Archive for December 28, 2010
AFRICA: South Africa Joining BRIC Bloc
Chinese President Hu Jintao, who currently holds the rotating BRIC presidency, has invited South African President Jacob Zuma to attend the group’s next summit in China in 2011.
The term BRIC was coined by a Goldman Sachs analyst in 2001, linking the four nations as being at similar stages of economic development. The original four BRICs have a combined population of 2.85 billion (40 percent of the world’s population) and a total land area of 38.5 billion square kilometers (25 percent of the world’s land coverage).
All but Russia – which already has the world’s fifth largest active military force – are substantially increasing their defense budgets and all four are seen as key strategic players in their regions. South Africa is Africa’s largest economy.
AFRICA: No Progress in Ivory Coast Presidential Crisis
One month after a disputed election in the west African nation of Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), international leaders have had little luck persuading President Laurent Gbagbo to step down, reports the Voice of America.
Reuters is reporting that the presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde – all members of ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) issued an ultimatum that Gbagbo step aside or face removal by force.
Ivory Coast, a former French colony that had been West Africa’s strongest economy, has been in turmoil since challenger Alassane Ouattara claimed victory over Gbagbo in the Nov. 28 elections. The United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS have all declared Ouattara the winner but Gbagbo and his supporters have refused to budge. More than 170 people have died in Ivory Coast’s economic capital, Abidjan, since the stalemate began.
WASHINGTON: Rules to Halt Conflict Minerals Traffic
U.S. stock market regulators have joined the effort to halt manufacturers’ use of ‘conflict minerals’ – tin, gold, tungsten and tantalum – which are seen as fueling violence in Central Africa– particularly in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Language regulating the use of conflict minerals was included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform act passed by Congress in May and signed into law by President Barack Obama in July.
The law doesn’t ban the use of conflict minerals but requires public companies trading on major U.S. stock exchanges to disclose their use of them in the products they make or sell. Those disclosures must include whether the companies’ products contain conflict minerals and if so, what country they came from and how they were processed among other things. Goods that don’t contain conflict minerals can be marketed as “DRC Conflict Free.”
To implement the law, the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed rules requiring companies to list in their annual reports products that aren’t DRC Conflict Free. Companies that continue to use conflict materials could be boycotted by consumers, a powerful publicity tool that could affect how companies do business with militaries that use natural resources to fuel wars and rebellions.
The SEC rule proposal has companies ranging from retailers to automobile manufacturers scrambling to come up with a process to guarantee they’ve eliminated minerals from pariah regimes from their products.
A 1988 California law that required all companies selling securities in California to publicly disclose if they did business with South Africa’s apartheid government is thought to have played a significant role in hurting South Africa’s economy and leading to the fall of the segregationist regime.