Thursday, June 11, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Dennis Ndaba.
African governments should be planning ahead for the recovery that will follow the current global economic slump, said President Jacob Zuma at the opening of the World Economic Forum on Africa, in Cape Town.
Zuma said that although people were losing jobs in many parts of the developed world, rich governments were able to respond with stimulus packages and by deploying existing social welfare systems, an advantage that developing nations do not have.
While he understood that "all economies become inwardlooking during difficult economic times", rich countries should avoid shutting out other markets with huge bail-out packages and protectionist trade measures.
Zuma said that Africa must cushion its people against the impact of the crisis, but also respond in the spirit of planning for a recovery. He said that South Africa views the economic downturn as providing both challenges and opportunities for the continent and the developing world in general.
In other news, World Trade Organisation deputy-director general Valentine Rugwabiza says that the WTO may further reduce its forecast for a 9% fall in global trade this year as the global economic crisis intensifies.
Despite some protectionist measures by major economies, the severe economic downturn has not had an impact on talks for the Doha round of world trade negotiations, which appear likely to conclude next year.
The most efficient way to resist the continuation of protectionist measures is to strengthen multilateral rules through the Doha round, Rugwabiza said.
She added that a meeting of the Cairns Group of agricultural nations was "very encouraging" because it condemned protectionism and called for senior technocrats to draft a road map for a deal on Doha.
The Doha deal is estimated to be worth $150-billion to the global economy and is considered even more important now that the world is facing its worst economic crisis in decades.
In African news, the ‘Africa Competitiveness Report', released yesterday at the World Economic Forum on Africa, asserts that the prevailing global financial crisis has the potential to undermine recent gains made in Africa's financial systems, which had benefited from the worldwide "glut" in liquidity prior to the meltdown.
Gross domestic product growth across the world's poorest continent, which rose by an average annual rate of 5,9% between 2001 and 2008, is expected to slow to below 3% in 2009, on the back of lower commodity prices and a pullback in foreign direct investment.
The report said that the future of Africa's financial systems and real economies are closely linked to the development of global finance. African governments will need to: improve access to finance, resist pressure to erect trade barriers, upgrade infrastructure, improve healthcare and educational systems and strengthen institutions if they hope to improve the competitiveness of their businesses.
The report gave South Africa an overall ranking of 45 out of 134 countries surveyed internationally. The cost to business of crime and violence was a negative factor in South Africa's rating.
Also making headlines:
Government and labour reach agreement on an occupation-specific dispensation for all social service professions and occupations.
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is greeted by sceptical donors on his tour of Western nations.
The African Development Bank says that more African countries are seeking financial bail-outs.
And a report shows that the Group of 8 industrial nations is behind on its promise to increase aid to Africa.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.