Archive for the ‘Mexico’ Category
America’s ‘backyard’ has never been so united and independent of U.S. influence.
Steve Ellner, In These Times, April 14, 2011
In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama pressed for quick passage of a free trade agreement with Colombia, and since then has followed up on the proposal. In doing so he has delighted Republicans who had been accusing him of failing to prioritize the issue. In his January speech, Obama made no reference to his unequivocal concern over human rights violations which he had raised in his third presidential debate with McCain.
Since 2008, little has improved to justify Obama’s reversal. Human Rights Watch has reported a 41 percent increase in the number of victims in 2010 over the previous year, including the murder of 44 trade unionists. In the first six weeks of 2011, death squads assassinated three more labor activists.
In an attempt to assure members of U.S. Congress that progress is being made, on April 7 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Obama announced from the White House the approval of an “Action Plan,” whereby the Colombian government pledged to take stringent measures to curb abuses. Many Colombian trade union leaders, however, refused to buy into the arrangement and expressed skepticism about their government’s resolve. Tarsicio Mora, president of the Unitary Workers Confederation (CUT), objected by saying, “It just can’t be that respect for a basic right established in the constitution, such as the right to life, has to be required by a commercial transaction.”
Obama’s new stand has also failed to win over U.S. trade unionists. In January, Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen argued against the agreement by pointing out that 15 million Colombians representing 82 percent of the working population are not recognized as workers and thus under the law “have no rights.”
Obama’s change–from opposition to the free trade agreement with Colombia, to lukewarm endorsement of it, to vigorous support–is just one example of his turnabout on Latin American policy. His modified stand distances Washington from an important bloc of Latin American governments and contributes to the decline of the U.S. leadership position in the hemisphere.
BRICS works for shared prosperity
Zhang Yan (Chinese Ambassador to India), The Hindu, April 13, 2011
…With Broad Vision and Shared Prosperity as its theme, the Leaders Meeting has already attracted widespread attention from all over the world. The outcome of the meeting will not only benefit the five countries but also contribute to the world development…
…The trade among these five countries experienced a rapid growth at 28 per cent annually from the year 2001 to 2010 and reached the amount of $230 billion. When the concept of BRICS first became known to the public, no one would have ever imagined that it would have developed into such a vibrant cooperation mechanism for the emerging markets in a short span of time.
BRICS countries are amongst the fastest growing economies in the world with tremendous potential. The cooperation among BRICS members reflects the development of international situation as well as the desire and choice of emerging economies.
The members of BRICS share a lot in common in many senses. They are in the similar stage of development and face the same historical task of developing their economies and improving the well-being of their people. At present, the five countries are also facing similar challenges or problems in restructuring the economy, maintaining a healthy and sustainable growth and in achieving an inclusive, equitable and green development. The BRICS cooperation has provided a valuable platform for the five countries to share development experiences and work together on development problems…
…The cooperation of BRICS is different from many other international and regional mechanisms, such as the G8. It is neither another new grouping of big powers nor a political alliance. The countries are partners in development. The cooperation of BRICS countries diversified the growth of the world economy and became a driving force for the democratisation of international economic relations. The BRICS mechanism is not in competition with other mechanisms. It is open, transparent and inclusive and will always follow the principle of consensus building. It also serves as a bridge of communications and exchanges between the developed and the developing countries.
The forthcoming Leaders Meeting aims at achieving positive results in the following aspects: First, to arrive at a consensus on how to cope with global challenges and make contributions to resolving global problems. Second, to enhance coordination and collaboration among BRICS countries in international affairs, work closely on the issues of international monetary system reform, bulk commodity prices fluctuations, climate change and sustainable development and accelerate the improvement of global governance. Third, to further deepen and expand BRICS pragmatic cooperation in all fields. Fourth, to further strengthen the bilateral relations among BRICS countries. On the sidelines, the Leaders will have bilateral talks, Trade Ministers will meet and a Business Forum will also be convened. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Sanya Declaration will be adopted as an outcome of the Meeting. In short, the Leaders Meeting is aiming at “gathering consensus, strengthening coordination and deepening cooperation.”…
…We believe that with the cooperation among China, India and other BRICS countries, the Third BRICS Leaders Meeting will send out the signal of “confidence, solidarity, cooperation and win-win situation” to the international community. The meeting can also become a milestone in the process of cooperation among BRICS countries and set a good example of South-South cooperation. It will definitely create more opportunities for growth and bring benefits to human beings.
