Recently in Economic Affairs Category

A Few Diplomatic Notes


CHICAGO, USA – Kenyan political scientist and author Peter Kagwanja published an insightful article in the September 12, 2015, issue of Kenya’s Daily Nation headlined “China using knowledge to consolidate its influence in Africa.”  He opined: “With its 1.3 billion people, the world’s second most powerful economy, a nuclear stock, a seat in the United Nations Security Council and drawing on the ethos of one of the world’s oldest civilizations, China is a superpower.”

The Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute and Sunday Nation columnist added: “But faced with growing accusations of extracting and siphoning African resources to fuel its rise, China is consciously shunning the supply-side economic models in redefining its relations with the continent.”

Mr. Kagwanja noted “Beijing’s scholars and foreign policy mandarins are experimenting on the “power/knowledge” model to win the hearts and minds of African thinkers and wielders of power in governments and regional groupings. To be sure,” he added, “China is treading a familiar philosophical path. Over four decades ago, the French historian and philosopher, Michel Foucault, popularized and transformed the power/knowledge concept into a growth industry. ”

I highly recommend Mr. Kagwanja’s article.


On September 12, 2015, Martin Chulov, Middle East editor of Guardian, offered a perspective on Syria in which he noted that, “All stakeholders recognize that the disintegration of Syria is a threat to their own interests and now has a self-sustaining momentum that is bigger than their capacity to control.” Mr. Chulov noted that, “ In recent months, many players have made a series of small, unilateral gestures. The aim has been to build trust and to draw each other back from maximalist positions which have meant that all of those involved in Syria parties have treated it as one big fire sale, taking whatever they can from the ruins, before they’re picked clean,” he wrote.  The article, headlined “Diplomacy, partition, intervention – which future is least bleak for Syria?”, is worth spending sometime reading, if you care about events in Syria.


The Editorial Board of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune told its readers in a September 10, 2013, editorial that, “Deep divisions in Washington obscured a shared objective: preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. That goal is closer to reality thanks to Thursday’s (9/10/2013) Senate vote on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran deal.

“Too often lost in the binary domestic debate has been the fact that this is a multinational accord,” the publication opined. “Rejecting it would have risked the hard-fought global unanimity on sanctions that brought Iran to the table in the first place.” If you’re interested in reading more of the editorial, see “Iran deal is a victory for effective global diplomacy.”


Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Consul General in New York, offers a perspective on the convergence of diplomacy and information technology in the September 8, 2015, online issue of Time, headlined “How Technology Has Revolutionized Diplomacy.” According to Mr. Aharoni, “Three fundamental changes to the nature of diplomacy stand out above the rest.” Read the article to learn what they are.


According to Pakistan Today, Pakistan and China’s “decades’ old strategic partnership has entered into a new phase” with the launching of (an) “economic corridor project and construction” of what is being called Silk road.
”Top leadership have decided to bring the two countries more closer to each other through their regular economic interaction,” the publication said. “China will be playing pivotal role (in) the socio-economic development of Pakistan through the corridor project in the coming years.”  “Sino-Pakistan ties enter new phase; focus on economic diplomacy” is worth reading and is another aspect of the global economic ties China is deepening or creating globally.


Suhasini Haidar, writing in the September 11, 2015, edition of The Hindu,  revealed that, “As the diplomatic crisis over the Saudi diplomat accused of raping two Nepalese women employed by him showed no signs of easing, India has asked the Saudi government to waive the official’s diplomatic immunity and cooperate in the investigation.”

“Chief of Protocol Jaideep Mazumdar called on the Saudi Ambassador, Dr. Saud Mohammed Alsati, on Thursday (9/10/2015) and formally asked that diplomatic immunity be waived for the First Secretary, who allegedly held the women as sex-slaves at his residence in Gurgaon,” Ms. Haidar reported. “In a tweet, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup wrote that the Chief of Protocol had “conveyed the request of Haryana police for cooperation of the Embassy” to the Saudi Ambassador.” On September 9, 2015, the Press Trust of India reported that the Saudi Embassy  issued a statement in which it  “strongly stresses that these allegations are false and have not been proven.”

It’s understandable why India wants  to get to the bottom of this. the country is widely known for what some call an official tolerance, at least at the local level,  for the nation’s widely criticized rape culture. To read more on India’s efforts to bring the undisclosed Saudi diplomat to justice, see “Saudi diplomat case: Waive immunity, New Delhi tells Riyadh.” By the way, the case has been reported all over the world.

Permalink | No Comments

Afghanistan’s Neighbors Making Post U.S. Plans

Recommended: Vanderbilt University doctoral student Jaideep Prabhu’s August 28, 2013, post in  India’s Daily News & Analysis headlined “A tangled web of diplomacy - India, Iran, US and Afghanistan.” According to Mr. Prabhu:
As the United States winds down its role in Afghanistan, its neighbors are busy with plans to deal with the blow back and shore up their interests. India and China have taken the lead in Afghanistan's infrastructural and economic development, and Kabul has been promised military support too. However, prosperity may be denied the resource-rich Central Asian country just yet.
Mr. Prabhu noted that, “Normalization needs stability, which is premised upon economic development, which in turn is affected by Kabul's success against the Taliban. For all the assurances given, that may be easier said than done.”

