Is China A Neocolonial Power In Africa? – Analysis

Publicado originalmente em 26 de abril de 2016.

China-bashing has predictably reemerged as a familiar theme in the current 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, with the frontrunners of both parties attacking China for having committed a myriad of alleged outrages against U.S. interests.1 Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, is of special interest, as she had prominently accused China of engaging in neocolonialism in Africa during her 2011 visit to Zambia in her position at the time as U.S. Secretary of State.2 The Chinese have not forgotten this slight, and the state-owned Xinhua news agency recently published an opinion piece critiquing Clinton’s accusation of China’s alleged neocolonialism, concluding that:

Accusing China of being a neo-colonialist in Africa puts the biased West in an absurd scenario where the robber acts like the cop.”3

As I recounted last year, China has indeed been very active with its various economic projects in Africa. To briefly recap: “Recent examples of such projects include China Railway Group’s Light Railway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the first phase of which was recently completed; China Railway Construction Corporation’s Abuja-Kaduna railway in Nigeria, which was completed in December 2014, and which is the first phase of a larger railway modernization project connecting Lagos with Kano; and the Lobito-Luau railway in Angola, also built by China Railway Construction Corporation, which will eventually be connected to the Angola-Zambia and the Tanzania-Zambia railways. Likewise, Chinese engineering firms … are constructing airports across the continent, including airports in Angola, Comoros, Djibouti, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, and Togo. Apart from the transportation sector, Chinese companies are also involved in Africa’s energy sector, including hydropower dams in Ethiopia and Uganda; biogas development in Guinea, Sudan and Tunisia; and solar and wind power plants in Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa. Other economic sectors Chinese companies are actively involved with in Africa include agriculture, construction, healthcare, mining, and industrial manufacturing. A recent count estimates over 2,000 Chinese companies are engaged across almost every country on the African continent.”4

Does this intense level of economic engagement count as neocolonialism? Gordon observes that the relationship of neocolonialism is one of “political-economic domination” such that “there is no viable cultural, economic, or military opposition to the hegemonic weight of the current ‘world order.’” The world order today is Euro-American, and its hegemony was won through not just the collapse of the Soviet Union and its socialist satellites at the end of the Cold War, but also the “years of successful political, economic, and military destabilization of Third World sites of resistance.”5 Such efforts at destabilization continue in our contemporary era, as can be seen in the 2011 Western intervention against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, which in turn led to the strengthening of African jihadi groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram, and which in turn has led the U.S. to establish a network of secret military bases across the African continent to fight its War on Terror.6

Mason reminds us of Hu Jintao’s 2006 pledge to double China’s development aid to Africa, and of the subsequent surge in Chinese investment in infrastructure construction on the continent. Indeed, Chinese aid is more attractive for African governments compared to that offered by the West as it famously comes without the preconditions for political or economic reforms usually imposed by Western donors.7 Memories of the painful experience during the 1980s across Africa of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) and the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies looms over the Nigerian government’s recent decision to seek infrastructure loans from the Chinese government rather than the IMF.8 Such memories echo Sartre’s warning that neocolonial efforts to emphasize the economic benefits accruing from colonial reforms are in fact intended to disguise the reality of political domination.9 Indeed, development aid from China has allowed developing countries such as Cambodia to avoid having to adjust their political and economic orders to satisfy the demands of Western donors.10

Mason suggests that the increased Chinese emigration to Africa that has accompanied the increase in Sino-African economic engagement mirrors the “white settlement and rule in Africa” that occurred during the colonial era, and focuses in particular on the economic impact of Chinese merchants in Africa, who “sell goods made in China,” as well as that of their African counterparts who travel to markets in Guangzhou and elsewhere in China to purchase goods for sale back in African markets.11 This influx of cheap goods from China has been known to “drive out traditional suppliers” and “undermine the local economy.”12 Dixon notes that the removal of trade barriers following Nigeria’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 1995 led to a flood of imported goods from China, and this in turn led to mass closures of local factories that were unable to compete with the cheaper Chinese products. The resulting deindustrialization of northern Nigeria laid the economic conditions for the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency which still afflicts the region today.13 However, this by no means represents the inevitable outcome of local industries in Africa confronting global competition. Brautigam cites examples of local African entrepreneurs in countries like Kenya, Lesotho, and Madagascar who were able to successfully compete against Chinese and other foreign imports, in some cases thanks to the human resource development and technology transfer provided by Chinese industrial investment in their countries.14

