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Geschrieben von: Redaktion
Freitag, den 22. Juni 2012 um 11:12 Uhr
London. – Die Krise in der Euro-Zone verursacht in den Entwicklungsländern einen starken Rückgang bei Exporten, Investitionen, Rücküberweisungen von Migranten und bei der Entwicklungshilfe. Experten des britischen Overseas Development Institute (ODI) haben errechnet, dass sich die daraus resultierenden Verluste in den Jahren 2012 und 2013 auf insgesamt 238 Milliarden US-Dollar belaufen könnten. Dies könnte das Wirtschaftswachstum in den Ländern des Südens um durchschnittlich 0,5 Prozent senken.
Besonders anfällig für Auswirkungen der Krise in der Eurozone sind nach Angaben des ODI die Länder Mosambik, Kenia, Niger, Kamerun, die Kapverden und Paraguay. Die EU ist nach wie vor der größte Exportmarkt für ärmere Länder. Die meisten Importe der Entwicklungsländer kommen hingegen aus den “BRIC-Staaten” Brasilien, Russland, Indien und China.
Die ODI-Untersuchung nennt hinsichtlich der Abhängigkeit vielen Entwicklungsländer von der EU einige Beispiele. So gehen mehr als die Hälfte aller Exporte Marokkos, Mosambiks und Kameruns in europäische Länder. Die Kapverden exportieren sogar 90 Prozent ihrer Güter in die EU. 17 Prozent des Bruttoinlandsprodukts der Elfenbeinküste wird mit Exporten in die EU erwirtschaftet. Und Tadschikistans Bruttoinlandsprodukt hängt zu 40 Prozent von den Geldüberweisungen ab, die in der EU lebende Tadschiken nach Hause senden.
(Quelle: entwicklungspolitik online)
Berlin: (hib/AHE) Der Bundesregierung liegen keine Erkenntnisse vor, dass Altkleiderexporte aus Deutschland „einen der wesentlichen Hinderungsgründe für den Aufbau einer eigenen, wettbewerbsfähigen Textilindustrie in Entwicklungsländern“ darstellen. Wie es in einer Antwort (17/8690) auf eine Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (17/8528) weiter heißt, sei der Rückgang der lokalen Produktion zum Teil auch auf „wirtschaftliche und handelspolitische Probleme des jeweiligen Entwicklungslandes“ zurückzuführen. Dazu zählten unter anderem „mangelnde Produktivität von Betrieben“, staatliche Eingriffe und Wettbewerbsverzerrungen durch Importzölle.
Die Bundesregierung weist in diesem Zusammenhang darauf hin, dass den betroffenen Ländern „geeignete außenhandelspolitische Instrumente“ zur Steuerung von Altkleiderimporten zur Verfügung stünden. Eine Exportbeschränkung für Altkleider lehnt die Bundesregierung ab. Wie sie in der Antwort weiter ausführt, würden Länder wie Kenia, Kamerun, Tansania, Malawi, Uganda und Liberia nach Schätzungen des International Trade Centre (ITC) 60 bis 80 Prozent des Kleidungsbedarfs durch Altkleider decken.”
(Quelle: Deutscher Bundestag.)
By PATRICK BOND
A renewed wave of development babble began flowing soon after the February launch of the World Bank’s ten-year Strategy document, “Africa’s Future and the World Bank’s Support to It”. Within three months, a mini-tsunami of Afro-optimism swept in: the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for SubSaharan Africa, the Economic Commission on Africa’s upbeat study, the African World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report, and the African Development Bank’s discovery of a vast new “middle class” (creatively defined to include the 20% of Africans whose expenditures are $2-4/day).
Drunk on their own neoliberal rhetoric, the multilateral establishment swoons over the continent’s allegedly excellent growth and export prospects, in the process downplaying underlying structural oppressions in which they are complicit: corrupt power relations, economic vulnerability, worsening Resource Curses, land grabs and threats of environmental chaos and disease.
These are merely mentioned in passing in the Bank’s Africa Strategy – the most comprehensive of these neoliberal-revival tracts – but a frank, honest accounting of the author’s role is inconceivable, even after an internal Independent Evaluation Group report scathing of mistakes the last time around. That effort, the 2005 Africa Action Plan (AAP), was associated with the G-8’s big-promise little-delivery Summit in Gleneagles.
The Bank admits the AAP was a “top-down exercise, prepared in a short time with little consultations with clients and stakeholders”, and that the “performance of the Bank’s portfolio in the Region” was lacking. Tellingly, the Bank confesses, “People who had to implement the plan did not have much engagement with, and in some cases were not even aware of, the AAP.”
