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The French response to the Corona Crisis: semi-presidentialism par excellence

GDI Briefing - 19. Januar 2038 - 4:14

This blog post analyses the response of the French government to the Coronavirus pandemic. The piece highlights how the semi-presidential system in France facilitates centralized decisions to manage the crisis. From a political-institutional perspective, it is considered that there were no major challenges to the use of unilateral powers by the Executive to address the health crisis, although the de-confinement phase and socio-economic consequences opens the possibility for more conflictual and opposing reactions. At first, approvals of the president and prime minister raised, but the strict confinement and the reopening measures can be challenging in one of the European countries with the highest number of deaths, where massive street protests, incarnated by the Yellow vests movement, have recently shaken the political scene.

Kategorien: english

The role of demographic factors in determining the political attitude of Syrian students at Mardin Artuklu university towards the Syrian event

GDI Briefing - 30. Dezember 2022 - 15:09

Original language: turkish. English abstract: The Syrian event formed a social laboratory that can test various theories of social sciences. Given the intensity of the conflict and the depth of the fluctuations and changes created, there are clear horizontal and vertical divisions and overlapping of the Syrian society's political attitudes towards what is happening. The importance of demographic factors in this regard was remarkable, which is an opportunity to study the factors that determine the political attitude and highlight the demographic factors. Due to the special circumstances of Syria and the difficulty of reaching all segments of society, we chose to study the political attitude of the Syrian students at Mardin Artuklu University. We distributed a questionnaire on a random sample and 212 could be accepted. After carrying out the statistical analysis of the data it was found that the most important demographic factors contributing to determining the age of political attitude, Where the older segments of the youth tended to opposition mood, and the ethnic factor, where it was found that Arabs have an attitude closer to the opposition mood compared to Kurds. While there was no significant effect on the factors such as religion, financial situation and gender

Kategorien: english

How can the G20 support innovative: mechanisms to mobilise financial resources for LDCs in a post-pandemic world?

GDI Briefing - 26. Dezember 2022 - 14:05

Innovative financing for development can contribute to closing the financial gap by mobilising new funds for sustainable development and leveraging existing scarce public concessional resources (ODA). In addition to domestic resources and traditional external financial resources, innovative financing mechanisms can mobilise further financial resources for LDCs. In view of the LDCs’ enormous sustainable investment needs, mobilising private financial resources is both crucial and inescapable. Blended finance represents an important instrument to combine ODA with private finance, thereby leveraging scarce concessional public financial resources. The G20 should consider promoting the adoption and implementation of the OECD Blended Finance Principles in LICs to enhance blended finance in these countries. As many LDCs do not have sufficient institutional capacity. To adopt blended finance instruments the G20 should support LDC in developing institutional capacity to effectively implement blended finance tools and to lower risks associated with blended finance. An additional instrument to enhance external financial resources to LDCs is to allocate the recently approved new SDR allocation to LDCs exceeding LDCs quota. The G20 should take on a leading by example/frontrunner role and donate as well as lend a percentage of their allocations, discuss establishing a special purpose fund (i.e. a green or health fund), support allocating a large amount of SDRs to LDCs exceeding their quota and discuss proposals how to allocate them among LICs and discuss how these financial instruments can be used to ensure a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the covid-19 crisis. As the fragmented architecture of sustainable bond standards represent one main challenge in mobilising financial resources for attaining the SDGs by issuing sustainable bonds the G20 should discuss and promote harmonisation of sustainable bond standards. Moreover, the G20 countries should provide capacity building for LDCs for developing the sustainable bond market in these countries.

Kategorien: english

HLM3 News: Development stakeholders to discuss building trust for enabling civil society

CSO Partnership - 6. Dezember 2022 - 15:23

In time for the Effective Development Cooperation Summit/ GPEDC’s High-Level Meeting (HLM3) 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, the civil society delegation invited various stakeholders to discuss trust-building towards enabling civil society.

The global, multistakeholder conference was organised by the civil society platform CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, and will be held onsite at the Geneva Press Club, and on Zoom (register here) on 10 December 2022, 8AM to 5PM CET.

Resource persons will speak on the following subjects:

  • Regional conference and country action dialogues (featuring country cases from Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean)
  • The challenge before us: Trust and the world in crisis
  • Building Trust for CSO Effectiveness for SDGs and Country Development Results:
  • Partner Country and Development Partner Perspectives
  • Geneva Declaration Presentation and consensus-building

The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness is a platform that unites civil society organisations (CSOs) from around the world on the issue of effective development cooperation. Our members come from six regions and eight major sectors: faith-based, feminist, indigenous peoples, international CSOs, labour, migrants, rural, and youth. #

The post HLM3 News: Development stakeholders to discuss building trust for enabling civil society appeared first on CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Developing countries face ‘impossible trade-off’ on debt: UNCTAD chief

UN #SDG News - 6. Dezember 2022 - 13:00
Spiralling debt in low and middle-income countries has compromised their chances of sustainable development, the head of UN trade facilitation agency UNCTAD has warned.
Kategorien: english

Dispatches from Africa’s COP: Seychelles youth opt for climate capacity building

Brookings - 6. Dezember 2022 - 6:31

By Victoria Alis, Aloysius Uche Ordu

Victoria Alis, president of Oceans Project Seychelles, discusses vulnerabilities faced by ocean ecosystems in the Seychelles and measures some local NGOs in her town put in place in preparation for COP27. Alis lists local climate-related capacity building and mobilization of local youth as priorities for mitigation and adaptation of ocean health in her community.

      
Kategorien: english

Civil society platform to push development actors to deliver effectiveness promises

CSO Partnership - 5. Dezember 2022 - 21:43

The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) will ring the alarm for decision-makers to transform their “business-as-usual” approach and deliver on their effectiveness commitments towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in the 2022 Effective Development Cooperation (EDC) Summit taking place on December 12th to 14th in Geneva.

Taking place at the midpoint of Agenda 2030, the EDC Summit aims to build trust between the various stakeholders to uphold the effectiveness principles – democratic ownership, inclusive partnerships, focus on results, and transparency and accountability – in the current context of the pandemic, a deepening climate emergency, and many economic shocks.

Specific demands from CPDE directed to the Summit participants include:    The CPDE Key Asks are available here.

The Summit will bring together ministers, decision-makers on development co-operation policies and programs, civil society leaders, corporate leaders, and other key actors from trade unions, foundations, multilateral development banks, local and regional governments, parliamentarians, and academia.

Government representatives include those from Bangladesh, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia, Switzerland, and UK.

This will be the third High Level Meeting (HLM3) organised by theplatform Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), the primary multi-stakeholder vehicle for driving development effectiveness.

For its part as the CSO representative to the GPEDC, CPDE is bringing 60 delegates from around the world to advocate the sector’s demands. The full delegation list is available here.

CPDE is an open platform unites civil society organisations (CSOs) from around the world on the issue of effective development cooperation. They collaborate with civil society organisations and networks in more than a hundred countries, and their members come from six regions and eight sectors: faith-based, feminist, indigenous peoples, international CSOs, labour, migrants, rural, and youth.#

 

The post Civil society platform to push development actors to deliver effectiveness promises appeared first on CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Debt, creditworthiness, and climate: A new development dilemma

Brookings - 5. Dezember 2022 - 17:55

By Homi Kharas, Charlotte Rivard

Developing countries face a dilemma. Most have run up public indebtedness in a sensible response to the global recession induced by COVID-19 lockdowns. This has led to a deterioration in creditworthiness but saved their economies and protected their most vulnerable citizens. In normal times, developing countries should be slowly restoring fiscal discipline and retrenching public spending to restore their credit scores, as recommended by international agencies.1 But times are not normal. The global economy is slowing, and many developing countries face growing setbacks from food, energy, and flood crises to drought and conflicts—all while facing the urgent need to transition to a low-carbon economy. Austerity is politically hard and may be economically injudicious.