A related claim that is commonly presented in the media about China’s alleged neocolonial exploitation of Africa is that China and its firms have been engaged in a massive land grab on the continent. In Brautigam’s calculation, if all these media reports were accurate, Chinese companies would own 6 million hectares, or 1% of Africa’s total arable land. However, the actual figure is closer to just 240,000 hectares. As she explains: “Discouraged by poor infrastructure, political instability, and the sober realization that profits were likely to prove more elusive than hoped, Chinese firms came, explored, and then often went elsewhere—most often to countries in China’s border regions: Russia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.”15

The small actual size of Chinese-owned farmland in Africa also disconfirms related accusations of China’s alleged neocolonial plot to transform Africa into a farm to feed the hungry masses back home in China. Recent trade data shows that China is currently importing most of its food commodities like maize and soybeans from major non-African agricultural exporters like the U.S. and Brazil. Indeed, the development of Africa’s food producers into major global food exporters will require significant investment in agricultural modernization, which means the countries concerned will have to do more to attract much-needed investment from international agricultural firms like those of China.16

With regard to journalists and researchers repeating false claims about China’s agricultural activities in Africa, similar examples can be found in reports of Chinese loans to African states. A 2011 report from Fitch Ratings calculated that loans issued to Sub-Saharan African states between 2001-10 from the Export-Import Bank of China amounted to 67.2 billion USD, “overtaking World Bank lending of USD54.7bn to Africa for the same period.”17 This claim would subsequently be repeated elsewhere. Mason, for example, repeats the claim that Chinese aid to Africa exceeded that of the World Bank.18 The suggestion that China has been inundating Africa with cheap money has various implications, including the neocolonial image of China purchasing influence from impoverished African governments. However, the Fitch claim is wrong. A recent study of Chinese loans to Africa from Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) shows that a more accurate estimate of Chinese loans to Africa during 2001-10 would be 30.5 billion USD, or less than half of Fitch’s estimate. Indeed, China’s growing pledges of development aid, including concessional loans, should be differentiated from the loans that are actually agreed upon and accepted, especially since a “growing number of countries … have suspended or canceled Chinese offers of credit lines.”19 As the authors of the CARI report recount of their analysis:

“Of the 1,223 reports of Chinese loan financing that we analyzed, only 56% actually materialized and are being used. The rest turned out to be mistakes, hopes, rumors, cancelled, or real loans—but not from China.”20

Looking beyond Africa, this trend of misreporting China’s global activities is most glaringly seen in alarmist reports of China’s alleged attempts to subvert the existing Euro-American world order by creating a parallel constellation of international institutions.21 In the case of the new international financial institutions (IFIs) set up by China, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the New Development Bank (NDB) set up by China with its BRICS partners, China has always asserted that these are intended to supplement rather than replace the existing constellation of IFIs.22 Indeed, the modest nature of the first projects to be funded by the AIIB and the NDB confirms that this is the case.23 Beyond the shores of Africa, China is also not exhibiting the behavior of an aspirational neocolonial power.

Fonte: Eurasia Review

Anúncios

Why Did Russia’s Pivot to Asia Fail?

Publicado originalmente em 24 de abril de 2016.

On the surface, the concept of a Russian pivot to Asia made sense, particularly greater cooperation between Moscow and Beijing. But, as a pair of fellows from the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin and a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center made clear in separate articles published this month, Russia’s Asia pivot has failed so far to bring benefits to Moscow.

Two years after the Kremlin’s rift with the West, Moscow’s hopes that a new business relationship with Asia would make up for Russia’s losses have not materialized,” Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center begins his analysis of Russia’s pivot to “nowhere.”

Thomas S. Eder and Mikko Huotari began their recent Foreign Affairs article by remarking, “Ever since Europe imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has held high hopes of countering them by strengthening its alliance with China on energy, defense, and agricultural trade and investments.”

What’s at the core of this failure? One place to look is at the motivation for increasing cooperation in both Moscow and Beijing. Russia’s deteriorating relations (and trade) with Europe precipitated a search elsewhere for partners. For this reason, the $400 billion gas deal signed in May 2014 drew headlines. But the devil, as always, was in the details: Russia would be getting less money per cubic meter of gas than when it sold to western Europe and in the past two years the construction dates have been pushed further into the future.

