Government representatives

government representatives

government representatives

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The addition of 30 countries to the Wealth of Nations Triangle Index gives a better gauge of Afghanistan’s neighbors, among other revelations, while inducing an avalanche in the rankings overall

For five years, The WorldPaper has been measuring and monitoring three dozen emerging economies by a complex combination of three sets—a triangle—of indicators: Economic, Social and Information Exchange. The variables are chosen to determine how balanced each country is in its development and thus its overall attractiveness to outside investors. Now with a grant from the Better World Fund, the number of emerging economies put under the statistical microscope has been doubled to a total of 70 with a wider range of countries from Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Oceania. The results and subsequent rankings are unexpected for many nations, auspicious for others and surprising overall
The fall 2001 Wealth of Nations Triangle Index of Emerging Economies appears at a time of global turmoil and political realignments. World War and Cold War enemies are uniting as never before in a 21st-century war on international terrorism. NATO is supporting the United States rather than depending on it. A spooked global economy continues its prolonged slump with no clear sign of an upturn. The new Index, now expanded to 70 nations, reveals clues to the global and local terror and severe discontent.

Three border nations with Afghanistan rank at or near the bottom of the Index: Uzbekistan (58), Pakistan (62) and Iran (69), with real GDP per capita of $2,380, $1,960 and $5,900, respectively. Meanwhile, Israel, which Islamic radicals have branded as a main cause of September’s terror attacks, remains in the top three, with real GDP per capita at $19,320. Israel ranks far higher than all its Middle Eastern and North African neighbors—a “have” neighboring a vast region of “have-nots.”

While the addition of 30 new nations brings more depth and definition to the Index, it has also caused dramatic shifts in the rankings. Newcomer Ireland now leads the Index by a considerable margin, spurred by a stunningly strong 11-percent GDP growth in 2000—well ahead of South Korea at 8.81 percent, and Malaysia at 8.54 percent. Ireland, a mix of conflict and potential, has become a new role model for much of the developing world. It was showcased at a WorldPaper International Inquiry in Cartagena, Colombia, as the “new Chile” or the “new Malaysia.”

The addition of 30 new nations to the Index led to precipitous drops for two Index stalwarts from the Middle East. Iran remains one notch from the bottom but still took a plunge, falling from 39th to 69th, while Jordan dropped from 28th to 43rd. Overall indicators for Iran and Jordan remained relatively steady compared with past years, but they both nevertheless lost more than 100 points in their raw scores. A bunching of the added nations in the middle of the Index served to widen rankings overall, with only 100 points separating Panama, at 22nd, from Jordan, at 43rd. The raw-score gap between nations at the top and bottom of the Index also increased.

A summary of the key points in the expanded Index:

Small is beautiful

Two leading nations in the Index happen to be islands—Ireland and Taiwan—suggesting that geographical forces may affect Economic, Social and Information Exchange subindex scores within nations. Small countries in the Index have historically scored better than giants such as China, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and India, whose packed metropolises and far-flung rural populations create enormous social and infrastructure problems for central governments. China (46), Russia (47) and India (49) all group closely together in the bottom half of the Index. In the raw scores, China leads Russia by merely a point.

Equible Eastern Europe

Seven of the top 20 nations in the expanded Index are in Eastern Europe, including newcomers Estonia (8) and Slovenia (9)—both landing soundly in the top 10. As former socialist countries, they scored especially well in the Social subindex because of their strong health and education policies. These countries were early adopters of modern consumer technologies such as VCRs and fax machines, which spread word of the impending breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and they continued in the 1990s with high personal-computer consumption thanks to their proximity to Scandinavia and steady government investment.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Slovenia and Lithuania all scored higher in the Information Exchange subindex than 7th-ranked Malaysia, where the government has repeatedly pushed technology initiatives and routinely trumpets its “K-economy.” Hungary, for example, counts 75 PCs for every 1,000 residents, compared with 13 PCs for every 1,000 Malaysians.

Islands in the storm

As noted, third-ranked Israel scores much higher on the Index than its neighboring Middle Eastern and North African neighbors, just as 18th-ranked South Africa enjoys a healthier economy than its weaker African neighbors. The data are a reminder of the stark contrasts among nations that share borders and cultures, and of the widespread poverty and social dysfunction that generates internal political turmoil and scares away foreign investment dollars.