Academic economists, most notably Nicholas Stern at the London School of Economics and Political Science, have argued that climate change is so urgent an issue as to warrant a rapid scale-up of public and private investments in most developing countries.2 The benefits of climate mitigation and adaptation, strengthened health and education systems, improved resilience and nature-based solutions in agriculture, forestry, and land use, would outweigh the major buildup in external public debt that is inevitable under a “big investment push” strategy.

This paper seeks to inform the debate by investigating the impacts that a “big push,” relative to a business-as-usual (BAU) approach, would have on developing country debt levels, and consequent creditworthiness. Our first contribution is to develop scenarios of growth, investment, fiscal deficits, and debt, under the assumption that investment would have to rise by about 4 percent of an average developing country’s GDP annually under a “big push.” Our second contribution is to assess the impact of these different scenarios on a country’s creditworthiness. We take the values of macroeconomic variables from our scenarios and apply coefficients that have been generated in academic studies of creditworthiness to assess the net impact.

We find that the BAU scenario does lead to a stabilization of debt burden and fiscal deficits compared to GDP, but the alternative “big push” scenario leads to higher growth and a 32 percent increase in income levels by 2050, albeit with 20 percentage points higher levels of indebtedness.3 Both scenarios improve creditworthiness but the “big push” improves it more due to its positive impact on growth. Our results imply that far more attention should be given to the trajectory of income levels in creditworthiness assessments, in addition to looking at the debt-to-GDP ratio. For most developing countries, excluding those with high fiscal deficits and low growth rates, a “big push” is feasible, provided they have access to affordable financing.

We offer the following key recommendations:

  • International financial institutions (IFIs) should change their methodologies of creditworthiness assessment, with an understanding of the risks of climate change.
  • IFIs should scale up provisions for financing at affordable rates to minimize the potential debt overhang problem.
  • Developing countries should scale up domestic resource mobilization to supplement external financing sources.
  • Developing countries should strengthen their institutions to give confidence to investors, improve their credit ratings, and execute the climate-related investments they wish to undertake.

>>Download the full working paper.

      
Kategorien: english

India at the helm of the G20

OECD - 5. Dezember 2022 - 15:20

By Ambassador Dr. Mohan Kumar, Professor and Dean of the Office of International Affairs & Global Initiatives, O.P. Jindal Global University

On 1 December, India assumed the presidency of the G20 for the first time.  This is a momentous event for India and for the G20, at a crucial time in the world.

The presidency offers both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities, because India can help set the global agenda, push for reconciliation/resolution of at least some of the global issues and finally, offer solutions to problems based on its own experience. Challenges, because the world is polarised, there are intractable problems at hand and unexpected ‘black swan’ events may emerge.

The post India at the helm of the G20 appeared first on Development Matters.

Kategorien: english

Die Macht von Geschichten: Warum brauchen wir neue Narrative für eine nachhaltige Zukunft – und wie können quantitative Analysen diese unterstützen?

GDI Briefing - 5. Dezember 2022 - 14:08

Während die Ziele der Agenda 2030 für nachhaltige Entwicklung universell sind, sind die Wege, die zu ihnen führen, vielfältig. Länder haben aufgrund ihrer unterschiedlichen biophysischen, sozio-ökonomischen und politisch-kulturellen Ausgangsbedingungen unterschiedliche Leitvorstellungen davon, wie die Ziele einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung (Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs) erreicht werden sollen, und sie verfügen über unterschiedliche Ansatzpunkte und Hebel hierfür. Nachhaltige Entwicklungspfade, die machbare und aus Sicht unterschiedlicher Akteure erstrebenswerte Wege zur Erreichung der Agenda 2030 und der Pariser Klimaziele beschreiben, müssen diese Faktoren und deren Vielfalt berücksichtigen. Es reicht daher nicht aus, nur eine einzige Pfadoption vorzuschlagen und deren potenzielle Wirkungen zu analysieren. Jeder dieser „nachhaltigen Entwicklungspfade“ erfordert zudem Transformationsprozesse, die einen disruptiven Paradigmenwechsel und einen tiefgreifenden gesellschaftlichen Wandel mit sich bringen. Es bedarf daher positiver, an unterschiedliche Gegebenheiten anknüpfende Leitvorstellungen (“Visionen”). Diese sind am ehesten in einer Kombination aus qualitativen Erzählungen oder Narrativen sowie darauf aufbauender, quantitativer Szenarien zu vermitteln. Analysen können dann die positiven Wechselwirkungen sowie mögliche Zielkonflikte zwischen den einzelnen SDGs und hierfür vorgesehenen Maßnahmen beschreiben und dazu beitragen, Synergien zu verstärken sowie wechselseitige Beeinträchtigungen oder Blockaden zu vermeiden oder zu minimieren.

Kategorien: english

Achieving the SDGs: Europe’s compass in a multipolar world - Europe Sustainable Development Report 2022

GDI Briefing - 5. Dezember 2022 - 12:33

In September 2015, the international community adopted the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, all 193 UN member states signed off on 17 goals to promote socioeconomic prosperity and environmental sustainability. Earlier that same year, the Addis Ababa Action agenda for financing development had been adopted, while the close of the year saw the conclusion of the Paris Climate Agreement. Yet seven years on, the world is significantly off-track to achieving most of these goals, and multiple crises have led to a reversal of SDG progress. From the outset, Heads of State agreed that a number of countries each year (around 40) should present reports on their progress towards the SDGs, in so called ‘voluntary national reviews’ (VNRs) and that leaders would meet every four years to review global SDG progress and agree on a path forward. In July 2023, the EU is to present its first Union-wide voluntary review at the United Nations. This presents a good opportunity for the EU to send a strong message to the international community and to demonstrate its commitment to and leadership on the SDGs. A few months later, in September 2023, Heads of State will again meet under the auspices of the UN General Assembly in New York for the second SDG Summit (the first was held in 2019). Following the SDG Summit, the Summit of the Future, in September 2024, will debate and hopefully lead to the adoption of a Pact for the Future to include major reforms of multilateral institutions and sustainable development finance. This year’s Europe Sustainable Development Report (ESDR 2022) aims to support both of these processes and contribute to strengthening the EU’s SDG leadership at home and internationally.

Kategorien: english

Der (grüne) Kapitalismus wird die biologische Vielfalt nicht retten!

GDI Briefing - 5. Dezember 2022 - 12:05

Bonn, 5. Dezember 2022. Vom 7. bis zum 19. Dezember 2022 wird die 15. Vertragsstaatenkonferenz (COP) des Übereinkommens über die biologische Vielfalt (CBD) im kanadischen Montreal unter dem Vorsitz von China stattfinden. Trotz der schwierigen geopolitischen Weltlage wird erwartet, dass sich die Regierungen auf ein neues „globales Rahmenabkommen für Biodiversität“ (GBF) einigen werden. Viele Beobachter*innen hoffen auf eine bahnbrechende Vereinbarung zum Schutz der biologischen Vielfalt. Manche sprechen gar von der „letzten Chance für die Natur“.

