Weekly Round-Up

U.S. Development Policy/International Organizations

  • Ahead of this weekend’s G20 summit, World Trade Organization (WTO) members India and the United States agreed to extend a “peace clause” to 2017 allowing India to maintain its food subsidy program. The deal ends a WTO stand-off on trade facilitation that supporters describe as the biggest crisis the organization has faced in its two decade history. Implementation of the trade facilitation agreement would add $1 trillion to the global economy
  • Multilateral banks jointly backed G20 plans for the Global Infrastructure Initiative, a global hub that would share information to help match investors with projects. The Australia-led initiative comes on the heels of the formation of the Chinese led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) set to launch in 2015.
  • USAID is drafting new internal policy prohibiting future covert, democracy-promotion efforts in hostile foreign countries that reject USAID funds. Recent USAID off-the-books democracy-promotion in Cuba prompted internal review and a critical response from Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Asia-Pacific

Leaders gathered for the  APEC Summit in Beijing this week,

Leaders gathered for the APEC Summit in Beijing this week, but much of the action took place on the sidelines of the official meetings.

  • President Obama began his three-country Pacific tour this week, beginning in China where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as Indonesia’s newly-elected President, Joko Widodo. President Obama visited Myanmar late in the week, for the 2015 ASEAN Summit and this weekend will attend the G20 leaders’ summit in Australia before returning home.
  • The United States and China closed the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit with an emissions deal that President Obama hailed as a “major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship.” The US aims to limit emissions by 26%-28% by 2025 from 2005 levels. China agreed to set a target for emissions to peak by 2030 with the potential to end earlier. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China’s President Xi Jinping also met on the APEC sidelines in their first bilateral talk since tensions emerged over contested islands in the East China Sea.
  • Obama reaffirmed U.S. support for Myanmar’s ongoing political and economic reforms  during his Friday visit to Myanmar. He voiced the U.S. disappointment in continued violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority, and pushed to amend a constitutional provision aimed at making Aung san Suu Kyi ineligible for the presidency.
  • Beginning next week, China will link the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges, giving foreign investors unprecedented access to its $4.2 trillion stock market. Foreign investors will gain access to Chinese companies tied to the nation’s consumer market, which is expected reduce China’s dependence on exports and infrastructure spending.

Africa

Latin America

  • Mexico revoked a multi-billion dollar contract with China’s Railway Construction Corporation due to complaints from other companies that the contract bid was uncontested. Germany’s Siemens and Canada’s Bombardier are two companies interested in constructing the 130 mile rail line connecting Mexico City and Querétaro. The contract for the $3.7 billion project is now up for auction again after the initial deal was revoked last week. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto is departing for China on a state visit this week.
  • The presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are meeting today to discuss ways to spur economic opportunity in their countries, and slow the flood of immigrants heading to the United States. They will present the Plan of the Alliance for the Prosperity of the Northern Triangle in Washington D.C. in an effort to attract infrastructure investment, create youth employment opportunities, and improve transparency and institutions.

Middle East

  • UNHCR warns that 1 million displaced Iraqis and Syrians could face a hard winter due to a $58.45 million shortfall in funding and recent uptick in rate of internal displacement. The agency may be only able to reach 38,000 refugees, 60% of those in need of winterization assistance.
  • 60 US companies ended a two-day visit to Egypt. The visit has been described as the largest delegation of its kind, and was aimed at boosting the country’s ailing economy with the help of US private businesses. The delegation was organized by the US Chamber of Commerce and included an envoy from Sec. of State, John Kerry. The Egyptian government has taken long-awaited economic reforms such as cutting fuel subsidies and launched mega-projects to jumpstart the economy.

Photo courtesy of the President of Peru’s flickr photostream under a creative commons license.

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