Israel easily outranks Kuwait (12), Tunisia (25), Lebanon (29), Morocco (30), Bahrain (32), Egypt (40), Saudi Arabia (42), Jordan (45) and Iran (69). Kuwait is well balanced across all three Economic, Social and Information Exchange subindexes. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt could advance in the overall rankings by improving Information Exchange. All in all, the Arab states score moderate to low on both Social and Information Exchange subindexes. Bahrain, at 32nd, for example, has a higher Economic subindex rank than 5th-placed Hungary, but it can’t compete with Hungary overall scores.
Mostly because of its high Information Exchange subindex score, South Africa outranks Tunisia (25), Morocco (30), Egypt (40), Uganda (55), Senegal (56), Ghana (57), Algeria (61), Kenya (64), Tanzania (65), Cameroon (66), Cote d’Ivoire (67), Nigeria (68) and Zimbabwe (70). Good Information Exchange bodes well for future economic and social growth. Seven of the bottom 10 nations are in Africa.
Top 10 taking off

The added 30 contries has made it more difficult for most nations to score well in the Index. Most of the original 40 nations in the Index now score lower than they did one year ago. Increasing competition among the indexed nations reduces overall indices and disrupts rank order. Most of the original 40 dropped several notches, if not plummeted outright.

The top 10, however, are a notable exception. Their scores increased as their overall stability against some of the newer and poorer nations gave them a relative lift. The average raw score for the top 10 increased 5 points (to 1,574) while the average for the bottom 10 dropped more than 100 points (to 931). Whether this indicates a growing gap between developing nations and leading emerging economies or is a one-time statistical oddity may be better understood when the Index is recalculated in spring 2002.

Nick Sullivan is a Boston-based financial journalist and a consultant for World Times, Inc. He updated and expanded the 12th semiannual Wealth of Nations Triangle Index.

2002 Global Attitudes

2002 Global Attitudes

2002 Global Attitudes

The Pew Center for the People and the Press, in Washington, conducted the 2002 Global Attitudes Survey in 43 nations around the world. Bruce Stokes contributed to the February 7 morning workshop “Challenges of democracy, human security and civil society in Latin America” with a presentation on the survey data from Latin America.
Slide #1: We tried to get a sense through a variety of questions about how people felt about their own lives today, how they felt about the state of their nation, how they felt about the state of the world at that moment.

The data from Latin America is broadly reflective of what we saw all over the world, which is that people are much more satisfied with their own lives than they are with the nation and the world. In Latin America, the differences are particularly striking. The column on satisfaction with the state of their own lives raises some interesting questions. Why is it that Guatemalans are so satisfied with the current state of their lives (visible on the later slide). There’s a high incidence in Guatemala of people saying, at one point last year, that they were not able to have enough money to buy food or to buy healthcare, so clearly when people are asked about the satisfaction with their own lives, in parts of the world, their answer does not necessarily reflect their economic state. It’s more understandable that people might have less satisfaction with their lives in Argentina and Brazil or Bolivia given the overall economic conditions in their countries.

[In a place like Guatemala, the assumption that you’d be dissatisfied if you didn’t have enough money to buy food at least once during the year—then there’s no correlation there. People are satisfied with their lives, and they didn’t have enough money to buy food, so we know, by indirection, what they didn’t mean. Obviously it’s something else. I think there are limits to what you can do here. Theoretically, if you did vast focus groups rather than sampling, you could get at the question that you’re after. It would be a legitimate thing to do. It would also be frightfully expensive.]

What’s interesting in the Latin American data is that, in most parts of the world, people are most satisfied with their own lives, less satisfied with the state of the nation, and even less satisfied with the state of the world. In Latin America, the satisfaction with the nation and the world are roughly the same; if anything, people are slightly more satisfied with the state of the world than the nation. Again, it’s more understandable that 3 percent say they’re satisfied with the state of the nation in Argentina given the conditions in Argentina. You get nowhere is there a great deal of satisfaction with the state of the nation. Just parenthetically, to give you some insight, the people we surveyed who were happiest about the state of the nation were the Canadians. Over half the population was satisfied with the state of the nation.

Slide #2: We asked people to give us a sense of where they were in the ladder of life. You show people a scale of 1 to 10 and ask them where they would put themselves on that scale today. We then asked them where they thought they were five years ago. And what we found was that in a number of countries there was a sense of progress and in a number of Latin American countries there was a sense of backsliding. And the countries where the backsliding was most prevalent are Argentina and Venezuela, where there was a strong sense that life had gotten worse in the past five years. There was a strong sense in Honduras that things had gotten better.