Der aktuelle Entwurf des GBF steht ganz im Zeichen der Agenda 2030 und des Pariser Abkommens, fordert er doch einen Wandel in den „Beziehungen der Gesellschaften zur biologischen Vielfalt“. Die zugehörige Erklärung von Kunming, die auf der ersten Sitzung der COP15 im Oktober 2021 in China verabschiedet wurde, betont die Notwendigkeit eines „transformativen Wandels in allen Wirtschaftssektoren und allen Teilen der Gesellschaft“ und die „Sicherstellung von Nachhaltigkeit in Produktion und Konsum“. Es scheint, dass Regierungen zunehmend anerkennen, was Wissenschaftler*innen und Umweltaktivist*innen schon seit Jahrzehnten fordern: Wir müssen aus nicht nachhaltigen Formen der Produktion und des Konsums aussteigen.

Viele politische Entscheidungsträger*innen, NGOs und Naturschützer*innen sind sich zwar einig, dass tiefgreifender Wandel notwendig ist – doch der Entwurf des GBFs spiegelt dies nur in Teilen wieder. Das GBF zeichnet sich überwiegend, wie viele multilaterale UN-Dokumente auch, durch technokratische Vorgaben und Zielen aus. Das mag viele Experten*innen nicht überraschen, doch ist dies eine der wesentlichen Schwächen des künftigen GBF. Die politische Ökonomie des Naturschutzes bleibt weitestgehend außen vor. Regierungen sollten aus unserer Sicht die progressiven Elemente der Erklärung von Kunming ernst nehmen und anerkennen, dass wir eine sozial-ökologische Transformation benötigen, um den Verlust von Biodiversität zu stoppen. Wenn wir unser aktuelles Wirtschaftssystem nicht grundsätzlich infrage stellen, bleibt der Erfolg des neuen GBF höchst unwahrscheinlich.

Die wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse sind eindeutig, alarmierend und enttäuschend. Trotz einer wachsenden Zahl von Schutzgebieten und marktorientierter Naturschutzinstrumente ist die biologische Vielfalt seit 1970 weltweit um 68 Prozent zurückgegangen. Dennoch bleibt unendliches Wirtschaftswachstum das vorherrschende Paradigma – den verheerenden Auswirkungen auf die Ökosysteme zum Trotz. Darüber hinaus machen komplexe Wertschöpfungsketten und die damit verbundene Trennung der Produktion (z.B. Holzeinschlag im Regenwald) vom Konsum, das Artensterben in unserem täglichen Leben schwer greifbar. Die Verluste finden anderswo statt und bleiben für uns unsichtbar.

Nichtmenschliche Lebewesen sind nicht Teil unserer „communities of justice(Gerechtigkeitsgemeinschaften). Sie sind meist nur dann relevant, wenn sie unseren Interessen dienen (z.B. als Nahrung oder zur Bestäubung), als Faktoren von Kosten-Nutzen-Rechnungen und im Rahmen von vorgeschriebenen Kompensationsmaßnahmen, etwa bei großen Infrastrukturprojekten. So warf eine große deutsche Tageszeitung Gegner*innen der Elbvertiefung und des Ausbaus der Fahrrinne einst vor, dass sie gefährdeten Arten wie dem Schierlings Wasserfenchel mehr Wert beimessen würden als Arbeitsplätzen und Steuereinnahmen. Der Schutz der Artenvielfalt scheint also nur solange erwünscht, wenn er sich nicht auf unsere Volkswirtschaften auswirkt. Hier stellt sich folglich die Frage: Wie viele Arbeitsplätze ist uns das Aussterben von Arten wert?

Was ist nötig, um den Verlust der biologischen Vielfalt zu stoppen und den Trend umzukehren? Was müssen wir tun, um das neue GBF erfolgreich umzusetzen? Zunächst müssen wir anerkennen, dass unser Wirtschaftssystem und sein inhärentes und permanentes Streben nach Expansion zu einer verstärkten Ressourcennutzung, zur Zerstörung von Lebensräumen und zum Verlust der biologischen Vielfalt führt. Folglich erfordert das GBF eine sozial-ökologische Transformation hin zu einer Wirtschaft, die ohne permanentes Wachstum von Produktion und Konsum auskommt. Das Wirtschaften in einer solchen Gesellschaft sollte nicht der Kapitalakkumulation dienen, sondern einen Zustand anstreben, in dem Wohlstand und eine intakte biologische Vielfalt vereinbar sind. Dies erfordert eine durchschnittliche Verringerung der Produktion und des Konsums in einigen Wirtschaftssektoren, während es in Bereichen wie erneuerbare Energien, Bildung, Gesundheit und Pflege Wachstum erfordert. Ein solcher Wandel würde dem Wohlergehen der Menschen, dem Bewahren der biologischen Vielfalt, Vorrang vor Kapitalakkumulation und Profit einräumen. So könnten wir einige der Ursachen für den Verlust der Artenvielfalt aus dem Weg räumen.

Zweitens müssen wir beim Schutz der Biodiversität neue Ansätze verfolgen, die über marktorientierte Instrumente, Kosten-Nutzen-Ansätze und Schutzgebiete, die den Menschen getrennt von der Natur betrachten, hinausgehen. Schutzstrategien sollten die Rolle indigener Gruppen und lokaler Gemeinschaften anerkennen und jene Akteur*innen unterstützen, die seit Jahrhunderten zur Erhaltung der biologischen Vielfalt beitragen. Ein bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen für den Naturschutz ist hier ein vielversprechendes Instrument. Es würde Menschen zugutekommen, die in Gebieten leben, in denen dem Erhalt der Biodiversität eine große Rolle zukommt. Die Zahlungen würden die Grundbedürfnisse indigener Gruppen und lokaler Gemeinschaften (IPLC) decken. Sie können außerdem als eine Form der „Wiedergutmachung“ für IPLCs angesehen werden, da sie im Zuge der Einrichtung neuer Schutzgebiete häufig von ihrem traditionellen Land vertrieben wurden.

Kategorien: english

Partnerships for policy transfer: how Brazil and China engage in triangular cooperation with the United Nations

GDI Briefing - 5. Dezember 2022 - 10:17

This paper offers a comparative analysis of Brazilian and Chinese partnerships with the United Nations (UN) as a mechanism and channel for policy transfer. In international policy travel flows, China and Brazil currently hold privileged places as hubs from which development-related policies travel and through which they circulate. Both countries have invested in systematising their development experience and transferring development policies within their regions and beyond – often through triangular cooperation, i.e. South–South cooperation supported by third actors such as UN entities. So far, however, this variegated engagement has remained under the radar of scholarly attention. To address this gap, we examine 35 policy transfer partnerships – 17 for Brazil and 18 for China – forged with different parts of the UN system over the last two decades. In order to offer a first systematic account of partnership trajectories, we provide an overview of partnership types (namely projects, programmes and policy centres) and transfer dimensions (including the policies themselves, transfer agents and governance arrangements). Our comparative mapping presents an evolving landscape: while Brazil was first in institutionalising robust policy transfer partnerships with numerous UN entities and then slowed down, China started more cautiously but has significantly expanded its collaboration with the UN system since 2015. The partnerships analysed cover a substantial range of sectors, with a particular focus – for both Brazil and China – on agricultural policies. While Brazilian partnerships with the UN primarily engage with linkages between agriculture and social protection, however, China–UN partnerships focus more on productivity and market linkages. As the first comprehensive mapping and comparative analysis of Brazilian and Chinese policy transfer partnerships with the UN, this paper contributes to a better understanding of (triangular) cooperation schemes between international organisations and their member states, as well as debates about how policies deemed as successful travel around the globe.

