At the origin of the 2007-2008 crisis

Almost 10 years after the crisis I think it is important to remember the causes of it in order not to repeat the same mistakes.

The globalisation of financial market began in the early 19th century and quickly some fundamental questions rose up such as the vulnerability of this globalisation to crises or the policies that must be took by governments. Because globalisation means that various financial actors are connected in different countries, this connection creates a sort of dependance.

As communication technologies became more and more sophisticated and powerful it increased this globalisation permiting financial flows to cross the entire world almost instentaneously. With these technologies banks and investors trade with the world beyond national borders exchanging large amount of secured data. This context saw a new type of financial product created : the derivate instruments, these products take into account the risk of a loan, so it allows banks, borrowers, investor, lenders, speculators, etc to play on the inequal repartition of informations. Idealy, in a totaly globalized markets the prices should be the same everywhere, it is not depending on the location, but financial markets aren’t truly global. If someone in China don’t know the risk of your product you can sell him a higher price than its real price for example. Consequently this system is based on trust.

We can say that the globalisation of financial markets is a new playground for financial actors seeking for profit, that is why it needs to be regulated.

After the Great Depression of the 1930’s the US government took mesures in order to prevent from another crisis, banks are prohibited from using the money of their customers to invest. Follows a 40 years period of gross without any crisis.




Gradually some bankers and economists having a position in the government will start to deregulate the financial market: the 1934 law prohibiting investments is repeal, attempts to regulate the new derivates product are blocked.

Using this favorable context and the globalized financial markets a Ponzi pyramide is set up with the securitization. The lender provide a loan to home buyer materialized by a financial security, the lender sells this security to investments bank which aggregate various securities to create a CDO, the bank sells this CDO at investors allover the world.


  • CDO is a way to hide dodgy securities
  • CDOs are rated based on their repayment capacity by notation agencies, this agencies are payed by the bank, the better the rate is the more they earn
  • Due to high rates subprimes (dodgy securities) are interesting for banks
  • All these things encourage the financial actors to take higher risks
  • Leverage: Banks borrow to buy CDOs


Another process to increase even more these profits is to take out insurance at the AIG, an institution which pay the investor at the amount of its losses if the CDO goes wrong. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, etc used this to take out an insurance against there own CDOs, knowing that they were full of dodgy securities.

Even if the crisis started in the US the impact on the rest of the world was significant because of the globalisation, the american investments banks couldn’t have played alone, CDOs travelled abroad and european banks used the same mechanism to make profit. The non-regulation of the financial market was generalized and governments of different countries didn’t do anything. The IMF warned of the danger but due to the power of the lobbyists nobody listened.

The day Lehman Brothers was declared in bankruptcy banks around the world became suspicious about others and the financial markets seems to stop. One by one banks of different countries went bankrupt squeezed by the weight of their huge debts and possessing CDOs that is worth nothing. And then you know what happened …

– Théo Quint


– Inside Job, Charles Ferguson, 2010

– (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Jul. 2017].

– (2017). Global Financial Crisis — Printer friendly version — Global Issues. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Jul. 2017].

– Bank, E. (2017). The globalisation of financial markets. [online] European Central Bank. Available at: [Accessed 17 Jul. 2017].


To deal with the crisis in a Icelandic way

We are 8 years after the fall of Lehman Brothers. The all West is in crisis … All? No! A small island of irreducible Icelanders still resists to the finance. And life is not easy for banks and other bankers.

I think that we all eared about Iceland letting its banks fail and putting bankers in prison. Every time you read an article about Iceland recovery after the 2007 crisis it is polarized. The reason is that Iceland dealt with this crisis in an unconventional way which, depending on the arguments you keep, is in favour or against the EU policies, that is to say austerity. Some people will tell you that Iceland is the paradise on Earth, the land of justice when other will explain that the success of the country is all about luck, austerity and help from other countries. As you can imagine the reality is just between these two points of view. That is why we will divide what permitted Iceland to become one of the countries recovering the fastest and the better after the crisis in two parts: the external factors and the internal factors. And this in order to determine what is due to the action of the government and what is not.




The crisis was a wave coming from the United-States but the sensibility of each country to this wave was linked to its own financial system. In Iceland the financial sector was deregulated in the 90’s with low-tax policy, the goal was to attract foreign investments and companies. The banks of the country – especially the tree biggest Landsbanki, Glitnir, and Kaupthing – began raising their interest rates on the loans encouraging people to borrow and making the island an international financial centre. Traders and individuals from all over the world borrowed in foreign currencies to the banks, especially in the United-Kingdom and Netherlands. In 2007 banks’ debts were worth 900% of Iceland GDP. “Iceland, in the decade and a half leading up to the crisis, was an example of collective madness”, said Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup. When the crisis hit the island the consequences were disastrous. “Over 80 percent of the financial system buckled and almost all businesses on the island were bankrupted. The stock market fell by around 95 percent and interest payments on loans soared to over 300 percent. Over 60 percent of bank assets were written off within a few months after the banks collapsed and interest rates were hiked up to 18 percent in order to curb inflation rates”, according to World Finance. But Iceland managed to recover from the crisis.

Firstly the two external factors we will speak about are linked to the geographical position of the island. The Eyjafjöll volcano that paralyzed the air traffic in 2010 contributed to attract tourism by leading people to know about this particular country located on an oceanic breach. In 2010 the country welcomed 486,000 tourists for only 320,000 inhabitants. Tourism represents now almost one third of the exportations. Another external factor is an increase of mackerel in the Icelandic seas. This is linked to global warming, the Atlantic Ocean is becoming hotter and the mackerel migrated to the North. “Fishing is more important for Iceland than the car industry for Germany or the oil industry for Norway,” according to Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson, Iceland’s chief fisheries negotiator. It represents 23% of the exportations.

