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PM Abbott risks being branded a liar


13 April 2-14. If Mr Abbott does not promptly deny reports that the Government plans to cut ABC funds he risks being branded a liar.

The SMH and Sunday Age revealed this morning that the Government is poised to cut ABC funding and strip the ABC of the international broadcasting service, Australia Network.

Tony Abbott's promise before the election was clear. When asked, he categorically ruled out cuts to the ABC: "no cuts to the ABC and SBS.

There have been no unforeseen changes that can warrant a promise like this being broken.

If Mr Abbott were to break his promise, it would be a case of clear deception.

It is unacceptable for anyone to mislead the community in a bid to be elected, let alone the person seeking the highest office in government. Voters view such deception as a breach of trust and will respond accordingly.

Some politicians may be sensitive to the scrutiny of an independent broadcaster and prefer to keep the public in the dark.  But the vast majority of Australians appreciate and support the ABC’s critical role as an unbiased and intelligent national public broadcaster.

Should this Government break its promise and cut the ABC in any way, they can expect a huge backlash that will be sustained until the next election.

Yes America Did Build That

April 12, 2014. I have often been tempted to believe that the greatest contribution of the British people to the world has been the concept of a private limited liability company.  It was the development of this concept that created the environment for the invisible hand of capitalism to create the dynamic free economy.  And it was that free economy not conquest or empire that lifted the masses of Western Civilization out of abject poverty.

Economically that concept maybe the greatest contribution of the British to the world however when viewed as a whole the greatest contribution of the British people is the reality of a limited government in the modern world.  It is limited government which has allowed the freedom and independence necessary for humanity to do what humanity was created to do: exercise its individual free choice.

The people of Great Britain, the political forefathers of American liberty, fought for centuries to establish individual freedom.  Beginning as abject servants of an absolute king they struggled to carve out a space for the recognition of personal independence.  Through battles and death, fire and sword, through revolution and repression the people of Britain won inch by inch a space for humanity to breathe free.

Most of us have heard of the Charter of Liberties in 1100 which declared that the King was subject to the law.  The Magna Carta of 1215 asserts the writ of habeas corpus, trial by one's peers, representation of nobility for taxation, and a ban on retroactive punishment.  The Petition of Right of 1628 asserts the specific rights and liberties of England that the King is prohibited from infringing.  The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 is a procedural device to force the courts to examine the lawfulness of a prisoner's detention.  And finally, there was the Bill of Rights of 1689, the result of the Glorious Revolution, securing Parliamentary sovereignty over the King and courts.

Most of these were fought for and won for all British citizens back when the United States were 13 separate colonies proud to be part of the British Empire.  Americans saw themselves as British.  They believed that they had the same rights as any other British citizen and that they were not second-class citizens.  It was their stand upon these rights which became the seedbed of the American Revolution.

When Americans claimed that they were British citizens with all the rights and privileges this entailed, they pointed to the charters given to the first settlers. The First Virginia Charter, signed by King James in 1606, stated clearly:

Wee doe, for us, our heires and successors, declare by theise presentes that all and everie the parsons being our subjects which shall dwell and inhabit within everie or anie of the saide severall Colonies and plantacions and everie of theire children which shall happen to be borne within the limitts and precincts of the said severall Colonies and plantacions shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunites within anie of our other dominions to all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and borne within this our realme of Englande or anie other of our saide dominions.

And, the "Charter of Massachusetts Bay" which was issued in 1629 that proclaimed:

Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires and Successors, ordeyne and declare, and graunte to the saide Governor and Company and their Successors, That all and every the Subjects of Us, our Heires or Successors, which shall goe to and inhabite within the saide Landes and Premisses hereby mentioned to be graunted, and every of their Children which shall happen to be borne there, or on the Seas in goeing thither, or retorning from thence, shall have and enjoy all liberties and Immunities of free and naturall Subjects within any of the Domynions of Us, our Heires or Successors, to all Intents, Constructions, and Purposes whatsoever, as if they and everie of them were borne within the Realme of England.