Tyrants and democrats
Though in 2021 the same will probably be said of this Strategy, the Bank claims its antidote is “face-to-face discussions with over 1,000 people in 36 countries.” However, as quotes from attendees prove, the Bank could regurgitate only the most banal pablum.
Nor does the Strategy propose grand new alliances (e.g. with the Gates Foundation). There is just a quick nod to two civilized-society partners, the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (Harare) and African Economic Research Consortium (Nairobi) which together have educated 3000 local neoliberals, the Bank proudly remarks.
Embarrassingly, the Bank hurriedly stoops to endorse three continental institutions: the African Union (AU), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (founded by former SA president Thabo Mbeki in 2001) and African Peer Review Mechanism (2003). The latter two are usually described as outright failures.
As for the former, there were once high hopes that the AU would respond to Africa’s socio-political and economic aspirations, but not only did Muammar Gaddafi exercise a strong grip as AU president and source of no small patronage.
Horace Campbell pointed out other leadership contradictions in Pambazuka News in March: “That the current leaders of Africa could support the elevation of Teodoro Obiang Nguema to be the chairperson of this organisation pointed to the fact that most of these leaders such as Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Republic of Congo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan , Paul Biya of Cameroon, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Ali Bongo of Gabon, King Mswati III of Swaziland, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia are not serious about translating the letters of the Constitutive Act into reality.”
These sorts of rulers are the logical implementers of the Bank Strategy. No amount of bogus consultations with civilized society can disguise the piling up of Odious Debts on African societies courtesy of the Bank, IMF and their allied strongmen borrowers.
Yet these men are nowhere near as strong as the Bank assumes, when reproducing a consultancy’s map of countries considered to have “low” levels of “state fragility”, notably including Tunisia and Libya – just as the former tyranny fell and the latter experienced revolt.
In contrast, the Africa Strategy makes no mention whatsoever of those pesky, uncivil-society democrats who are opposed to Bank partner-dictators. Remarks Pambazuka editor Firoze Manji, “Their anger is being manifested in the new awakenings that we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Djibouti, Botswana, Uganda, Swaziland, and South Africa. These awakenings are just one phase in the long struggle of the people of Africa to reassert control over our own destinies, to reassert dignity, and to struggle for self-determination and emancipation.”
Unsound African architecture
The Bank will continue standing in their way by funding oppressors, leaving the Africa Strategy with a structurally-unsound, corny architectural metaphor: “The strategy has two pillars – competitiveness and employment, and vulnerability and resilience – and a foundation – governance and public-sector capacity.”
Setting aside hypocritical governance rhetoric, the first pillar typically collapses because greater competitiveness often requires importing machines to replace workers (hence South Africa’s unemployment rate doubled through post-apartheid economic restructuring). And Bank advice to all African countries to do the same thing – export! – exacerbates mineral or cash crop gluts, such as were experienced from 1973 until the commodity boom of 2002-08.
The Bank Strategy also faces “three main risks: the possibility that the global economy will experience greater volatility; conflict and political violence; and resources available to implement the strategy may be inadequate.”
These are not just risks but certainties, given that world economic managers left unresolved all the problems causing the 2008-09 meltdown; that resource-based conflicts will increase as shortages emerge (oil especially as the Gulf of Guinea shows); and that donors will be chopping aid budgets for years to come. Still, while the Bank retains “some confidence that these risks can be mitigated”, in each case its Strategy actually amplifies them.
It is self-interested – but not strategic for Africa – for the Bank to promote further exports from African countries already suffering extreme primary commodity dependency. Economically, the Strategy is untenable, what with European countries cracking up and defaulting, Japan stagnant, the US probably entering a double-dip recession, and China and India madly competing with Western mining houses and bio-engineering firms for African resources and land grabs. Nowhere can be found any genuine intent of assisting Africa to industrialise in a balanced way.
The Bank’s bland counterclaim: “While Africa, being a relatively small part of the world economy, can do little to avoid such a contingency, the present strategy is designed to help African economies weather these circumstances better than before.” But these are not “circumstances” and “contingencies”: they are core features of North-South political economy from which Africa should be seeking protection.
Neoliberalism, poverty and ecological destruction
A poignant example is the Bank’s warm endorsement of Kenyan cut-flower trade in spite of worsening water stress, commodity price volatility and inclement carbon-tax constraints. Nevertheless, “Between 1995 and 2002, Kenya’s cut flower exports grew by 300 percent” – while nearby peasant agriculture suffered crippling water shortages, a problem not worth mentioning in Bank propaganda.