The other external factors are the drop of the krona and the loans from the IMF and the neighbouring countries. The IMF accorded a $2.1bn loan to Iceland in November 2008 – which is 50 times less than the one to Greece in 2010 – and the neighbouring countries $2.5. These loans helped the country to protect domestic deposits and reduce the devaluation of the krona in value. But at the same time this devaluation was helpful for the country because it regained competitiveness. Inside the country there was no difference for the people, they kept the same purchasing power but at an international level their work and production was worth less.




Now that we have seen the external factors on which Iceland did not have the control we will focus on the internal factors, e.g. the decision making of the government. One of the first and most original action was to decide not to save the banks. Because the banks were “to big to save” Iceland decided to let the banks fail. In fact the banks were not “to big to save” in a sense that you can save the banks even if they were worth 10 times your GDP, but then you have a gigantic debt, like Ireland. The Icelandic government just chose not to impose this burden to future generations. And it is understandable. Why does a State would have to pay for the bad behaviour of private banks? So Iceland let its banks fail but at the same time guaranteed the deposits of its citizens, the ones that lost money were the foreign creditors (in majority in the United-Kingdom and the Netherland). These two countries in response asked Iceland to give back the money, the IMF and the European Commission sided with them. In the end the European Free-Trade Association decided that Iceland did not have to pay for the actions of its banks. “The ruling made it clear that the country where a banking company has its headquarters is not responsible for guaranteeing that company’s foreign liabilities” says Eva Joly, who advised Iceland Special Prosecutor in the criminal investigation after the crisis.

Then the bank CEOs, finance managers, banks’ lawyers, major shareholders and high-ranking civil servants responsible were condemned or at least put under investigation. The central bank of Iceland took the control of the banks to reform the financial sector. “After the crash, the government cleaned house in all the three banks, establishing new boards and management. Banks in Iceland are well capitalised with high equity levels and financial supervision has been strengthened immensely”, said Gudrun Johnsen, Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of Iceland, told World Finance.

However Iceland also applied austerity and budget cutting, and it is a key of its recovery. But austerity alone increases inequalities, the reason why Iceland was able to show good economical and social results at the same time is because it kept a strong welfare state. The role of these spending in social protection is to be an automatic stabiliser, as Joseph Stiglitz calls it, which permitted to sustain household demand. Benefits were redirected to lower income groups, according to Stefán Ólafsson from the University of Iceland.

As you can see on the following charts created from Eurostat’s database Iceland is performing very well. The country has the lowest unemployment and inequality rate compared to Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Sweden and the United-Kingdom.






The question raised is: do another country applying the same methods than Iceland would have been able to reach the same results? And the answer is obviously: no. For several reasons the case of Iceland is unique: it is a country with a small population living for the most part in a city, tourism due to the volcano and the rise of fishing is specific to the island and the country is not in the European Union. However the political courage of refusing to bail out the banks, searching for the culprits, judging them and regulating the banks must be an example for other countries.

– Théo Quint



– (2016). Icelantis By Tjeerd Royaards | Politics Cartoon | TOONPOOL. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].

–        Philippe Deschamps. (2016). Des Pirates à l’assaut de l’Islande. [online] Le Monde Diplomatique. Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].

–        Philippe Deschamps. (2016). Le tourisme en Islande, une nouvelle bulle ?. [online] Le Monde diplomatique. Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].

–        McDonald-Gibson, C. (2013). EU tackles Iceland over ‘mackerel wars’. [online] The Independent. Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

–         O’Brien, M. (2016). The miraculous story of Iceland. [online] Washington Post. Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

–        Lawless | AP, J. (2016). In volcanic Iceland, eruptions bring risk, and tourism boom. [online] Washington Post. Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

–        Paul Krugman Blog. (1333). Screw Your Analysis to the Sticky Point. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

– (2016). Failing banks, winning economy: the truth about Iceland’s recovery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

–        Joseph Stiglitz (2009). The Global Crisis, Social Protection And Jobs. International Labour Review, Vol. 148, No. 1–2

– (2016). Database – Eurostat. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

– (2011). IMF Survey: Iceland’s Unorthodox Policies Suggest Alternative Way Out of Crisis. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

– (2016). CADTM – Iceland refuses its accused bankers ‘Out of Court’ settlements. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

– (2016). EUR-Lex – l24012b – EN – EUR-Lex. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].

– (2010). IMF Survey: Europe and IMF Agree €110 Billion Financing Plan With Greece. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Dec. 2016].


How fair is fair trade?

Fair trade goal is to work with small farmers all around the world and provide them better purchase prices in order for them to live decently. As stated in the Fair Trade Principles, faire trade is “trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade”. The main organisation is Fairtrade Foundation; almost every fair trade good you will buy is controlled by it. The market of fair trade is important: “sales of Fairtrade products have grown to €7.3 billion (£6.3 billion) working with 1,230 producer organisations consisting of 1.6m farmers. “ says Bob Doherty in The Conversation based on the annual report of the Fairtrade Foundation.

The guarantee of a minimum price for the farmers regardless of the variation of the market allows them to have a long-term vision and access to credit services. There is also what is called a “social premium”. It is an addition given to the community of worker in order to be used for infrastructure projects such as schools for example.


