SAPA 5th General Forum Press Release

Novedades sobre los procesos de integración en América Latina:
– Mercosur
– SICA
– UNASUR
– Claves 2011
Publicado en enero de 2011 por Editorial Nueva Sociedad y FES.
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PRESS RELEASE
“Today’s world must respect human rights. No country can feel safe without respecting human rights and democracy” said Dr. Mizanur Rahman , Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh while inaugurating the 5th General Forum of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) today.
The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) is a network of civil society organizations born out of common concerns about how to enhance the effectiveness and impact of civil society advocacy by improving communication, cooperation and coordination among non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating regionally, in the face of rapidly increasing and multiplying inter-governmental processes and meetings in Asia. The SAPA network is having its 5th General Forum on 18-21 February 2011 at the Brac Center, Khagan, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Delegates from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, The Netherlands are attending the two day General Forum of SAPA. Dr. Mizanur Rahman further said that the world has become a global village and can see Egypt’s domino effect in Yemen, Bahrain and other countries. People are aspiring for democracy and human rights.
He emphasized that human rights are not only civil and political rights. “One has to take into consideration the economic, social and cultural rights of the millions of starving people. Equality, social justice and human dignity need to be the base of modern state” visualized Rahman.
Dr. Rahman also emphasized the need for close linkages between various countries’ Human Rights Commissions as they can rise above sectarian nationalism. He elaborated this by citing an incidence of killing of Felani, a 15 year old girl, by Border Security Force (BSF) of India at the Indo-Bangla Border. He stressed that it is necessary for NHRIS of South Asia including the Bangladesh NHRC to work together to address common issues of human rights through effective coordination and collaboration . A common approach to regional issues is the need of the hour, he added.
NHRC of Bangladesh will soon launch a nationwide campaign on human rights with the help of law students and faculty. He also requested human rights defenders and NGOs working on the issue to cooperate with the NHRC and work with it. “We all have to work together. With your expertise and knowledge, we can make a difference.”
The SAPA General Forum will be discussing three major topics today: Impunity, Peace and Security and Food Sovereignty. The speakers for the panel on Impunity are: Dr. Gopal Krisna Siwakoti of INHURED International and Deputy Chair of Asia Pacific Network on Refugees Rights(APRRN) and Ms. Chalida Tajaroensuk of Peoples Empowerment. The Speaker for Peace and Security are: Ms. Mary Ann Joyce of Peaceboat, Mr. Gus Miclat of the Initiatives for International Dialogue and Feroz Ahmmead of Lead Trust. The speaker for food sovereignty is Mr. Jahangir Alam Jony of Ubinig.
On the 21st of February the participants will visit the Central Shahed Minar, Dhaka in memory of the martyrs of the language movement in International Mother Language Day.
The 5th SAPA General Forum is being hosted locally by Odhikar and the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) Bangladesh (WARBE Development Foundation, Association for Community Development, Ain O Salish Kendra and the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit)

Seminar: From Crisis to Opportunity – De-globalisation Strategies & Regional Alternatives

PSAARC Seminar ? Dhaka, help Bangladesh ? January 18-19, cheap 2011

Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives

Regional Integration as a Response to Hegemony and the Crisis

Jenina Joy Chavez ? Focus on the Global South

Good morning. It is an honor to participate in the People’s SAARC Seminar, and to be back in Bangladesh after almost 12 years. It is also a privilege to be given the opportunity to observe the continuing process you are undertaking, in refining a people’s vision for a new South Asia.

This morning, I would like to contribute some thoughts on why it is high time regionalism is seriously considered, and how the people should claim and redefine it.


Asia Update

For more than three years now, the world has been nursing a financial crisis that ate at the backbone of the global economy. As a result, world output slowed down in 2007 and 2008, and contracted by 0.8% in 2009, with global trade in goods and services contracting by 12.3% in the same year. (IMF, WEO Update, January 26, 2010) This meant the contraction of incomes and employment, and consequently of living standards across the world.


The global economic contraction did not hit the Asia region as much, and in the case of East Asia, not in the same depth as the 1997 financial crisis affected the region (which did not affect South Asia at all). Last year, global output was projected to grow by 3.9%, but growth estimates for developing Asia was more than double at 8.4%. The estimate for Japan was a slower 1.7%, but this was after several years of negative growth. (IMF, Ibid.) Asia still hosts one of the most robust productive capacities worldwide – that is, the real economy remains the most significant feature of Asia’s growth and development. This accounts for Asia’s relative resilience in this crisis.


However, while Asia has avoided the shock that hit North America and Western Europe, the slowdown in these regions means that Asia will have to look for new ways to restart its growth. And that is why, by 2010, many Asian free trade agreements have come on stream, either partly or fully: the ASEAN-China FTA, the ASEAN-Korea FTA, the ASEAN-India FTA, and the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The same arguments raised about global free trade hold true in the case of Asian FTAs. But an added dimension to these agreements is that they are negotiated and signed between countries or groups of countries where democratic practices like consultation, freedom of information, and people’s participation are weak, or non-existent.


When we talk of Asia, we must remember that we are also talking about huge disparities within and among countries, of varying levels of development and variable economic structures. For instance, unemployment could be as good as only 1.4% in Thailand and Bhutan; and could be as bad as 9.8% in Indonesia and 14.4% in the Maldives. ASEAN has sharper income gaps than SAARC – the highest per capita income (Brunei US$49,370 PPP) is 66 times the lowest (Myanmar US$750 PPP); whereas in SAARC it is only 6 times (Afghanistan US$881 PPP versus the Maldives US$5,027 PPP). However, SAARC has higher incidence of and deeper poverty, as well as ranks lower in terms of human development.


The region also hosts many countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is common to hear these days how the Maldives, for instance, is at risk of being totally submerged in water; or how the Philippines despite contributing very little to carbon emission ranks high in vulnerability. Huge populations, water scarcity and climate change also affect capacities of countries to produce its own food. India, for instance, has experienced crop failures for eight consecutive years, miring people deeper in debt, and resulting in around 200,000 farmer suicides since 1997.


South and Southeast Asia are also cited for the high incidence of what even the World Bank recognizes as global land garb. Yet, the actions of governments give us reason to worry. In 2009, it was reported that the Pakistani Government offered more than 400,000 hectares of farmland for sale or lease to foreign investors. The Philippines also signed 19 memoranda of agreement with China for the use of one million hectares of farmland for food production for Chinese consumption.


In 2010, warnings were issued about a potential water war between India and Pakistan, adding to existing conflict points between the two countries. And as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern for many, more such warnings may be heard in the years to come.


These snippets of information are significant because they show the common concerns that plague countries in the region, on the one hand; and the inadequacy of their actions. They also highlight the need for and the potential of regionalism as a response to address various problems that have already reached crisis proportions.


Why Regionalism?

Questions have been raised about the ability of global forces to deliver global welfare. Global mechanisms have been set up to address the concerns arising out of globalization, but they are deemed inadequate or unable to respond to all of the issues all of the time. There is consensus that the global economy needs a stronger social dimension (e.g. the work of ILO and UNDP), but the lack of democracy in global institutions frustrates the social aspects of globalization. Thus, the multilateral system suffers from a twin weakness— its tendency to significantly reduce developing countries’ policy space and its lack of a development dimension. (Helleiner, 2002)


The need for more democracy highlights the importance of the region or the regional. It is an arena where inclusion / inclusiveness can be furthered; and new centers of influence are developed (Bello 2002). Regions also make possible new South-South alliances where alternative ideas to challenge dominant North-South power relations can be enhanced (Keet 2006). Moreover, regionalism offers the potential for policy autonomy in the South, through “pooling of bargaining power and negotiating skills among developing countries” (Girvan, 2005).


To reiterate, regionalism is desirable for several reasons: (1) the commonality of regional experiences and problems; (2) the inadequacy of national action; (3) the failure of and the lack of democracy in global institutions; (4) the potential for bigger policy space; and (5) the need to develop new centers of influence.


However, even as regionalism can expand the possibilities for and bring more stability and prosperity into a region, it is important to note the behavior and impact of intra-regional distribution. If done with limited focus on economic and trade integration, regionalism will unduly favor bigger regional players who are best positioned to take advantage of bigger markets. Unless regionalism embraces broader people’s concerns, it will still fail to address the issues it should, and will be in danger of going the way of most multilateral institutions – that is, captured by the richer and bigger countries that develop into regional hegemons.

 

Key Dilemmas

While it is a logical alternative, regionalism is not an easy option. There are also key dilemmas that must be resolved when embarking on regionalism:

First, there must be a balance between nationalism and the need for regional solidarity.

Second, in the same breadth, there is the need to temper sovereignty with shared responsibility.

Third, regionalism can both be a defensive and an offensive too. It can be a shield, but it can also be a weapon – and the question is when to deploy this tool.

Fourth, regionalism should evolve, from being a form of resistance, to becoming a platform for alternatives.

 

Areas for Regional Cooperation and Solidarity

There are a myriad of areas where regional cooperation and solidarity are useful:

· Regional Development that spans Regional Trade and Investment, Regional Development Finance (Resource Management), and Regional Development Policy

o Here, it is important to rationalize policy beyond competition as a framework. One could think of, for instance, regional development funds, and mechanisms to lessen the region’s dependence on the dollar or on Northern markets.

