Posts tagged under WTO
Every 20 seconds a child dies because of a water-related illness due to the lack of proper sanitation conditions.
Worldwide, 2.5 billion people have no access to toilets. They have no other choice than to defecate in the open, contaminating water sources and increasing the likelihood of contracting life threatening diseases such as acute diarrhea or cholera. The World Toilet Organisation has set up a fundraising campaign under the motto “I give a shit”, watch the video below to find out why sanitation deserve more attention.
Give a shit!
Help support 20 SaniShops in developing countries to build more than 4,000 toilets before March 31st, 2013
The Asian Trends Monitoring team continues its reporting on the state of urban poverty in Southeast Asia. After the first two issues on Jakarta and Manila, the team now releases a bulletin on a city that is markedly different from the first two: Hanoi, Vietnam.
Unlike the more developed economies of Indonesia and the Philippines, Vietnam is very much an economy in transition. With its recent rise into the cluster of middle income countries (countries with a GDP per capita of US$1,000 or more), Vietnam has an opportunity to adjust its growth strategy to become more inclusive and lift millions of its people out of poverty. One of the best places to start would be its capital city. Hanoi, unlike Jakarta and Manila, is not quite a megacity, but it is definitely heading in that direction. Thus, Hanoi must rethink its strategies and models for service provision in order to remain inclusive and accessible throughout this period of growth.
This issue of the Asian Trends Monitoring Bulletin analyses the living conditions that Hanoi’s poor residents must contend with, and the services that are in place to assist them. More specifically, we look into the potential roles of empowerment strategies such as microfinance and social businesses as viable ways to close service gaps in cities like Hanoi.
The international narrative on Manila paints the picture of a metropolis full of promise. Manila is the economic and political nucleus of a Philippines national economy that is at full throttle, with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 3.7% per annum and a GDP per capita of US$4,073 in 2011, adjusted for purchasing power parity. The country itself has a Human Development Index rank that is higher than its GNI per capita rank, implying that the Philippines is doing very well on non-income HDI indicators. Where the government leaves gaps in service delivery, often, a thriving civil society in Manila sets out to serve the needy. There is a plethora of non-government organisations operating in the various sectors of the city.
However, this growing megacity is not without its problems. Approximately 16.3 million people inhabit an area of only 38.55 square kilometres, which makes it the most densely populated city in the world. This density is highest in the poor areas of the city: people living in Manila’s slums have to cook, work, and share their lives with 72,000 other people per square kilometre. These people often have trouble obtaining access to the most basic amenities such as clean water, modern sanitation, and health care. Moreover, depressed housing conditions, lack of job opportunities and rampant inequality are worrying trends among Manila’s urban population.
Who should take the lead in getting international trade and the Multilateral trading system back on track?
In an article in the Daily Star earlier this week Dani Rodrik, professor in Political Economy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, discuss the role of the developing countries in the world economy after the downturn.
Can developing countries carry the world economy? Yes; few developing countries are as indebted as the G3, they are headed for strong growth, the quality of policy making is improving significantly in many developing countries and tech transfer as a consequence of inclusion in international production networks is spurring development. Developing countries already (or still) experiencing growth should not be held back and have to wait around for the developed world to get back on track and take the lead in the world economy.
However, although quality of policy is improving many developing countries still lack a sustainable growth strategy. As an example Rodrik mentions China and the ongoing “currency war”. The world has put up with China’s subventions of their exports through an undervalued currency and this fact has largely been the reason to China’s unmatched growth rates. It is however unlikely that the world will put up with these subventions much longer and force an appreciation of the renminbi. An appreciation of the renminbi might effectively put a halt to China’s enormous growth.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo: Can the West still pressure China on Human Rights violations or has the risk of potentially lost trade deals become too costly?
On Friday the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Norway announced the winner of 2010: Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. The Norweigan committee said Mr Liu was “the foremost symbol” of human rights in China. In 2009 the writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo was charged for ”suspicion of inciting subversion of state power” this as he was the founder of the Charter 08 campaign for constitutional reform in China. After a year in detention without trial and a two hour trial where no family or foreign representation was allowed; Liu was found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
The Nobel Committee’s decision to award the Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo has infuriated China and led to an intense debate in the West where many governments has called for his immediate release. On the streets in China however, the prize is unlikely to cause any debate. Few Chinese people know who he is, that he has won the Prize or why he won the Prize as the Chinese search engine Baidu effectively censor results with his name.
On October 6 the 3rd ASEAN and Asia Forum organized by the Singapore Institute for International Affairs took place at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. Interesting panel discussions and distinguished speakers shared their views and visions on ASEAN.
Here are some thoughts on the topics discussed:
ASEAN is facing both internal and external challenges. However, the ASEAN member states have done fairly well during the economic downturn and are recovering faster than many western countries. One important reason for this is the increased domestic demand in ASEAN. The growing middle class is stimulating the domestic economy but still consumer confidence is low and compared to the G3 the middle class in ASEAN is saving rather than spending regardless of stimulus packages. Although domestic demand and intra ASEAN trade is rising the dependency on the EU and US as export markets is still significant through immediate exports and intermediary exports of parts and components to China with final destination G3. ASEAN recovery also has a historical background: lessons learned during the Asian crisis in 1997-1998 were tough but the experiences gained and the resilience created thereafter has cushioned the impacts of the downturn.
Dr Razeen Sally, Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy spoke at the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on 28-Sep-10 about global trade policy after the crisis: shift from West to East and a leadership vacuum.
From the 1980s to 2007 the world trade system was on a steady path towards liberalization. The economic downturn raised concerns about the risk of increasing protectionism but surprisingly few traditional barriers to trade were implemented or raised. The low level of traditional protectionism has little to do with WTO compliancy but is rather a consequence of markets and the logic of intra-firm trade in transnational companies. More subtle protectionist measures have however occurred in foremost North America and Western Europe. After decades of liberalizing markets, government interventions have made a comeback bailing out banks, subsidising uncompetitive domestic car industries and changing restrictions in government procurements.
The WTO Doha Round is still going nowhere; The Obama administration has shown ambivalence regarding its foreign trade policy while the EU is focusing on internal issues. China, now one of the largest players in international trade shows little interest in taking the lead on concluding the Round and India is neither significant enough nor very interested in trade liberalizations. The multilateral trading system is in a leadership vacuum.
The EU and the top two palm oil exporters - Malaysia and Indonesia – may butt heads at the WTO.
The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive requires Biofuels and Bioliquids achieve a minimum Greenhouse Gas (GHG) saving of 35 per cent to qualify for tax-excise exemptions and other trade benefits. Under Annex V, Palm Oil’s GHG saving is calculated to be 19 percent, below the 35 percent threshold.
By the way, did we mention that the EU and ASEAN nations are working towards more bilateral Free Trade Agreements?
How can we reconcile ‘Green Incentives’ and Free Trade? This will be a big challenge going forward.