Kategorien: english

How to increase the fiscal space

D+C - 5. Dezember 2022 - 9:09
The budgets of many developing countries and emerging markets are far too constrained

To understand the straits many governments find themselves in, it helps to take a long-term perspective. Starting from the late 1970s, it has become increasingly difficult to raise taxes. It was much easier earlier, in the era of regulated capitalism after World War II. The top marginal income tax rate was 97 % in India at one point. In Britain the highest rate was 95 % and even in the USA it was 92 %.

In the post-war period, economic growth was strong. Public spending served to build infrastructure and to reduce inequality. In both developed and developing countries, productivity increased fast. An unintended side-effect was a propensity towards tax evasion; but it was not strong enough to undermine the resource mobilisation and developmental capacity of states.

A paradigm change soon followed with the ascendancy of market fundamentalism since the early 1970s, led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Britain and President Ronald Reagan in the USA. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were strong proponents as well. The emphasis was now on the unrestrained flow of goods, services and capital internationally. Market dynamics were expected to deliver the best results, and the economic policy autonomy of nation states was reduced dramatically. The era of neoliberal globalisation had begun.

A well understood consequence was that finance capital has become extremely powerful. The flow of money across borders today far exceeds transactions related to trade and productive investments, in large measure due to speculation focused on a host of different financial assets including company shares, government bonds, currencies, commodity futures and other derivatives. Although measuring financialisation is tricky and complex, a simple estimate – the ratio of the value of global financial transactions to the value of transactions in global trade – points towards the gravity of the issue.

This ratio increased by a factor of 45 from 2:1 in 1973 to 90:1 in 2004. Indeed, in 2017, the annual value of the global trade was $ 17.9 trillion. By comparison, the financial transactions amounted to 5.1 trillion per day that year, according to a Transnational Institute publication by Frances Thomson and Sahil Dutta (2018).

Marathon run to the bottom

Financial investors do not like income and corporate taxes. Accordingly, governments around the globe reduced their tax rates. A marathon run to the bottom began, with nations gradually reducing tax rates to keep their economies competitive. In prosperous nations, the marginal top rate is now typically below 50 %. Wealth and inheritance tax, which investors resent even more, withered away as well.

Governments around the world increasingly began to rely on indirect taxes such as the value added tax, which hit spending for consumption purposes and particularly hurt low-income households which must spend most of the money they earn to fulfil their daily needs.

The cumulative result has been that all nation states are now struggling to generate the tax revenues they need. As a result, sovereign debt has soared around the world, with government spending increasingly being financed with the sale of bonds. Bonds are basically loans to the government that issues them.

The situation is particularly difficult in developing countries. The members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), a club of high-income countries, on average have a tax-to-GDP ratio of 33 %. The range of tax-to-GDP ratio for low- and middle-income countries lies between 10 % to 30 %, mostly towards the lower end. Although different international agencies estimate tax-to-GDP ratios differently, the basic insight is the same: The developing world is actually closer to market fundamentalists’ ideal of a “small state”, in which there is little government interference in economic life, than OECD nations are.

Long list of challenges

The international community today must cope with multiple crises. The list of problems is long and includes global warming, the erosion of biodiversity, high inflation, excessive sovereign debt, lingering impacts of the pandemic, the consequences of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and more. Quite obviously, governments cannot rise to the challenge unless their fiscal space increases. This is particularly true of developing and least developed countries. Typically, their national debt is high and dollar denominated. A higher exchange rate means the debt burden increases because it takes a larger share of their GDP measured in the national currency (see André de Mello e Souza on www.dandc.eu).

Further, their tax revenues remain low due to two reasons:

  • Many people’s livelihoods still depend on subsistence farming, which is not monetised and thus does not count.
  • There is very much informal economic activity, which largely bypasses legal regulations and is not taxed.

The smaller a country’s GDP per capita is, the lower its tax revenues tend to be. Therefore, the governments of low-income countries find it especially hard to build infrastructure and provide public services.

It is therefore important to focus on how to widen and deepen the tax base. There are several critical issues in this context, including especially the collection of direct taxes on income and wealth, the reliance on social-protection levies and the curbing of illicit financial flows (see box).

ODA is not a big deal

International debate tends to focus on official development assistance (ODA) as though it were of crucial importance. According to the OECD, the governments of high-income countries spend about $ 179 billion on assisting the developing world. That is roughly twice the amount of illicit financial flows from Africa alone, if one trusts UN estimates. Illicit flows, of course are impossible to measure precisely, and other sources put the figures much higher. In 2012, the illicit financial flows out of developing countries probably amounted to $ 1 trillion according to a working paper published jointly by the International Labour Organization, UNICEF and UN Women (Ortiz et al., 2017). The ODA developing countries received that year from OECD nations, however, was one eighth of that amount, a mere $ 120 billion.

The truth is that ODA is really only a tiny fraction of the total international transactions. In past decades, far more money has moved from the global south to the global north. Aid thus only amounts to a small band-aid on a blistering wound. Concerted action to relieve and restructure sovereign debt, however, would help many economies in crisis today, especially as the rising exchange rate of the dollar is making their debt burden harder to service.

Moreover, ODA pledges keep being broken. Since the 1970s, the high-income countries were supposed to pay 0.7 % of the gross national income. On average, they are now paying 0.33 %. It fits the picture that climate-finance promises are not being fulfilled dutifully either. Quite obviously, that must change.

All these things matter, but they will stay very hard to implement unless the international community adopts a new paradigm that focuses more on real-economy problems than on the flimsy preferences of finance capital. Market dynamics have not prevented the escalating crises we are facing. To a large extent, they have made them happen. Instead of empowering oligarchs, public policy must serve to fulfil the daily needs of the masses and ensure the sustainability of nature, on which the viability of each and every society depends.

Another paradigm change?

In the current context, it is becoming increasingly clear that the ideology of the “small state” is a recipe for disaster. The next paradigm shift may actually be under way. It was fascinating how financial markets recently punished Liz Truss, Britain’s seven-week prime minister, for policy choices that were meant to please them. Truss wanted to cut taxes and increase debt. Investors responded by driving up the costs of bonds, making her strategy unfeasible and forcing her to resign.

As proposed by Nigeria on behalf of African nations, the UN has agreed to negotiate a tax convention and set up a new global tax body. While OECD nations had already started cooperation on better tax enforcement, low-income countries will benefit from relying on the more inclusive UN context. 

The rhetoric of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, moreover, has changed too, though their stance in negotiations with low-income countries has largely remained the same (see Rehbein and Stutz on page 26 of December's Digital Monthly). This, of course, is where change is most needed.