Russia needs China, but China has options.

Gabuev makes this case in reference to Russia’s seeming inability to work with Asian financial institutions, citing Russia’s only big success with Chinese banks as a $2 billion loan to Gazprom. Beyond that, little was forthcoming:

The reasons are obvious. It turns out that even the Big Four Chinese banks have been complying with Western sanctions, although Beijing officially condemns the sanctions. Given the choice between the opportunity to increase their presence in Russia’s high-risk market (previously small and now even more shriveled with GDP in constant decline) and the potential to strengthen their positions in the huge and stable markets of the United States and the EU, Chinese banks are opting for the latter. A “strategic partnership” does not rule out financial judiciousness.

In the energy realm, Eder and Huotari point to the fact that Russia is but one of many hydrocarbon suppliers for China, “including Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and perhaps, soon, Iran—that are helping China diversify its energy sources…”

And in some cases, like that of Turkmenistan, Russia’s losses have been China’s gains. Over the past few years, trade of Turkmen gas to Russia (for resale to Europe) has dried up. In January, Gazprom announced it would stop buying from Turkmenistan altogether after the trade had already plummeted from a high of 40 billion cubic meters of gas in 2008 to 4 bcm in 2015. Meanwhile, Turkmenistan shifted exports to China. In the first three months of 2016 alone, Turkmenistan supplied China with 10.6 bcm of gas–a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2015. The Central Asia-China pipeline already has three operational lines and a fourth is under construction which will increase capacity to 85 bcm per year.

In essence,” Eder and Huotari write, “rather than playing Europe by engaging with China, Russia is getting played by China.”

For sake of argument, consider how Russia’s Asia pivot has differed from the United States’ pivot (excuse me, rebalance) to Asia. As Shannon Tiezzi and I argued in a recent article for FiveThirtyEight, one of core aspects of the U.S. pivot was simply showing up in Asia. Much of the United States’ increased involvement in the region focused on participating in multilateral forums which many Asian powers prioritize as venues to build consensus and conduct diplomacy. At the same time, bilateral interactions with China have also received increased attention.

Russia’s Asia pivot has focused primarily in China, to the exclusion of other powers. Gabuev comments that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip last year’s East Asia Summit and the APEC summit was a “blunder”:

Putin is famous for disliking multilateral events and only attending them for the sake of one-on-one meetings. But Putin’s snub of APEC, where symbolic gestures are fundamental to policy and international relations, was interpreted to mean only one thing: Russia was not pivoting to Asia, it was pivoting to becoming China’s junior partner.

In the end, Russia’s pivot to Asia will continue to underperform as long as the Russian economy is withered and its relations with Europe tense. That said, the two share a number of strategic interests and the failure of this pivot doesn’t necessarily undermine the political sympathy Beijing has for Moscow.

Fonte: The Diplomat

An Interview with Russian Economist Vasily Koltashov

Publicado originalmente em 12 de abril de 2016.

The following is an interview with Russian economist Vasily Koltashov, by Ulrich Heyden, published in Telepolis (Germany) on March 31, 2016, translated to English for CounterPunch

The ‘Moscow Economic Forum 2016’ took place on March 23, 24. There, much criticism of the economic policies of the Russian government was voiced. Greater support of Russian industry through easier access to loans was advocated. The following interview was conducted by German journalist Ulrich Heyden with Russian economist Vasily Koltashov shortly after the forum took place. For a report on the Moscow Economic Forum, see Ulrich Heyden’s article in CounterPunch on April 8, 2016.

Vasily Koltashov is the head of the economic research department at the Moscow-based Institute of Globalization and Social Movements. He says Western economic sanctions and the resulting economic turmoil has the Russian people restless. And there are increasing tensions within the Russian elite, torn between reconciliation with the West or an independent course for the country.

Ulrich Heyden: How to explain the sharpness of the criticisms of the Russian government that were voiced at the Moscow Economic Forum?

Vasily Koltashov: There are two opposing camps in Russia. The so-called liberal camp has the support of the EU and the United States and, temporarily, of the main reigns of power in Russia. But there is also a patriotic opposition which hates the liberal opposition. And the liberal opposition hates the patriotic opposition.