· Regional Social Policy that includes Regional rights, Regional redistribution, and Regional regulation.

o Developmentalism in ASEAN and socialist influences in SAARC are good bases for regional social policy. Regional social policy – in the form of, for instance, migration and labor policy, regional stockpiling for food security, environmental regulation, or the provision of public goods (health and education services) – also gives new direction to regional agreements, as well as helps broaden the constituency for regionalism.

· Other areas that will benefit from regional cooperation and solidarity include:

o Regional Governance (for instance, accountability and information policy)

o Regional Solidarity and People’s Diplomacy (Foreign Policy, including visa policy / movement of people)

o People’s Security (nuclear policy)

o Regional Climate Strategy, and,

o Regional Identity and Community-Building


More could be added to the list, but these are the basic ones to start on. The old neoliberal trajectory will not be enough to address the impacts of or the vulnerability to future crises. It is high time that regional solidarity is harnessed towards the creation of a new order that promotes a democratic region, in every sense.

Peoples’ Regionalism

As a final note, I wish to emphasize the important role of people in the success of regionalism.

Last December, the ASEAN Charter finished its second year and ASEAN will celebrate its 44th anniversary this year. Last year, SAARC crossed its 25th year. For a long time, civil society and social movements have ignored these associations, focusing instead on international organizations like the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank; or on identified hegemonies like the United States.


But it has become apparent that the long years of absence of scrutiny from civil society have resulted in a myriad of initiatives in the economic sphere that regional citizens are now compelled to accept, and the negative impacts of which they have to suffer.


The Asian financial and the global economic crises have shown the importance of engaging regional institutions, to monitor and check what they are doing, on the one hand; and to demand that they do more in terms of regional social policy and cooperative actions to uplift regional social standards, on the other.

The viability of any responsive regionalist project can be greatly enhanced if it is democratized. Without popular support, regional initiatives will require a long socialization process, and will remain in the confines of official diplomacy.


Resonance with the people is important. Regional bodies, or regional advocacies, should start where there is clear demand, and patent need, to make regional arrangements acceptable to the people. Migration, rights and democracy, decent living standards and environment, and the ability to generate economic activity and distribute its fruits equitably, are but some examples. There is need to also work on something that works and shows results in the immediate even as the strategic alternative structures are still being constructed. Here, regional social policy (esp. in health, labor, environment and related sectors) will go a long way.


Doing regionalism for the people is a responsibility of states and the regionalist projects, but it is upon us, the people, to reclaim and redefine it. We also have the responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard, (1) by piercing the elitist diplomatic shell of regional associations and creating spaces for ourselves; (2) by challenging the existing multilateral system and current integration models; (3) by building movements of resistance, but more importantly, movements for alternatives; and (4) by making it happen.

Working towards specific access and grievance mechanisms is important, and it is equally important to amplify economic advocacies – whether it be for increased economic space, or access to trade negotiations, or for alternative systems – at the regional level, so that the same get discussed more, and the groups advocating inspire more trust from regional officials, the media, and the regional citizenry at large. We have to recognize that our targets have regional manifestations too, and therefore, we have to give a regional expression to our aspirations.

 

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Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Date/time

Programme

Remarks

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , physician steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), mind Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Date/time

Programme

Remarks

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, case democratic, united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

By Walden Bello*

(Speech at the Conference on “Regional Integration: an Opportunity Presented by the Crisis”, Universidad de Deportes, Asuncion, Paraguay, July 21-22, 2009.)

Globalization has ended in massive failure.

One response to this crisis has been to dump export-oriented industrialization and reemphasize the primacy of the national market in sustaining economic growth.

Another response, complementary to this, has been to build regional associations or regional blocs.

Regional economic blocs are not new. However, some of the more prominent ones have either not moved beyond a primitive stage, as in the case of SAARC in South Asia, or have been based on neoliberal principles, like ASEAN in Southeast Asia. ASEAN’s idea of integration is to see it as a step towards full-scale globalization, a process that is termed “open regionalism.”

The most interesting efforts at integration, in the view of many, are those taking place in Latin America, among them Trade Treaty of the Peoples and ALBA or the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas to which eight countries now belong. These experiences are at an early stage and yet they already contain lessons for other parts of the world. It is for this reason that the organizers of this conference decided to hold it in Asuncion, bringing in activists and government officials from Asia and Africa to interact with people in this region to discuss the lessons that developments here have for the rest of the world.

For many of us from outside Latin America, the dynamics of ALBA hold particular interest. One item that fascinates us is the use of barter as a key method of trade, for instance, the exchange of Venezuelan oil for Bolivian soybeans or of Venezuelan oil for medical services rendered by Cuban volunteers. Another is the subsidization of the oil needs of 14 Caribbean countries by Venezuela, which sells fuel to them at 40 per cent off the world price. We are intrigued by the comment of President Hugo Chavez during the World Social Forum in Caracas in 2006 that these practices “go beyond the logic of capitalism.”

Yet we cannot romanticize these efforts. For instance, the plan to build oil and gas pipelines from Venezuela to the furthermost areas of South America is probably dangerous and damaging not only to the environment but also to the indigenous peoples. Some elements of the ALBA perspective, as expressed by some people, reflect the perspective of 1950’s-style national capitalist industrialization, which is probably not suitable for the current period.

The challenges confronting us today cannot be met by either neoliberalism or the old developmentalist model. Let me mention some of these challenges to contemporary regionalism in Latin America and other parts of the South.

1. The first is how to build regional blocs that go beyond trade to include industrial policy, a shared agricultural policy, macroeconomic coordination, and technology sharing.

2. The second is how to ensure that building complementarity among economies does not reproduce the old, unequal division of labor between stronger and weaker economies.

3. The third is how to promote a development process that does not reproduce social inequalities at the regional and national levels in the name of capital accumulation.

4. The fourth is how to promote a development process that is sustainable, that is, one that is built on ecologically benign technologies and is not based on ever-rising material consumption per capita, though of course the spreading of material wealth via income redistribution is necessary to bring people out of poverty.

5. The fifth is how to avoid a technocrat-led process and promote instead the democratization of decision-making in all areas of the economy.

6. The sixth, related to the previous point, is how to move away from a statist process and institutionalize civil society participation in all key areas of economic decisionmaking. Civil society must not only provide a check to both the state and the market, but it must be the leading force in the new economics.

7. Finally, the last I would mention is how to undertake a process of regional integration that transcends the logic of capitalism, to borrow the words of Hugo Chavez.

I propose these as some of the key questions to guide our discussion of regional integration over the next two days.

Thank you.

*Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines, president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based institute Focus on the Global South. He is the author of 15 books, the latest of which is The Food Wars (New York: Verso, 2009).

By Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier

transform! europe Newsletter 1/2011

On 15-16 January the Executive Board of the European Left Party gathered in Brussels for the first time after the party’s 3rd congress. During this meeting the main guidelines for a campaign aiming at the accomplishment of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity were adopted. In the debate, Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier submitted some of the findings of transform! europe’s continuing projects on the capitalist crisis.

A European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity which provides the states with cheap loans for jobcreating public investments into infrastructures, ampoule ecological projects, click education and research would be a good thing to have. Yet, with regard to such a fund’s economic impact it is crucial how it is to be financed.

Social Democrats propose financing it via European bonds the EU would have to issue (Euro-Bonds). This European application of a classical Keynesian concept is not wrong in principle, on condition that the means mobilised that way are in fact used for public investments and not for servicing the debts. But we must not expect miracles from the Euro Bonds either. The crisis in different shapes which we have been facing since 2007 is no “Keynesian” crisis. To trace alternative strategies we must come to an understanding of the structural causes of the crisis. These can be traced back to the over-accumulation of capital and the crisis of profitability of the 1970s, as well as the subsequent neo-liberal response, the deregulations, the mass unemployment and the precarisation of labour which led to extreme inequalities of income and wealth with ordinary people facing deterioration in their living standards and an increase in poverty, unemployment, social insecurity and fragmentation of society.

From this follows that at the centre of any alternative economic strategy of development there is the question of redistribution of incomes and assets in favour of the majority of the populations and the public services. New revenues for public expenditures are necessary and also possible to be raised from taxation of incomes gained from finance and big property, from socially just tax reforms which stimulate the real economy, from a stop to tax reductions and a closure of the tax havens. Setting a different course will require a tenacious and long-term social and political struggle. We must make clear that the austerity programmes the states are now subjected to will only lead to slowing down the growth of the national debts but not to their reduction. The states find themselves in a debt trap.

Societies are meant to accept that they should pay interests to their creditors for an interminable time and with ever greater sacrifices. This process of exploitation must prompt us to question the legitimacy of the debts. We therefore advocate transparencycreating measures through the introduction of a public, democratic and transparent auditing of the public debts. This would reveal that the debts cannot merely be explained by corrupt and inefficient public administrations but that they are also the result of the wellknown neoliberal strategies, the policies of the banks and the imbalances in Europe.