 

References

Ortiz, I., Cummins, M., and Kurananethy, K., 2017: Fiscal space for social protection and the SDGs.
https://www.social-protection.org/gimi/RessourcePDF.action?id=51537

Thomson, F. and Dutta, S., 2018: Financialisation: a primer.
https://www.tni.org/en/publication/financialisation-a-primer

Praveen Jha teaches economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi.
praveenjha2005@gmail.com

Kategorien: english

Protests in China and the Death of Jiang Zemin

UN Dispatch - 5. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

Rare protests broke out across several cities in China in recent weeks. Demonstrators took to the streets to protest the government’s extreme Zero Covid policy, which imposes harsh lockdowns in an effort to stamp out the virus. In some cases, the protests took aim at the government itself, calling for Xi Jinping to step down.

Protests of this kind are extremely rare, so this movement understandably caught the attention of the world. It also apparently caught the attention of the government which has since signaled an easing of its quarantine policies.

In this episode, we speak with Kaiser Kuo, host of The Sinica Podcast, from The China Project. We spoke just hours after it was announced that former president Jiang Zemin had passed away at the age of 96. We discuss Jiang Zemin’s legacy on China today and how his death may serve as a catalyst for further protest in China. We then have an extended conversation about the rationale of Xi Jinping’s Zero Covid policy, and what may come next for this policy and the protest movement.

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Transcript lightly edited for clarity 

Who was Jiang Zemin? 

Kaiser Kuo [00:00:00] The lockdowns themselves in this particular building, in this particular area, really contributed to the inability of firefighters to get the fire under control and to save people from dying.

Excerpted News Reports [00:01:04] “The protests were triggered by a deadly fire Thursday at an apartment building in Urumqi, the capital of the far western province, Xinjiang.” “A lot of the folks as well, you can see they’re holding these white pieces of paper. This is a symbol of anti-censorship.” “We don’t want any coronavirus test, this woman says. We want freedom. We have human dignity. We are human, says this man. We are Chinese. We need constitutionality.”

Kaiser Kuo [00:04:01] Jiang was picked as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party after the removal of a guy named Zhao Ziyang. Zhao had been the general secretary during the Tiananmen protests of 1989 and was removed from power during that process and spent the rest of his life in house arrest. So, Jiang was handpicked by Deng Xiaoping, who was then the paramount leader, and he really took China into a very different era, the whole post Tiananmen era, where you saw China really boom economically. So, he was in charge of things for a full decade, all the way up until 2003 when he passed the baton to Hu Jintao.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:04:45] And this includes milestones like China entering the World Trade Organization, right?

Kaiser Kuo [00:04:50] So, yeah, I mean, you know, he was certainly involved in architecting the formal accession to the WTO, but it didn’t happen until 2001. But yeah, absolutely, that was one of the major milestones. He also oversaw some difficulties between China and the United States, like the downing of the EP3 plane in 2001, like the Taiwan Straits crisis in 1995 and 1996.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:05:15] And the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade as well.

Kaiser Kuo [00:05:18] That’s right.

Was Jiang Zemin a popular political figure?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:05:20] How is Jiang Zemin perceived popularly within China today?

Kaiser Kuo [00:05:25] Well, it’s tough. I mean, on the one extreme, there are people who actually have a positive personality cult around him. They kind of semi tongue in cheek worship, the great toad, the toad king. He has a kind of well, let’s face it, a kind of frog like or toad like appearance, you know but less ironically, I think a lot of people credit him for having really saved the Chinese Communist Party. He has this signature piece of theory called The Three Represents and most people can’t recite to you what these three represents actually are you know, they’re things like the party represents the most advanced forces of production, the party represents the most advanced cultural forces, and the party represents the overall blah blah of, you know, the Chinese people, right? So, nobody will sort of quote that to you chapter and verse but what it really means is that he brought the intellectuals and entrepreneurs into the party, and he did this in a way that really ended up saving the Chinese Communist Party. Let me put it this way. Prior to this idea, there was very little representation by leading entrepreneurs or by real intellectuals, and the party was still heavily technocratic already, but the rank-and-file party members tended to be quite low class. I remember my father used to tell me a really interesting anecdote about a company in China’s Silicon Valley in the Northwestern part and it was a company that employed, you know, 2700 people or something like that. But the only party members were a cook and a driver. So, the idea was that, you know, he wanted to bring what he would call the most advanced forces of production — that is serious engineers and scientists and people like that into the party. Jiang himself was a real technocrat. He had actually been the minister of the Ministry of Electronics, which no longer exists but at that time he was in the early 1980s.

Could Jiang Zemin’s death stoke further protests in China?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:07:30] So the death of Jiang Zemin at this particular moment of protest in China may potentially harken back to the death in April 1989 of former party leader Hu Yaobang. He was an outspoken reformer, and his death was the spark that led to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations that year. Is there something meaningful in that comparison? And to what extent might party leadership today be worried that Jiang’s death may add fuel to these ongoing protests?

Kaiser Kuo [00:08:02] Well, they’re certainly worried, and there’s certainly people who are already going immediately for that comparison. There were calls earlier for a candlelight vigil in Shanghai in remembrance of Jiang, and Shanghai was where you had sort of the most vociferous slogans being chanted. Shanghai had, of course, really suffered badly in the spring and early summer during their lockdowns. So, there’s a lot of public anger and as far as, you know, the actual comparison between the two, Jiang was a very, very complicated guy Hu Yaobang was, too but, you know, Hu had been ridiculed prior to his death, but immediately after he died, that all dried up and went away and people sort of only remember him as sort of this martyr to reform. He had been removed as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party after he failed to crack down hard enough on an earlier round of student protests that happened in 1986 and 1987. So, he was removed in 1987 as general secretary, but he kept his seat on the Politburo Standing Committee. So that meant that after his death, they were obliged to organize a formal state funeral for him. And that gave a bit of time for people to be able to ostensibly mourn his passing, you know, an act of patriotism but it was very clearly just a fig leaf for quite critical demonstration. They’re afraid of the same thing happening right now but this time they’ve seen this play run before, so they sort of know how it goes and they’re not going to allow that kind of thing to happen, to have Jiang’s death be a signal for this now. It’s interesting that they seemed to have announced it immediately after it happened. There are other times where, in sensitive moments where they fear something like this, they might have kept it under wraps for a little while before letting out the news. Funnily enough, it was just maybe ten days ago that there was another round of pretty serious rumors that Jiang had passed, and we all kind of laughed that off but now this time for real.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:10:02] So you’re saying that authorities are certainly prepared for protesters to potentially use the death of Jiang Zemin as a pretext for demonstrations that, while ostensibly would be mourning the death of Jiang Zemin, would really be a way to get people protesting lockdowns out on the street.

Kaiser Kuo [00:10:25] Yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly right. Now, nobody really thinks of Jiang as sort of an archetype of liberal reformer. Now, he did oversee a lot of really important reforms, but they were mostly in the realm of market liberalization. He broke a lot of the eggs that needed breaking to make the modern Chinese economic omelet. He and his especially his Premier, Zhu Rongji, they oversaw a period where a lot of inefficient, state-owned enterprises were allowed to fail or were obliged to let go a large number of workers. He was sort of the time of the smashing of the iron rice bowl. He did a lot of things that were popular, like, you know, pushing the People’s Liberation Army out of the business world. You know, the PLA used to own a lot of businesses. And, you know, he sort of put an end to that. But he’s not regarded as some icon of political liberalization, although, I mean, maybe he deserves to be in some regards because he did do a lot to advance intraparty democratization and things like village elections, local elections.

