Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Kenya May Miss Debt Relief

Kenya is unlikely get to debt relief, a confidential report by the World Bank says.

This follows International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) rejection of the Government’s appeal, last month, to benefit from multi-lateral debt relief even if Kenya does not qualify for the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC).

The report says while anti-debt activists continue to press Kenya’s case, the failure to secure debt relief is politically damaging for the Government.

"Kenya’s campaign comes at a time when creditors are feeling somewhat burned bycountries that had been favourites for aid and debt relief, including Ethiopia and Uganda, which are again facing governance problems," it says.

But as activists continue to press for debt relief, the country’s internal political and governance problems continue to be the main source of poor developmental performance.

Finance minister David Mwiraria has also been trying to gain favour of the activists by linking Kenya’s debt to its poverty reduction strategy. He claims that Kenya is "as needy, in fact more needy, than the countries that have got the debt waiver."

Until recently, Kenya has not been lobbying for debt relief. This is partly because debts have been manageable and the country has long considered itself better off than many of its neighbours.

Government officials argue that the HIPC selection system rewards over-borrowing while punishing them for managing their debt more effectively.

Kenya has a total stock of long-term and publicly-guaranteed external debt of $5.7 billion as at 2003, the last year for which comprehensive data are available.

However, this debt stock is equivalent to only 26 per centof GDP and 109 per cent of exports.

Hence the country is classified as only ‘moderately indebted’ by the

World Bank and keeps it well below the HIPC qualification thresholds.

The report indicates that Kenya has improved its macroeconomic management, with a projected growth rate of five per but there are stillquestions about its performance.

The multilateral debt relief initiative did not include other non-HIPCs, notably Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Lesotho, and Kenya.

Technorati Tags: , , and .

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ministers more upbeat over stalled trade talks

DAVOS, Switzerland - Trade ministers from around the world said on Saturday they were more optimistic they could overcome their differences that are blocking attempts to strike a new global trade deal.

Meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, they said there was a new sense that progress had to be made on all outstanding issues, rather than focus on the thorny subject of agriculture that has put the European Union under pressure.

"Today it is fair to say that there was consensus for the first time that all pieces of the puzzle need to come together at once," said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman.

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson, who has insisted that countries like Brazil must come up with cuts to their tariffs on industrial goods to unblock the process, was also upbeat.

"I did feel encouraged by what I heard around the table," he said, adding the demands for the EU to offer more on farm goods "are falling on stony ground amongst WTO members as a whole."

Mandelson warned earlier this week that the EU had nothing to lose if the talks collapsed now.

Ministers from about 30 member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) did little hard bargaining in Davos, where they met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

Instead they focused on schedules for more talks over a new WTO round that could boost the global economy and ease poverty.

They stuck to an April 30 deadline for agreement on lowering barriers to commerce in farm and industrial goods.

"I am slightly more optimistic after Davos than I was before Davos," said Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. "As long as we are negotiating everything is possible."


He renewed a call for a meeting of political leaders from key trading countries and said it should take place in late February or early March to push the negotiations forward.

Britain's finance minister Gordon Brown has backed the idea of such a meeting.

The EU, the United States and Brazil have swapped blame for the deadlock. The WTO's 149 member states failed to agree on the most sensitive issues when they met in Hong Kong in December and they set the April deadline instead.

The EU has been pressed to go further with its planned cuts to farm import tariffs by Brazil and rich exporters like the United States and Australia.

Brussels, however, has been equally adamant that the time has come for Brazil, India and other leading developing countries to say what they are prepared to offer in areas of interest to the Europeans, such as industrial goods.

India and Brazil say they could cut industrial tariffs 50 percent from what they are allowed to levy. But the EU counters that this would not give more market access.

The EU on Saturday won backing from Egypt, which represents African nations. It said the time had come for Brazil to drop its insistence on agriculture moves before other progress.

"Enough is enough. Let's put things on the table and really start to negotiate," Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid said.

Mandelson also said he would fight any attempt to block the opening of markets in services, another key area of interest for European companies in areas such as banking and energy.

In Hong Kong, WTO ministers called for fresh offers of liberalization in services by the end of February with the bulk of the negotiation to finish in July. Mandelson proposed a "midway review" on progress in services.

Ministers plan to meet again in March. The final deadline for a deal is mid-2007 when U.S. President George W. Bush loses his power to negotiate independently of Congress. To be ready by then, all the details must be wrapped up in 2006.

They hope to overcome their differences to strike a new global deal. Looks like our world is entrusted into the hands of money grabbing governments who do not care if such deals make a difference to the people.

Technorati Tags: , , , and .

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Iraq has succumbed

It appears that Iraq has submitted a letter of Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding on December 6, 2005.

This demonstrates how the nations have acknowledged that unless they are part of the proflierating monetary bodies like the IMF and WTO, there will be no deals for their countries.

Technorati Tags: , , and .

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

IMF and WTO Agenda for 2006

This year, there will be two meetings.

April 22-23
2006 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group
Washington, D.C.

September 19–20
2006 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group

Plans have already been made to hold actions and events in Washington DC during
the Spring meetings, and in the days leading up to the weekend. It is anticipate
that there will be calls from grassroots social movements in the Global South to
organize against the IMF and World Bank on these dates.

Last year was a great year as no deals were struck at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference. This year, we will build on last year's success to ensure that the
people of the various nations are not subjected to the money making schemes of the rich nations.

Technorati Tags: , ,
, , and .

Monday, January 16, 2006

No Deal At the Ministerial Conference

All right everyone, the good news is, no deal was struck at the Ministerial Conference last December. this is a victory! This shows that the protests were a resounding success. We have shown those imperialists pigs what people power can do!