We can think that fair trade is a little bit a marketing argument to capture the demand of the new world-conscious consumers in rich countries. However a study by the Center for Evaluation at Saarland University in Germany has show that it has a real impact on socio-economical development. For example the producers of cocoa in Ghana have seen their incomes increase in 5 years:

incomes farmer fairtrade

But incomes are not the more important thing. Some people are starving to death even if they are farmers. With Fairtrade farmers are able to improve the food security of their family throughout the year. Julio Mercado Cantillo, a banana farmer in Colombia, explains: “When we began growing bananas, it was tough. There were some days when we only had one meal. Since we joined Fairtrade, everything has changed. We now have all of our daily meals and we have also managed from the extra income from Fairtrade to buy farm animals which provides an extra source of food, and the opportunity to bring in more income by selling the animals.”

Ok so Fairtrade is much better than “normal” trade. Nevertheless we can go beyond that because the Foundation helps the farmers but the final goal must be to set these farmers on an equal footing with other producers. The vision of Fairtrade is still little bit paternalist.

Alan Schaller, journalist for The Independent, went to Ethiopia to study the Union Hand Roasted Coffee, a UK based coffee importer. The Union is not only paying the farmers a descent price it is working with them on the spot to improve biodiversity conservation and the quality of the product. In this manner the producers can sell their products at a higher price and compete with the high quality brands. “Relying on consumers to return to a coffee out of a belief in a certification stamp on a packet is not as effective as promoting a product that is highly competitive among the finest coffees being produced anywhere.” says Alan Schaller. The community of farmers advised by experts can later real world connections. The drawbacks are that this process takes years and needs a constant control by the Union. But this is what we should strive for.

– Théo Quint



–       The Conversation. (2017). Food security: how Fairtrade helps level the playing field for small producers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].

– (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Jul. 2017].

–       Schaller, A. (2017). The evolution Of Fairtrade: Why we need to go a step further. [online] The Independent. Available at: [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].







Is China really on the path to become the world leader of renewable energies?

At the G20 Summit in Hamburg 19 of the 20 members, excluding the United States, agreed that the Paris climate accord was irreversible and reaffirmed their commitment. With Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement it seems that China wants to be the new leader on renewable energies and environment protection. This new role can be difficult to believe when we know the high level of air pollution in Beijing and the pollution of water in Hong Kong. Moreover China and the use are responsible for 40% of the world’s CO2 emission. In fact there are two different things to consider: the investment in renewable energies and the consciousness of environmental protection. And we will see that both are present in China nowadays.


The first thing to do is to stop viewing China as a retarded country about ecology because ours are not good examples either. Like conservation Dr Jane Goodall says “Is China still causing environmental destruction in Africa and Latin America? Yes. Did not European colonialism do exactly the same and aren’t many big corporations today doing exactly the same?“. And with the climatoscepticism of Donald Trump it is even worse.

China plans to invest $360 billion by 2020

Xi Jinping wants his country to invest in renewable energies because he understood that it is a new expanding market in which China can draw benefits. The time when China was the world’s factory is ending. The purchasing power of the population is rising and the coal is becoming more and more uneconomical. “Market forces favoring solar and wind power threaten to leave the United States behind, with the continued decline of coal, whereas China wants to benefit from new energy markets and plans to invest $360 billion by 2020. This would take the proportion of renewables in domestic energy to 50 percent by then.” According to Mark Robinson from

But the government is not only thinking about the benefits of renewable sources of energy other measures are being implemented. For example Zheijang province they are restricting the number of cars in order to reduce air pollution and reduce massive queues. Protection of animal species is also taken into account like recovering the giant panda species to the point it’s no longer considered endangered and President Xi Jinping has declared its ivory trade will be shut down by the end of 2017.

Each year between 1 and 1.6 million Chinese people die early as a result of air pollution

Like I said before all these measures are going into the right direction but we must not forget that problems of air, soil and water pollution combined with excessive use of pesticides and are causing serious health issues in China. “Each year between 1 and 1.6 million Chinese people die early as a result of air pollution which is caused primarily by industrial and car emissions.” according to the University of Oslo. The study says that 40% of air pollution may be caused by household when people are cooking or heating. “In the villages we study people have been protesting against air pollution from factories in their vicinity, but they have little knowledge about the air pollution that is caused by their cooking.” says Mette Halskov Hansen. But the consciousness about environmental problems might change.



During winter 2013 the smog in Beijing was particularly thick which led to attract the attention of the public on the issue of air pollution. You can now even find apps allowing people to check air quality in real time.

People are more and more well informed about pollution. Thanks to the action of public protest, negative media coverage and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing the government now permits the public release of data about air, water and soil pollution. “Since the introduction of the new Environmental Protection Law in 2015, China’s courts have accepted 189 public interest environmental cases, mostly brought by environmental non-governmental organizations. The Ministry of Environmental Protection, which is responsible for implementation of the new law, has intensified local inspections of heavily-polluting industries and is now actively collecting public complaints on environmental issues.” for Mark Robinson.