Only within the framework of such investigations can a decision be made at the European level concerning the question of which parts of the public debt can be acknowledged and which need to be cancelled. One measure that needs to be taken immediately is a restructuring of the European banking sector, through its being subjected to public control and/or ownership.

We reject the austerity programmes that the top-level executives of the EU, the governments and the IMF want to impose on the populations of Europe. The destruction of the welfare state as well as the precarisation of labour aim at pitting the individual segments of the European populations against each other. It is these divisions and the undermining of democracy which are the toe-holds for the politics of the Right in their different shades and hues also including right extremism. The Left must oppose these politics with economic and social programmes of social cohesion and solidarity including the democratisation of the economy aiming at the construction of a large social bloc able to change the balance of the political forces.

 

Summary of the Document (Brussels, 15 January 1011)

European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity

 

The Executive Board of the European Left Party adopted at its meeting in January the roadmap concerning the implementation of the “Citizens’ Initiative” which was decided at the 3rd Congress in Paris (3-5 December 2010). This initiative consists in a process of participatory democracy in that it gives citizens the chance to make requests which makes possible alternative solutions to the current spiral of the deepening crisis. The initiative counteracts the logic of social regression by one of social development. It aims at overcoming the subordination of our lives to the financial markets by enabling progressive emancipation in all its power. Instead of the centralisation of decisions concerning the control of national budgets, we want to increase the implication of citizens and solidarity. To this end, what we demand is the creation of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity. This fund is intended to offer lowrate or even no-interest loans to governments for public investments meant to create employment and to boost education, research, public services, useful infrastructures and environmental projects. The originality of this fund lies in how it is to be financed: It is the product of a taxation on financial transactions, on a low-rate or even no-interest loans from the ECB so as to get rid of the domination of financial markets (money creation), while at the same time it provides a substantial contribution to the community budget.

In 2011 we must focus on creating the conditions to take up the ambitious challenge that the Party of the European Left is facing at European level. This mobilization involves awareness-raising initiatives, on the field and on the Internet (for this purpose a list of arguments will be elaborated and updated regularly) the whole year through and in various European capitals or major cities, the organisation of theme-based meetings with trade union representatives, militants from associations, experts, and at the same time big public conventions of a European dimension. The first of them, that will mark the public launch of this campaign, will take place in Athens on 11-13 March. Others will take place in Paris and Madrid in May and in Italy in July.

For the full version please refer to: http://www.european-left.org/nc/english/home/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/latestnews-home/artikel/roadmap-of-el-campaign/

By Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier

 

 

On 15-16 January the Executive Board of the European Left Party gathered in Brussels for the first time after the party’s 3rd congress. During this meeting the main guidelines for a campaign aiming at the accomplishment of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity were adopted. In the debate, treatment Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier submitted some of the findings of transform! europe’s continuing projects on the capitalist crisis.

 

A European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity which provides the states with cheap loans for jobcreating public investments into infrastructures, ecological projects, education and research would be a good thing to have. Yet, with regard to such a fund’s economic impact it is crucial how it is to be financed.

 

Social Democrats propose financing it via European bonds the EU would have to issue (Euro-Bonds). This European application of a classical Keynesian concept is not wrong in principle, on condition that the means mobilised that way are in fact used for public investments and not for servicing the debts. But we must not expect miracles from the Euro Bonds either. The crisis in different shapes which we have been facing since 2007 is no “Keynesian” crisis. To trace alternative strategies we must come to an understanding of the structural causes of the crisis. These can be traced back to the over-accumulation of capital and the crisis of profitability of the 1970s, as well as the subsequent neo-liberal response, the deregulations, the mass unemployment and the precarisation of labour which led to extreme inequalities of income and wealth with ordinary people facing deterioration in their living standards and an increase in poverty, unemployment, social insecurity and fragmentation of society.

 

From this follows that at the centre of any alternative economic strategy of development there is the question of redistribution of incomes and assets in favour of the majority of the populations and the public services. New revenues for public expenditures are necessary and also possible to be raised from taxation of incomes gained from finance and big property, from socially just tax reforms which stimulate the real economy, from a stop to tax reductions and a closure of the tax havens. Setting a different course will require a tenacious and long-term social and political struggle. We must make clear that the austerity programmes the states are now subjected to will only lead to slowing down the growth of the national debts but not to their reduction. The states find themselves in a debt trap.

 

Societies are meant to accept that they should pay interests to their creditors for an interminable time and with ever greater sacrifices. This process of exploitation must prompt us to question the legitimacy of the debts. We therefore advocate transparencycreating measures through the introduction of a public, democratic and transparent auditing of the public debts. This would reveal that the debts cannot merely be explained by corrupt and inefficient public administrations but that they are also the result of the wellknown neoliberal strategies, the policies of the banks and the imbalances in Europe.

 

Only within the framework of such investigations can a decision be made at the European level concerning the question of which parts of the public debt can be acknowledged and which need to be cancelled. One measure that needs to be taken immediately is a restructuring of the European banking sector, through its being subjected to public control and/or ownership.

 

We reject the austerity programmes that the top-level executives of the EU, the governments and the IMF want to impose on the populations of Europe. The destruction of the welfare state as well as the precarisation of labour aim at pitting the individual segments of the European populations against each other. It is these divisions and the undermining of democracy which are the toe-holds for the politics of the Right in their different shades and hues also including right extremism. The Left must oppose these politics with economic and social programmes of social cohesion and solidarity including the democratisation of the economy aiming at the construction of a large social bloc able to change the balance of the political forces.

 

Summary of the Document (Brussels, 15 January 1011)

European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity

 

The Executive Board of the European Left Party adopted at its meeting in January the roadmap concerning the implementation of the “Citizens’ Initiative” which was decided at the 3rd Congress in Paris (3-5 December 2010). This initiative consists in a process of participatory democracy in that it gives citizens the chance to make requests which makes possible alternative solutions to the current spiral of the deepening crisis. The initiative counteracts the logic of social regression by one of social development. It aims at overcoming the subordination of our lives to the financial markets by enabling progressive emancipation in all its power. Instead of the centralisation of decisions concerning the control of national budgets, we want to increase the implication of citizens and solidarity. To this end, what we demand is the creation of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity. This fund is intended to offer lowrate or even no-interest loans to governments for public investments meant to create employment and to boost education, research, public services, useful infrastructures and environmental projects. The originality of this fund lies in how it is to be financed: It is the product of a taxation on financial transactions, on a low-rate or even no-interest loans from the ECB so as to get rid of the domination of financial markets (money creation), while at the same time it provides a substantial contribution to the community budget.

 

In 2011 we must focus on creating the conditions to take up the ambitious challenge that the Party of the European Left is facing at European level. This mobilization involves awareness-raising initiatives, on the field and on the Internet (for this purpose a list of arguments will be elaborated and updated regularly) the whole year through and in various European capitals or major cities, the organisation of theme-based meetings with trade union representatives, militants from associations, experts, and at the same time big public conventions of a European dimension. The first of them, that will mark the public launch of this campaign, will take place in Athens on 11-13 March. Others will take place in Paris and Madrid in May and in Italy in July.

 

For the full version please refer to: http://www.european-left.org/nc/english/home/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/latestnews-

home/artikel/roadmap-of-el-campaign/

by Corporate Europe Observatory

19 January 2011

2011 may mark a watershed in the history of the European Union. Using the pretext of the “euro crisis”, rx the European Commission and the Council have put forward proposals to give the EU new powers to deal with core welfare issues, pills including social benefits and wages, under a new technocratic procedure –  hard (if not impossible) to track, let alone influence by those who stand to lose out. The proposals embody a corporate social and economic agenda which, if enacted, will constitute a “silent revolution” imposed from above, with no real democratic debate or popular participation.The proposed changes – which involve a series of proposed rules on ‘economic governance’ – have been welcomed by the EU’s key big business lobby groups, which see some of their traditional key lobby demands reflected in the changes. In particular, a new procedure to “correct macroeconomic imbalances” will break new ground, allowing decisions to be made at the EU-level on wage levels and social-service budgets for individual member states. The business lobby hopes that the new rules will complement the business friendly EU 2020 Strategy with strong enforcement measures.Despite the issues at stake, this “silent revolution” has so far received too little attention from a wider audience. There is an urgent need for a democratic debate throughout the EU, in particular on alternatives to the austere neoliberal model of ‘economic governance’ that is now being pushed by the Commission and the Council. And it will require a broad-based social struggle to make the alternatives a reality.


Download full article in pdf

By Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier

transform! europe Newsletter 1/2011

 

On 15-16 January the Executive Board of the European Left Party gathered in Brussels for the first time after the party’s 3rd congress. During this meeting the main guidelines for a campaign aiming at the accomplishment of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity were adopted. In the debate, seek Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier submitted some of the findings of transform! europe’s continuing projects on the capitalist crisis.

 

A European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity which provides the states with cheap loans for jobcreating public investments into infrastructures, ecological projects, education and research would be a good thing to have. Yet, with regard to such a fund’s economic impact it is crucial how it is to be financed.