Permalink | No Comments

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

At the November 28, 2011, annual summit in Washington, D.C. between the European Union and the United States,  a “U.S.-E.U. High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth” was assigned the task of laying the foundation for trade talks between the two allies. See the group’s final report.

U.S. President Barack Obama made reference to the talks in his February 12, 2013, State of the Union address. This is what he said:

Now, even as we protect our people, we should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats, it presents opportunities.  President_Barack_ObamaTo boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union -- because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.  (Applause.)

The Staggers, the New Statesman’s rolling politics blog, noted in a February 14, 2013, analysis that:

Full negotiations on a deal looking not just on the elimination of tariff barriers but also on harmonising regulatory and technical standards for products could generate 2 per cent of GDP on its own. EU officials think that, by itself, a US trade deal could translate into €275bn per year for the European economy and two million new jobs.” See “EU-US free trade talks show why Britain is better off in.
Meanwhile, on February 13, 2013, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which is part of the Executive Office of the President, issued a “Fact Sheet” on the talks. According to the press release:
A successfully negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would aim to boost economic growth in the United States and Europe and add to the over 13 million American and European jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. In particular, the Partnership would aim to:

• Further open markets to grow the $459 billion in U.S. goods and services exports to the EU, our largest export market, which already supports an estimated 2.4 million well-paying American jobs.

• Strengthen rules-based investment to grow the world’s largest investment relationship. The United States and the EU already maintain a total of nearly $4 trillion in investment in each other’s economies, supporting nearly 7 million jobs.

• Tackle costly “behind the border” non-tariff barriers that impede the flow of goods and services trade.

• Seek to significantly cut the cost of differences in regulation and standards by promoting greater compatibility, transparency, and cooperation.

• Enhance cooperation on the development of rules and principles on issues of global concern, including on market-based disciplines for State-Owned Enterprises, combating discriminatory localization barriers to trade, and promoting the global competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Ambassador Ronald Kirk heads USTR, which is “responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.”

Permalink | 1 Comment

Is Global Economic Crisis Too Complex for World's Elected Leaders?

Robert Dujarric,  director of the Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies at Temple University Japan in Tokyo, and Andy Zelleke, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s esteemed John F. Kennedy School of Government and co-director of Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, makes timely observation about world politicians’ limited international focus and how it hampers their efforts to cope with the current, global economic crisis. They analyze the reasons for this myopia in an informative analysis in the March 23, 2009, edition of The Christian Science Monitor headlined Wanted: elected leaders with international experience: For example, they assert:

As the world's leaders prepare for the G-20 meeting [in London starting April 2, 2009] to discuss the economic meltdown, international cooperation is key if we are to find the road to recovery. Analysts get that. Unfortunately, many of the world's politicians don't seem to.


Part of the reason is that politicians are used to working for votes; noncitizens don't vote. Therefore, unlike corporate executives with customers, suppliers, and shareholders from the four corners of the world, politicians tend to focus narrowly.

The authors contend that, “Another factor is that while global companies are free to recruit executives from many nationalities, national governments and bureaucracies limit themselves to citizens of their own country. They're just not built to think globally.

So, what should be done about it? How can the problem be dealt with in the short-term? Mr. Dujarric and Mr. Zelleke offer some suggestions, which you may or may not agree with. Read their article and join the debate.

Permalink | No Comments

The Economy First, The Middle East Second

Will the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be a priority for President-Elect Barack Obama’s administration when he takes office  on January 20, 2009?

Chicago Tribune Reporter Peter Nicholas seems to have obtained an answer to the question during a December 31, 2008, interview with Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, who was quoted as saying:

Not that anyone is unconcerned about the situation in the Middle East, but when you're struggling because you've lost your job or are concerned about losing your job, or you can't get a loan for your business or send your kid to college, it's pretty hard to look past that.[See Obama to seek quick rescue bill.]
In other words, Americans first. That seems to be the answer to those calling on Mr. Obama to take a stand on Israel’s attack on Gaza in Palestine. See “Activists demonstrate outside Obama home.”

Permalink | No Comments

Paul Krugman, A Public Intellectual, Wins Novel Prize in Economics

Justin Wolfers at Freakonomics adequately sums up why I admire Princeton University scholar, columnist and author  Paul Robin Krugman, winner of the 2008  Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, despite his ill-advised stint at Enron. Opines Mr. Wolfers:

Whether you like his Times columns or not, you have to admire Krugman’s tenacity. He personifies the true public intellectual, and even when he writes a column that irritates you, at least you know it involves careful thought and a true dedication to the public debate.
I like him because he is a public intellectual and not writing solely to impress his colleagues. Congratulations, Mr. Krugman. You deserve the honor for your "analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity"

Permalink | No Comments