Apparently the European Parliament has just given an ultimatum to African countries to open their markets by 2014. If they fail to do that, African countries (well, excluding the very least developed countries) will lose the duty-free export rights to the EU.
In my opinion:
- That’s blackmailing.
- if anyone in EU is truly committed to promote long-term development in Africa, then this will be a straight counter-productive action; moreover, quite few initiatives implemented by European Commission’s DG DEV and DG ECHO may simply be in vain, because economic development will be hindered by free, but unfair trade regime: it will make Africa’s export less competitive and will increase import from developed countries which will put an extra pressure on local markets and local producers.
- decision as to what economic policy a country wants to implement is its own sovereign right; forcing another country to adopt free market is intervention in its internal affairs. Right now, when, for example, IMF is telling Tories in UK that they have to stop the nasty austerity cuts, George Osborne is irritated by being told not only what to do, but to do to something which is opposite to what he is doing right now. African countries should also feel free to be irritated and do what is good for them not what they are told to do.
- opening of market should not be done just because everyone is doing it or because rich countries have done this or just because WTO or EU say. The question always should be asked – what’s the benefit of it and for whom? If the answer is that it is a road to prosperity and wealth, then this is complete misinformation; no developed country has achieved its prosperity through free market. Accumulation of resources and nurturing of national economies occurred during the long periods of protectionism (and in some cases, as we know – colonialism and slavery). African countries should be allowed to nurture and protect their national economies as long as they need, and only when they feel competitive enough to compete with the rest of the world, markets should be liberalized. It is a prerequisite for long-term development and escape form the trap of dependency. There is no shortcut.
i know the taste of failure, but… we should never give up on our dreams. Never.
Do you know where is the largest solar energy power plant in the word?
It is nowhere else than in an oil-abundant country – United Arab Emirates (actually, one of the top ten countries regarding oil reserves). Last month it launched the largest solar energy power plant of the size of 285 football pitches or 2.5sq/km.
My conclusion is: either UAE are really pro-sustainability long-term thinkers (and doers!) and because of its climate and geographic position – smart about its untapped resource – solar energy, or we dont know something what UAE knows (are we running out of oil??)
Either way, knowing how powerful oil industry lobbying is against renewable energy projects, this is amazing achievement. Maybe it is time to replace the global competition of which country has the highest skyscraper with the competition of which country has the largest solar energy power plant. It would make so much more sense..
“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world – to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.”
“You must realize that fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”
beautiful definition of time
International food assistance has been one of the areas with the most controversies regarding its effectiveness and side effects, therefore positively unexpected is this Obama’s proposal to reform USA food aid. As a result of this, i would say, revolutionary change the same amount of funds currently spent on food aid could feed extra 17 million people a year (!!!) and local food producers would become important actors of aid system and boost local economic development. The problem right now is that food aid given by USA should be produced in the USA and shipped to the respective countries by USA cargo ships.
Last year I already wrote here about problems with USAID and how in essence it functions as an US export industry promoter rather than an international aid instrument. Because of USAID’s massive budget (around USD 12 billion) a change proposal which Obama is putting forward would mean that food aid could be purchased locally which is more effective and rational, cheaper, quicker, environment-friendly (imagine all the cargo ships currently shipping all the food aid from the states to countries in need?) and most importantly – would help more people in need. Moreover, such an aid may enable more countries to get out of their vicious circle of dependence on aid; currently food aid is counter-productive in terms of developing/ advancing local food/ agriculture sector.
I will be closely following the 2014 US budget negotiations to see if this ‘better later than never’ proposal will be killed by US national interests (lobbyists defending interests of shipping, US agriculture, transport industry) or not..
Ever wondered what class are you (or you thought class system does not exist anymore?)? As a courtesy of BBC here is class calculator to help you out and check which of the seven classes you fit in.
The tricky question here though is how these 7 classes are represented politically? are they all actually represented? Or it is the essence of this system that the political power just like, for example, ownership of a family house is something people can have access to only if they belong to particular class.