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Showing posts for "Asia"

A Game of Inches: The Uncertain Fight Against Corruption in Latin America

by Matthew Taylor
A boy holds a sign which reads, "No more corruption" during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, in downtown Guatemala City, May 30, 2015 (Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez). A boy holds a sign which reads, "No more corruption" during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, in downtown Guatemala City, May 30, 2015 (Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez).

Harvard’s inimitable Matthew Stephenson this week published a thought-provoking blog post comparing anticorruption efforts in Asia and Latin America. Crudely summarizing Stephenson’s argument, a few years ago many looked to Asia as the gold standard in anticorruption efforts, in part because of the success of independent and effective anticorruption agencies (ACAs) in the region. But recent news of political meddling with Hong Kong’s ACA, brazen kleptocracy in Malaysia’s state development fund, and efforts to water down reform in Indonesia all suggest that the pendulum is swinging in a less positive direction. By contrast, Stephenson is optimistic about the important gains made in recent years in Latin America, including by Guatemala’s International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG), Brazil’s Car Wash investigation, elections in Peru and Argentina that highlighted voter frustration with corruption, and Mexico’s “3 out of 3” reforms.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: New Panama Papers, 1MDB Scandal Developments, Turkey Targets Press

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016 (Reuters/Umit Bektas). Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016 (Reuters/Umit Bektas).

New Panama Papers Expose Africa’s Offshore Dealings
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a second round of Panama Papers. The documents reveal how private firms, business executives, and corrupt officials in fifty-two of Africa’s fifty-four nations hired Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up shell companies—many to avoid taxes and hide bribes. Some 1,400 anonymous companies had links to African oil, gas, and mining businesses, facilitating the more than $50 billion in illicit financial outflows from the continent each year. The new releases should give authorities evidence to go after assets at home and abroad—where billions in corruption proceeds are stashed.

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The Future of Global Supply Chains: Workshop Report

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Shipping containers sit at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California in this aerial photo taken February 6, 2015 (Reuters/Bob Riha, Jr.) Shipping containers sit at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California in this aerial photo taken February 6, 2015 (Reuters/Bob Riha, Jr.)

Commerce has fundamentally changed over the past thirty years. Intermediate goods—or parts of products traded through global supply chains—now account for 70 percent of all trade. The Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy program hosted a workshop in May to explore the evolution of global supply chains, the risks they face, and how U.S. policies help or hinder the country’s competitiveness. The workshop included current and former government officials, supply chain experts, corporate representatives, and finance specialists.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Foreign Aid Bill Passes, New TIP Report Released, UK Bribery Act Turns Five

by Shannon K. O'Neil
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a copy of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report during the TIP Heroes Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, June 30, 2016 (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a copy of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report during the TIP Heroes Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, June 30, 2016 (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

Now You Can Find out What Happens to U.S. Aid
In a bipartisan vote, Congress passed legislation to require U.S. agencies—the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. State Department among them—to measure the success (or failure) of billions spent on development and economic assistance programs—and share the findings on foreignassistance.gov. Once signed into law the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act will also make public program budgets by country, showing where and how U.S. money is spent. Notably exempt is security assistance, leaving details about how the United States funds, trains, and equips foreign militaries still opaque.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: U.S. Corruption Ruling, China’s Antigraft Drive, Panama Canal Expands

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is trailed by reporters as he departs after his appeal of his 2014 corruption conviction was heard at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S. April 27, 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2016 threw out McDonnell's corruption convictions in a ruling that could hem in federal prosecutors as they go after bribery charges against other politicians (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst). Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is trailed by reporters as he departs after his appeal of his 2014 corruption conviction was heard at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S. April 27, 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2016 threw out McDonnell's corruption convictions in a ruling that could hem in federal prosecutors as they go after bribery charges against other politicians (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Supreme Court Rules on Corruption
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s bribery conviction for accepting over $175,000 worth of gifts and loans—including a Rolex watch, designer clothes, and luxury getaways—allegedly in return for favorable business treatment. The court said this did not count as an “official act” of bribery under U.S. law, raising the bar for federal prosecutions of public sector corruption. States can help fill the gap, as Virginia did in the wake of the scandal, setting a straightforward $100 annual cap on gifts from lobbyists and other individuals or businesses angling for government deals or support. Other states ban or set strict gift limits. In Florida, lobbyists (or those who hire them) cannot give more than a flower arrangement; in California, officials cannot accept anything valued over $250. Several states prohibit gifts with “intent to influence”—a hard case to prove. Check out your jurisdiction here.

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Five Questions with Geraldine Knatz: The Panama Canal Expansion and the Evolution of Global Trade

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
People wave at a Chinese COSCO container vessel, as it arrives to Cocoli locks after crossing the Panama Canal to the Pacific side, during its first ceremonial transit of the new Panama Canal expansion project in Cocoli on the outskirts of Panama City, Panama June 26, 2016 (Reuters/Carlos Jasso). People wave at a Chinese COSCO container vessel, as it arrives to Cocoli locks after crossing the Panama Canal to the Pacific side, during its first ceremonial transit of the new Panama Canal expansion project in Cocoli on the outskirts of Panama City, Panama June 26, 2016 (Reuters/Carlos Jasso).