On a seperate note, still good news, of the 14 who were put on trial, 11 (8 Koreans, 1 Japanese, 1 Chinese, 1 Taiwonese) were ruled innocent. The remaining 3 persons were charged. Yang Kyung Gyu (KCTU) with unregistered assembly, Yoon Il Gon and Park In Hwan (KPL) with unlawful assembly (possession of sticks). They are allowed to go back home under a bail of 30,000 HKD each. As they refused to recognise their charges they would have to undergo formal trials, the first one scheduled between 1st and 7th March. They have to return to Hong Kong to be charged.

It appears that the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence. Yang, as one of the leaders of the Mission, was charged to order to put ‘political responsibility’ and as for other two, it was one of police chiefs who pinpointed them but with no concrete evidence. Park was a cameraman for KPL and the other, no concrete evidence. The 3 will continue to fight for their innocence. They are innocent and we must give them our support. Just because they fought for the good of the people who could not be present at the demonstrations does not make them gulity!

This year, we must continue to do our part to ensure that all WTO, IMF, WB meetings will be inconclusive. It is time to free the world!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , and .

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hong Kong Frees WTO Protesters

A court in Hong Kong has released 11 anti-WTO protesters who were accused of unlawful assembly.

But prosecutions of three others who were arrested after violent clashes with police outside last month's world trade talks look likely to continue.

Around 50 activists gathered at the court to protest against what they see as politically motivated prosecutions.

The 14 activists arrested in December have spent almost a month on bail in Hong Kong.

They had been detained after anti-WTO demonstrators fought with police during the trade talks.

Dozens of officers and protestors were injured in the clashes, some seriously.

Prison threat

The activists released were from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and mainland China.

The court ruled there was not enough evidence to proceed with their prosecution, but charges against three others, all South Korean, were upheld.

They face prison terms of up to five years if convicted of the charges they all deny.

South Korean farmers' organisations and trade unionists had earlier threatened mass protests later this month in Hong Kong unless all 14 were released.

They are trying to portray the men as political prisoners.

The decision not to release all the men means this will continue to be a difficult issue for the Hong Kong government and the South Korean authorities to resolve. Hong Kong insists it will not back down in the face of further protests.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , and .

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

International Campaign for the Immediate Release of WTO Political Prisoners

Though the pointless conference it over, 14 of us are still in the hands of the authorities. Do your part, participate in this campaign to obtain an immdediate release of the WTO political prisoners.

International Campaign for the Immediate Release of WTO Political Prisoners

(Sponsoring organizations: Korean Struggle Mission---Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korean Peasants League, and Korean Catholic Farmers Association---Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Hong Kong People's Alliance, and Via Campesina)

Hunger Strike Launched by the WTO Political Prisoners
12 of the 14 WTO Political Prisoners have decided to launch an indefinite hunger strike starting January 5 to not only highlight the injustice of their case, but more importantly highlight the reason for them coming to Hong Kong---to protest against the WTO. Their fight was not with the people of Hong Kong, but with the undemocratic institution of the WTO and the free trade policies implemented by the WTO without any real consultation with workers and farmers.

Call for Action
We are calling for the international community to express your outrage to the Hong Kong government and the Hong Kong police by calling for the immediate release of the 14 WTO political prisoners. We are asking individuals and organizations to participate in a variety of activities that we are launching in conjunction with the Hunger Strike by the WTO Political Prisoners.


1) International Support Letter Writing Campaign

Write to Donald Tsang calling for the immediate release of the 14 WTO Political Prisoners. Please see the enclosed sample letter. Send copies of all letters to the International Committee for the Immediate Release of the WTO political prisoners at antiwto2005@naver.com and hkpa.documentation@gmail.com.

2) Coordinate an International Day of Action

We are calling for interested organizations and individuals to coordinate a protest rally in front of the Chinese Embassy on Monday, January 9, 2006 at 12:00 pm. In addition to the rally, we urge people to meet with embassy officials calling for the immediate release of the 14 WTO Political Prisoners.

Please send all information of international day of actions to antiwto2005@naver.com and hkpa.documentation@gmail.com.

3) Participate in an Internal Solidarity Mission to Hong Kong.

We are coordinating an international delegation consisting of key leaders from trade unions, human rights groups, civil society organizations, peasant's groups, and other social movements to participate in a solidarity mission to Hong Kong. The program will start with a local rally coordinated by Hong Kong support groups on January 8, participating in the international day of action and press conference on January 9, visiting key members within the Hong Kong government and the prosecution on January 10 and ending with observing the pre-trial hearing scheduled for January 11.

For more information about the International Solidarity Mission, please contact Elizabeth Tang of the HKCTU at 852-9091-9088 and Jin Sook Lee of the KCTU at 852-6733-8395

4) Solidarity Hunger Strike

We are calling for individuals and organizations to conduct a solidarity hunger strike for either one meal or one day anytime between January 5 to 11, 2006.

Please send all information of solidarity hunger strike to antiwto2005@naver.com and hkpa.documentation@gmail.com.

5) Financial Support

We appeal for financial support towards the expenses that the detainees have incurred as a result of the detention. Donations can be sent to HKBS 001-393248-001 or by cheques payable to Student Christian Movement of Hong Kong. Please send cheques to Mr. Chan Chiu Wai at 7/F Wing Wong Building 557-559 Nathan Road Kowloon, Hong Kong. Be sure to note on the back of the cheque (or in the memo line) that the donation is "support for arrested WTO protestors".

6) Sign the Petition

Global Civil Disobedience IS Not Rioting!
In Support of the Victims and Protestors Against WTO!
Release all the Detained Protestors Immediately!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , and .