What happened in the Urumqi, China fire?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:11:37] I’d love to have you go back and trace the source of this current protest movement. I take it it’s sort of the spark of this current protest movement was a fire in authorities handling a fire in Urumqi. Can you explain that incident and how that has led to protests throughout much of China today?

Kaiser Kuo [00:12:04] Sure. I think we need to go back a little bit further than that, just a little bit of context. You know, fires happen and sometimes they have people really, really angry but this particular fire happened in sort of a context of really, really severe lockdowns in many Chinese cities. And of course, there is the allegation, and I think pretty strong evidence to suggest that is indeed the case, that the lockdowns themselves in this particular building, in this particular area, really contributed to the inability of firefighters to get the fire under control and to save people from dying. Ten people at least died in that conflagration. But three years ago, when it broke out, China cracked down on the virus really severely. And it was, you know, feeling a little triumphalist by April or May of last year. There were a lot of photos circulating and being circulated deliberately by Chinese propaganda authorities to show, hey, look, we’ve got this thing quashed now. Zero COVID has worked. We’re throwing gigantic pool parties now. No one has to wear masks indoors. We’ve got rock festivals. You know, the bars are open; they’re going to restaurants. But when Delta and Omicron, especially the Omicron variant, hit China, although the outbreaks are really, really small, even right now, the current very large outbreaks by U.S. or other, you know, Western countries standards are very, very small. But the potential for it is huge. So, they’ve cracked down. They’ve, you know, instituted very, very strict lockdowns in many, many cities.

What is China’s Zero-Covid policy?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:13:37] Can I ask, what do these lockdowns look like by those who are experiencing them?

Kaiser Kuo [00:13:44] So what happens typically in, you know, a typical Chinese city is there will be a positive case. Sometimes that’s external transmission. Somebody came back and somehow, after many days in quarantine, they didn’t have symptoms or they didn’t, you know, show positive. And then there’s a transmission or sometimes it’s a false positive. So, what happens is they will lock down either a building itself or sometimes an entire compound. Often, apartment buildings are part of big blocks of, you know, multiple buildings. And so, they’ll lock down that whole neighborhood or adjoining buildings or adjacent buildings or even buildings just, you know, a block away. And they will, you know, in some severe cases, put chains on doors or actually weld gates shuts or limit the number of egress or entry points to a compound or to a building. They try their level best, I suppose. I mean, we can take this on good faith that they ensure that people are delivered food and other necessities, but no one comes in and out of the buildings except with special permissions.

Why are there protests in China right now?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:14:52] So if this has been more or less the standard procedure for many, many months now, why is it that protests have suddenly erupted?

Kaiser Kuo [00:15:04] Well, two things. One, that you mentioned, the Urumqi fire is certainly one of them, but the other is the Foxconn demonstrations in Changzhou in Hunan, where there’s an enormous Foxconn plant that employs hundreds of thousands of people.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:15:18] And this is a company known mostly for making iPhones.

Kaiser Kuo [00:15:23] I mean, they’re a contract electronics manufacturer, the biggest in the world. They’re actually a Taiwanese owned company, and they do, yeah, most famously, Apple products. They’re an extraordinarily sophisticated operation, obviously, and their Changzhou operation, Hunan is the central Chinese province in sort of north central China, a huge city, huge population, and population in that province the size of Germany. It’s only the size of the state of Missouri so it’s quite small. My ancestral province, in fact.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:15:52] Mine is Ukraine.

Kaiser Kuo [00:15:55] Yours, I’m sure, was Ukraine at one point, Lithuania, maybe Poland.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:15:59] Bessarabia, it was called.

Kaiser Kuo [00:16:01] Bessarabia. Yeah, you know, that’s kind of standard Ashkenazi history, right?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:16:05] Precisely.

Kaiser Kuo [00:16:07] So this was really widely publicized where because lockdowns had been announced, a lot of workers panicked because there were some cases there and either they wanted to escape lockdown, or they wanted to avoid infection. It was different when you talk to different, you know, workers who fled, but they got out and they walked, you know, in some cases, many dozens or even hundreds of miles or they set out to walk those distances to get home. And so, there’s a lot of really, you know, fascinating footage of people just pushing their way past guards, walking down these freeways. It’s kind of nuts. So, there was a lot of sort of solidarity with them. The Urumqi Fire: when these images of these impotent fire trucks trying to blast water from quite far away because there were cars blocking their access to the actual building; cars that couldn’t be moved because their owners had either left town or were in lockdown. You know, anger really bubbled up. So, there was a lot of pent-up frustration over all this time in lockdown, a lot of, you know, mental health crises, people who had other health issues that couldn’t be addressed in local hospitals because they couldn’t leave their buildings easily. There’s a lot of economic pain as well. People who can’t simply work from home and who had lost their jobs or hadn’t been paid for months. So, I think it’s quite understandable how frustrated people were.

Why are there anti-government protests in China?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:17:33] So the protests that have erupted from this I’ve seen alternatively described at least in Western media, as anti-lockdown protests, but sometimes also anti-government protests, and presumably there’s some overlap between the two. How would you characterize the protests based on what you’re seeing, your own reporting, your own sort of analysis of the situation?

Kaiser Kuo [00:18:01] So there have been protests now in many, many cities and even some very small communities, and some of them are quite localized, some of them are just limited to one, say, neighborhood that’s been locked down. For example, there’s an enormous housing complex called Tiantongyuan in the north part of Beijing. I mean, there are probably a million people who live just in that one compound, and they had a fairly localized protest that focused just on lockdown restrictions, and they actually won; their restrictions were lifted. Others have been very overtly political and bigger. What’s interesting is that mostly I would say they’re local in their scope, but the issues that concern them are ones that are felt pretty uniformly across the country, you know, more severe in some places where lockdowns have been bad, where there have been bad outbreaks, and where management of the lockdowns themselves have been poor. But what’s interesting is that they’re happening simultaneously or that they happened. So, let’s just be clear. By today, they almost entirely petered out. And in fact, by Monday night they had pretty much petered out. So, it’s maybe not correct to speak of ongoing protests, but we’ll see. I mean, they still might flare up. Who really knows? In any case, they’re not by any means, all overtly political. There’s only one city that I’m aware of right now where the chants were things — there’s some debate over how it’s translated — but literally in Chinese it means Xi Jinping get off the stage like I mean, down with Xi Jinping, or it can be like we’re calling you to step down and the Communist Party get off the stage or down with the Communist Party.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:19:49] The message is clear.

Kaiser Kuo [00:19:50] Yeah. So that’s only one city that’s in Shanghai. So, Shanghai’s obviously a very important city. It’s the most economically important city in China. So again, it’s quite diverse in size and scale in the kinds of demands they’re talking about in their scope. Very, very diverse.

How does the Chinese government suppress protest movements?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:20:09] Have the protests petered out precisely because the authorities are so good at suppressing dissent at this point? You know, the much-vaunted electronic surveillance systems, are they able to, like, track down the protesters using their facial recognition technology and so on, in order to prevent these protesters from returning to the streets?