As the first ship goes through the expanded Panama Canal, the Development Channel sat down with Geraldine Knatz, former director of the Port of Los Angeles and now a professor of policy and engineering at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. Dr. Knatz talked about changes in the shipping industry, trends affecting U.S. ports, and what the canal expansion will mean for trade globally.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Ericsson Corruption Probes, EU Spurs Antigraft Action, Modi Courts FDI

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A banner reading "Corruption kills" is placed among candles, lit in memoriam of more than 50 people killed when a fire erupted during a rock concert in a night club in Bucharest, at a memorial in Timisoara, Romania in this November 1, 2015 picture. Big public demonstrations following a fire in a Bucharest nightclub in which more than 50 people died reflect growing anger at a culture of official graft in one of Europe's most corrupt countries (Reuters/Inquam Photos). A banner reading "Corruption kills" is placed among candles, lit in memoriam of more than 50 people killed when a fire erupted during a rock concert in a night club in Bucharest, at a memorial in Timisoara, Romania in this November 1, 2015 picture. Big public demonstrations following a fire in a Bucharest nightclub in which more than 50 people died reflect growing anger at a culture of official graft in one of Europe's most corrupt countries (Reuters/Inquam Photos).

Corruption Probes Spook Ericsson Investors
Both U.S. and Greek authorities are taking on Ericsson AB, one of the world’s biggest telecoms companies, for alleged corruption. The United States is investigating its operations in both China and Romania for potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. The Greeks summoned seven current and former executives over whether the Swedish multinational bribed government officials to win a $597 million defense contract in 1999. These inquires come at a time when the company faces stiff competition, declining sales, and falling share prices. Ericsson is now trying to ease investors’ concerns, hoping the revelations do not get worse.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: U.S. Hunts Stolen Uzbek Assets, Bribery Still Pays, Uganda’s Democracy Backtracks

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A man passes by a poster of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and a poster of opposition leader Kizza Besigye in town of Kaabong in Karamoja region, Uganda, February 17, 2016 (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic). A man passes by a poster of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and a poster of opposition leader Kizza Besigye in town of Kaabong in Karamoja region, Uganda, February 17, 2016 (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic).

United States Hunts Stolen Uzbek Assets
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is having a hard time collecting foreign officials’ ill-gotten gains. After finding evidence of bribery, the DOJ still needs to physically seize assets. The latest setback comes in the case against the Uzbek president’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova, for accepting bribes from Russian telecoms company VimpelCom. In the current round the DOJ and Uzbekistan are vying for some $114 million stashed in Karimova’s Irish bank accounts. This is just a small part of the $850 million the DOJ believes Karimova hid in accounts across Belgium, Luxembourg, and Ireland. If they get the money the Uzbek government, led by Karimova’s father, is already demanding its “rightful” return to Uzbekistan, the “victim” of corruption.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Labor Rights in Supply Chains, Bank Secrecy Act, and the Kimberley Process

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A man displays a rough diamond, from the Boda region, for sale in Bangui May 1, 2014. Despite a 2013 ban on diamond exports by The Kimberley Process, a global watchdog set up to stop the trade in "blood diamonds", rough diamonds are still commonly offered for sale in Central African Republic (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun). A man displays a rough diamond, from the Boda region, for sale in Bangui May 1, 2014. Despite a 2013 ban on diamond exports by The Kimberley Process, a global watchdog set up to stop the trade in "blood diamonds", rough diamonds are still commonly offered for sale in Central African Republic (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun).

Supply Chains Take Center Stage at International Labor Conference
Of the $26 trillion in commerce flowing around the world, over 70 percent are intermediate goods. This reflects the rise of global supply chains. The International Labor Organization (ILO) conference put this dominant means of production on the agenda for the first time this year, addressing working conditions for those within these chains. Government and business leaders from the ILO’s 187 member countries spent the past two weeks debating whether to set official standards to push companies like Walmart, Gap, and Nestlé to address labor violations along their transnational production chains. Though any new rules would be non-binding, historically ILO standards have prompted legislation.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Deadly Kenyan Protests, Vietnam’s Labor Rights, Still No Haiti Election

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A riot policeman fires a teargas canister to disperse supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) during a protest at the premises hosting the headquarters of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to demand the disbandment of the electoral body ahead of next year's election in Nairobi, Kenya, May 23, 2016 (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya). A riot policeman fires a teargas canister to disperse supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) during a protest at the premises hosting the headquarters of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to demand the disbandment of the electoral body ahead of next year's election in Nairobi, Kenya, May 23, 2016 (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya).

Electoral Violence Starts Early in Kenya
In Kenya, police cracked down on opposition protests, killing three and injuring more. With elections still more than a year away, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) party is demanding that current electoral officials resign for corruption and bias toward President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee coalition. In the wake of the bloodshed CORD halted the demonstrations and agreed to negotiations, responding to other governments’ calls for dialogue. But given Kenya’s history of electoral violence and impunity, many expect clashes to continue.

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