Then after popular uprisings and resistance compelled the British Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act they passed the Declaratory Act (1766), which said that the British Parliament’s taxing authority, was the same in America as in Great Britain.  American’s believed that they could only be taxed with the approval of their local assemblies.  In this law the Parliament also declared its complete authority to make binding laws on the American colonies “in all cases whatsoever.”

Patriots such as James Otis and Sam Adams in Massachusetts and Patrick Henry in Virginia called it treason.  They insisted that this action destroyed all that their British ancestors had fought for.  If you make a careful examination of the arguments of the Founders before the Declaration of Independence or if you look at the arguments set forth in that hallowed document you will see that all of the arguments were based upon the ancient rights which had been won by the British people. It was not until they realized that the solid foundation which they believed stood beneath their freedom was in reality a sand bar in the river of politics did they declare their independence and fight to win it.

Once they had won the long hard fight and proudly stood as 13 independent nations on the edge of what was becoming a trans-Atlantic civilization did they see that if they were to preserve the freedom they had won they needed something more than a tradition and stronger than a promise.  This is when America made its first great contribution to the world: the concept of a written constitution. Yes America you did build that.

From their British roots and from the writings of the Enlightenment giants such as John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government (1689 and 1690), Baron de Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws (1748), Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract (1762), Immanuel Kant’s What is Enlightenment? and his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations the Framers wrote a constitution to limit government.  For they realized without the binding chains of limitation any government will inevitably accumulate such power that it will eventually trample upon the rights of its citizens.  Sadly we have learned that even with a written constitution the same thing will eventually occur.

Our forefathers understood that any document which establishes a government and delineates which powers belong to it, and which expressly states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people” is purposefully limiting the power of the central government.  In addition, this document is extremely clear in dividing the powers of government into separate parts as described by Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws.  In this work Montesquieu proposed separating the power of government among a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.  This approach presented a government which did not centralize all its powers in an executive.   There should be no imperial presidency.

It was the genius of the Framers to construct a constitution which they believed was strong enough to stand the test of time and the lust for power among those chosen to represent the people.  They believed as Madison said, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.”  This is America’s great contribution to civilization: a government in chains so that the people could be free for when a government is free, the people are in chains.

Then along came the Progressive Movement, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, and now BHO.  They have used the fiction of a Living Document to turn the Constitution into a dead letter.  They have progressed past the limitations on the government not by following the amendment process but instead by ignoring and interpreting then calling precedent tradition.  Inch by inch, step by step slowly they turned the greatest experiment in human freedom ever devised into another welfare state kleptocracy promising a worker’s paradise for those who don’t work by plundering those who do.

The blush is off the rose.  The scam is plain to see.  The emperor has no clothes, “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.”  You can’t spend more than you make forever.  Eventually the note comes due.

The political actions of our Framers followed the lead of philosophers so too the Progressives have followed their own philosophical leaders.

Marx taught them “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.”  He also taught that capitalism will wither away and then a dictatorship of the proletariat will build a worker’s paradise.  His disciples attempted to put this into practice in that great prison-house of nations: the USSR.

Lenin taught them, “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation” and “The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency” and of course “The goal of socialism is communism.”

Stalin elaborated on this further, “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed” and “Print is the sharpest and the strongest weapon of our party” and also “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.”

Following these precepts the enemies of freedom have captured the education system and systematically worked to dumb down our people.  They have captured the major media and turned it from a watch dog to a lap dog swilling out propaganda to a populace entranced by bread and circuses.

It is our duty to keep the light of freedom alive, to teach our true History, and to instill in our children and in the minds of any who will listen, limited government is essential for freedom.  Let us work to restore the limits so our children may be free.

Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

Excerpt:

America’s first great contribution to the world: the concept of a written constitution.

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Dr. Robert Owens, constitution limited government, Montesquieu, Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Charter of Liberties, Magna Carta, Petition of Right, Habeas Corpus, Patrick henry, Sam Adams

International economic cooperation – Is it at risk?

Speech to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies 11 April 2014. I would like to commend the Centre for its Pacific Partners Initiative. It’s a great way to bring Australians and Americans together to speak on issues of mutual interest for our two countries.