 

Social Democrats propose financing it via European bonds the EU would have to issue (Euro-Bonds). This European application of a classical Keynesian concept is not wrong in principle, on condition that the means mobilised that way are in fact used for public investments and not for servicing the debts. But we must not expect miracles from the Euro Bonds either. The crisis in different shapes which we have been facing since 2007 is no “Keynesian” crisis. To trace alternative strategies we must come to an understanding of the structural causes of the crisis. These can be traced back to the over-accumulation of capital and the crisis of profitability of the 1970s, as well as the subsequent neo-liberal response, the deregulations, the mass unemployment and the precarisation of labour which led to extreme inequalities of income and wealth with ordinary people facing deterioration in their living standards and an increase in poverty, unemployment, social insecurity and fragmentation of society.

 

From this follows that at the centre of any alternative economic strategy of development there is the question of redistribution of incomes and assets in favour of the majority of the populations and the public services. New revenues for public expenditures are necessary and also possible to be raised from taxation of incomes gained from finance and big property, from socially just tax reforms which stimulate the real economy, from a stop to tax reductions and a closure of the tax havens. Setting a different course will require a tenacious and long-term social and political struggle. We must make clear that the austerity programmes the states are now subjected to will only lead to slowing down the growth of the national debts but not to their reduction. The states find themselves in a debt trap.

 

Societies are meant to accept that they should pay interests to their creditors for an interminable time and with ever greater sacrifices. This process of exploitation must prompt us to question the legitimacy of the debts. We therefore advocate transparencycreating measures through the introduction of a public, democratic and transparent auditing of the public debts. This would reveal that the debts cannot merely be explained by corrupt and inefficient public administrations but that they are also the result of the wellknown neoliberal strategies, the policies of the banks and the imbalances in Europe.

 

Only within the framework of such investigations can a decision be made at the European level concerning the question of which parts of the public debt can be acknowledged and which need to be cancelled. One measure that needs to be taken immediately is a restructuring of the European banking sector, through its being subjected to public control and/or ownership.

 

We reject the austerity programmes that the top-level executives of the EU, the governments and the IMF want to impose on the populations of Europe. The destruction of the welfare state as well as the precarisation of labour aim at pitting the individual segments of the European populations against each other. It is these divisions and the undermining of democracy which are the toe-holds for the politics of the Right in their different shades and hues also including right extremism. The Left must oppose these politics with economic and social programmes of social cohesion and solidarity including the democratisation of the economy aiming at the construction of a large social bloc able to change the balance of the political forces.

 

Summary of the Document (Brussels, 15 January 1011)

European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity

 

The Executive Board of the European Left Party adopted at its meeting in January the roadmap concerning the implementation of the “Citizens’ Initiative” which was decided at the 3rd Congress in Paris (3-5 December 2010). This initiative consists in a process of participatory democracy in that it gives citizens the chance to make requests which makes possible alternative solutions to the current spiral of the deepening crisis. The initiative counteracts the logic of social regression by one of social development. It aims at overcoming the subordination of our lives to the financial markets by enabling progressive emancipation in all its power. Instead of the centralisation of decisions concerning the control of national budgets, we want to increase the implication of citizens and solidarity. To this end, what we demand is the creation of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity. This fund is intended to offer lowrate or even no-interest loans to governments for public investments meant to create employment and to boost education, research, public services, useful infrastructures and environmental projects. The originality of this fund lies in how it is to be financed: It is the product of a taxation on financial transactions, on a low-rate or even no-interest loans from the ECB so as to get rid of the domination of financial markets (money creation), while at the same time it provides a substantial contribution to the community budget.

 

In 2011 we must focus on creating the conditions to take up the ambitious challenge that the Party of the European Left is facing at European level. This mobilization involves awareness-raising initiatives, on the field and on the Internet (for this purpose a list of arguments will be elaborated and updated regularly) the whole year through and in various European capitals or major cities, the organisation of theme-based meetings with trade union representatives, militants from associations, experts, and at the same time big public conventions of a European dimension. The first of them, that will mark the public launch of this campaign, will take place in Athens on 11-13 March. Others will take place in Paris and Madrid in May and in Italy in July.

 

For the full version please refer to: http://www.european-left.org/nc/english/home/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/latestnews-home/artikel/roadmap-of-el-campaign/

by Corporate Europe Observatory

19 January 2011

2011 may mark a watershed in the history of the European Union. Using the pretext of the “euro crisis”, the European Commission and the Council have put forward proposals to give the EU new powers to deal with core welfare issues, including social benefits and wages, under a new technocratic procedure –  hard (if not impossible) to track, let alone influence by those who stand to lose out. The proposals embody a corporate social and economic agenda which, if enacted, will constitute a “silent revolution” imposed from above, with no real democratic debate or popular participation.The proposed changes – which involve a series of proposed rules on ‘economic governance’ – have been welcomed by the EU’s key big business lobby groups, which see some of their traditional key lobby demands reflected in the changes. In particular, a new procedure to “correct macroeconomic imbalances” will break new ground, allowing decisions to be made at the EU-level on wage levels and social-service budgets for individual member states. The business lobby hopes that the new rules will complement the business friendly EU 2020 Strategy with strong enforcement measures.Despite the issues at stake, this “silent revolution” has so far received too little attention from a wider audience. There is an urgent need for a democratic debate throughout the EU, in particular on alternatives to the austere neoliberal model of ‘economic governance’ that is now being pushed by the Commission and the Council. And it will require a broad-based social struggle to make the alternatives a reality.



by Corporate Europe Observatory

19 January 2011

2011 may mark a watershed in the history of the European Union. Using the pretext of the “euro crisis”, sovaldi the European Commission and the Council have put forward proposals to give the EU new powers to deal with core welfare issues, rx including social benefits and wages, under a new technocratic procedure –  hard (if not impossible) to track, let alone influence by those who stand to lose out. The proposals embody a corporate social and economic agenda which, if enacted, will constitute a “silent revolution” imposed from above, with no real democratic debate or popular participation.The proposed changes – which involve a series of proposed rules on ‘economic governance’ – have been welcomed by the EU’s key big business lobby groups, which see some of their traditional key lobby demands reflected in the changes. In particular, a new procedure to “correct macroeconomic imbalances” will break new ground, allowing decisions to be made at the EU-level on wage levels and social-service budgets for individual member states. The business lobby hopes that the new rules will complement the business friendly EU 2020 Strategy with strong enforcement measures.Despite the issues at stake, this “silent revolution” has so far received too little attention from a wider audience. There is an urgent need for a democratic debate throughout the EU, in particular on alternatives to the austere neoliberal model of ‘economic governance’ that is now being pushed by the Commission and the Council. And it will require a broad-based social struggle to make the alternatives a reality.


Download full article in pdf

World Social Forum in Dakar

Date and time    9 Feb- 16h to 19h

Rationale
The present crisis has highlighted the instability and contradictory nature of the capitalist system, sildenafil including its dependency on external political and financial underpinnings. While the Global Paradigm Crisis continues to deepen, specific crises intensify. There is an intense and urgent challenge to re-articulate a de-globalisation vision and strategy and dedicated work on Alternatives, including at regional and cross regional level.

Objectives   
– Make the case for the need for de-globalisation in a context of crises.
– Contribute to the understanding of alternative regional integration as a key strategy to struggle against neoliberal globalisation
– Broaden the base among key social actors for political debate and action towards a people-centred regional integration
– Facilitate sharing and learning cross-regional analysis and experiences
– Identify issues for further co-operation

Programme   
– Introduction: The changes in international conjuncture and state of social movements in this new conjuncture
– Africa: state of play and current perspectives on regional alternatives 
– The current role and challenges of alternative regional integration in the process of de-globalisation and crises.
– Going Forward: Strengthening cross-regional sharing of experiences & strategies.


Co-organised by: People’s Agenda for Alternative Regionalism (PAAR), Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN), Economic Justice Network (EJN), SEATINI, Hemispheric Social Alliance, (HSA), People’s SAARC, Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy-SAPA, Focus on the Global South, Equit, Rebrip, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Transnational Institute (TNI), GUE/NLG EP.

Towards a Real Alternative

PSAARC Seminar ? Dhaka,Bangladesh ? January 18-19, 2011

Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives

Regional Integration as a Response to Hegemony and the Crisis

Jenina Joy Chavez ? Focus on the Global South

Good morning. It is an honor to participate in the People’s SAARC Seminar, and to be back in Bangladesh after almost 12 years. It is also a privilege to be given the opportunity to observe the continuing process you are undertaking, in refining a people’s vision for a new South Asia.

This morning, I would like to contribute some thoughts on why it is high time regionalism is seriously considered, and how the people should claim and redefine it.


Asia Update

For more than three years now, the world has been nursing a financial crisis that ate at the backbone of the global economy. As a result, world output slowed down in 2007 and 2008, and contracted by 0.8% in 2009, with global trade in goods and services contracting by 12.3% in the same year. (IMF, WEO Update, January 26, 2010) This meant the contraction of incomes and employment, and consequently of living standards across the world.