Another unexpected source of environmental consciousness is religion. Because the Democratic Republic Of China was build on communism religions were banned. But recently president Xi Jinping encouraged the study of Chinese traditions, including religion. The goal is to compete against the influence of Western culture. The government thus tolerates the rise of religious environmentalism. In an article for The New-York Times Javier C. Hernàndez states that “Hundreds of millions of people in China have in recent years turned to religions like Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, seeking a sense of purpose and an escape from China’s consumerist culture.” He interviewed an abbot from Mao Mountain, Mr. Yang, who is using Taoism to speak about ecology. Nothing new under the sun, Taoism and Buddhism are known to take into account the relationship between humans and nature. As one Taoist teaching says : “Humans follow the earth, the earth follows heaven, heaven follows Taoism, Taoism follows nature.” This type of thinking is different from the Western notion of saving the Earth. Religion is deeper than that, the goal is to live in harmony with nature and all living things.


– Théo Quint



– (2017). Is there a green awakening in China?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].

–       Newshub. (2017). China now world leader in environmental protection – Jane Goodall. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].

–       Hernández, J. (2017). China’s Religious Revival Fuels Environmental Activism. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].

–       Eco-Business. (2017). Will China and India lead on global climate action and environmental protection?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].


Economic Impact of Terrorism

Economic impact of terrorism is decreasing. The cost of terrorism has reached 89.6 billion dollars in 2015, it decreased by 15 percent from 2014. It as well reflects the overall decline in the number of people killed by terrorism. Still, the 2015 economic impact of terrorism was still at the second highest level since 2000. The economic losses caused by terrorism approximately increased by 11 times in the last 15 years. World has seen two peaks in the economic impact of terrorism and now we are living with the third one. First significant impact of terrorism started in 2001 after 9/11 attacks, second peak took place in 2007 and main cause was the peak in the Iraq war. In 2001 the economic impact of terrorism costed globally 10 billion dollars as in 2007 it has reached 37 billion dollars. The present peak from 2014 to nowadays has the biggest impact on economics with the highest 106 billion dollars a year, so from 2001 to 2014 losses to terrorism risen by 96 billion dollars. The figures shows how economy can suffer from terrorism. In the years 2015/2016 transnational terrorism has widely touched peaceful countries, including OECD states.
How the economic impact of terrorism is calculated? It is calculated using Institute for Economics and Peace methodology. Which includes the direct and indirect cost of deaths and injuries as well as the property destruction from incidents of terrorism. The direct cost includes costs borne by the victims of the terrorist acts and associated government expenditure, such as medical spending. Indirect costs include lost productivity and earnings as well as the psychological trauma to the victims, their families and friends. Unit costs for deaths and injuries are sourced from McCollister et al (2010).
Ten most terrorism affected countries are all conflict-affected countries. Countries from Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The largest economic impact from terrorism was felt in Iraq, which loses 17.3 of GDP every year that is almost a quarter of entire Iraq’s economy, in second place is Afghanistan with 16.8 percent. The most interesting is that economic impact of terrorism is significantly small compared to the other forms of violence at the global level in 2015. The impact of violence costs 13.6 trillion dollars or 13.3 percent of GDP globally.

Rokas Barkauskas


Denise-Marie. Ordway. Martin Maximino Journalist’s Resource (2015). The Relationship between terrorism and economic growth: Research. Available at: (Accessed: 13th April, 2017).

Joe Myers, World Economic Forum (2015). What is the economic impact of terrorism? Available at: (Accessed: 13th April, 2017).

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (No Date) Available at: (Accessed: 13th April, 2017).

Institute for Economics and Peace (2016) Global Terrorism Index. Available at:,-20,516 (Accessed: 13th April, 2017).

Sub-Saharan Africa Growth Challenges

Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa region is estimated to have slowed to 1.5 percent rate in 2016, it is the weakest pace in over two decades, as commodity market lowered the price and region struggled to adjust to it. Per capita basis, regions GDP shrunken by an estimated 1.1 percent. The greatest causers of the regions struggle is South Africa and oil exporters, which contributes two-thirds wealth to the region’s economy.
Growth is expected to pick up slightly to 2.9 percent in 2017, as Sub-Saharan region is still adjusting to lower commodity prices. In 2017 oil exporters will be weaker again, as countries that are not gaining resources from natural ways will remain in strong position. As a comparison large infrastructure investments will continue to support growth among countries with wide agricultural economy, as Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia growth is expected to be above 8 percent.
Sub-Saharan Africa is facing serious problems. Externally uncertain trade policies from US and Europe could lead commodity market to even more fragile position. It could lead to higher borrowing costs and cut off capital flows to the markets. Upcoming elections in France can become the most serious impact to the region’s growth. France’s Central Bank hold foreign exchange reserves of 14 African economies and is considered to be a key figure for political stability and counterterrorism in Sub-Saharan Region. Large part of French business groups has good relations in the region. Main economic activities is: mining iron and oil export. First round of French elections will take place on 23rd April, and it is almost certain that no candidate will win a majority, final election between two front runners will be held on 7th of May. There are two main opponents in upcoming elections Marine Le Pen of the National Party and Emanuel Macron, an independent candidate. As French government has very strong relations with their colonies for decades, the new French government’s foreign policy will have a significant impact on them. If Le Pen will come to power, the French National Party will change the relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa and lean towards francophone Africa. Other major factor in Sub-Saharan Africa is French security presence, which is huge, it plays a very significant role in managing civil disturbance and extremism. Current French government are fighting the Jihad’s from beginning of West Sahara desert towards to Sudan territory. Nevertheless, France have deployed troops for peacekeeping in various African Countries.
Other strong sections that France is involved is: aid and trade. Africa is the first on the list when the speech is leaning towards aid. France gives 55 percent of aid to Africa, which 41 of 5 percent goes to Sub-Saharan Africa. In this instance Le Pen’s argument is that aid which Sub-Saharan Africa receives, encourages migration flows to get larger. Le Pen is planning to divert the aid to more to the side towards francophone Africa’s development.
Although Sub-Saharan region should recover its economy in 2017/2018 by 2.8 percent GDP, the internal risks regarding the growth looks poor, security and humanitarian issues in some of the Sub-Saharan region, as well as failure to make better trade policies across the region could stop he growth. Also we cannot forget the external risk from upcoming France government elections that could disrupt free trade agreements and potential international trades.

