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Headlines For Friday, May 11, 2007

DRC To Receive One Billion US Dollars From Donors: World Bank

Donors have earmarked $1 billion to be used in various projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank representative in DRC. Speaking Wednesday at the end of discussions with government technocrats led by Budget Minister Adolphe Muzito, Happi said the funds will go to various sectors with electricity and health getting $500 million and $180 million respectively. [He]… said donors were ready to help the DRC strengthen its capacities and improve quality in public finances within the framework of the agreement on good governance in line with the 2007 budget, at the same time deploring misuse of public resources… According to Happi, discussions between donors including the World Bank, Britain, the European Commission and the DRC side centered on the improvement of efficiency and transparency in government spending, government support through short-term actions for reforms being carried out in health, education and security sectors. …” [Xinhua (China)/Factiva]

ANALYSIS-Climate Change Casts Shadow Over World Agriculture

Global climate change will drastically reshape grain, oilseed and other crop production, but exactly how that will happen remains unclear. ‘Climate change has forced us to rethink so much of what we do on so many fronts, just as the Internet has done in terms of our daily lives,’ James Spellman, consultant with the UN Foundation, told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual World Agricultural Forum that wraps up on Thursday. …  One theme that emerged… was a need for more coordination and analysis of the effects on agriculture and food production from the world's scramble to cut fossil-fuel use, the major source of CO2 and of other greenhouse gases. … The current massive push toward biofuels … also raised a red flag to some who said food supplies and prices for both rich and poor could be affected as energy demand seized agriculture. …  ‘It's really rethinking what land is beyond simply a productive factor in producing crops. Land has become a much more precious commodity - so the question is, how you maximize the use of the land?’ said Spellman.” [Reuters/Factiva]

           

St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that “The challenge of turning plants and earth into a source of fuel was evident Wednesday… [while] participants… debated how, when and where to produce biofuels. However, few suggested that it shouldn't, or wouldn't, happen. …  Some participants believe science and technology, coupled with the drive to develop money-making opportunities, will win the day. …” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch (US)/Factiva]

 

In a separate piece Reuters reports that “The biofuels craze is catching on in developing countries like India despite struggles to feed its growing population… ‘We are subsidizing the farmer 100 percent for growing’ oilseed crops for biodiesel production for the past three years, Raghuveera Reddy, Minister for Agriculture for Andhra Pradesh, India, told Reuters at the World Agricultural Forum The government is behind the biofuels push as it increases farmers' incomes, brings employment to rural areas and lowers greenhouse gas emissions, he said. …  He estimates that in the next 30 to 40 years, nearly half of India's oilseed crops will be used for biofuels. …” [Reuters/Factiva] 

 

World Forum On Sustainable Development Opens In Italy

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi opened on Thursday a major UN-backed forum on sustainable development in Trieste…urging scientists, politicians and entrepreneurs to map out an action plan for the G8. Launching three days of discussions among 500 experts, Prodi invited UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura to produce ‘a page or two of priorities’ to send to the G8 summit in Heiligendamm…   ‘The phase of development that the world is now experiencing is unlike anything seen before in history. But developing countries must be helped,’ Prodi said, mentioning Africa in particular. The idea behind the forum is that the G8 can be the vehicle through which long term attention is focused on key issues such as the environment, energy and research." [Xinhua (China)/Factiva] 

 

ANSA writes that “…The goal of the G8-UNESCO World Forum, proposed and hosted by Italy, is to ‘generate high-level discussion of concrete initiatives combining Education, Innovation and Research in the interests of Sustainable Development’. …   The World Forum brought together scientists, government representatives and entrepreneurs from 60 countries, including several in the Developing World. ‘The main objective is to unite knowledge and power in the interests of effective solutions,’ Prodi said.” [ANSA (Italy)/Factiva]  

 