Where will water storage and power come from? Bank promotion of megadams (such as Bujagali in Uganda or Inga in the DRC) ignores the inability of poor people to pay for hydropower, not to mention worsening climate-related evaporation, siltation or tropical methane emissions.
Other silences are revealing, such as in this Bank confession of prior multilateral silo-mentality: “Focusing on health led to a neglect of other factors such as water and sanitation that determine child survival.” The reason water was underfunded following Jeffrey Sachs’ famous 2001 World Health Organisation macroeconomic report was partly that his analysts didn’t accurately assess why $130 billion in borehole and piping investments failed during the 1980s-90s: insufficient subsidies to cover operating and maintenance deficits.
Lack of subsidies for basic infrastructure is an ongoing problem, in part because “the G-8 promise of doubling aid to Africa has fallen about $20 billion short.” So as a result, “the present strategy emphasizes partnerships – with African governments, the private sector and other development partners,” even though Public-Private Partnerships rarely work. Most African privatized water systems have fallen apart.
South Africa has had many such failed experiments, in every sector. The latest Bank loan to Pretoria, for $3.75 billion (its largest-ever project loan) is itself a screaming rebuttal to the Strategy’s claim that “the Bank’s program in Africa will emphasize sustainable infrastructure. The approach goes beyond simply complying with environmental safeguards. It seeks to help countries develop clean energy strategies that choose the appropriate product mix, technologies and location to promote both infrastructure and the environment.”
That loan also caused extreme electricity pricing inequity and legitimation of corrupt African National Congress construction tenders. This generated condemnation of the government by its own investigators and of the Bank by even Johannesburg’s Business Day newspaper, normally a reliable ally.
South African workers would also take issue with a Bank assumption: “The regulation of labor (in South Africa, for instance) often constrains businesses… In some countries, such as South Africa (where the unemployment rate is 25 percent), more flexibility in the labor market will increase employment.”
This view, expressed occasionally by the Bank’s aggressively neoliberal Africa chief economist, Shanta Devarajan, is refuted not only by 1.3 million lost jobs in 2009-10 but by the September 2010 International Monetary Fund Article IV consultation analysis, which puts SA near the top of world labour flexibility rankings, trailing only the US, Britain and Canada.
There are other neoliberal dogmas, e.g., “Microfinance, while growing, has huge, untapped potential in Africa.” The Bank apparently missed the world microfinance crisis symbolized by the firing of Muhammad Yunus as Grameen executive (just as the Strategy was released), the many controversies over usurious interest rates, or the 200,000 small farmer suicides in Andra Pradesh, India in recent years due to unbearable microdebt loads.
The Bank also endorses cellphones, allegedly “becoming the most valuable asset of the poor. The widespread adoption of this technology – largely due to the sound regulatory environment and entrepreneurship – opens the possibility that it could serve as a vehicle for transforming the lives of the poor.” The Bank forgets vast problems experienced in domestic cellphone markets, including foreign corporate ownership and control.
And as for what is indeed “the biggest threat to Africa because of its potential impact, climate change could also be an opportunity. Adaptation will have to address sustainable water management, including immediate and future needs for storage, while improving irrigation practices as well as developing better seeds.” Dangers to the peasantry and to urban managers of the likely 7 degree rise and worsened flooding/droughts are underplayed, and opportunities for wider vision for a post-carbon Africa are ignored, such as the importance of the North (including the World Bank itself) paying its vast climate debt to Africa.
“An African Consensus”?
Compared to Bank funding for insane mega-projects such as the $3.75 billion lent to South Africa to build the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power plant last April, not much is at stake in the Strategy’s portfolio: $2.5 billion/year over the decade-long plan.
Nevertheless, the Africa Strategy hubris is dangerous not only for diverging from reality so obviously, but for seeking a route from Bank Strategy to “an African consensus.” The Bank commits to “work closely with the AU, G-20 and other fora to support the formulation of Africa’s policy response to global issues, such as international financial regulations and climate change, because speaking with one voice is more likely to have impact.”
Does Africa need a sole neoliberal voice claiming “consensus”, speaking from shaky pillars atop crumbling foundations based on false premises and corrupted processes, piloting untenable projects, allied with incurable tyrants, impervious to demands for democracy and social justice? If so, the Bank has a Strategy already unfolding.
And if all goes well with the status quo, the Strategy’s predictions for 2021 include a decline in the poverty rate by 12 percent and at least five countries entering the ranks of middle-income economies (candidates are Ghana, Mauritania, Comoros, Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia).