The global economic contraction did not hit the Asia region as much, and in the case of East Asia, not in the same depth as the 1997 financial crisis affected the region (which did not affect South Asia at all). Last year, global output was projected to grow by 3.9%, but growth estimates for developing Asia was more than double at 8.4%. The estimate for Japan was a slower 1.7%, but this was after several years of negative growth. (IMF, Ibid.) Asia still hosts one of the most robust productive capacities worldwide – that is, the real economy remains the most significant feature of Asia’s growth and development. This accounts for Asia’s relative resilience in this crisis.


However, while Asia has avoided the shock that hit North America and Western Europe, the slowdown in these regions means that Asia will have to look for new ways to restart its growth. And that is why, by 2010, many Asian free trade agreements have come on stream, either partly or fully: the ASEAN-China FTA, the ASEAN-Korea FTA, the ASEAN-India FTA, and the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The same arguments raised about global free trade hold true in the case of Asian FTAs. But an added dimension to these agreements is that they are negotiated and signed between countries or groups of countries where democratic practices like consultation, freedom of information, and people’s participation are weak, or non-existent.


When we talk of Asia, we must remember that we are also talking about huge disparities within and among countries, of varying levels of development and variable economic structures. For instance, unemployment could be as good as only 1.4% in Thailand and Bhutan; and could be as bad as 9.8% in Indonesia and 14.4% in the Maldives. ASEAN has sharper income gaps than SAARC – the highest per capita income (Brunei US$49,370 PPP) is 66 times the lowest (Myanmar US$750 PPP); whereas in SAARC it is only 6 times (Afghanistan US$881 PPP versus the Maldives US$5,027 PPP). However, SAARC has higher incidence of and deeper poverty, as well as ranks lower in terms of human development.


The region also hosts many countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is common to hear these days how the Maldives, for instance, is at risk of being totally submerged in water; or how the Philippines despite contributing very little to carbon emission ranks high in vulnerability. Huge populations, water scarcity and climate change also affect capacities of countries to produce its own food. India, for instance, has experienced crop failures for eight consecutive years, miring people deeper in debt, and resulting in around 200,000 farmer suicides since 1997.


South and Southeast Asia are also cited for the high incidence of what even the World Bank recognizes as global land garb. Yet, the actions of governments give us reason to worry. In 2009, it was reported that the Pakistani Government offered more than 400,000 hectares of farmland for sale or lease to foreign investors. The Philippines also signed 19 memoranda of agreement with China for the use of one million hectares of farmland for food production for Chinese consumption.


In 2010, warnings were issued about a potential water war between India and Pakistan, adding to existing conflict points between the two countries. And as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern for many, more such warnings may be heard in the years to come.


These snippets of information are significant because they show the common concerns that plague countries in the region, on the one hand; and the inadequacy of their actions. They also highlight the need for and the potential of regionalism as a response to address various problems that have already reached crisis proportions.


Why Regionalism?

Questions have been raised about the ability of global forces to deliver global welfare. Global mechanisms have been set up to address the concerns arising out of globalization, but they are deemed inadequate or unable to respond to all of the issues all of the time. There is consensus that the global economy needs a stronger social dimension (e.g. the work of ILO and UNDP), but the lack of democracy in global institutions frustrates the social aspects of globalization. Thus, the multilateral system suffers from a twin weakness— its tendency to significantly reduce developing countries’ policy space and its lack of a development dimension. (Helleiner, 2002)


The need for more democracy highlights the importance of the region or the regional. It is an arena where inclusion / inclusiveness can be furthered; and new centers of influence are developed (Bello 2002). Regions also make possible new South-South alliances where alternative ideas to challenge dominant North-South power relations can be enhanced (Keet 2006). Moreover, regionalism offers the potential for policy autonomy in the South, through “pooling of bargaining power and negotiating skills among developing countries” (Girvan, 2005).


To reiterate, regionalism is desirable for several reasons: (1) the commonality of regional experiences and problems; (2) the inadequacy of national action; (3) the failure of and the lack of democracy in global institutions; (4) the potential for bigger policy space; and (5) the need to develop new centers of influence.


However, even as regionalism can expand the possibilities for and bring more stability and prosperity into a region, it is important to note the behavior and impact of intra-regional distribution. If done with limited focus on economic and trade integration, regionalism will unduly favor bigger regional players who are best positioned to take advantage of bigger markets. Unless regionalism embraces broader people’s concerns, it will still fail to address the issues it should, and will be in danger of going the way of most multilateral institutions – that is, captured by the richer and bigger countries that develop into regional hegemons.

 

Key Dilemmas

While it is a logical alternative, regionalism is not an easy option. There are also key dilemmas that must be resolved when embarking on regionalism:

First, there must be a balance between nationalism and the need for regional solidarity.

Second, in the same breadth, there is the need to temper sovereignty with shared responsibility.

Third, regionalism can both be a defensive and an offensive too. It can be a shield, but it can also be a weapon – and the question is when to deploy this tool.

Fourth, regionalism should evolve, from being a form of resistance, to becoming a platform for alternatives.

 

Areas for Regional Cooperation and Solidarity

There are a myriad of areas where regional cooperation and solidarity are useful:

· Regional Development that spans Regional Trade and Investment, Regional Development Finance (Resource Management), and Regional Development Policy

o Here, it is important to rationalize policy beyond competition as a framework. One could think of, for instance, regional development funds, and mechanisms to lessen the region’s dependence on the dollar or on Northern markets.

· Regional Social Policy that includes Regional rights, Regional redistribution, and Regional regulation.

o Developmentalism in ASEAN and socialist influences in SAARC are good bases for regional social policy. Regional social policy – in the form of, for instance, migration and labor policy, regional stockpiling for food security, environmental regulation, or the provision of public goods (health and education services) – also gives new direction to regional agreements, as well as helps broaden the constituency for regionalism.

· Other areas that will benefit from regional cooperation and solidarity include:

o Regional Governance (for instance, accountability and information policy)

o Regional Solidarity and People’s Diplomacy (Foreign Policy, including visa policy / movement of people)

o People’s Security (nuclear policy)

o Regional Climate Strategy, and,

o Regional Identity and Community-Building


More could be added to the list, but these are the basic ones to start on. The old neoliberal trajectory will not be enough to address the impacts of or the vulnerability to future crises. It is high time that regional solidarity is harnessed towards the creation of a new order that promotes a democratic region, in every sense.

Peoples’ Regionalism

As a final note, I wish to emphasize the important role of people in the success of regionalism.

Last December, the ASEAN Charter finished its second year and ASEAN will celebrate its 44th anniversary this year. Last year, SAARC crossed its 25th year. For a long time, civil society and social movements have ignored these associations, focusing instead on international organizations like the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank; or on identified hegemonies like the United States.


But it has become apparent that the long years of absence of scrutiny from civil society have resulted in a myriad of initiatives in the economic sphere that regional citizens are now compelled to accept, and the negative impacts of which they have to suffer.


The Asian financial and the global economic crises have shown the importance of engaging regional institutions, to monitor and check what they are doing, on the one hand; and to demand that they do more in terms of regional social policy and cooperative actions to uplift regional social standards, on the other.

The viability of any responsive regionalist project can be greatly enhanced if it is democratized. Without popular support, regional initiatives will require a long socialization process, and will remain in the confines of official diplomacy.


Resonance with the people is important. Regional bodies, or regional advocacies, should start where there is clear demand, and patent need, to make regional arrangements acceptable to the people. Migration, rights and democracy, decent living standards and environment, and the ability to generate economic activity and distribute its fruits equitably, are but some examples. There is need to also work on something that works and shows results in the immediate even as the strategic alternative structures are still being constructed. Here, regional social policy (esp. in health, labor, environment and related sectors) will go a long way.


Doing regionalism for the people is a responsibility of states and the regionalist projects, but it is upon us, the people, to reclaim and redefine it. We also have the responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard, (1) by piercing the elitist diplomatic shell of regional associations and creating spaces for ourselves; (2) by challenging the existing multilateral system and current integration models; (3) by building movements of resistance, but more importantly, movements for alternatives; and (4) by making it happen.

Working towards specific access and grievance mechanisms is important, and it is equally important to amplify economic advocacies – whether it be for increased economic space, or access to trade negotiations, or for alternative systems – at the regional level, so that the same get discussed more, and the groups advocating inspire more trust from regional officials, the media, and the regional citizenry at large. We have to recognize that our targets have regional manifestations too, and therefore, we have to give a regional expression to our aspirations.

 

Download power point presentation

Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Date/time

Programme

Remarks

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , physician steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), mind Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Date/time

Programme

Remarks

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, case democratic, united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

By Walden Bello*

(Speech at the Conference on “Regional Integration: an Opportunity Presented by the Crisis”, Universidad de Deportes, Asuncion, Paraguay, July 21-22, 2009.)

Globalization has ended in massive failure.

One response to this crisis has been to dump export-oriented industrialization and reemphasize the primacy of the national market in sustaining economic growth.

Another response, complementary to this, has been to build regional associations or regional blocs.

