous bilateral trade agreements. This has been topped by the announcement in early 2013 that the EU and the US had agreed to enter into negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement, the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The European Commission has always argued that the agreement is aimed at ‘help[ing] people and businesses large and small, by opening up the US to EU firms; helping cut red tape that firms face when exporting; and setting new rules to make it easier and fairer to export, import and invest overseas’. Furthermore, it contends that the TTIP, will ‘kick-start’ the EU economy by ‘generating jobs and growth across the EU’ and ‘cutting prices when we shop and offering us more choice’.