More likely, though, is worsening uneven development and growing Bank irrelevance as Africans continue courageously protesting neoliberalism and dictatorship, in search of both free politics and socio-economic liberation.
Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society in Durban: http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za
By Isolda Agazzi
Long-term investors like pension funds are probably the reason why the prices of commodities, including crops, have been driven to a higher level than in 2008 when food riots erupted in 30 countries, according to the British nongovernmental organisation Christian Aid.
“In recent years, the way food prices have risen has mirrored the way investment has flowed into the individual commodities futures markets”, Andrew Hogg, campaigns editor at Christian Aid, told IPS in an interview.
The social justice organisation has just released “Hungry for justice: Fighting starvation in an age of plenty”, a study indicating that between Jan. 2005 and Jun. 2008, food prices rose by an average of 83 percent. And it is even worse now: in Feb. 2011, they trumped the record figures of Jun. 2008 when food riots erupted in some 30 countries.
While financial speculation in agricultural products has largely contributed to this increase, the study suggests that the main responsibility does not lie with hedge funds and “cowboy” speculators, as usually assumed, but rather with the more prudent institutional investors such as pension funds.
“While we are not able to definitively prove that investment in commodity futures is driving up food prices, we are saying that the similarities in increases makes a strong case for urgent investigation into whether this enormous amount of money is contributing to global hunger,” Hogg specified.
In financial jargon, “futures” are what is believed a crop would be worth at some defined point in the future when it will be harvested.
While these products have been around for hundreds of years – usually as a way of giving farmers an advance income to invest in production – today companies have a huge amount of money to invest in the respective values of crops.
Another major turn has been the creation of commodity index funds, that is, indices of commodities bundled together.
Goldman Sachs opened the first commodity index fund in 1991. The bank selected 18 commodities, including wheat, coffee, cocoa and pork, and invited investors to invest in this bundle of commodities rather than in individual ones. Since then, other indices have appeared.
Following the U.S.’s deregulation of commodities trading in indices in 2000, these funds began to attract an influx of non-traditional investors, such as pension funds and managed investment funds that were betting on the rise of commodities after the burst of the dot-com bubble.
The total value held by institutional investors in these funds increased from 15 billion dollars in 2003 to 317 billion dollars in mid-2008.
In contrast with hedge funds where selling and buying of shares happen at a rapid pace and where funds move “against the market” – they buy when the price is low and sell when it is high – long-term institutional investors look for “safe” returns. And since people will always need to eat, food crops are seen as low risk investments.
“Never again should policymakers agree to such regulatory changes without assessing their impact on the poor in developing countries,” Hogg exclaimed. “It is impossible now to ban investment in commodity futures but we send a strong warning that these consequences had not been predicted. People should have thought about this more.”
The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that almost one billion people experience chronic hunger. “This is a scandal in an age where we should be able to feed everybody,” Hogg commented.
“There will always be shortages due to events like earthquakes, wars or cyclones, but they can be remedied with international aid. The persistent problem of hunger should attract our concern, particularly since things may get even worse in future,” added Hogg.
One of the main threats to chronic hunger comes from climate change. Some surveys suggest that if nothing is done, the number of malnourished children under five is going to be 24 million higher in 2050 than if the climate had remained unchanged.
In Africa it is predicted that, by 2020, some 75 to 250 million people in places such as northern Kenya will be exposed to increased water stress that will drive them to urban areas.
Another neglected issue is investment in agriculture. “We call for sustainable agricultural practices and more investment in agriculture,” Hogg continued.
“Agriculture has been badly hit because the West has tried to impose economic policies on developing countries that have not worked. What we suggest is that investment and research be increased. Ultimately the small-holder farmer could be the solution to the question of food security.”
In the first half of May a cabinet minister of Cameroon, speaking in Geneva, called it a “scandal” that the West African country imports 90 percent of the rice it consumes. He issued a plea to foreigners to invest in agriculture in Cameroon.
He insisted, however, that as his country aims to be self-sufficient, the resulting crops should primarily feed the local population with only the surplus being exported. Also, value addition should be done locally.
Hogg pointed out that Christian Aid does not believe that foreign direct investment (FDI) is necessarily devoid of benefits for locals.
If provisions are put in place to protect the livelihoods and land rights of people, FDI could be to their advantage. But it should be recognised that people living on the land might not have enough negotiating power to protect their livelihoods, therefore contracts have to be carefully scrutinised. (END)”
(Quelle: IPS News.)