Trade Ties That Cut Out the West
Alan Wheatley, Reuters, April 11, 2011
…Moreover, some experts say the BRICS caucus has already shown its worth as a counterweight to the West in global talks on trade and climate change and, within the Group of 20 leading economies, on how to redistribute power in international financial institutions.
In each case, despite differing positions, the five have acted collectively to prevent advanced countries from driving wedges between them, said Sourabh Gupta of Samuels International Associates, an international trade and political risk assessment firm in Washington.
“There is a certain basic logic to their economic interaction,” Mr. Gupta said. “They have not allowed themselves to be co-opted by Western countries. Either they’re going to hang together or hang alone.”…
…Still, the bank, based in Manila, expects the south-south share of global trade to double in the next two decades.
With developing Asia accounting for about 75 percent of south-south commerce, and China alone taking up about 40 percent, the challenge for the BRICS is to divide the cake more evenly…
…“All African countries view China’s increasing economic power positively,” the survey said. Standard Bank sees no let-up in the acceleration of commercial ties. By 2015, Chinese-African trade could easily exceed $300 billion, compared with $93 billion in 2009 and about $125 billion in 2010, Mr. Freemantle said.
And, as the BRICS summit meeting scheduled for this week shows, where trade goes, politics will follow, especially as economic power moves east in the wake of the global financial crisis.
“African countries are increasingly aware of this global shift and placing China in a more central role in their foreign policy objectives,” Mr. Freemantle said.
BRICS countries need to further enhance coordination: Manmohan Singh
The Times of India, April 12, 2011
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) should combine their “huge potential” to continue enhancing their coordination on major issues of common concern.
BRICS countries should coordinate better on issues such as the world economy, the democratic and equitable world order and global governance reform, Manmohan Singh told Xinhua prior to the BRICS summit in China…
…Cooperation among BRICS members should aim at improving the economic well-being of their people.
“We could, for example, share experiences on the management of large urban cities,” he said.
“We should also enhance dialogues and exchanges among our civil societies, media, businesses, scholars and youths.”
As BRICS countries are all members of the current UN Security Council, they should “shape and guide the international discourse on issues of importance to us”, he said.
Manmohan Singh said India warmly welcomed South Africa to BRICS and added that its presence would lend weight to the grouping.
BRICS can contribute to the development of Africa and articulate its priorities at international forums, which will benefit not just Africa but the entire world, he said.
The Indian prime minister said he was very happy that the third BRICS summit was taking place for the first time in Asia.
“This is a matter of great encouragement for all BRICS countries.”
“We have a substantive agenda for the summit. That includes discussions on the international situation, international economic and financial issues, development and sectoral cooperation. I look forward to reviewing the decisions we took at the last G-20 summit in Seoul,” Manmohan Singh said.
On cooperation with China, Manmohan Singh said India and China “are both witnessing rapid growth, addressing the aspirations of our peoples and stimulating global demand”.
“Our shared objective remains to ensure sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy and employment creation,” he said, adding that the two largest developing countries in the world bear important responsibilities of ensuring their all-round and sustainable socio-economic development.
BRICS — new focus of China’s “multilateral diplomacy”
Ananth Krishan, The Hindu, April 13, 2011
…But in recent months, officials here have appeared to invest the grouping with a never-before-seen level of strategic importance. In interviews, officials and analysts cast the group as the new focus of China’s “multilateral diplomacy” — a crucial vehicle for the country’s wider objective to carve out for itself a more prominent role in a changing global order.
Ahead of Thursday’s annual summit meeting among the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China — who, for the first time, will be joined by South Africa — Chinese officials have hinted they will push the grouping to broaden its agenda beyond specific economic issues, and to look at how it could emerge as a platform for emerging countries to reshape the international order.
“In the past, the emerging powers acted individually and were often unable to effectively meet the challenges from the West. Now they can coordinate their policies and movements more efficiently,” Yang Jiemian, president of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and influential strategic analyst, who has shaped China’s BRICS policy, said in a speech last month.