Regional economic blocs are not new. However, some of the more prominent ones have either not moved beyond a primitive stage, as in the case of SAARC in South Asia, or have been based on neoliberal principles, like ASEAN in Southeast Asia. ASEAN’s idea of integration is to see it as a step towards full-scale globalization, a process that is termed “open regionalism.”

The most interesting efforts at integration, in the view of many, are those taking place in Latin America, among them Trade Treaty of the Peoples and ALBA or the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas to which eight countries now belong. These experiences are at an early stage and yet they already contain lessons for other parts of the world. It is for this reason that the organizers of this conference decided to hold it in Asuncion, bringing in activists and government officials from Asia and Africa to interact with people in this region to discuss the lessons that developments here have for the rest of the world.

For many of us from outside Latin America, the dynamics of ALBA hold particular interest. One item that fascinates us is the use of barter as a key method of trade, for instance, the exchange of Venezuelan oil for Bolivian soybeans or of Venezuelan oil for medical services rendered by Cuban volunteers. Another is the subsidization of the oil needs of 14 Caribbean countries by Venezuela, which sells fuel to them at 40 per cent off the world price. We are intrigued by the comment of President Hugo Chavez during the World Social Forum in Caracas in 2006 that these practices “go beyond the logic of capitalism.”

Yet we cannot romanticize these efforts. For instance, the plan to build oil and gas pipelines from Venezuela to the furthermost areas of South America is probably dangerous and damaging not only to the environment but also to the indigenous peoples. Some elements of the ALBA perspective, as expressed by some people, reflect the perspective of 1950’s-style national capitalist industrialization, which is probably not suitable for the current period.

The challenges confronting us today cannot be met by either neoliberalism or the old developmentalist model. Let me mention some of these challenges to contemporary regionalism in Latin America and other parts of the South.

1. The first is how to build regional blocs that go beyond trade to include industrial policy, a shared agricultural policy, macroeconomic coordination, and technology sharing.

2. The second is how to ensure that building complementarity among economies does not reproduce the old, unequal division of labor between stronger and weaker economies.

3. The third is how to promote a development process that does not reproduce social inequalities at the regional and national levels in the name of capital accumulation.

4. The fourth is how to promote a development process that is sustainable, that is, one that is built on ecologically benign technologies and is not based on ever-rising material consumption per capita, though of course the spreading of material wealth via income redistribution is necessary to bring people out of poverty.

5. The fifth is how to avoid a technocrat-led process and promote instead the democratization of decision-making in all areas of the economy.

6. The sixth, related to the previous point, is how to move away from a statist process and institutionalize civil society participation in all key areas of economic decisionmaking. Civil society must not only provide a check to both the state and the market, but it must be the leading force in the new economics.

7. Finally, the last I would mention is how to undertake a process of regional integration that transcends the logic of capitalism, to borrow the words of Hugo Chavez.

I propose these as some of the key questions to guide our discussion of regional integration over the next two days.

Thank you.

*Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines, president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based institute Focus on the Global South. He is the author of 15 books, the latest of which is The Food Wars (New York: Verso, 2009).

By Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier

transform! europe Newsletter 1/2011

On 15-16 January the Executive Board of the European Left Party gathered in Brussels for the first time after the party’s 3rd congress. During this meeting the main guidelines for a campaign aiming at the accomplishment of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity were adopted. In the debate, Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier submitted some of the findings of transform! europe’s continuing projects on the capitalist crisis.

A European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity which provides the states with cheap loans for jobcreating public investments into infrastructures, ampoule ecological projects, click education and research would be a good thing to have. Yet, with regard to such a fund’s economic impact it is crucial how it is to be financed.

Social Democrats propose financing it via European bonds the EU would have to issue (Euro-Bonds). This European application of a classical Keynesian concept is not wrong in principle, on condition that the means mobilised that way are in fact used for public investments and not for servicing the debts. But we must not expect miracles from the Euro Bonds either. The crisis in different shapes which we have been facing since 2007 is no “Keynesian” crisis. To trace alternative strategies we must come to an understanding of the structural causes of the crisis. These can be traced back to the over-accumulation of capital and the crisis of profitability of the 1970s, as well as the subsequent neo-liberal response, the deregulations, the mass unemployment and the precarisation of labour which led to extreme inequalities of income and wealth with ordinary people facing deterioration in their living standards and an increase in poverty, unemployment, social insecurity and fragmentation of society.

From this follows that at the centre of any alternative economic strategy of development there is the question of redistribution of incomes and assets in favour of the majority of the populations and the public services. New revenues for public expenditures are necessary and also possible to be raised from taxation of incomes gained from finance and big property, from socially just tax reforms which stimulate the real economy, from a stop to tax reductions and a closure of the tax havens. Setting a different course will require a tenacious and long-term social and political struggle. We must make clear that the austerity programmes the states are now subjected to will only lead to slowing down the growth of the national debts but not to their reduction. The states find themselves in a debt trap.

Societies are meant to accept that they should pay interests to their creditors for an interminable time and with ever greater sacrifices. This process of exploitation must prompt us to question the legitimacy of the debts. We therefore advocate transparencycreating measures through the introduction of a public, democratic and transparent auditing of the public debts. This would reveal that the debts cannot merely be explained by corrupt and inefficient public administrations but that they are also the result of the wellknown neoliberal strategies, the policies of the banks and the imbalances in Europe.

Only within the framework of such investigations can a decision be made at the European level concerning the question of which parts of the public debt can be acknowledged and which need to be cancelled. One measure that needs to be taken immediately is a restructuring of the European banking sector, through its being subjected to public control and/or ownership.

We reject the austerity programmes that the top-level executives of the EU, the governments and the IMF want to impose on the populations of Europe. The destruction of the welfare state as well as the precarisation of labour aim at pitting the individual segments of the European populations against each other. It is these divisions and the undermining of democracy which are the toe-holds for the politics of the Right in their different shades and hues also including right extremism. The Left must oppose these politics with economic and social programmes of social cohesion and solidarity including the democratisation of the economy aiming at the construction of a large social bloc able to change the balance of the political forces.

 

Summary of the Document (Brussels, 15 January 1011)

European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity

 

The Executive Board of the European Left Party adopted at its meeting in January the roadmap concerning the implementation of the “Citizens’ Initiative” which was decided at the 3rd Congress in Paris (3-5 December 2010). This initiative consists in a process of participatory democracy in that it gives citizens the chance to make requests which makes possible alternative solutions to the current spiral of the deepening crisis. The initiative counteracts the logic of social regression by one of social development. It aims at overcoming the subordination of our lives to the financial markets by enabling progressive emancipation in all its power. Instead of the centralisation of decisions concerning the control of national budgets, we want to increase the implication of citizens and solidarity. To this end, what we demand is the creation of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity. This fund is intended to offer lowrate or even no-interest loans to governments for public investments meant to create employment and to boost education, research, public services, useful infrastructures and environmental projects. The originality of this fund lies in how it is to be financed: It is the product of a taxation on financial transactions, on a low-rate or even no-interest loans from the ECB so as to get rid of the domination of financial markets (money creation), while at the same time it provides a substantial contribution to the community budget.

In 2011 we must focus on creating the conditions to take up the ambitious challenge that the Party of the European Left is facing at European level. This mobilization involves awareness-raising initiatives, on the field and on the Internet (for this purpose a list of arguments will be elaborated and updated regularly) the whole year through and in various European capitals or major cities, the organisation of theme-based meetings with trade union representatives, militants from associations, experts, and at the same time big public conventions of a European dimension. The first of them, that will mark the public launch of this campaign, will take place in Athens on 11-13 March. Others will take place in Paris and Madrid in May and in Italy in July.

For the full version please refer to: http://www.european-left.org/nc/english/home/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/latestnews-home/artikel/roadmap-of-el-campaign/

La cooperación financiera regional: una visión alternativa

by Oscar Ugarteche
ALAI, there América Latina en Movimiento – Febrero 2011

Introducción
A raíz de la crisis estadounidense contagiada al resto del mundo a través de la utilización del dólar como moneda para el crédito y comercio internacional, surgió una discusión sobre la nueva institucionalidad deseable y sobre la moneda de reserva. (Ocampo, 2009, Zhou, 2009).

La inestabilidad generada por la volatilidad de los mercados cambiarios y de capitales y sus impactos adversos para las economías, al mismo tiempo que el fracaso de los instrumentos e instituciones diseñadas después de la segunda guerra mundial para asegurar la estabilidad de la economía mundial, han llevado a la introducción de un nuevo concepto dentro de la globalización: la regionalización de la arquitectura financiera internacional (Fritz y Metzger, 2006). Ésta no se discute como se debatió Bretton Woods en 1943, sino que se están poniendo en marcha tras acuerdos regionales.

Los tres problemas que la cooperación regional debe de atender en general son el dólar, el FMI y el DEG. El presente trabajo dará mirada a vuelo de pájaro sobre esta materia desde una visión alternativa.

