Wednesday, March 28, 2012

World Bank nominee taking heat for criticizing corporate growth -

World Bank nominee Jim Yong Kim
Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College and President Obama's nominee to become president of the World Bank. (Andrew Harrer / EPA / March 27, 2012)

President Obama's nominee to head the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, is taking heat from some economists and others for past criticism of "corporate-led economic growth," which he said has come at the expense of the very poor.
“Dr Kim would be the first World Bank president ever who seems to be anti-growth,” William Easterly, an economics professor at New York Universitytold the Financial Times. “Even the severest of World Bank critics like me think that economic growth is what we want.”
Kim's comments came in a 2000 book he co-edited entitled, "Dying For Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor."
“The studies in this book present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men," Kim wrote in the book's introduction.
post on the NYU Development Research Institute website entitled "Some Not Entirely Typical Remarks by a World Bank President," included several other quotes critical of the quest for growth and profits over improvements in healthcare. Easterly is co-director of the institute.
On the neo-conservative website Commentary, a post said Kim "has some zany ideas about free markets, growth, and 'social equity.' "
"If recently found quotes from Kim’s published works are representative, Obama should have redirected his resume to the Human Resource Department of the Central Bank of Cuba," the post said.
But a post in the liberal Huffington Post said that Kim's views are in line with the World Bank's dual goals of boosting economic development and reducing poverty.
Kim, president of Dartmouth College, is a global health expert. He was a surprise choice by Obama to replace Robert Zoellick as president of the international financial institution.
The U.S. traditionally selects the World Bank president, and Obama's choice of Kim was seen as an attempt to appeal to developing nations, which have been pressing for more influence at the institution. Kim's background, including the comments in the book, could help him win backing from those countries.
In a sign of the importance of such support, Kim headed to Africa, Asia and Latin America on Tuesday on a nearly two-week "listening tour," the Treasury Department said.
Kim will meet with heads of state, finance ministers and others in Ethiopia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Brazil and Mexico "to solicit their priorities for the World Bank over the coming years," Treasury said.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Huajian of China’s Ethiopian Export Zone May Generate $4 Billion - Bloomberg

Huajian Group, a Chinese shoe maker, plans to build a manufacturing zone in Ethiopia that may generate $4 billion of exports a year within a decade, Vice President Helen Hai said.
Construction of the 320-hectare (791-acre) site in Lebu on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, may start before the rainy season begins in June, Hai said in an interview on March 20 in Dukem, 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of the city.
“It should start in May with my own investment,” she said. “We will own it and we will manage it. The government promised me in two weeks’ time to finalize the process.”
Huajian Group, based in Dongguan, Gaungdong province, produces about 20 million pairs of shoes a year for brands including Calvin Klein (6625B) and Guess, according to Hai. Ethiopia generated $65.8 million from shipments of leather and leather products in the six months through December, up 62 percent from a year earlier, according to the Trade Ministry. Total exports last year were $2.8 billion, it said.
Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in Africa, according to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a seven-nation regional bloc. In 2010, the Ethiopian government said it planned to license more than 703 billion birr ($40.3 billion) worth of investment projects over five years, helped by laws that prioritize investment in industries including manufacturing, leather products and tourism.

World Bank

Ethiopia can maintain its economic growth rate by developing manufacturing of clothing, leather, metal, wood and agricultural products, World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin told reporters in Addis Ababa on March 18 at the launch of the bank’s Light Manufacturing in Africa book. Ethiopia’s economy grew 7.5 percent in 2011 compared with 8 percent in 2010, according to International Monetary Fund data.
“Light manufacturing can offer a viable path for Ethiopia and other sub-Saharan African countries as they transform their economic structure and strive for productive job creation,” Lin said.
The so-called Ethio-China Light Manufacturing Industrial Special Economic Zone will require $2 billion of investment over 10 years, according to Hai. Cheaper labor costs, domestic supplies of leather and preferential access to European and U.S. markets are the primary attractions for investing in Ethiopia, she said.
“Several million dollars” has already been invested in Hua Jian International Shoe City Plc in Dukem, which started producing shoes for the U.S. market on Jan. 5, three months after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi invited the company to invest, Hai said.

Chinese Workers

The importation of Chinese workers and inputs for the Ethiopian operation will be phased out as Ethiopians are trained and domestic leather quality improves, she said.
Huajian’s factory in Dukem, which currently has equal amounts of Chinese and Ethiopians among its 500 workers producing 1,000 pairs of shoes a day, will be moved to Huajian’s Special Economic Zone next year, Hai said.
“Some of the biggest Chinese clothes makes are interested” in the zone, she said. “The issue inChina is that rising labor costs and exchange rate are making manufacturing difficult.”
Countries like Vietnam that sell $8.2 billion worth of garments a year outperform Ethiopia, which produces $10 million annually, because they have lowered transaction costs, Lin said.
Streamlined customs procedures, easier access to foreign exchange and the construction of an industrial zone near Djibouti’s port, where Ethiopian goods are shipped from, would solve the “most important trade logistics issues,” according to the World Bank book.
If these measures are taken “there is no reason they can’t scale up production to the same level as in Vietnam,” Lin said.
The new zone near the capital will eventually employ 100,000 workers who will be given food, housing and schooling on site, according to Hai. The China-Africa Development Fund and the International Finance Corp., the World Bank’s private- lending arm, are interested in backing the project, she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi