EU-US row over steel

An all-out trade war over steel crept a bit closer on June 11 after EU governments cleared the way for the European Commission to apply retaliatory tariffs later this year if talks with the US fail to yield a compromise solution. The EU is threatening to slap punitive 100 percent duties on a list of US imports, including a range of non-steel goods like Harley-Davidson motorbikes, Tropicana and other fruit juices, recreational guns and ammunition, as well as textiles and steel products, worth about $ 335m a year, if the US fails to offer the EU compensation (about 2.5bn euros…

Food Crisis in Malawi: Who is to Blame? Sabyasachi Mitra

Malawi is in the grip of an acute food crisis that has affected more than 8 million of its 11 million people. On May 31, 2002, Malawian President Bakili Muluzi told parliament that up to 3.2 million Malawians will require food aid until March next year. The main reason for the food famine is the decision taken by the Muluzi government in August 2000 to sell the country's entire staple maize reserves of 167,000 tonnes. Even the 60,000 tonnes that the government is mandated to maintain was sold off. To make things worse, widespread floods destroyed the maize crop in…

Shadowy Corporate Dealings Cast Shadows Over Workers’ Well Being

In the world of the nineties and after, where cutthroat competition is the reigning dictum and the corporate sector has seen major upheavals, workers' well being increasingly is treated as a rather superfluous concern that can be sacrificed as per convenience. This is true not only for the less developed economies, but also for the developed countries where workers' protection was supposedly operating at much higher levels. The growing number of job losses itself gives an indication of this emerging phenomenon. In an additional threat to workers' protection, we have new instances of corporate bankruptcies which are ever more frequent,…

Protectionism Made in the USA Joseph Stiglitz

America's imposition of tariffs on imported steel has been greeted with a howl of protest around the world. But harsh words have not been followed by a strong counter-attack. Now is the time to confront America's hypocrisy, not to bluster. The global financial crisis of 1997/1998 - mismanaged by the IMF, largely at the direction of the US Treasury - led to an increased flow of steel imports. But that is part of the market adjustment process the US trumpets so loudly at other times. The argument put forward by the US, that it was entitled to safeguard against a…

US Farm Bill 2002: Its implications for world agricultural markets Sabyasachi Mitra

The US Senate and House members recently agreed on a six-year farm bill that would increase subsidy payments and benefit mainly the country's biggest grain and cotton farmers. While claiming to promote free trade through the WTO, the US and EU have been protecting their farmers with subsidies that are "non-violative" because they are ostensibly non-trade distorting. US_Farm_Bill (Download the full text in PDF format)

The Merrill Episode: The myth of market self-governance C.P. Chandrasekhar

On April 26, David Komansky, chief executive of Merrill Lynch, one of the "big players" in world financial markets, apologised for a possible instance of breach of trust in the work of Merrill's stock research division. "We have failed to live up to the high standards that are our tradition, and I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to our clients, our shareholders and our employees," Mr Komansky said at the annual meeting of America's largest broker. Komansky's apology came in the wake of incessant pressure from Eliot Spitzer, the feisty New York attorney-general, who had launched investigations…

Why more Exports have not made Developing Countries Richer Jayati Ghosh

The latest Trade and Development Report from UNCTAD discusses why increasing manufacturing exports may not be good enough. On the face of it, developing countries as a group have achieved an impressive degree of production diversification over the past two decades, and this has also been reflected in export performance. From the early 1980s, merchandise exports from developing countries have been growing much faster (at 11.3 per cent per annum) than the world average of 8.4 per cent. More significantly, there has been a big shift in developing country exports, away from primary commodities (whose share has fallen from 51…

Asia – Pacific: Cost of saving air NZ to rise Terry Hall

The financial costs to New Zealand's government of saving the flag carrier airline from collapse are expected to continue into the new financial year. Papers released under the Official Information Act yesterday suggest Air New Zealand will need a further NZ Dollars 670m (Pounds 204m), on top of the NZ Dollars 1.04bn committed last year when the government was forced to take an 83 per cent stake. Economists say these are big numbers for a country with a total revenue base of NZ Dollars 37bn, despite the country's strong growth. Craig Ebert, a BNZ economist, said he still forecast a…

The Lessons of Privatisation New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton

Address prepared for plenary session Commonwealth Business ForumĀ  Honoured colleagues and delegates, I'm reminded of the old story about a surgeon, an engineer and an economist discussing which profession has the longest history. The surgeon said medicine was the oldest, because when the Lord created Eve, he took a rib from AdamĀ”K the first example of surgery. The engineer pointed out that first came engineering when the heavens and the earth were created from the chaos. And the economist said, "yes, but who do you think created the chaos.' It is difficult to outline New Zealand's recent experience of private-public…

New Zealand gets its own ” People’s Bank “

Kiwibank, a new bank for people wanting to go back to a simpler way of banking in New Zealand, began a nationwide rollout on March 23. The country's only public bank, it is also the only New Zealand-owned bank since 1989 when the last of the four government-owned banks, the PostBank, was privatised. Few countries sold and deregulated public utilities and services faster than New Zealand under successive Conservative governments in the 1980s and 1990s. Now under a Labour-Alliance coalition government, the public sector is making a come back in banking, electricity, telecommunications and transport. Kiwibank is the brainchild of…