What do you mean by “patriotic opposition”?

The patriotic opposition is a new phenomenon in Russia. It arose after 2008, mainly due to the global financial crisis. The main criticism of the patriotic opposition relates to social and economic issues and not issues of elections, human rights or foreign policy.

The patriotic opposition arose because of the crisis that arose over the commodity exports Russian capitalism.

Can one say that the Economic Forum was a national gathering of liberals, conservatives and the left-wing people?

There were practically no liberals at the meeting.

The Moscow Economic Forum has met every year since 2013. Was there anything new this year?

The Economic Forum is in a crisis. It has an important role, but it is not developing. Year after year, the same statements are made.

What is missing?

A concrete plan on how the country can be led out of the crisis is needed. That plan must take into account the needs and concerns of the population. People are increasingly faced with hardship. Standards of living are falling. Real, monthly wages in the regions have fallen in the past year and a half, from an average of 20,000 rubles to 15,000 (197 euros, U.H.). But in Moscow, you can still hear of salaries amounting to 20,000 rubles (263 euros, U.H.).

The people are very concerned. They want an economic policy that increases their standard of living and protects them from unemployment and the loss of value of their money. But at the Moscow Economic Forum, one hears of measures to support industry, cheap loans for industry and more efforts to re-industrialize Russia. Many Russians would not understand how such measures could save them from the consequences of the present turmoil.

Was the conflict in Novorossiya (eastern Ukraine) an issue?

There was, understandably, discussion at the Forum on the situation in Novorossiya, the uprising in eastern Ukraine. Russian and EU’s elites implement common neoliberal policies. At the same time, they are in conflict with each other over events in Ukraine. The peoples need a different policy, a non-neoliberal Eurasian integration. Neither Russian nor European elites are capable of implementing it.

The quite popular economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, Sergei Glasew, spoke at the Economic Forum in favour of increases in the money supply.

Glasew is popular, but it he has rather peculiar views. He says, for example, the ruble is undervalued. He is wrong. The ruble is overvalued, because the single national market has been destroyed. If the price of oil continues to fall, the ruble’s exchange rate will also continue to decline. The central bank keeps the ruble on a strong footing in relation to the poor economy.

Glasew thinks an increase in the money supply will have no negative impact because the ruble is undervalued. I believe, that when the increase in money supply is not accompanied by an increase in demand for Russian goods, this will lead to increased inflation.

What economic policies do the liberals and patriots stand for in Russia?

The members of the Moscow middle class and government functionaries think and hope that Russia will get along with the West. Then the economy will develop well. This is the message in liberal media. The patriotic media cannot convince the people, that the economic situation would be improved by supporting the industrialists with greater state support.

What do you suggest?

Our Institute of Globalization and Social Movements has presented a concrete plan. We propose a state program providing for the construction of housing for the citizens at affordable mortgage loans of one to three per cent. This housing program is to be carried out with Russian materials, Russian construction and Russian workers. We propose to build new roads and railways and to renew public transport.

How will this be financed?

Firstly, Russia has substantial financial reserves. Secondly, the money supply could be increased. Our proposed construction program will trigger economic growth. The money that is generated will find its way into state coffers.

You have just criticized Putin’s economic adviser Glasew for his plan to increase the money supply.

We are for increasing the money supply only as a first impetus for growth. We do not want to give away money to the industrialists. We know they would like to have cheap loans. But cheap loans in today’s conditions would only lead to an increase in inflation, because there is already turmoil at the highest level. Even a reduction in the central interest rate will lead to the growth of inflation.

At the business forum there were disaster scenarios. One got the impression that the economy will collapse soon if there is no support of Russian industry. Are these exaggerations?

I believe that the economy may collapse one way or the other. Industry in Russia is really rather poorly developed. Production is declining. There are occasional redundancies. Part-time working hours have been introduced. Wages have often been cut. Unemployment is not particularly high, at six per cent. But the reason for low unemployment is the very low wages.

Were there concrete, positive results at the Economic Forum?

A positive result was a clear commitment to a protectionist policy. This means that Russia must withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). In my opinion, more steps are required to strengthen the Eurasian Economic Union before it could aspire to be an alternative to the European Union. But the Eurasian Union [which is planned as the next step of integration after the existing Eurasian Economic Community, U.H.] cannot develop according to the EU model, which is a hierarchy headed by Germany and including prominent roles for France (and perhaps Italy). Then there are Poland, Romania and Hungary, countries of third and fourth rank. For them, the EU has more disadvantages than advantages.

