News Selection – Globalisation
Recent news chosen to illustrate and update Tread Softly briefings on Globalisation.
German minister pushes for free trade deal ahead of Africa trip
22/8/2018: Germany’s development minister is promoting a "customs-free trade deal in Africa" ahead of his seven-nation Africa visit. Experts say the real issues are being ignored. Source: DW
Tread Softly Comment: An academic's analysis of the disappointing volume of trade between Africa and Germany concludes that development aid and investment in export infrastructure is more important than terms of trade. He doesn't mention that this may already be happening through the knee-jerk European aid to countries which are sources of Mediterranean migration. This article includes telling statistics on the tiny share of German trade contributed by sub-Saharan Africa and the surprising dependence of Africa on food imports. Relevant Briefing: Global Poverty Solutions
EU-Africa free trade will create more imbalances, say critics
9/8/2018: Germany's development minister has sparked a debate by calling for EU tariffs to be waived on African goods. Critics question whether import duties are really the issue, or are there other barriers to trade? Source: DW
Tread Softly Comment: A rare attempt in international media to discuss the abysmal level of trade between Africa and Europe. The article covers technical issues, not least the unfair scale of subsidies for European farmers. More important, however, is the prompt for the piece, a German minister recognising that the European migration crisis requires a structural solution through the rules of international trade and investment. Relevant Briefing: Global Poverty Solutions
Trade war – developing countries should respond
24/7/2018: The escalating trade war initiated by US President Donald Trump is a major threat to world trade and the global economy. The developing countries will be among those most affected. It is time for them to respond and speak out. Source: Inter Press Service
Tread Softly Comment: Martin Khor is a leading expert on world trade, from the perspective of developing countries. He explains why Trump's trade war with China, in defiance of the rules-based WTO regime, will have negative knock-on effects for countries with which the US has no quarrel. But his analysis considers only those developing countries which are already on the path to modern industrialisation, such as Malaysia and Thailand. A second article, focusing on the repercussions of a trade war for the Least Developed Countries, would be valuable. Relevant Briefing: International Development Model
Illegal production and use of banned CFC-11 in China
8/7/2018: Information obtained by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) demonstrates conclusively that the use of CFC-11 in China is widespread and pervasive, sufficient to explain the emissions threatening the integrity of the Montreal Protocol. Source: Environmental Investigation Agency
Tread Softly Comment: Described by the EIA as an "environmental crime", this threat to the ozone layer posed by China's neglect represents a disturbing failure of international rules-based agreements. If a legally-binding agreement such as the Montreal Protocol can be ignored so fundamentally, what can we expect from the voluntary pledges of the Paris climate agreement? Relevant Briefing: Paris Climate Agreement
Developing countries defend world trade rules against Trump assault
1/6/2018: Trade rules brokered by the World Trade Organization include various concessions to poorer countries. The role of trade as a tool of development has often been forgotten in reaction to the Trump trade war and his demonisation of the WTO.
Fighting Inequality in Asia and the Pacific
15/5/2018: A senior UN official says that the remarkable economic success story of the Asia and Pacific region belies a widening gap between rich and poor. Inequality is preventing progress on almost all the Sustainable Development Goals in the region.
Migrants Continue To Face Exploitation in Mideast
22/3/2018: The Gulf region has an estimated 2.4 million migrant domestic workers, mostly from the Philippines, Indonesia and India. Legal protection of their basic rights is notoriously poor, perhaps an issue for the Global Compact on Migration.
African leaders discuss free trade agreement
20/3/2018: Just as the rest of the world appears to reject the tools of globalisation, a bold African free trade proposal aims to deepen the integration process, by allowing Africans to trade and move freely across the continent.
Has Trump Just Launched a Global Trade War?
14/3/2018: President Trump's imposition of a steel tariff unwinds the traditional role of the US as flag-bearer of the free-trade religion. Martin Khor argues that the rationale for liberal trade may be destroyed.
Combating Africa’s Inequalities