El problema surgido del modelo exportador y los países ricos altamente endeudados (HIRC)

La teoría del desarrollo contemporáneo que propugna el crecimiento exportador parte de la premisa de que si las economías exportan y tienen excedentes comerciales, esto llevará a tasas de crecimiento económico sostenibles. La visión en esta teoría es que hay compradores deficitarios en otra parte que generaran el excedente en el nuevo productor más eficiente y barato. Esto implica por una parte subconsumo en el país exportador y sobre consumo en el importador o puesto de otro modo, el exportador tendrá un excedente de balanza de cuenta corriente y un nivel de ahorro en divisas que deberá de recircular al deficitario.

Visto desde el punto de vista financiero esto quiere decir que la economía que tiene el excedente comercial lo recicla a la economía que tiene el déficit comercial. Esto opera bien en el corto plazo porque allí no existe acumulación de deudas ni de reservas. En el largo plazo, sin embargo lleva a la economía deficitaria al problema del sobre endeudamiento y a la depreciación de su moneda vis á vis los acreedores. A la inversa a las economías excedentarias eventualmente las lleva a una revaluación de las monedas. Esto explica en parte la dimensión económica de la crisis contemporánea. En breve el ahorro de las economías pobres permite el sobre consumo de la población en las economías ricas, lo que es un contrasentido ético y económico. El cuadro 1 debajo refleja la porción externa de la deuda privada y la deuda pública interna y externa. La suma total es el total de deuda publica interna y externa más deuda privada externa.

Cuadro 1. Deuda interna y externa, pública y privada 2008
Viejo G7
Deuda pública/
PIB
Deuda Externa/
PIB
Deuda Total/*
PBI
%
%
%
Estados Unidos
74.09
93.42
167.51
Canadá
62.3
56.74
119.04
Reino Unido
47.2
458.53
505.73
Alemania
62.6
156.79
219.39
Francia
64.4
209.63
274.03
Italia
103.7
58.86
162.56
Japón
170.4
33.25
203.65
Economías emergentes
China
15.7
5.38
21.08
Brasil
40.7
11.63
52.33
Rusia
6.8
23.69
30.49
India
59
4.91
63.91
Taiwán
28.2
13.08
41.28
Corea del Sur
27.2
19.05
46.25
Singapur
92.6
10.25
102.85
Fuente: FMI, Bancos Centrales, CIA
Notas: Deuda Pública es la deuda denominada en moneda nacional
Deuda externa es la deuda denominada en moneda extranjera, pública y privada
Tabla elaborada por Leonel Carranco Guerra, proyecto OBELA, en el IIEC UNAM
*excluye la deuda privada interna

Al año 2008 en las siete economías miembros del viejo G7, es decir de las siete economías más industrializadas del mundo –en 1975–, el nivel de endeudamiento total público interno y externo más el externo privado es cuatro veces mayor en promedio que el de las siete economías emergentes mayores. La porción externa sola es entre tres y veinte veces mayor para el antiguo G7 que para las economías emergentes. Al otro lado las reservas internacionales de las economías del nuevo G7 son tres veces más grandes que las reservas de las siete economías emergentes. La diferencia es el crédito neto que las economías emergentes le brindan a las economías maduras dado que las reservas internacionales se guardan en bonos del tesoro en las cuatro monedas reconocidas.


El problema del Fondo Monetario

Con un recorrido entre los años 80 y 2000 que dejó la marca de una institución que llega muy tarde y plena de condiciones, el Fondo sufrió de una pérdida de prestigio y presencia tras la crisis asiática y de Argentina. De otra parte, reconocidos como que llegan a salvar una situación critica e imponen condiciones muy severas de contracción del consumo y ajuste drástico del gasto público, lo que genera problemas sociales y políticos esto ha redundado sobre su prestigio y relevancia. La crisis del 2007 ayudó al FMI a recuperar clientela sobre todo en Europa y los ex países socialistas, en términos de volumen de préstamos, y en África en cuanto número de países.

¿Pero, tiene el Fondo el tamaño para resolver problemas globales? Si bien se anunció una inyección de recursos masiva tras la reunión del G20 en Escocia el Fondo maneja recursos limitados, La suma del fondo de estabilización europeo más el fondo multilateral asiático es 800,000 millones de dólares (al 3 de enero del 2011), es tres veces mayor que los 235,000 millones recursos del Fondo Monetario, según el balance del 2010.

El problema del dólar

El papel del dólar estadounidense como moneda de reserva está en cuestión desde que Estados Unidos se convirtió en una economía masivamente deficitaria y detentora de una moneda débil. La disminución del peso de la economía estadounidense en la economía global y el surgimiento de nuevos grandes actores internacionales están dando lugar a muevas monedas de comercio. La volatilidad cambiaria del dólar la está convirtiendo lentamente en un patrón monetario en ocaso, como en su momento ocurrió con la libra esterlina. Esto se ha acentuado tras la emisión de 2.6 billones (trillion en inglés) para la reactivación del país. Esto en esencia la depreciación de dicha moneda en relación con las demás en una competencia de depreciar para exportar más bautizada por el Economist en octubre del 2010 como una “guerra de divisas”, conocida antes como beggar-thy-neighbour. La depreciación del dólar comenzó a inicios de la década y se ido ha acentuando en general. (ver cuadro 2)

Cuadro 2. Depreciación global del dólar 2002-2011
Por dólar
2.1.02
2.1.11
depreciación
Euros
1.12
0.74
37.7%
Libras
0.68
0.64
5.9%
Yenes
131.54
81.15
38.3%
Reales brasileños
2.20
1.66
24.5%
Pesos chilenos
624.16
461.44
26.0%
Yuanes chinos
8.26
6.59
20.2%
Soles peruanos
3.25
2.74
15.6%
Rands sudafricanos
12.00
6.57
45.2%
Comunidad Financiera Africana
739.98
480.18
35.1%
Won coreano
1,312.70
1,110.74
15.4%
Baht tailandès
44.16
29.56
33.0%
Fuente: OANDA, elaboración propia

El Problema del DEG

El Derecho Especial de Giro (DEG) fue diseñado en 1968 (ver cuadro 3) a partir del peso de las cuatro economías lideres en la economía mundial. Esto luego se modificó a las cuatro economías que tienen más comercio en el mundo, lo que demanda una nueva canasta guardando el mismo criterio. (cuadro 3).

La estructura de la economía global al 2010 incluye entre las cuatro mayores a Estados Unidos, China, Japón y la India medido en dólares en PPP. Empero Europa como agregado es un socio comercial importante en el mundo lo que lleva a una revisión tanto del concepto del DEG como de sus componentes para que reflejen el mundo nuevo. Europa no es un país y de estar Alemania en la canasta, entonces el peso de Alemania debería de ser incorporado o incluirse Europa como una sola economía con una sola representación. Ese es un problema de poder.

Cuadro 3. % del PIB medido en PPP mundial con proyección al 2015
2000
2010
2015
1
Estados Unidos
23.6
Estados Unidos
20.2
Estados Unidos
18.6
2
Japón
7.6
China
13.3
China
16.9
3
China
7.2
Japón
5.9
India
6.1
4
Alemania
5.1
India
5.2
Japón
5.3
5
Reino Unido
3.6
Alemania
3.9
Alemania
3.4
6
India
3.6
Reino Unido
3.0
Rusia
3.0
7
Francia
3.6
Rusia
3.0
Reino Unido
2.8
Fuente: IMF World Economic Outlook 2010.
¿Quién debe gobernar la moneda de reserva?

El FMI define las monedas de reserva: como aquellas de los cinco países miembros con mayores cuotas, (IMF articles of agreement, Art. XIII.2.B) Esto convierte el tema de las monedas de reserva en un tema político. Sabemos que las cinco economías líderes actualmente son Estados Unidos, China, Japón, India y Alemania. Sin embargo las cuotas del FMI no reflejan los cambios después de los reajustes del año 2010. (Ver cuadro 4)
Cuadro 4. Participación del PIB mundial y de las Cuotas del FMI
Nuevo G7
% del PIB mundial
en PPP
% Cuota en el FMI
Estados Unidos
20.2
17.67
China
13.3
4.00
Japón
5.9
6.56
India
5.2
2.44
Alemania
3.9
6.11
Reino Unido
3.0
4.50
Rusia
3.0
2.49

Esto abre una interrogante sobre las razones para la subrepresentación en las cuotas del FMI de China, India y la sobre representación de Alemania, el Reino Unido y Japón. Si las cuotas existentes son las que convierten a las cinco economías mayores en las definitorias de las monedas de reserva, entonces lo que hay no refleja la realidad. En realidad, las nuevas monedas de reservas y el nuevo DEG deberían de incluir al Dólar, al Reminbi, la Rupia, al Yen y al Euro. Las tenencias de las monedas de las economías en auge actualmente se registran como inversión directa e inversión de portafolio. (IMF, 1993; P424, 97) De otro lado, los sistemas de compensación intra regionales son contabilizados como reservas. (IMF, 1993; P 432, 98)
La arbitrariedad reflejada en el cuadro 4 refleja el poder del viejo G7 en el Fondo. El Fondo reformado en su esencia, que exprese la pluralidad del nuevo siglo y el cambio en la estructura de poder global, tendría que ser el responsable por el nuevo DEG como moneda de reserva global..