The members of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Customs Union (Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, U.H.) currently have no concrete benefits from economic integration.

The Eurasian Economic Union and the Eurasian Customs Union were formed according to terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Admission of Russia into the WTO makes the Eurasian Economic Union pointless. The Eurasian Union only makes sense as an organization if it is competing for influence against the EU because the EU is pursuing an active policy of expansion towards the east. In 2013-14, the EU won over official Ukraine. Russia has absorbed Crimea but shied away from anything similar for Donbass. It is still unclear who is pulling Belarus into whose sphere of influence. For the West, Putin’s replacement by someone carrying out orders from the outside is on the agenda.

‘A turn is almost in the air’

There would be no hierarchy of power in the Eurasian Union?

In the Eurasian Union will function according to a different form of integration. No integration can succeed based on a free market and free foreign trade. A common, protected market supporting domestic demand is needed. Such a project would be an alternative to the EU and would entice some states to leave the latter. That’s how the Eurasian Economic Union, called a “dangerous project” in Brussels when it was formed, could actually become so.

Is it possible that the Russian leadership could eventually turn into true Keynesians and encourage the state to target housing and road-building projects?

In 2017, the economic situation will become so bad that a turn will be in the air. Attempts by the Russian government to find accommodation with the West would push Russia towards forming a neoliberal government, which would very quickly become totally unpopular. Health and education services would be completely destroyed; customs duties would be lowered and the state would sell blocks of its assets. This policy would intensify the contradictions in society because the people are demanding that we take into account their interests.

The patriotic camp will benefit from this development?

Russian society is divided into two parts–the Belyje lenti (people who wear white ribbons), representing liberal positions, and the people wearing the orange and black St. George ribbon, who hold patriotic and protectionist attitudes and long for a post-Soviet integration.

These are two very strong movements. However, the Belyje lentimovement is primarily a Moscow movement and the number of its supporters is limited. The patriotic forces have more than 90 per cent of the population behind it. The only way to prevent the patriotic forces from coming to power are policies creating economic growth, meaning that Russia would return to the situation that existed in 2008. But this is not possible.

Because oil prices are so low…?

And there will be no increase in oil prices in the foreseeable future The turmoil in Russia is already quite deep and neoliberal recipes will do nothing to get the country out of that. They would only start a second wave of crisis. This year, there will be a severe economic slump in China, a recession in the United States and possibly a recession in the euro zone. That means there will be many events pushing down the price of oil and metals and thus worsening the situation of the Russian economy. In my estimation, this development will increase support for the patriotic camp.

Is it possible that the ‘United Russia’ party would not get an absolute majority in the Duma elections to take place on September 18?

This party is not popular. The chairman of United Russia is Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. His government has failed. He is synonymous with the beginning of the economic turmoil. He succeeded Prime Minister Putin in 2012 at a time of economic growth and now the economy is in its current, pathetic state. It may well be that the members and deputies stage an internal uprising and an ‘insurgent’ Parliament is elected. Many deputies of United Russia do not agree with the neoliberal course. With a neoliberal program, they could not look the voters in the eye.

So can we expect to see surprises?

I had a conversation in a Russian region with a journalist. I asked him, how it is possible that your newspaper criticizes Putin so firmly? He answered, “Who is your Putin? He is far away; perhaps he does not exist. It’s the regional governor who has the power.” That’s the political authority he is wary of. In contrast to the situation in Moscow, local authorities can defy the central power at critical moments and organize rallies of dissatisfied citizens.

How stable is the position of Vladimir Putin?

A considerable portion of the ruling elite wants to come to an agreement with the West and remove Putin from office. The people who are working with Putin and are hit by the sanctions do not want this. There are serious conflicts in the Russian elite that are not public but which can affect the Duma elections to take place on September 18. Much is still unclear. Will Putin lead a party contesting the Duma elections? What will be the role of the Popular Front founded by Putin in 2011?

