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Showing posts for "Middle East and North Africa"

The Labor Rights and Business Case for Factory Audits and Advising

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
A worker holds part of a pair of trousers at PT Trisula Garmindo Manufacturing in Bandung, West Java province September 17, 2013. In PT Trisula International's hangar-sized factory outside the western Indonesian city of Bandung, hundreds of workers stitch together clothes for some of the world's top brands. Amid the clatter and hum of their machines are hopes for a renaissance that can restore Indonesia's place among Asia's big manufacturing economies, a status it lost in the mid-1990s. Picture taken September 17, 2013 (Reuters/Beawiharta). A worker holds part of a pair of trousers at PT Trisula Garmindo Manufacturing in Bandung, West Java province September 17, 2013. In PT Trisula International's hangar-sized factory outside the western Indonesian city of Bandung, hundreds of workers stitch together clothes for some of the world's top brands. Amid the clatter and hum of their machines are hopes for a renaissance that can restore Indonesia's place among Asia's big manufacturing economies, a status it lost in the mid-1990s. Picture taken September 17, 2013 (Reuters/Beawiharta).

Global trade and the supply chains that support it are undergoing a period of profound change. Supply chains face threats including a resurgence of protectionism, climate change, decaying infrastructure, and human rights abuses. The Development Channel’s series on global supply chains highlights experts’ analysis on emerging trends and challenges. This post is from Drusilla Brown, associate professor of economics at Tufts University and director of Tufts International Relations Program. 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Embraer Corruption Case, UK Anti-Slavery Law Neglected, Rule of Law Index

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's CEO Frederico Curado (R) salutes workers next to an new Embraer E190-E2 during its unveil in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, February 25, 2016. Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA is in early talks with Iran, with a focus on commercial aviation, following the end of international sanctions, Chief Executive Curado told journalists on Thursday (Reuters/Nacho Doce). Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's CEO Frederico Curado (R) salutes workers next to an new Embraer E190-E2 during its unveil in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, February 25, 2016. Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA is in early talks with Iran, with a focus on commercial aviation, following the end of international sanctions, Chief Executive Curado told journalists on Thursday (Reuters/Nacho Doce).

Brazil’s Plane Maker Fined in Bribery Case Spanning Five Continents
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer will pay $205 million to U.S. authorities, including $20 million for Brazil, for bribing officials in Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and the Dominican Republic. U.S. prosecutors worked with their law enforcement counterparts around the world—including Brazil, Switzerland, Uruguay, France, and Spain—to bring the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case (Embraer is a U.S.-listed company). The legal cooperation has gone both ways, as U.S.-gathered evidence has spurred additional investigations by Brazilian and Saudi authorities; thirteen employees were charged with bribery. Now India is looking into kickbacks from Embraer’s air force contracts. Expect more cross-border cooperation in global corruption cases.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Study on Factory Labor, Thai Anticorruption Court, Afghanistan Aid

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A woman stitches leather gloves at the Pittards world class leather manufacturing company in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 22, 2016. Picture taken March 22, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri). A woman stitches leather gloves at the Pittards world class leather manufacturing company in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 22, 2016. Picture taken March 22, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri).

Why Trade Deals Matter for Workers Everywhere
The shift of low-skilled manufacturing jobs from industrialized to emerging economies helped lift millions out of poverty over the past few decades (even as it displaced Western workers). But a new study of Ethiopia’s growing manufacturing sector shows that while factory jobs raise wages throughout the economy, the benefits for workers are mixed. Compared to a control group of self-employed and informal sector workers, those employed in the new factories did not earn more and faced significantly higher health and safety risks—exposed to chemicals and injuries from unsafe working conditions. These findings show why trade agreements matter. By incorporating labor and environmental standards and mechanisms to enforce these rules, they can improve the livelihood of workers in all places.

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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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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Malaysia’s Corruption Probes, Ghost Workers, and Lax OECD Bribery Laws

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 26, 2016. Malaysia's attorney-general said on Tuesday that $681 million transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia and there were no criminal offences or corruption involved (Reuters/Olivia Harris). Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 26, 2016. Malaysia's attorney-general said on Tuesday that $681 million transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia and there were no criminal offences or corruption involved (Reuters/Olivia Harris).

International Investigations Take Over as Domestic Malaysian Justice Fails
New evidence shows that transfers from troubled state investment fund 1MDB into Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts may top $1 billion—$300 million higher than previously thought. Yet Malaysian authorities continue to clear him of wrongdoing. The attorney general’s office ended its case, saying it found no evidence of graft, and Parliament is delaying a long-awaited investigatory report on the fund. The government has also shut down a Malaysian news site reporting on corruption and threatened harsh punishments for journalists who leak “official secrets”—a thinly-veiled warning to would-be whistleblowers. Less politically malleable are international authorities who continue to probe the cross-border case. Singapore recently seized a “large number” of related bank accounts. Criminal proceedings in Switzerland allege misappropriation of up to $4 billion in state money. And in the United States, the Department of Justice opened an inquiry into Najib’s U.S. real estate holdings and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the 1MDB case itself. Najib maintains the money was a political donation from an unnamed Saudi royal, a claim that conflicts with the growing financial paper trail.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Egypt’s Backsliding, UK Transparency Setbacks, New Global Rankings

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Members of security forces keep watch in Tahrir Square before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). Members of security forces keep watch in Tahrir Square before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

United States Undeterred by Egypt’s Democratic Backsliding
Five years after its revolution, Egypt is no closer to democracy. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government routinely arrests political and social media activists, and has detained tens of thousands of people, many held for months without charges. Raids on news outlets and a law prohibiting journalists from contradicting official government information undermine freedom of expression. Every opposition party boycotted fall 2015 legislative elections and less than a third of the population turned out to vote. Still, the United States seems to be choosing stability over political freedoms. President Obama restored $1.3 billion in annual military assistance cut after Sisi overthrew former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. And Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan recently visited Cairo to boost security and counterterrorism cooperation, congratulating Sisi on inaugurating a new parliament.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Energy Subsidies, Human Rights in Supply Chains, and Poland’s Democracy Rollback

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A driver waits to fill his car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 22, 2015 (Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser). A driver waits to fill his car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 22, 2015 (Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser).

Oil Prices Plummet—Will Subsidies Follow?
As crude prices fall below $30 a barrel, oil-producing states face mounting fiscal challenges. Saudi Arabia’s 2015 deficit neared $100 billion, roughly 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP);Venezuela’s reached 14 percent; and Algeria expects foreign reserves to fall by $30 billion in the coming year to cover its looming fiscal gap. Across commodity-dependent nations finance ministers are looking to cut budgets. Energy subsidies are an obvious target, as these expensive and inefficient payments distort markets and undermine development. In December, Saudi Arabia reduced fuel subsidies and prices went up 50 percent. Algeria promised to cut energy subsidies (though in the short term, they are rising). Even in Venezuela, where citizens pay less for gas than water, rumors are the government is considering a hike. The hesitation? Price increases during recessions don’t go over well; in Venezuela, the unpopular move helped bring Hugo Chavez to power.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: International Anticorruption Day, Corruption in Ukraine, and Elections in Venezuela

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Lilian Tintori (centre L), wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, celebrates next to candidates of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) during a news conference on the election in Caracas early December 7, 2015. Venezuela's opposition won control of the legislature from the ruling Socialists for the first time in 16 years on Sunday, giving them a long-sought platform to challenge President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins). Lilian Tintori (centre L), wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, celebrates next to candidates of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) during a news conference on the election in Caracas early December 7, 2015. Venezuela's opposition won control of the legislature from the ruling Socialists for the first time in 16 years on Sunday, giving them a long-sought platform to challenge President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

International Anticorruption Day
December 9 marked the United Nations’ thirteenth annual International Anticorruption Day, offering a chance to reflect on global anticorruption efforts this year—from successful antigraft cases to ongoing challenges fighting high-level theft. In commemoration, here’s what we’ve been reading:

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Petrobras Corruption Scandal, Elections in Egypt and Venezuela, and Turmoil in Haiti

by Shannon K. O'Neil
An election monitor sits near a ballot box at a polling station while waiting for voters during the second phase of the parliamentary election runoff at the Shubra area of Cairo, Egypt (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). An election monitor sits near a ballot box at a polling station while waiting for voters during the second phase of the parliamentary election runoff at the Shubra area of Cairo, Egypt (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.”

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: G20 and APEC Summits

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Members of the Group of 20 (G20) wave during the traditional family photo at the G20 leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Reuters/Aykut Unlupinar) Members of the Group of 20 (G20) wave during the traditional family photo at the G20 leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Reuters/Aykut Unlupinar)

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” 

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