What We’re Reading 5/21/09


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AFP—Clinton: Mugabe needs to go
The departure of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe would be in “the best interests of everyone,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday. Clinton also told South African state television that the U.S. would not resume aid to the Zimbabwean government as long as it could not be sure it would reach the people concerned. “We’re encouraged by the new unity government that has been created. We are not yet ready to change our policy, but it is under review,” Clinton said.

Reuters—WTO trade talks machine revs up after US visit
A visit by U.S. trade chief Ron Kirk this month to the World Trade Organisation has transformed the political atmosphere of long-running global commerce talks, kick-starting the negotiations, trade sources said on Wednesday. “It’s like the engines are being started up again after being in cold storage for several months,” one trade official said. Diplomats cannot point to any sudden major advances in the WTO’s Doha negotiations, launched in late 2001 to help poor countries prosper through trade, but technical work on the details of trading goods from bicycles to bananas, which could lay the foundations for a future agreement, is moving along quietly.

Reuters—Africa hunger tied to politics
Agricultural experts looking at Africa’s enduring problems with food shortages and famine say hunger is unlikely to be solved there unless political stability returns to allow investment to flourish. At the “World Agricultural Forum” being held in South Africa this week, experts also said that only 10% of all foreign direct investment around the world went into the food category, and a mere 0.006% went into agricultural production. Investment to transport grains and livestock and improve water and irrigation are key to Africa progress, the experts said.

New Times (Rwanda)—Africa Did Not Cause the Financial Crisis (opinion)
A U.N. official writing in a Rwandan newspaper argues that as a result of the economic downturn, an additional 55 to 90 million people will be trapped in extreme poverty in 2009, with the number of hungry people expected to soar past one billion. To speed recovery, he writes, the world must learn from past mistakes and make sure that the interests of the poor are high on the financial crisis agenda.

AllAfrica.com—Global Crisis Is an Opportunity for Economic Renewal (interview)
The global economic crisis may lead to international reforms and new opportunities that may actually lead to the emergence of new economic powers, many of which may be African nations. These are some of the provocative arguments of “La crise” (The crisis), a recently published book by North African economists Hakim Ben Hammouda, Hédi Bchir and Mustapha Sadni Jallab that provides some fresh and encouraging perspectives on the current international situation. Here’s an interview by AllAfrica.com with one of the authors.

-Steve Wilson

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