Kaiser Kuo [00:20:35] That’s certainly part of it. I think it’s really hard to say really accurately, because, again, there are so many people protesting for different motives and not protesting for different reasons. I’d say that part of it is, as some guests that I spoke to who lived in Beijing and have been there for a very, very long time, have said, is that part of it is that people just wanted to sort of blow off steam and they’ve done that so there’s maybe not as much steam. They’ve, you know, opened the pressure cooker, and let it all out. So, it may take time to build up again. Maybe it won’t. But there are other people who would say that no it’s because the police presence has been really, really huge. One of my guests, he said basically they’ve gone to DEFCON f around and find out, which I thought was a really clever turn of phrase. And then part of it, I think, also is just the weather. I mean, in especially the northern cities there was a gigantic cold snap so that it was like with windchill minus ten or even colder on Tuesday.

Why is China continuing it’s Zero-Covid policy despite protests?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:21:37] So Xi Jinping is paying a decent, it seems, political and economic cost for the Zero-Covid policy. What do you suppose drives his dedication to that rather extreme policy at this point?

Kaiser Kuo [00:21:56] Yeah, I think it’s pretty simple. I mean, I think they do a lot of modeling there. There have been a lot of models that have been done, including one that was just published earlier this week in Nature Medicine — this was done in May so conditions may have changed between then and now — but as of May, had they allowed basically COVID to run, you know, if they had stopped the Zero-Covid policy, it would result in an estimated 1.5 million deaths, 77% of which would have been among people 60 and older who are unvaccinated. So, they’re also aware that vaccination rates have been quite low among the elderly, and there’s all sorts of reasons for vaccine hesitancy, but they’re looking at an immunologically naive population and a very big, very dense one. They saw what happened in Taiwan when Taiwan let go, when they saw 48,000 cases a day and had numerous deaths. So, they project from that, and they think, you know, the same people who are criticizing us right now for this strict crackdown, they’re going to turn around and they’re going to say, hey, we are a country that, as you always remind us, you know, cherishes the young and respects the aged, where’s your respect for the aged now, you’re letting them all die. So, you know, they feel like they can’t really win. And I think that, you know, there’s an old, stupid saying, they always say oh out in Asia, life is cheap. That’s clearly not the case.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:23:20] I’ve never heard that.

How many people in China have died of Covid?

Kaiser Kuo [00:23:22] They care very much about deaths. They do not want to see anything like that, especially when one of their big talking points in the last few years has been this million plus deaths in the United States and they can point right now and honestly say they’ve kept deaths to about 5000 in a country of 1.4 billion.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:23:44] I saw a statistic that something like 20% of Chinese are over the age of 60. Basically, you know, what you’re seeing is that the political price and the economic impact of the zero-lockdown policy is something that Xi and party leaders are willing to tolerate because they think that loosening restrictions would cause an even greater political headache and they would pay a steep price for large number of elderly Chinese dying.

Kaiser Kuo [00:24:16] That’s exactly right. There’s a sort of grand utilitarian calculation there. They are making, you know, some hundred million people grumble really, really unhappily but meanwhile, there are, you know, another 1.3 billion in the surrounding area in China, right? The rest of the country is perfectly happy to be able to lead relatively normal lives. Now, that 100 million happens to be a very important piece. And let me just say, I mean, they’re constantly updating this. They’re not locked into one set of policies. Already, we’ve seen the Chinese Centers for Disease Control issue new guidelines. Let’s remember also that the first week of November, right after the party Congress, they released this 20-point set of guidelines. There were many points in there that had to do with, you know, loosening. In fact, there’s been some theorizing that says that in that very act of showing a little bit of softening, that maybe emboldened critics, this is something that China always fears. They think that this is the pattern. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile, that kind of thing.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:17] And so it was that softening that also inspired people to come out into the streets thinking that maybe an even deeper softening is possible.

Kaiser Kuo [00:25:27] I don’t know whether that’s really the case. I’m saying that there are people who think that it might be. I don’t think there’s any easy way to sort of empirically establish whether that is in fact the case.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:37] So how sustainable is the Zero-Covid policy? You know, assuming that protests do sort of peter out as they seem to have been, how sustainable is this zero-covid policy?

Kaiser Kuo [00:25:51] Well, I think that they’d be foolish if they didn’t realize that it’s not very sustainable in the long run. They’ve painted themselves into a corner. I mean, they’re victims from their early successes, right? I don’t know what they thought was going to happen, to imagine that COVID was just going to go away in the rest of the world and that they would be able to, you know, like reopen without the threat of COVID. Clearly, they did not use that vaunted state capacity for what they should have used it for, which is, you know, really getting a lot of shots in a lot of arms, especially among the vulnerable elderly population. Now, there’s a big plan to do that, and we all anticipated that that was going to be announced after the party Congress, that that was part of the reopening plan, that they would have to really start using that coercive capacity to immunize people.

Why are women taking the lead on recent lockdown protests in China?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:26:36] So there is this kind of rich tradition of Chinese online activism that skirts censorship through clever means. And I guess what’s significant to me as an outsider looking in is that, you know, these protests that we saw over the last week or so seem to be like a physical manifestation of the sort of online protest universe in an interesting way.

Kaiser Kuo [00:27:05] Absolutely. This is true O to O, online to offline, as they say in China. They were using many of the same kind of memes and techniques that they would have used in the online world. Of course, a lot of it was organized online so yeah, the same kind of snarky cleverness and like weaponized passive aggression and which is just, you know, something that must never be underestimated. The other thing I would say about the protests and people have remarked on this, I think it’s really interesting is how many women are not only taking part in, but leading the protests and leading, you know, conversations about this, not only offline but online as well. And people have wondered why that is. I have a couple of explanations for it. One is just that during these years, I mean, China did enjoy a couple of years where its lockdowns were much less severe than in the rest of the world but let’s not forget that there was still a lot of restriction and, you know, online education was the norm in China for a very long time, even after the rest of society had opened up. So that put a lot of burden, of course, on women who were the primary caretakers of school age children. There were during the lockdowns themselves, you know, spikes, as there have been in the United States, in other countries of spousal abuse, of domestic violence. Women have had to bear a lot of the brunt of this. They were often in the jobs that were deemed nonessential, unfortunately, and so they lost jobs when they were under more economic duress than many of the men in the country. So that’s one reason. The other, I would say, is that across these decades of relative, you know, political quiescence in China, one area where we have seen really bold activism is in feminist causes, whether it’s, you know, MeToo stuff or domestic violence or in gender equality issues, more generally about pay and other things. We’ve seen women really, really show an admirable bravery in confronting political authority. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re out in front in this as well.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:29:16] Lastly, in the coming weeks, is there anything you’ll be looking towards that will suggest to you whether or not these protests might revive or indeed if they have petered out?

Kaiser Kuo [00:29:27] Yeah. I mean, you know, the obvious thing is just simply watching whether there are, you know, further instances, seeing if this trickles down into lower tier cities, seeing where the protest organizers now direct their energies. It’s hard to identify who they are and, of course, you know, in doing so, you may be putting them in danger. But I’m just going to continue, as I have been doing, to watch Chinese social media and, you know, even looking for specific lacunae, because it’s often those dogs that are forced not to bark that sort of give you clues about what’s actually happening. So, looking at where the censorious efforts of authorities are placed.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:30:08] Well, Kaiser, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Kaiser Kuo [00:30:11] Thanks so much, Mark. It’s been a real pleasure.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:30:20] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by me, Mark Leon Goldberg, and edited and mixed by Levi Sharp.