Slide #3: Personal optimism. We then asked people where they thought they hoped to be five years from today on this scale. What you find almost everywhere around the world is that no matter how bad people think things are today, they tend to be fairly optimistic about the future, and in many countries, the worse people think things are today, the more optimistic they are about the future. This doesn’t bear out in the Argentinean case here, where they are only mildly optimistic about the future. But certainly in Brazil and Venezuela, there are examples of people being very optimistic about the future. This does set up expectations about what the government and the business community are going to deliver to the public over the next five years, and certainly if those administrations are frustrated and those expectations are frustrated, there may be some political consequences.

Slide #4: We then asked people, to get a sense of deprivation in their lives, if at any time in the past 12 months did they not have enough money to buy food and pay for health care and buy clothing. You can see there’s a fairly strong—a large number of people in many these countries, close to half the population, said that at some point in the past year they had felt that sense of deprivation. We’ve shared this data with the UNDP and the UN in general, and they say their own surveys bear out roughly the same sense of deprivation, so we’re fairly confident that these are accurate.

Slide #5: We asked people all over the world what they consider to be their top national problem, so we gave them a range of about eight different problems (moral decay, ethnic disputes) and what was striking all over the world is that in 35 of the 43 countries where we were allowed to ask this question—in 35 countries, either crime or corruption was the No. 1 issue. This was certainly the case also in Latin America, where crime was the most important problem in Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico. Corruption was the No. 1 problem in Argentina. It was very striking to us that there was such a concern with lawlessness, and I think that raises some long-term governance issues about the challenges facing democratic governments in the future—whether they can deliver on providing greater security.

We also asked, Do people prefer economic success or democracy? In other words, they had to choose which was more important to them. Historically, people have chosen economic success, and our data in Latin America showed that economic success was more important than democracy. We probably should have asked the question about security in the streets, whether people would be willing to trade off democracy for that, and I think we unfortunately probably know what the answer might be.

Slide #6: We also asked folks all over the world, including in Latin America, to rate institutions and give us a sense of whether they thought those institutions were giving a good influence on the country. We had a range of different institutions, but these were the leaders in Latin America. As you can see, the news media is almost universally in Latin America considered to have the best influence on society on how things are going in the country. It’s particularly appreciated in Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia. It’s considered to be the most influential institution in Argentina, though barely half the public thinks it has a good influence. What we also found interesting was the range of support for the military, from a high of 83 percent in Honduras to a low of 20 percent in Argentina. The national government gets a real range of support, from a low of 7 in Argentina, 37 in Venezuela, 27 in Peru, to a high of 64 in Mexico. Religious leaders are fairly strongly supported relative to other institutions. And in some countries, Venezuela and Peru, they are considered to be the most influential institutions.

Inquiries & Conferences

Inquiries & Conferences

Inquiries & Conferences

In an address to 20 Latin American newspaper editors meeting in Atlanta in early February, Brazil’s Ambassador to the United States, Rubens Barbosa, called US moves in 2002 to broker bilateral deals within the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement a “difficult point in the negotiations” that could slow the major trade agreement’s completion by 2005.

“Brazil has been always accused of dragging its feet, of being reluctant on the negotiations. I dare to say it’s not Brazil who is making difficult these negotiations,” Ambassador Barbosa told Central and South American editors and members of the US financial, academic and business community meeting in Atlanta. “We want to negotiate a real free-trade agreement, not a semi-free-trade agreement. We want to have fair trade. We want to have fair rules in the WTO, in the FTAA, rules that are not turned against us for protectionist reasons by companies or by governments.”

Latin America and FTAA were the subject of the day-long World Times International Inquiry “No More Messiahs? Latin America and the FTAA” held in cooperation with Delta Air Lines and cohosted by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Center for International Studies.

Brazil and the United States were selected as co-chairs during the two-year home stretch of the 34-nation FTAA negotiation process, which began in 1994 and is scheduled to be completed in 2005.

US Deputy Assistant Trade Representative Bennett Harman, speaking separately from prepared remarks during a morning panel, said prospects for the FTAA are “good — the FTAA is on track” and called the co-chairmanship between Brazil and the United States “a brilliant move. It ensures that there is a certain ownership of the process by the two major players. And we’re off to a great start in that cooperation.”

But co-piloting the negotiations doesn’t mean the United States and Brazil will agree on progress and terms. Currently the biggest sticking point for Brazil is the bilateral negotiations the United States began negotiating in 2002 on market access for goods. Mr. Harman said the United States is taking into account the size and the level of development of individual countries or groups of countries, from Central America to the Andean trading group. These bilateral agreements within FTAA have been coupled with reforms, investments, and changes in institutional structure to “enhance rule of law, investor certainty, and transparency of process and to reduce opportunities for corruption,” Mr. Harman said. “And I believe when you see indications, announcments in the US approach to the FTAA, the market-access offers, you’ll appreciate that we are being very proactive within the FTAA, very forthcoming.”