By Julio Godoy
Increasing industrial production of oil palm in sub-Saharan African countries, carried out by foreign corporations, is destroying the livelihoods of millions of Africans and the biodiversity of ecosystems. Despite this, industrialised countries’ governments and development agencies continue to promote such production.
African countries most affected are Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana. But palm oil fields and industrial facilities are located in at least the half of sub-Saharan African countries.
In the vast majority of cases, the industrial production of oil palm is in the hands of foreign corporations, such as the French Bolloré group, the Brazilian petroleum group Petrobras, the Italian company ENI and the Singapore-based Wilmar International. Most of the exploiters are European Union-based companies.
The industrial system of oil palm production in Africa “is based on monoculture plantations where the land only produces palm fruits for industry,” according to Ricardo Carrere, an expert in forest management at the World Rainforest Movement (WRM).
The WRM, with a secretariat in Montevideo, Uruguay, is an international organisation promoting local people’s land rights.
“In most if not all cases, land is taken away from local communities with little or no compensation, and bio-diverse ecosystems, mostly forests, are destroyed and substituted by large areas of palm monocultures,” says Carrere, author of “Oil palm in Africa: Past, present and future scenarios”, a report that the WRM published in 2010.
Carrere told IPS that all the foreign oil palm facilities in Africa are characterised by appalling working conditions. “During the colonial times, slavery and forced labour were the daily toll of Africans in such plantations. In the modern system, the conditions are near-slavery with low-paid labour.”
As an example, Carrere mentions the oil palm plantations and industrial facilities managed by the Bolloré group in Cameroon. “The living and working conditions there are abysmal,” he comments. “The living quarters are insalubrious; there is no regular access to water or electricity; and the temporary employees earn extremely low wages.”
According to Carrere and other researchers, hundreds of subcontracted workers toil in these plantations and facilities for six days a week, sometimes from six o’clock in the morning until six o’clock at night, with no social security coverage and earning around two dollars per day.
In his survey, Carrere compared modern, foreign-led industrial palm oil production with the traditional process. “The modern system is even worse than the old one. The new one is characterised by extensive drainage of the land and widespread use of agrochemicals, both impacting on local water resources.”
The recent expansion of the industrial plantations of palm oil has been mostly led by growing demand in industrialised countries for so called agro-fuels, falsely seen as an ecological alternative to fossil fuels.
But the local ecological impact of the palm oil production in sub-Saharan African countries is disastrous, according to numerous surveys. The case of the Bugala Island plantations in Lake Victoria in Uganda serves as another illustration.
According to a study by the Kalangala District Forum of nongovernmental organisations, the palm oil plantations there have increased pressure on central forest reserves, substantially contributed to the depletion of forest products, deforestation, soil erosion and the draining of wetlands.
Furthermore, these plantations have had negative socio-economic effects for the communities living on the islands. These consequences include the violation of land rights of indigenous people, the loss of land as a safety net and reduced access for local communities to resources.
The forum also underlines that the plantations have contributed to the sudden rise of the price of land and destroyed the community-based local economy.
Carrere raises alarm about the “crucial role” of national, regional and multilateral institutions in the promotion and development of foreign investments in the industrialisation of palm oil production in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is important to stress that such support has ignored all the accumulated evidence regarding the negative social and environmental impacts of large-scale plantations elsewhere in the developing world, Carrere says.
He stresses that these international efforts have “also ignored the social benefits of traditional sustainable practices in the production of palm oil. As a result, most support has been aimed at the development of the industrial model and practically none has been provided to the traditional system.”
Among the international financial and multilateral institutions allegedly involved in the promotion of the industrialisation of palm oil in Africa, Carrere mentions the African Development Bank, the African Investment Bank, the European Union through the European Development Fund, the European Investment Bank and the EU Partnership Dialogue Facility.
Other foreign state agencies alleged to be exacerbating the expansion of palm oil in Africa are the U.S. development agency USAid and the U.S. department of agriculture, Britain’s department for international development (Dfid), Finland’s FinnFund and Germany’s agency for technical cooperation, among others.
United Nations agencies are also implicated, such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development that have intervened in favour of the industrial production of palm oil in Africa.
The foreign oil palm plantations and facilities in Africa have generated legal conflicts in companies’ countries of origin. In France, for instance, the Bolloré group in 2010 brought legal challenges against two press reports on its activities in Cameroon.
The court in Paris ruled that the first report could not be considered defamatory. In the second case, no ruling was handed down, apparently because the Bolloré group decided to withdraw the charges two weeks before the trial was scheduled to take place.”
(Quelle: IPS News.)