Once reluctant to describe the grouping’s political weight, Chinese officials and analysts have increasingly spoken of its potential as a platform to challenge the West…
…“At this point, BRICS countries are still in an ad hoc political club,” said Liu Youfa, a scholar at the official China Institute of International Studies (CIIS). “In order to further enhance cooperation among them, and to achieve common development, institutionalisation is the direction for the future.”
Mr. Yang, who has led the calls for China to expand its engagement with emerging countries as a way to challenge the West, has described the BRIC mechanism in several essays as a future model for diplomacy — a loose grouping where countries could come together on specific issues while still differing on others, apt for a fluid period in international diplomacy where older military alliances and blocs were being diluted.
“The emerging powers should continue to pursue the kind of dialogue and cooperation that will lead to the re-adjustments of the current international and regional systems,” he said.
For China, this means garnering support on specific issues where it has faced pressure from the West. On climate change and trade talks at Doha, Chinese officials acknowledge, the country would have been left isolated without India and Brazil. The recent UNSC vote, where the BRIC nations abstained from supporting military intervention in Libya, also underscored common concerns…
…Reforming exchange rate regimes is another case in point. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff belied Western expectations, not raising the issue of valuation of the Chinese yuan, which countries say has been kept artificially undervalued, during her visit to Beijing this week.
China, Russia agree to deepen bilateral ties
Xinhua, April 13, 2011
…During their meeting before the BRICS summit slated for Thursday, Hu outlined four major aspects that the two countries could work on to promote relations.
— Seize the opportunity of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation to carry forward and consolidate the traditional China-Russia friendship.
— Enhance mutual political support and firmly back each other’s efforts in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and interests.
— Push forward cooperation on major energy projects like the west natural gas pipeline from West Siberia to China and expand all-round cooperation in sectors such as economy and trade, investment, advanced technologies, finance and culture.
— Strengthen communication and coordination on international and regional issues as well as major issues such as the global economic and financial system reform…
…Medvedev said the two sides should further expand trade and promote cooperation on investment and major areas such as oil, natural gas, hydro-power and nuclear.
He also said that the planning for the cooperation between northeast China and Russia’s far east and Siberian areas should be well implemented.
BRICS to push for positions on IMF and World Bank
Amanda Hodge, The Australian, April 14, 2011
IN a move set to fuel concerns over China’s ambitions for the yuan to become a global alternative to the US dollar, the BRICS club of five developing nations will agree today to extend credit and grants in their own currencies.
High on the agenda for this week’s summit between the so-called BRICS alignment (Brazil, Russia, India, China and newly added South Africa) is a push to open top positions in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to countries outside North America and Europe, and the problem of bulk commodity price fluctuations.
The five nations will hope a joint position on those issues will raise its influence in November’s G20 talks, when the larger group debates how to deal with global economic imbalances.
The five are expected also to sign off on a united position on Libya, calling for a greater role for the African Union and the UN to end the internal conflict.
The increasingly political agenda for the third BRICS leaders’ summit, being held on the Chinese island of Hainan, is further evidence of the ambitions of developing nations for a more influential role in global policy…
…In an opinion article for Indian daily broadsheet The Hindu yesterday, China’s ambassador to India Zhang Yan talked up the significance of the grouping that represents five of the world’s fastest growing economies and 42 per cent of the global population.
“BRICS countries share the same concerns and views in reforming and improving the global financial governance and relevant institutions,” he wrote…
…The BRICS alignment has been the subject of some derision, given its birth from an acronym derived by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in 2001 to draw attention to four rising economies he thought would play an increasingly large global role.
But Mr O’Neill said yesterday that the BRICS economies, currently worth a combined $US12 trillion compared with the US’s $15 trillion, were on target to eclipse the US by 2018.
BRICS nations decry use of force in Middle East, N.Africa
Reuters, April 13, 2011
BRICS nations on Wednesday rejected the use of force in the Middle East and Northern Africa, urging dialogue and non-intervention, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.
In the context of the Middle East and Northern Africa, specifically Libya, the BRICS reject the use of force, the draft statement said.
“We share the principle that the use of force must be avoided.”
Viewpoint: Global significance of India-China ties
Mahesh Vyas, BBC, April 11, 2011
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s comment that India-China relations have transcended bilateral dimensions to acquire global strategic significance is indicative of the stakes in this high-profile meeting of the premiers of two of the world’s largest nations.