Ulrich Heyden is a German journalist and author. Since 1992, he has been a freelance correspondent in Moscow for German media, including for Telepolis. He is a co-producer of the 45-minute documentary film (sub-titled in English) ‘Wildfire: The Odessa atrocities of May 2, 2014’, released in February 2015. The film documents the arson attack on the Trade Union House in Odessa which left 42 people dead on that day. In May 2015, Ulrich Heyden’s new book was published (in German, titled ‘War of the oligarchs: The tug of war over Ukraine’, published by PapyRossa). He can be reached at heyden@list.ru. His website is http://www.ulrich-heyden.de.

Fonte: Counter Punch

Political finance needs tighter regulation and enforcement

financiamento-privado.gif

04/02/2016 – Many economically advanced countries are failing to fully enforce regulations on political party funding and campaign donations or are leaving loopholes that can be exploited by powerful private interest groups, according to a new OECD report.

Financing Democracy: Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns and the Risk of Policy Capture says that private donors frequently use loans, membership fees and third-party funding to circumvent spending limits or to conceal donations. Tightening regulation and applying sanctions more rigorously would help to restore public trust at a time when voters in advanced economies are showing disillusionment with political parties and fear that democratic processes can be captured by private interest groups.

“Policy making should not be for sale to the highest bidder,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the Organisation’s first report on political financing at a meeting of the OECD Global Parliamentary Network, a forum for legislators from member and partner countries to compare policies and discuss best practices. “When policy is influenced by wealthy donors, the rules get bent in favour of the few and against the interests of the many. Upholding rigorous standards in political finance is a key part of our battle to reduce inequality and restore trust in democracy,” he said.

Many countries struggle to define and regulate “third-party” campaigning by organisations or individuals who are not political parties or candidates, enabling election spending to be channelled through supposedly independent committees and interest groups. Only a handful of countries have regulations on third-party campaigning, and these regulations vary in strictness.

Globalisation is complicating the regulation of political party funding as multinational companies and wealthy foreign individuals are increasingly integrated with domestic business interests. Where limits and bans on foreign and corporate funding exist, disclosure of donor identity is a vital deterrent to misuse of influence. While 17 of the 34 OECD countries ban anonymous donations to political parties, 13 only ban them above certain thresholds and four allow them.

Even when donations are not anonymous, countries have differing rules about disclosing donor identity. In nine OECD countries political parties are obliged to publically disclose the identity of donors, while in the other 25 OECD countries parties do so on an ad-hoc basis.

Only 16 OECD countries have campaign spending limits for both parties and candidates. While such limits can prevent a spending race, challengers who generally need more funds to unseat an incumbent may be at a disadvantage in the other 18 countries.

Finally, a lack of independence or legal authority among some oversight institutions leaves big donors able to receive favours such as tax breaks, state subsidies, preferential access to public loans and procurement contracts.

The report recommends that:

  • Countries should design sanctions against breaches of political finance regulations that are both proportionate and dissuasive.
  • Countries should strike a balance between public and private political finance, bearing in mind that neither 100% private nor 100% public funding is desirable.
  • Countries should aim for fuller disclosure with low thresholds, while taking privacy concerns of donors into consideration.
  • Countries should focus on enforcing existing regulations, not adding new ones.
  • Institutions responsible for enforcing political finance regulations should have a clear mandate, adequate legal power and the capacity to impose sanctions.
  • Political finance regulations should focus on the whole cycle – the pre-campaign phase, the campaign period and the period after the elected official takes office.

Fonte: OCDE

New data show importance of quality as well as quantity of jobs and how both evolved during crisis

quantity-quality.jpg

09/02/2016 – Good pay, labour market security and a decent working environment can go hand in hand with high employment, according to new OECD findings on the quality of jobs in 45 countries.

The measures released today in a new database on job quality (key findings) look at the individual experience of people at work. Rather than concentrating on the drivers of job quality such as compliance with standards and regulations, the OECD focuses on the outcomes for workers in three broad areas that are most important for their well-being:

  • Earnings quality. How does employment contribute to material living conditions? How are earnings distributed across the workforce?
  • Labour market security. What is the level of risk of becoming and staying unemployed? What are the economic consequences for workers of being laid off?
  • The quality of the working environment. Having a job is not just about money. What is the nature and content of the work? How much pressure does it involve?   Working-time arrangements, workplace relationships, opportunities for training and work-life balance are also important factors.

The database shows that job quality is the highest in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg, Norway, and Switzerland. These countries are performing relatively well along at least two of the three dimensions of job quality. However, relatively low job quality is found in Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain and Turkey.

job quality 2016.PNG

The data also reveal big differences across groups of workers. Youths and the unskilled not only tend to have the worst performance in terms of employment but they also have lower earnings and considerably higher labour market insecurity and higher job strain (especially the low skilled). Women suffer from substantially lower employment rates than men and face a large pay gap. At the same time, they are less likely than men to experience job strain.

The data also reveal how job quality has changed over the past decade. The crisis not only heavily affected the number of jobs available but also their quality. Earnings quality, once taking into account that the jobs destroyed during the crisis were predominantly low-paid, decreased in two thirds of the OECD countries — especially in Greece and the United Kingdom. Labour market security worsened in most OECD countries,  particularly in Spain and Greece.  Quality of the working environment changed differently across the OECD. While some countries experienced a worsening in working conditions as a result of the crisis, in  others workers who managed to keep their job saw their working conditions improve. Overall, changes were limited.

A comprehensive assessment of how the crisis affected job quality requires all three dimensions need to be considered together. Germany, for instance, not only experienced an increase in employment rates, but also a general improvement in all aspects of job quality. Greece, however,  experienced both a sharp rise in unemployment and a fall in earnings quality and labour market security (while the incidence of job strain remained stable). In the United Kingdom, where employment is almost back to pre-crisis levels, earnings quality decreased over the period while  labour market security only fell slightly.  The quality of the working environment was unaffected.

In other OECD countries, the effects of the crisis were more mixed. In Portugal, earnings quality stagnated and labour market security fell considerably, while quality of the working environment improved for those people still employed. In Sweden earnings quality improved but labour market security decreased and the quality of the working environment worsened.

The central challenge of improving job quality was a key priority of the Turkish G20 Presidency last year, as well for the broader G20 membership, and led to the endorsement of a G20 job quality framework developed by the OECD, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The G20 Leaders tasked the OECD with supporting the Group, going forward, in reviewing progress and identifying good practices in this critical area for all G20 economies.

The OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurria said: “Job quality is not only important to workers’ well-being, but also to the overall productivity of a firm. This is now understood at the highest political levels. The leaders of the G20 countries agreed last year not just to prioritise creating more jobs, but to ensure they are quality jobs. And just a few weeks ago, the Labour Ministers gave a strong mandate to the OECD to design policies to improve all aspects of job quality – job security, earnings quality and the quality of our working environment. This will be a major pillar of the revised Jobs Strategy the OECD is currently working on”.

Fonte: OCDE

Keiser Report – Episode 877

Publicado originalmente em 18 de fevereiro de 2016.

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert ask what Dorothy Parker would say about the ugly-to-the-bone economy. They look at the ‘ugly three’ – debt too high, productivity too low, and policy room for maneuver too limited – and the ‘not good’ industrial numbers in Europe.  In the second half, Max continues his interview with Mitch Feierstein of PlanetPonzi.com about the attempt to taper a ponzi, Hillary Clinton’s Lloyd Blankfein connection, and the latest on the race to be the next president of the United States.

Fonte: RT

FÓRUM DE COOPERAÇÃO CHINA-ÁFRICA 2015: A VIª REUNIÃO DO FOCAC

Publicado originalmente em 29 de janeiro de 2016.

O Fórum de Cooperação China-África (FOCAC)[ii], criado em 2000, institucionalizou as relações sino-africanas ao criar uma arena propicia ao diálogo bilateral entre os diversos países africanos e a República Popular da China (RPC). Essa relação é pautada na Cooperação Sul-Sul e visa o estreitamento do diálogo político e das relações econômicas e comercias entre duas regiões. Até agora já foram ministradas seis reuniões que ocorrem a cada três anos desde 2000. Juntos, China e África estão consolidando um novo tipo de parceria estratégica, aumentando o volume de comércio, que cresceu de forma significativa nos últimos anos, chegando a alcançar em 2014 cerca de 201.1 bilhões de dólares (FOCAC…, 2015). Assim, os encontros do FOCAC visam atrelar as economias dos países membros, de forma que ambos tenham ganhos proporcionais.