The post Protests in China and the Death of Jiang Zemin appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Employment creation potential of industries without smokestacks (IWOSS): A Nigeria case study

Brookings - 3. Dezember 2022 - 1:25

By Mma Amara Ekeruche, Oludele Folarin, Uchenna Efobi, Kashema Bahago, Chukwuka Onyekwena

This report examines the potential for industries without smokestacks (IWOSS) in creating large-scale job opportunities in Nigeria, particularly for the young and female population subgroups. With the emergence of technology and shifts in the global economy, the relevance of some industries in economic development have increased. These industries are codified as IWOSS. IWOSS are sectors with higher labor productivity relative to traditional agriculture, and they are also tradable (Bhorat et al. 2020; Heitzig et al. forthcoming). These sectors include agro-processing, financial and business services, information and communications technology (ICT), tourism, formal trade, and transport. The emerging role of IWOSS is particularly important as evidence indicates that the employment crisis and poor performance of manufacturing have become major concerns in Nigeria.

The study addresses the following questions: (i) What is the employment situation in Nigeria? (ii) What is the pattern of sector growth vis-a-vis performance of IWOSS and non-IWOSS sectors in Nigeria? (iii) What is the potential growth and labor demand of IWOSS sectors? The methods employed include an evaluation of sectors’ performance in terms of growth and wage employment, analyses of present and future levels of employment and productivity, and the use of a value-chain approach to assess employment creation potential and significant constraints. These approaches are complemented with a survey conducted between February and September of 2022 with firms selected from three IWOSS sectors.

The selected sectors for in-depth evaluations were financial and business services, ICT, and formal trade. The sectors were selected due to their relatively high productivity and positive employment elasticities. Baccini et al. (2021) noted that sectors with higher labor productivity drive economic development in 13 African countries, including Nigeria. For Nigeria to achieve sustained economic growth with significant job creation opportunities, sectors with high labor productivity need to be prioritized.

This study’s findings show that the relatively high growth the Nigerian economy experienced during the 2000s has become fragile in the last few years. As a result, the number of jobs created was below the number of people entering the labor market, leading to a rising unemployment rate, especially among youths. Nevertheless, the service sector—comprising mostly IWOSS sectors—contributed the majority of total output (50 percent) and employment (53 percent), as of 2019. Accordingly, IWOSS such as construction and ICT have increased their contribution to output by an average of 74 percentage points while others, such as the mining sector, have drastically declined by up to 61 percentage points between 2000 and 2020. On employment, IWOSS sectors such as financial and business services and trade have increasingly contributed to employment between 2010 and 2018. Consequently, there is a labor resource shift from low-productivity sectors such as traditional agriculture to higher-productivity sectors such as the financial and business services sector.

Further, the study finds that IWOSS sectors contracted during the COVID-19-induced recession; however, the IWOSS sectors’ rate of recovery was higher than that of the manufacturing and non-IWOSS sectors. This suggests that IWOSS sectors are more resilient, contributed significantly to the rapid recovery of the Nigerian economy, and will continue to play an important role in the post-pandemic era. Even during the peak of the pandemic, the ICT sector (an IWOSS sector) experienced a positive growth of about 15 percent, which was due to an increased digitalization of economic activities. Other IWOSS sectors were fully recovered by the first quarter of 2022.

The analysis also shows youths and females make up a higher percentage of the demographic in jobs in the IWOSS sectors than they do in the non-IWOSS sectors. In 2018, for example, women represented 34 percent of employment in IWOSS sectors compared to 32.2 percent for non-IWOSS sectors. Additionally, the share of 25-34-year-olds in total employment was higher for IWOSS sectors (29.8 percent) compared to non-IWOSS sectors (26.3 percent). This suggests that IWOSS sectors are more inclined toward employing youths compared to non-IWOSS sectors in Nigeria.

However, most of those employed in IWOSS sectors have relatively higher education. Specifically, in 2018, 76.7 percent of the total labor force in IWOSS sectors had secondary and post-secondary education compared to 57.4 percent in non-IWOSS sectors. The IWOSS sectors that accounted for the most employment of highly skilled workers were formal trade and financial and business services, while the sector that accounted for most of the employment of the low-skilled workforce was the export crops and horticulture sector.

In the future, IWOSS sectors are projected to deliver the majority of jobs to labor market entrants. The study estimates that IWOSS sectors could create up to 56 percent of the projected 47.3 million new jobs between 2018 and 2035; however, fewer jobs will be created for unskilled workers. Of the 47 million new jobs, IWOSS sectors will generate 27 million, out of which 9 million jobs will employ females.

The report further highlights the general and sector-specific constraints limiting the selected IWOSS sectors’ competitiveness, investment inflow, output, and employment growth. Thus, the study identifies constraints that inhibit growth and employment generation in the economy as a group as well as those that pertain to the individual sectors. In addition, the study investigates the skills assessments for the selected sectors. The general constraints are related to the weak enabling environment, which includes deficient infrastructure, skills gaps, lack of credit facilities, and high prevalence of corruption. At the sector-specific level, financial and business services face constraints related to the high prevalence of nonperforming loans, poor corporate governance, and cyber breaches and attacks. Meanwhile, the ICT industry is affected by the poor performance of educational institutions in preparing their students with in-demand technological skills. Lastly, the trade sector is hampered by issues related to poor logistics and transport infrastructure, long processing time at the ports, and low access to and volatility of foreign exchange.

Therefore, the report makes recommendations to address both general and IWOSS sector-specific constraints. The study emphasizes the need to strengthen financial institutions to expand their loan services, especially to small- and medium-sized enterprises. Also, the study notes the need to increase investment in critical infrastructure, such as transport (roads, railways, and air transport), electricity, and communication infrastructure. Further, the study highlights the importance of creating an enabling policy space that strengthens the ICT industry, increases the competitiveness of the financial sector, and enshrines good governance.

On the skills deficit, the study advocates for enhanced collaboration between industries and higher education institutions, as well as the integration of ICT skills into the school curricula in order to increase the preparedness of students. Effective implementation of these policy recommendations as well as the other sector-specific ones described in the report are expected to foster private-sector development and increase job creation, especially for youths and women.

Download the full report here.

      
Kategorien: english

Three challenges threatening the multilateral development system and possible solutions

OECD - 2. Dezember 2022 - 17:14

By Abdoulaye Fabregas, Economist, Jieun Kim, Policy Analyst, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate, and Olivier Cattaneo, Head, Policy Analysis and Strategy Unit, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate, and Adjunct Professor, Paris School of International Affairs in SciencesPo

Halfway into the implementation timeframe of Agenda 2030, the multilateral development system is under growing pressure, faced with the continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war launched by Russia against Ukraine. The war has aggravated global inflationary pressures; food and energy prices are soaring, threatening the livelihoods of the most vulnerable. This week, the UN launched a record USD 51.5 billion humanitarian appeal for 2023. In this challenging context, our new report shows that the multilateral development system is confronting three paradoxes.

The post Three challenges threatening the multilateral development system and possible solutions appeared first on Development Matters.

Kategorien: english

Conflicts and insecurity remain ‘major bottlenecks’ to achieving UN global goals

UN #SDG News - 2. Dezember 2022 - 13:00
Amidst multiple conflicts that have disrupted supply chains, fuelled food insecurity, and contributed to the rising risk of famine and forced displacement throughout numerous countries, the UN convened a high-level meeting on Friday to discuss solutions surrounding building and sustaining peace and stepping up development.  
Kategorien: english

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