The two countries together account for 36.7% of the world’s population, 10.8% of its gross domestic product and 10.4% of the global trade.
Most importantly, these two are expected to lead the world out of its current economic slowdown.
India grew by 9.7% and China by 10.5% in 2010, while the rest of the world grew by barely 4%.
These significantly disparate growth rates between the rest of the world and these two are expected to persist in 2011 and possibly further into the future…
…China’s exports to India have increased dramatically in recent years, but India’s exports have not.
India will look forward to increasing its exports to China.
China stands to gain from its export-oriented growth strategy and from India’s growing domestic market.
In many industries, China and India compete in the international markets.
In this sense both have a stake in the sustained growth of the world economy.
BRICS nations to replace dollar credits with local currencies
Monsters & Critics, April 13, 2011
The BRICS group of nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – were expected to sign an agreement Thursday to allow them to offer credit or grants to each other in their own currencies instead of US dollars, news reports said.
‘We are making a beginning,’ India’s National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon was quoted as saying by reporters in announcing the agreement while accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a flight to China for the third BRICS summit.
BRICS not only on economic cooperation, but political voice of the South: minister
Shao Haijun, Xinhua, April 12, 2011
South Africa’s entry into BRICS, a group of emerging economies, not only provides opportunities for economic development in Africa, but also demonstrates the voice of the South can not be ignored in global politics, a South African minister has said.
“BRIC countries are largely, I say largely, products of our forebears in the Bandung Conference of sole solidarity in 1955, so we are elated to see such South-South solidarity coming up with such economy giants emerging from this,” International Relation and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The minister said South Africa was “quite honored and elated” to have been invited to join “this very, very, important global grouping.”…
…Nkoana-Mashabane said she was excited about the role BRICS would play in bringing infrastructure development to the African continent.
“South Africa boasts of the finest financial institutions in the world, which we think is some of the expertise we can share with these other countries. So to address vulnerabilities? Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships,” she said.
The minister pointed out that BRICS was no longer just about economic cooperation.
BRICS came at an important time when multi-polarity in global politics was almost in shape, she said, noting that South Africa saw a lot of opportunities the emerging countries could seize on the reforms of the United Nations and the international financial institutions.
She believed that BRICS could guarantee that the voices of emerging economies be heard.
The Diplomatic Logic of South Africa’s Entry Into BRICS
Andrew Cooper, World Politics Review, April 13, 2011
South Africa will formally join the BRIC grouping of Brazil, Russia, India and China at their April 14 summit in Hainan, China. Echoing previous meetings, the major focus of the summit will be to consolidate the impression that the BRICs are the rising force in the global arena. The June 2009 Yekaterinburg summit was hailed as an “historic event” by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and was punctuated by a call for “the emerging and developing economies [to] have a greater voice and representation in international financial institutions” (.pdf). Then-Brazilian President Lula da Silva, host of the April 2010 summit, upped the ante by declaring that “a new global economic geography has been born.”…
…The move to include South Africa also increases the power and the legitimacy of the collective voice opportunities for the BRICs when dealing with issues of fairness in the global system. The agenda of the G-7 and OECD powers will be increasingly challenged by a core group, as opposed to the diffuse G-77 and Non-Aligned Movement. There is even the possibility that the BRICs could become a caucus grouping of non-G-7 countries within the G-20, putting pressure on others such as Indonesia and even Mexico and South Korea to choose sides.
Alexander Martinez, AFP, April 5, 2011
President Rafael Correa claimed that the United States has infiltrated Ecuador’s armed forces and police, shortly after he ordered the US ambassador out of the country over a leaked Wikileaks diplomatic cable.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino earlier announced that the US ambassador, Heather Hodges, was sent home over the leaked cable that quoted her as saying Correa knowingly appointed a corrupt chief of police.
Correa said that the US cable in question, first published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, “includes considerable information from inside the police, which shows that these people have infiltrated the Armed Forces and the police, which is already an open secret.”
“But for it to be turned around and made use of institutionally by the US ambassador in Ecuador really is bald-faced, so this woman has been declared persona non grata and will have a few days to leave the country,” the president said in a radio interview.