Las dinámicas regionales. Chiang Mai

El proceso de integración estratégica en curso surge de dinámicas espaciales de flujos de comercio y capitales y no de negociaciones multilaterales. (Hettne y Soderbaum, 2002 ) En este marco las razones de ser de la cooperación financiera regional son cuatro. 1) Evitar el desbalance cambiario, 2) El tener celeridad para resolver ataques especulativos, 3) La recirculación del ahorro y 4) La facilitación del comercio.

La cooperación financiera asiática se debe de mirar y comprender a partir de la crisis asiática (1997-98) cuando Japón y los gobiernos del ASEAN se enfocaron en prevenir una repetición del problema surgido en Tailandia y lanzaron la propuesta japonesa de un fondo monetario asiático que fue opuesta por Washington. El año 2000 se regresa con una idea similar en Chiang Mai, que Washington ya no resistió. Asami (2005) afirma que el regionalismo fue aprobado por Japón cuando Washington levantó la censura y no está claro por qué levantó la censura.

. Con este fin se diseñaron al menos dos canasta monetarias asiáticas (Kawai, 2005; Ito and Ogawa, 2000), se ha creado un fondo multilateral de apoyo a la balanza de pagos por 120,000 millones de dólares; se ha propuesto un mercado de bonos (ADB, 2005) con un fondo de garantía por 700 millones de dólares, y desde el 2009 se ha establecido acuerdos de pago intra regionales en moneda nacional donde China comercia dentro del Asean+3 en reminbis surgiendo un volumen de comercio en dicha moneda y tornándose de facto en moneda de reserva. Desde diciembre del 2010 el comercio entre Rusia y China se efectúa igualmente en sus monedas nacionales. Desde el 2010 el Reminbi se transa en los mercados monetarios internacionales y algunos consideran que ya es una moneda de reserva.

. La lección europea para la dinámica asiática se puede apreciar con la organización de un Macroeconomic Research Office en Singapur, que seguirá de cerca tanto los desbalances fiscales como los externos y cambiarios del Asean+3. Esta oficina manejará el fondo multilateral de apoyo a la balanza de pagos.

Las dinámicas regionales: UNASUR

Dentro de América Latina hay tres grupos de países: los de la Cuenca del Caribe, los del MERCOSUR y los del Pacifico del Sur. Estos se dividen por sus principales socios comerciales. La Cuenca del Caribe comercio sobre todo con Estados Unidos, los del Pacifico del Sur con Asia y los del MERCOSUR, dentro de su espacio. Algunos países de la Cuenca del Caribe han formado una asociación de países llamada ALBA cuyo diseño se centra en la cooperación sur-sur y que tiene un esquema de crédito compensado para comercio industrial llamado el SUCRE. (Montero, Cerezal y Molero, 2010). Para el espacio de UNASUR que es la suma del MERCOSUR más la Comunidad Andina existe la propuesta de una cesta monetaria sudamericana (Ugarteche, 2009) aún no discutida en los foros políticos, y la iniciativa de un Banco del Sur. Este es un banco de desarrollo de nuevo tipo, que no se centra en infraestructura. No es un regional liquidity arrangement, ni pretende serlo. Ese sería el Fondo del Sur La confusión existe por el planteo inicial.(para una discusión detallada sobre el planteo inicial ver Toussaint y Millet, 2007 y Marchini, 2007)
El proceso de constitución del Banco del Sur tiene como propósito recircular el ahorro regional dentro del espacio sudamericano y ser un banco que tenga como objetivo la autonomía en la definición de las políticas económicas, alimentarias, de salud y medio ambientales, al reconocer el daño efectuado por las políticas de la banca de desarrollo multilateral que vulneraron estas autonomías.

Parece existir en Sudamérica algún nivel de coordinación para mantener la estabilidad cambiaria intraregional, con las excepciones de Argentina y Venezuela. Existen acuerdos de pago en moneda nacional establecidos entre Brasil y Argentina, puestas en marcha en noviembre del 2008 y que están creciendo en reales. El real se ha apreciado fuertemente dentro del Mercosur pero el resto de las monedas se mantienen relativamente estables entre sí y los indicadores macroeconómicos son relativamente homogéneos.

La dinámica de UNASUR ha consistido en generalizar los avances de lo más logrado sea en la Comunidad Andina o MERCOSUR a toda la región para formar un espacio sudamericano integrado política y económicamente..

Cuadro 5. La apreciación regional del real 2002-2011
1 real
2.1.02
3.1.11
Apreciación
Pesos argentinos
0.41
2.36
-475.6%
Soles
1.36
1.64
-20.6%
Pesos Chilenos
261.49
276.85
-5.9%
Bolivianos
2.71
4.11
-51.7%
Pesos colombianos
919.89
1,131.94
-23.1%
Pesos uruguayos
6.18
11.66
-88.7%
Guaraníes
1,865.06
2,727.00
-46.2%
Fuente OANDA, elaboración propia
En suma
· La institucionalidad internacional creada tras la segunda guerra ha terminado y el prestigio de las IFIS se ha desplomado tras su incapacidad para responder de manera oportuna y adecuada a las crisis de los años 80 y 90 y no haber prevenido la crisis actual. Se creó para evitar una repetición de una crisis como la de los años 30.
· El problema de los países ricos altamente endeudados yace en el modelo exportador que consiste en que las economías pobres subconsumo para que las economías ricas, sobreconsuman y los excedentes los pobres se lo prestan a los ricos haciendo que los ricos estén altamente endeudados. La crisis actual es una crisis de ese modelo.
· El dólar como moneda de reserva y como divisa en la que se expresa el comercio internacional se ha convertido en un problema por su fuerte depreciación frente a las demás monedas del mundo desde inicios de la década del 2000.
· El Derecho Especial de Giro, alternativa de moneda de reserva por ser una canasta de cuatro monedas, debe de ser reconsiderada porque las economías que hacen parte de la canasta han dejado de ser las más grandes del mundo o las con mayor comercio. Alemania refleja su presencia en la canasta en Euros pero eso no implica a Europa entera.
· Hay que pensar en un nuevo DEG pero con otros componentes como posible moneda de reserva mundial. El gobierno de la nueva moneda de reserva debe de incorporar a las economías líderes nuevas lo que pasa por una reforma profunda del FMI.
· Las cuotas en el FMI no reflejan el peso de las economías en la economía global por lo tanto no es posible ni la construcción de un nuevo DEG ni un sistema de representación equitativo en el Fondo que gobierne la nueva moneda de reserva..
· Hay en marcha en Asia y América del Sur, procesos de cooperación financiera que mirando la experiencia del Euro van construyéndose intentando no tropezar en el mismo lugar. Las lecciones de los problemas del euro para el resto del mundo son invalorables..

Ciudad Universitaria, México D.F., 20 de enero de 2011

Bibliografía
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_____”Coping with Capital Inflow Surges”, 2010, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2010/09/pdf/dataspot.pdf
______Transcript of a Conference Call on Iceland, With Julie Kozack, IMF mission chief to Iceland Friday, January 14, 2011
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Nota: Este trabajo se inscribe dentro del Proyecto Papiit IN309608-3 “Elementos para la integración financiera latinoamericana”.Quedo agradecido a Alejandro López Aguilar por su invalorable asistencia. La versión original en francés en prensa aparecerá a fines de febrero 2011 como “coopération financière régionale, une visión alternative”, Projet n° 320, Paris, Febrero-Marzo 2011, pp. 29-35. http://www.ceras-projet.org/index.php?identifier=projet
– Oscar Ugarteche, economista peruano, trabaja en el Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas de la UNAM, México. Es presidente de ALAI e integrante del Observatorio Económico de América Latina (OBELA) www.obela.org



La medición en PPP se ha efectuado para hacerlo datos comparables en el tiempo. Esto n o refleja a las cinco economías más ricas por habitante sino a las mayores en términos absolutos



La tabla de los HIRC (Highly indebted rich countries) se construyó con los mimos criterios que utilizó el banco Mundial para clasificar a los países en desarrollo altamente endeudados
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­­____Bloomberg, “Fed to Buy Extra $600 Billion of Treasuries to Boost Growth”, Nov. 3, 2010, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-03/federal-reserve-to-buy-additional-600-billion-of-securities-to-aid-growth.html
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“USD 120 Billion Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation Swap Facility Comes Into Effect”, http://www.aseansec.org/24433.htm
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­___Wall St Journal, “Bank of China opens renminbi trading to US customers”, January 12, 2011 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/news/bank-of-china-opens-renminbi-trading-to-us-customers/story-e6frg90x-1225986034015.
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http://www.cadtm.org/Declaracion-de-Quito
Ver en Wikipedia Banco del Sur y se verá que lo definen erradamente con la idea del año 2004, como una alternativa al FMI, al BM y al BID. En el acta constitutiva de Porlmar del 2010 se puede ver claramente el objetivo del Banco y se despejan las dudas anteriores.
“Bank of the South: Progress and Challenges”, Isabel Ortiz and Oscar Ugarteche, SSRN, Novmber, 2008,
Comunicación A 4848, 26.9.08, Memorando del BCRA http://www.bcra.gov.ar/pdfs/sml/A4848.pdf