O Plano de Ação desenvolvido na Vª Reunião Ministerial, em 2012, para o encontro em Johanesburgo, em dezembro de 2015, previa a continuação do CAD Fund – Banco de Desenvolvimento China-Africa, criado em 2007, na proposta de aumentar o fundo de investimento para US$ 5 milhões. O Plano propunha, também, a disponibilização de uma linha de crédito para infraestrutura, agricultura e desenvolvimento de pequenas e médias empresas africanas no valor de US$ 20 milhões. Além disso, houve a manutenção dos objetivos que visavam o investimento em capacitação e treinamento de profissionais e o incentivo à educação, à cooperação para a redução da pobreza na África e ações para o desenvolvimento sustentável, para a melhoria do sistema de saúde e da tecnologia, ciência e comunicação. (LOPES; NASCIMENTO; VADELL, 2013).

Neste contexto, a crise de 2008, iniciada nos Estados Unidos, reflete agora nas economias dos países emergentes como a China, levando a uma desaceleração do crescimento econômico da sua economia. Por exemplo, o crescimento do PIB caiu de 14% em 2008 para 7,4% em 2014 (CHINA…, 2015).  Segundo Rasmus[iii] (apud ALCOFORADO, 2015, p.1) “as causas da desaceleração da economia chinesa são as mudanças internas de sua economia e o aumento de problemas nas economias da zona do euro e dos mercados emergentes cuja demanda vem caindo”.

Essa desaceleração pode levar, consequentemente, a um resfriamento de diversas economias africanas. O impacto mais visível seria no nível de investimento destinado ao continente, principalmente os destinados ao desenvolvimento de infraestrutura.  Além disso, houve uma queda considerável do preço das commodities exportadas pela África. (FIVE…, 2015). Mesmo assim, não é de interesse chinês uma diminuição das relações com a África, pois mesmo em cenário de crise, os win-sets da cooperação ainda são maiores do que o da defecção.  E ainda, da mesma forma que acontecimentos como a Primavera Árabe e seus desdobramentos na Líbia, em 2012, não comprometeram a reunião daquele ano, a crise de Ebola recorrente no Oeste Africano, não afetariam as expectativas e planos para 2015. (FOCAC:…, 2015).

A VIª Reunião do FOCAC ocorreu entre os dias 04 e 05 de dezembro de 2015, em Johanesburgo, África do Sul e contou com a participação de 52 Estados-Membros do FOCAC e da presidente da União Africana (UA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (EMBASSY…, 2015). Ao final, foi publicado a Declaração da Cúpula de Johanesburgo e o Plano de Ação de Johanesburgo para 2018.

Com o tema Africa-China Progressing together: Win-win cooperation, a Cúpula discutiu os principais pontos da relação sino-africana para os próximos três anos. Assim, o presidente chinês Xi Jinping, em seu discurso de abertura, anunciou 10 planos para impulsionar a cooperação entre as duas regiões em áreas especificas: “industrialização; modernização agrícola; infraestrutura; serviços financeiros; desenvolvimento verde; facilitação do comércio e investimento; redução da pobreza e bem-estar público; saúde pública; intercâmbio de pessoas; e paz e segurança”. (FOCAC, 2015). Esses planos serão desenvolvidos com o objetivo de amenizar os três gargalos de desenvolvimento africano: “escassez de talentos e de fundos; aceleração da industrialização e modernização agrícola; e realização de um desenvolvimento independente e sustentável”. (FOCAC, 2015). Desse modo, os planos estrarão em consenso com o apresentado na Agenda 2063[iv].

Para ajudar na implementação dos planos, Xi Jinping anunciou um pacote de apoio financeiro de 60 bilhões de dólares, divididos em quatro áreas: “US$ 35 bilhões para empréstimos preferenciais e linhas de crédito para a exportação; US$ 05 bilhões em subsídios; US$ 15 bilhões de capital para o CAD Fund; e US$ 05 bilhões para empréstimos voltados ao desenvolvimento de pequenas e médias empresas africanas. (VISWANATHAN, 2015).

 Desse modo, as expectativas de que os investimentos chineses na África seriam menores devido a desaceleração da economia, não se concretizaram. Os 60 bilhões de dólares anunciados por Xi Jinping surpreenderam a todos. Além disso, os investimentos no CAD Fund foram maiores do que o planejado.

Fonte: GPPM