Rokas Barkauskas


Ricardo, A.Aceves. (2017) Economic Snapshot of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Available at: (Accessed: 12th April, 2017).

The World Bank (2017) Global Economic Prospects: Sub-Saharan Africa.
Available at: (Accessed: 12th April, 2017).

World Bank Group (2017) Global Economic Prospects Weak Investment in Uncertain Times.
Available at: (Accessed: 12th April 2017).

Trade Facilitation Agreement – Global Economic Boost

Trade Facilitation Agreement was signed on 22nd February, 2017. This agreement is the most successful multilateral trade agreement since the establishment of WTO in 1995. Negotiations started in 2013 as part of the Doha Development Plan. WTO members acknowledged potential benefits because of the agreement for all of the members, but especially for developing countries. EU committed to aid financially to the countries which are in the largest need to meet the regulations of the Trade Facilitation Agreement. European Union has been one of the leaders in the efforts to sign the deal. EU hopes that this agreement will play a significant role in developing countries economy, for that reason EU committed to give 400 million euros that will assist to meet the requirements and the rules as set by the agreement. Here is few more examples of European Union’s commitments for developing countries: “Zambia Regional Integration Capacity Building Project” Grant amount: 2.66 million euros (part of COMESA Regional Integration Support Mechanism programme of 116 million euros). Starting date: May 2015. Key objective: To focus on key economic sectors, including important trade facilitation reforms, to improve border management in line with WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. “Uganda Northern Corridor Road (NCR) Improvement Project” Grant amount: 167 million euros (EC contribution 122 million euros). Duration (2009 – 2014). Objective: To reduce transport costs and travel time on the Northern Corridor Route in Uganda with the aim of promoting economic and social development and facilitating international and transit trade and thereby boosting regional integration. The Northern Corridor links Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, as well as Southern Sudan to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.” (Source: European Commission Support for Trade Facilitation January 2017. Available at: ).
Following the activation of the agreement by the Council and the European Parliament in 2015, EU actively encouraged other WTO members to approve the deal without postponing. As Chad, Oman and Rwanda validated the agreement the minimum requirement of WTO members required has been reached and the agreement was immediately was launched into force. So, how this ‘Trade Facilitation Agreement’ is going to contribute towards global economic rise?
The agreement aims to simplify and clarify the international import and export orders, customs formalities and transit requirements. It could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3 percent and boost global trade by 1 trillion a year, with biggest contribution to the poorest countries. It will simplify commercial – related agreements and will lower the costs. This will help to boost to global economic growth quite significantly. European Union administration will have a leading role in the beginning of the agreement and will act as an example to follow towards further progress of this agreement within European Union and at global level. As Facilitation Agreement benefits globally are uncontested. Like: transparency, consistency and predictability, simplified border procedure there is costs of the agreement.
Agreement was signed when the minimum WTO member’s amount was reached, which is 110. Why others countries does not want to commit to the Facilitation Agreement? First reason is that poorest developing countries to improve the borders and customs systems may face multiple agreement demands on very limited sources. The governments have an idea that it will have to fund themselves some of the reforms, before the benefits will be seen in an increased revenue and trade despite EU financial aid and ability that reforms can bring the benefits to pursue further reforms. In general the main concern is that it is too early and difficult to say how much effective trade facilitation will cost and how much reform governments will have to undertake to start felling the benefits of the agreement. So this could be a cause why some countries are still not signing the agreement.
Even though the reforms are costly and complex, even the modest improvements will bring considerable relative gains. Costs that incurs in implementation of Trade Facilitation are mainly: new regulations, institutional changes, training, equipment and infrastructure.
Regulatory costs: Costs rise mainly because agreement requires new legislation or changes to the existing laws, which requires time and specialized people in regulatory work.
Institutional costs: Costs arise because some facilitation agreement measures requires deploying new units which requires additional staff. The costs rises if existing staff is relocated because of training requirements.
Training costs: This is considered as most expensive and most important subject in facilitation. It is most important trade facilitation principle as the agreements primary principle is to get more effective ways of doing trade between border agencies. Countries can choose to recruit new expert staff, train existing staff or ‘import’ trained staff through exchanges with other countries ministries and agencies. As recruiting or importing new experts are the most costly option, countries often decide to train old staff as it is less costly but as well more lengthy process, because staff still needs to perform their normal duties.
Equipment and infrastructure: Often these are most costly elements as well as staff training. Most of the equipment has to be carefully implemented and sequenced with regulatory, institutional or human resource changes. At the same time insufficient equipment and infrastructure make some facilitation measures too difficult to implement.
Generally the costs are significantly high, but those countries who undertake the reforms in trade facilitation have seen that benefits exceeds costs in very wide margin. Angola undertook a five year customs modernisation process, and even mid-way through the process Angola saw the increase of revenue by 150 percent and reduced customs procedures up to 24 hours.
Trade Facilitation Agreement is the helping hand for all of the world, but mostly for the developing countries which from first sight lookalike that will suffer from expensive costs of the reforms, but as we can see the benefits can exceed the expectations.