Morocco Switches On New Engines Of Growth To Fight Social Problems

“…Morocco's economy has long been dependent on agriculture, which employs nearly half the workforce and contributes 12-17 percent of GDP. Its success or failure is tied to the seasonal rains. … But officials and businessmen say the economy is at last expanding and becoming more diversified, with real estate and tourism at the forefront. Last year, real GDP growth was 8.1 percent and unemployment, which was above 20 percent in the 1990s, fell below 10 percent for the first time, says Fathallah Oualalou, the Finance Minister. Agriculture remains a mainstay…. But Oualalou says non-agricultural growth this year is forecast to be 5.2 percent - the result of years of reforms that have begun liberalizing the economy, paving the way for privatizations and higher foreign investment. …Reforms driving the real estate boom include tax incentives for companies to build low-cost housing. …Businessmen say the influx of investment has given Moroccans confidence to buy into their own market - an estimated 80 percent of remittances, which totaled $6 billion last year, is going into property. … Yet for all the positives… If unemployment is to be addressed, the economy must sustain growth of at least 5-6 percent annually, the World Bank says, and further reforms are needed. …” [The Financial Times (UK)]

 

Japan May Resume Direct Aid To Palestinians-Report

 “Japan is leaning towards resuming direct aid to the government of the Palestinian territories for the first time in more than a year, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday. … Japan will send Foreign Ministry officials to talks with Palestinian Authority officials on concrete uses of official development assistance sometime next month. It added the aid was most likely to be awarded to projects and areas under the authority of non-Hamas cabinet members. Japan's last direct aid to the Palestinian Authority was some $500,000 in December 2005, but it has since provided aid through international agencies and non-governmental organizations, a Foreign Ministry official said. … Japan has been a substantial aid donor to the Palestinian territories through the years, disbursing roughly $900 million through various routes from 1993 to the end of March this year. …” [Reuters/Factiva]  

 

Ria Novosti writes that “…From 1993 through 2005 Tokyo issued $1 billion to Palestine, but the country suspended the assistance after Hamas came to power in March 2006, fearing that the sums could be appropriated for military purposes by the Islamist movement. Tokyo continued its assistance to Palestine through UN programs avoiding money transfers to the Hamas-controlled government. But as soon as Fatah and Hamas formed a coalition government as part or the PNA in March 2007, the Japanese government decided to resume direct economic assistance.” [Ria Novosti (Russia)/Factiva]

 

Also In This Edition: Briefly Noted…

Zimbabwe is likely to win UN General Assembly approval to head the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in charge with promoting economic progress and environmental protection despite protests from some Western countries and human rights organizations. [Associated Press/Factiva] 


Dominica
’s GDP grew by nearly four percent last year, the strongest in nearly two decades, the International Monetary Fund said. The GDP growth was achieved due to gains in tourism, construction, services, the banana sub sector as well as a boost in offshore school activity. [Caribbean Media Corporation/BBC/Factiva] 


South Korea
and the EU are to wrap up their first round of free trade talks today with Seoul's negotiators expressing satisfaction over the week-long negotiations, but conceding sensitive issues were barely touched. [Yonhap (South Korea)/BBC/Factiva] 


Burma will be included in talks over a new trade pact between the Association of South East Asian Nations and the EU
despite EU opposition to dealing with the military autocracy, the chair of the Asian grouping said on Thursday. [The Financial Times (UK)]


The US and key European nations will introduce a UN resolution Friday endorsing internationally supervised independence for Kosovo, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday
. [Dow Jones/Factiva]


Norway
, Iceland and Liechtenstein should join the EU’s greenhouse gas trading scheme within the next few months. They would be the first non-EU members to join, although Switzerland and California are also in talks. [The Financial Times (UK)]

The White House and congressional leaders Thursday evening announced a breakthrough deal on how to deal with labor rights and environmental considerations in future trade agreements. [Dow Jones/Factiva] 

Reducing tropical deforestation by 50 percent over the next century would help prevent 500 billion tons of carbon from going into the atmosphere every year, researchers said in a policy article published in the journal Science Express. Such a reduction in emissions would account for 12 percent of the total reductions targeted by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Agence France Presse/Factiva] 

The US warned on Thursday that ‘the whole world is watching’ to see that …World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is treated fairly as critics press him to quit over a pay-and-promotion dispute. [Reuters/Factiva] 




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