A US-Chile agreement awaiting ratification in the US Congress is of special concern to Brazil. The agreement would install fines for abrogating social and environmental clauses that could lead to trade sanctions if the fines are unpaid. “If you look at the US-Chile agreement, it gives you, I think, a sense, that the US is prepared to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement,” Mr. Harman said. “The US-Chile agreement we believe is going to set a high standard for the FTAA.”

But Ambassador Barbosa said a similar agreement would be unacceptable to Brazil and its partners in Mercosur — Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay — which form Latin America’s largest trade bloc. “Mercosur is against this,” the ambassador said. “We have already said in public that if the benchmarks and precedents are included, Brazil will have a very difficult situation, because of the difference in the size of the country. Brazil is the second industrial country in the region after the United States. The diversity of the economy is second only to the United States, and we have many other interests in this whole exercise.”

Ambassador Barbosa said heavy US agricultural subsidies could also affect the outcome of the FTAA as well as negotiations at the World Trade Organization, which meets in Cancún in September. Brazil’s position on large US subsidies to farmers is being watched closely by developing nations. The outcome of subsidies negotiations at the WTO level could directly affect the FTAA. “If by Cancún no concrete progress has been achieved in these areas, then I think we won’t have a final [FTAA] negotiation by 2005,” Ambassador Barbosa said.

Mr. Harman said the solutions to the agricultural subsidies must be global. He affirmed that the United States is “working very proactively, very aggressively, building support within the hemisphere, finding common ground in confronting the true source of the problem on subsidies, which come from the likes of Europe and Japan. So we have an agenda, we have a way of approaching that difficult issue, and we are very willing to negotiate on it.”

February 15 marks another milestone in the FTAA timetable, when member countries offer proposals on specific products and sectors. Mr. Harman said the United States is on track to make its offers. “This is getting a little more real. It’s getting quite tangible. So, we’re on the home stretch, in that sense. We really only have 2003 and 2004 to conclude negotiations within the deadline set by the 34 presidents and heads of governments of all the participating countries in the hemisphere, except Cuba.”

But Ambassador Barbosa said Brazil would need more time to reflect on the question of investment, procurement and perhaps services. “We will need a few more weeks, and probably by the end of March we’ll present our proposal, our initial offer,” he said.

Both Ambassador Barbosa and Mr. Harman said in their separate remarks that the positions of the other’s country in the FTAA negotiations is understandable. “That’s to be expected,” Mr. Harman said, “and we welcome Brazil strongly defending its interests in the negotiations. We would expect them to. President Lula has been quite clear that he is committed to the FTAA. He wants to negotiate a good deal for Brazil.”

Ambassador Barbosa said disagreements over free-trade negotiations do not suggest a strain in US-Brazil relations. “After four years in Washington, one thing I learned is that, especially in South America, when countries do not agree with the United States, they are seen as against the United States. This is not the case. The fact that you don’t agree with the United States doesn’t imply that you are against the United States. We are working together. We want to work together. We want to have this free-trade area, but we have different positions, and this is normal.”

WORLD TIMES STAGES 25TH-ANNIVERSARY INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY

In cooperation with Delta Air Lines, World Times, Inc. invited the editors of 20 leading Latin American newspapers, from El Financiero in Costa Rica to Valor Economico in Brazil, to Atlanta to brainstorm regional challenges and discuss the Western Hemisphere free-trade agenda. The editors as well as 100 speakers and invited guests from Washington and Atlanta shared ideas about the free-trade negotiations and the economic, social and political future of Latin America in workshops and plenary sessions moderated by experts on Latin America, trade diplomacy and international economics.

Delta Air Lines provided transportation expertise and logistics for the attendees. The Southern Center for International Studies and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce co-hosted the meeting, which is further made possible by the support of several Atlanta-based corporations and organizations: Perishables Group International LLP, Summit National Bank, Swissôtel Buckhead, Frontera, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Celia and Marcos Family Institute.

Based in Boston since 1978, World Times, Inc. regularly conducts International Inquiries to research facts, develop new thinking and create prospective reports to identify and clarify the dynamics of global trends. World Times brings together veteran journalists, academics, business leaders, scientists, government representatives and nongovernmental organizations from diverse backgrounds and geographies. Its research findings are published in The WorldPaper special editorial section on global issues in its Associate Publications around the world and made available to the public through white papers and conference proceedings.

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