Rokas Barkauskas


World Trade Organization (No date) Trade Facilitation.
Available at: (Accessed: 9th April, 2017).

World Trade Organization (2017) WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement enters into force.
Available at: (Accessed: 9th April, 2017).

WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (No date) The Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Available at: (Accessed: 11th April, 2017).

European Commission Press Release Database (2017) EU welcomes entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Available at: (Accessed: 11th April, 2017).

European Commission (2017) European Commission Support for Trade Facilitation.
Available at: (Accessed: 11th April, 2017).

OECD Policy Brief (2005) The Costs and Benefits of Trade Facilitation.
Available at: (Accessed: 11th April, 2017).

Can Brazil Recover?

Brazil’s economy is still resisting to come back out of recession. Countries economy is trying to get out from serious, long and tiring economic stagnation. The main reasons of the decadence in Brazil’s economy were distrustful citizens, because of corruption in almost, actually not in almost in every political institution, very low consumer and business confidence, and low investment from the region. According to “Datafolha” poll data released on 2016, 63 percent of respondents throughout the country believed that Brazil’s government was “bad or terrible”, and only 13 percent (in other poll data agencies website’s it is even 6) were thinking that governmental institutions are doing a “good or excellent” work. It looks like that people’s patience have drained out, as in 2011 Brazil’s citizens showed 80 percent of trust in all governmental bodies. Only 4 other South America’s countries have less confidence in their government bodies: Columbia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.
So what has gone wrong in Brazil? First thing corruption. The impeachment trial against Dilma Rousseff. The opposition indicted that ex Brazil president used the government’s accounts in 2014 when she was in the competition of her re-election. The trust figures that we have is explainable by the corruption scandals in the last decade, which has touched the highest groups of business and politics in the country. The biggest two were: Mensalao and Operation Car Wash.
“Mensalao” corruption scandal is a typical inequality and protectionism example. The wealthy business groups who controls the bigger part of the capital, were trying to pay the members of Congress to vote in crucial meeting, where policies were accepted. The scandal started in 2012, and in 2012 Brazil’s Supreme Courted concluded the Mensalao trial were 25 politicians, bankers and businessmen had been convicted. Some of whom were holding high positions in Worker’s Party. Yes, the same one as Ms. Ex-President Dilma Rousseff.

Second biggest scandal called “Operation Car Wash”. Indictments was released in 2014. It had involved biggest state oil company Petrobras. Allegations were leaned on that Petrobras were highly overcharged for building contracts. The overcharged peace of money had been passed to Petrobras executives and politicians who were taking part in the deal. This operation is worth highlighting that last two Brazil’s presidents are involved with this scandal. Ms. Dilma Rousseff was impeached having strong information that she was involved in this scandal.
Corruption scandals in the country had not only triggered big protests in entire country, but as well caused big economic stagnation. In 2015, economy shrank to its worst since 1981, by 3.8 percent. Inflation reached 10.7 percent, highest in 12 years and unemployment increased by 9 percent. The forecasts were disappointing, but it looks like that Brazils is showing recovery signs, as political uncertainty diminishes.
International Monetary Fund and Brazil Central Bank has released data which shows that the larger economic recovery started in the third quarter of 2016. GDP growth from -2.90 percent to 0.50 percent GDP growth. Central Brazil Bank has lowered its interest rates, to support nation’s recovery, but before continuing to Brazil’s economic recovery it would be worth to look into other reason than domestic political issues.
• Countries investments were continuously unstable, which led to decreased competitiveness and difficult financial conditions.
• Consumption lowered due to crisis in labour market and difficulties in credit agencies.
• Economic policies were not functioning properly, which led to economic deficit.
Consumers finally are finding some trust in their government as political uncertainty with the new president’s appointment. Brazil posted the largest rise in consumer confidence in 2016. Consumer trust and confidence could be the first aid to pull out Brazil’s economy out of stagnation with more spending and lending. That would enable to overall economic growth. As country citizens are purchasing and consuming more the prices become more stable. Within 12 months inflation rate decined to 5.4 percent in January 2017, compared to 6.3 percent as in the previous month, and 10.7 percent a year ago. The 5.4 inflation rate was lowest since September 2012. Consumers are finding courage to consume and this could boost up countries economic activity in various ways. Rising consumer confidence has a fast reaction on the companies involved in consumer and retail businesses.
Export contains 13 percent of GDP in Brazil. Brazil is expected to attain an incline in its economic growth in 2017, because of rising commodity market are policy amendments in export. Commodity market forms 50 percent of Brazil’s export. Countries commodity indexes steadily rises in agriculture, metal and energy. Brazil is a major iron ore exporter. As in 2015 iron prices fell 50 percent because of decreased demand in China. In 2008 China’s construction boom boosted Brazil’s economy greatly, but as years passed the demand lowered, putting largest Brazil’s iron export companies under pressure, but in 2017 it is likely that iron prices will increase due to rise of Chinas infrastructure plans, it should be a helpful boost for Brazil’s economy as well.
The biggest aid is awaited from services sector as it contributed 66 percent to GDP in 2015. For comparison the industrial sector contributes 28.5 percent and agricultural 5.5 percent towards GDP.
However, the country still struggles with major development challenges in the 21st century. Especially in agriculture. However improved commodity market, decreased inflation, GDP growth and restrained corrupted politician and business groups is bighting Brazil’s future in 2017.

Rokas Barkauskas


Mary Sadler, (2017) Is Brazil Showing Improvement in Its Economic Growth?
Available at: (Accessed: 15th March, 2017).

OECD, (2016) Brazil – Economic forecast summary.
Available at: (Accessed: 15th March, 2017).

Trading Economics, (No date) Brazil GDP Growth Rate.
Available at: (Accessed: 10th March, 2017).

BBC News, (2016) What has gone wrong in Brazil?
Available at: (Accessed: 10th March, 2017).

Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, Man Roser, (2016) Trust.
Available at: (Accessed: 28th March, 2017).

Sarah Sands, (2016) Is Brazil Still Outperforming Global Indexes?
Available at: (Accessed: 28th March, 2017).

The World Bank, (No date) Brazil Overview.
Available at: (Accessed: 28th March, 2017).

Self-righteousness​ should not replace our Humanity!

There are many gaps in international human rights laws; especially on subjects that were unmentionable in the epoch of 1948, when the international human rights laws were being initially adopted.The topic Of Sexual rights for both genders while is seemingly mundane for contemporary society would have been considered unethical and too scandalous for politicians to explore.By lacking space to discuss sexuality, unsafe abortion, denial of HIV treatment, and a range of acts of “culturally-justified violence against women”(McVeigh, 2016) have normalised its presence in the world.However, in modern society, while no such barriers exist for raising the discussions as it did back then, the same issues and preexisting violations of sexual rights still have yet to be adequately overcome by the international community.Being approached most recently in today’s society are policies in which prevent and protect which such infringements and violations on the rights of the individuals concerned but strong opposition has the advantageous position.

Recognising and the direct relation between religious fundamentalist communities with overbearing patriarchy and the engaging of violations against sexual rights typically set the unofficial lines in which states are not willing to call out upon for reform and criminalising regressive behaviours. Most religions across the world in fundamentalist contexts see women’s bodies as carriers of cultural integrity and often become the territory ground for disputes in religious and political control(Shameeem, 2016).In the case of women specifically around the world, the foundation for their perceived value to a  traditionalist community primarily lies in their reproductive capacity but only legitimised under the regulation of families, religious institutions, and governmental authorities and not through the will of the individual(Shameeem, 2016).

Most religions across the world in fundamentalist contexts see women’s bodies as vessels of cultural integrity and often become the territory ground for disputes in religious and political control(Shameeem, 2016).In the case of women specifically around the world, the foundation for their perceived value to a  traditionalist community primarily lies in their reproductive capacity but only is legitimised under the regulation of families, religious institutions, and governmental authorities and not through the will of the individual(Anon,2016).

Religious fundamentalist belief or domination in politics is also one of the dangerously more degrading sides of the patriarchy for women around the world. Women of an unmarried or single status can be denied access to sexual and reproductive health services and can suffer verbal classifications by religious authorities as well as marginalisation from society. Where contraception and Abortion are restricted and criminalised in the world it unwilling forces women to resort to unsafe and illegal methods of abortion, posing a significant risk to their lives and health. Anna Rocca, a 32-year-old woman from Tennessee, reverted to such a method when she was denied the help of any health services or contraception attempted to abort the 24-week pregnancy with a coat hanger, subsequently leading to her incarceration for First-degree murder(Huaser,2016).


State legislative authorities failing to address sexual violations not recognised by Religous fundamental and conservative communities on women allow the systematic and continuous abuse of the justice system. The horrifying truths like the cases of marital rape in the United States, female genital mutilation and circumcision in the tribes of East Africa, honour killings amongst the cities of Pakistan and living in the terror of mass rapes in Congo ,provides the crystal clear picture that policy makers and states have failed vulnerable women across the world.

Even world organisations such as the UN (United Nations) have similar histories in ignoring pleas for intervention and prevention of sexual assault due to external pressure(Hilsum,2010).In the Democratic Republic of Congo 6 years ago, the UN civil affairs bureau in Walikale was investigated for directly ignoring appeals from the village for protection just days before an upsetting number of 240 villagers were raped by rebel forces.A sickening age range from a month-old baby boy to an 110-year-old woman was raped in that particular attack(Smith,2010).

congo-rebels-accused-of-m-007fig.Recovering victim of mass rapings by rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now the after the initial shock, the hangover reality of Donald Trump’s win has finally set in;   just contemplating the ramifications of his presidency for women and the LGBT community is enough to cause any liberal Democrat to develop real hangover symptoms.” Whatever his personal opinion may be, his appointees and their actions could put reproductive health care out of reach for millions of women, especially those living in poverty”.(New York Times,2016)The Board of the New York times commented as such to reference the president elects lack of experience and opinion in reproductive and sexual rights but his taking his position on the matter from the newly appointed guiding figures surrounding him. Mike Pence’s record, however, can be described as destructively favourable to the borderline of even saying its successful extremism for the anti-choice movement. In fact, His “achievements” in this fields are listed as followed: deny abortion coverage in health insurance exchanges,  attempt to defund embryonic stem cell research and successfully defund Planned Parenthood in his state which consequently leads to clinic closures and an HIV outbreak(Cader,2016 ). Remarkable, simply, utterly and despicably remarkable.

The confirmed future attorney general, Jeff Sessions reaffirms the suspicions that the action plan from the Trump administration will be the abandoning of abortion providers with little to no protection from anti-abortion extremists threats to both doctor and patients. Predictably with the closure of clinics the prohibition to access treatment and services since they are so-called ‘sinners’ and possess low moral standards, many living with HIV and AIDS will suffer dramatically(Flory,2016).Moreover, sexuality could be considered as taboo and scandalous once again, taking away the opportunity for positive dialogues on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues to make its way back into policy.

  Policy makers, enforcers, observers; Human rights laws should define the borders that distinguish instances in which human dignity is threatened or violated, circumstances of depriving a person or people of their dignity are no longer acceptable regardless of religious affiliation and gender.

Let this toxic version of patriarchy wither away along with sexual and reproductive intolerance.Following the example of his holiness the Pope Francis who redefined the boundaries of what can be forgiven, with the simple grant of extending priests throughout the world the right to grant absolution for abortion. He has magnificently disowned the whole process institutional injustice against sexual rights(Stack,2016)

“promote a culture of mercy based on the rediscovery of an encounter with others, a culture in which no one looks at another with indifference or turns away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters.”(Pope Francis,2015)

The correct implementation against disparities and gaps exists when the rights are wholly translated into national law and practice not well-meaning intentions.

“Pope Francis delineates the path of the future life of the church so that it can always be an instrument of mercy toward everyone, without ever excluding anyone,”( Archbishop Fisichella,2016)

Lack of political will to start or maintain the necessary procedures is now the responsibility of social society; excuses such as conscious or unconscious prioritisation of the fragment issues; or a lack of technical understanding in how to implement procedures to fulfil obligations are completely accountable in the hands of everyone equally.Redefine the definition of the issue together, the significance of sexual rights and injustices, stigmas of women and sexual minorities.let us redefine them all together .politcal activism is the answer.

Georgia Rebecca mae massey (Dubai Campus)


Anon, (2016). Protection Gaps in Sexual Rights: Taking an Intersectional Approach and Perspective. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Dec. 2016].

Board, T. (2016). Protecting Reproductive Rights Under Donald Trump. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2016].

Flory, T. (2016). What does a Trump presidency mean for reproductive rights?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2016].

hilsum, l. (2016). Congo women relive terror of mass rape: ‘This is our cry for help’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2016]. (2016). Linkages between Religious Fundamentalism and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Global South | May 28. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2016].

McVeigh, K. (2016). US aid for women’s sexual health worldwide under threat. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 16 Dec. 2016].

I am lost in you Globalization

The main reason for globalization is to spread national goods internationally, where both national and international parties then benefit. But what happens when agreements are not upheld and national identities suffer?


The easiest way to know if a place is globalized is to look around you; if you have a McDonald’s near by, then you are definitely in the globalized market. I mean who wouldn’t want to be, especially when it concerns food? With the various arrays of foods and delicious nothings from all over the world. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to have access to such exquisite cuisines sometimes mixed with just a pinch of fusion from others. Lets not forget the aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs who bring their own culture’s delicacies. Or perhaps just the influx of migrants and the only way to truly make it feel like home is through their own comfort foods of course!

But what about us? What about me? What about my people?

You see, just recently I was exposed to a shock that I still am trying to recover from; a shock that you may even laugh at, but a shock nonetheless.

In efforts of trying to represent my country (the United Arab Emirates) during the wondrous event of ‘International Day’ at university, the best way to do so is by sharing our traditional Emirati cuisine. I had wanted to share the flavors of my upbringing and childhood. I wanted to share #MyDubai. But in the quest of doing so, I had begun to realize that it was almost pointless. Because initially taking on the task of wanting to make things traditionally at home from scratch, it seemed as though all the ingredients managed to disappear from the shelves at the stores. I had gone during the celebration of the UAE National Day (2nd December), knowing that there should definitely be a lot of flags around to purchase, and so why not the ingredients too?


I was wrong on both accounts. Yes there were flags (due to the celebrations), but not for sale and no traditional ingredients. After going to countless stores and asking different people, I continuously got the same answer. “We only get those during Ramadan”, I asked them “why?” to which they replied, “Because no one buys them any other day.” Essentially telling me that these traditional ingredients were seasonal and not the nature kind. These included: Dibs al-Tammar, Khubz Raqaq, Luqaimat, and many others.

I sought out an alternative; surely there must be restaurants that I can order from right? Yes, there were a few and not more than a few, by that I mean only three. Two of which were completely capitalist (unreasonably overpriced) and one seemingly unreliable. This made me question, how could this have happened? Within the famous city of Dubai, there are only three Emirati restaurants? I could find hundreds of Italian, Chinese, or Indian places to order from, but for my own traditional cuisine, it doesn’t even complete the number on a single hand?

Dubai is a multicultural city, and with that come diverse tastes, traditions, and identities. But has it become so diverse that the efforts of trying to sustain it’s own national identity are trivial? I definitely do not believe in the ‘low demand’ aspect of it all. When individuals visit a place, they want to view its culture, heritage and traditions. But it seems as though Dubai has invested so much time in making others feel at home, it lost its own.

Dear Globalization,

I am lost in you.

We were meant to be a team in this. You were interested in me, and I was very intrigued with what you had to offer. You told me that people would love what I had, only for you to come in and cover all that I had, with your large labeled brands. You said you’d take me abroad, but instead concealed me as though I was flawed.

We had a deal Globalization. I kept my end of the bargain why are you shying away from yours? You make your big brands cheaper and more demanded for. You grabbed that niche. But now I am suffering.

There was a point where you needed me, in fact were obsessed with me. But for you to continue to grow just know your market needs us both.


National Identity

Fadhila Al Asmawi | Dubai Campus


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