I notice in the past six months alone you’ve hosted the Australian Foreign Minister—Ms Julie Bishop—twice, the Australian Minister of Communications, Mr Malcolm Turnbull, and Australia’s G20 Sherpa, Dr Heather Smith. The high profile of these speakers reflects the high regard in which the Centre is held in Australian policy circles.

Ms Bishop has already spoken to you about the importance of US-Australia relations. So I would like to speak about a broader topic—the challenge to international economic cooperation, and its underpinning global architecture, in today’s increasingly plurilateral world.

It may be considered unusual for a Treasury Secretary to present on a topic more commonly reserved for foreign affairs officials. In fact as my friend, the Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Peter Varghese, recently remarked: “it’s a most dangerous situation—a Treasury Secretary with a worldview—and one not to be encouraged”. But jokes aside, these are not issues that can or should be ignored by domestic economic policymakers.

The global economic backdrop is changing. These changes inevitably have implications for the global environment and architecture in which international economic cooperation occurs and hence on how we consider domestic policy choices.

Changing Global Economic Fundamentals

I would like to begin by briefly identifying four key pillars behind the current global economic reshaping.

The first is the advance of technology.

The Industrial Revolution broke the link between the size of a country’s population and its ability to project economic might on the global stage. Advances in technology that occurred in Britain and Europe allowed a relatively small part of the world’s population to wield outsized influence.

Today, the much wider dispersion of cutting-edge technology and productivity advancing processes is leading to a return to the pre-Industrial Revolution paradigm, where the size of a country’s population is itself a driver of geoeconomic and geopolitical importance.

Technology in the hands of many is restoring the link between population and influence that was broken by technology in the hands of a few.

While the developed world in many ways still has an absolute technological supremacy, the democratisation of technology is helping facilitate the rise of the emerging world.

With this return to the pre-Industrial Revolution paradigm, population and demographics—the second pillar—become increasingly important. This matters a lot to the developed world because we’re characterised by an ageing, educated workforce and more or less stable populations.

For developed countries, our ageing populations will detract from future growth, and the ageing of the median voter may inhibit willingness to embrace structural reform. In contrast, the demography of many—but not all, China being a prime example—emerging economies will, by and large, accelerate their development.

In fact, in some instances, population is magnifying the effects of the first pillar as the dynamism and innovation engendered by large and increasingly better educated populations provide emerging economies greater opportunity to take the lead in technological advancements.

The third pillar is sustainability. Partly due to climate change, we’re seeing a change in the distribution and relative importance of resource endowments worldwide. With that comes new opportunities for conflict or cooperation, for example over food, water and energy security.

As the implications of climate change become clearer to countries, it will be increasingly important to integrate climate change mitigation strategies and energy security policy into broader foreign and economic policies. Diversification into alternative energy sources will become more attractive and given the importance of energy—and who controls it—this kind of democratisation of energy will change geopolitical and geoeconomic dynamics.

The intersection between the democratisation of technology, changing demographics, and the growing importance of resource sustainability comes together in the fourth pillar—the shift in the global economic centre of power.

The centre of economic gravity, which had been shifting from Asia to the West since the Industrial Revolution, is now returning to the Asia-Pacific. In the case of China, its embrace of market forces has unleashed the economic potential of its large population, and that transformation is far from finished. In the thirty years since reforms began, China’s share of world output has increased almost eight-fold, while the size of the world economy has itself increased five-fold.

The economic growth experienced in Asia will also generate sustained growth in average incomes in these countries, reinforcing aggregate growth. It will continue to lift millions out of poverty and millions more into a growing Asian middle class. Based on plausible projections, by 2030 the Asian middle class could expand to around 3.2 billion people—more than the rest of the world’s middle classes combined, and up from half a billion in 2009. By 2050, four of the five largest economies in the world are projected to be in Asia—China, India, Indonesia and Japan.

But it’s not just a story of a shift in the global economic centre of power from the Atlantic to Asia; it’s also one of dispersion. The world where there was a clear single centre has changed. In addition to the Atlantic and Asian centres, lesser but still influential “hubs” are emerging, such as in Latin America.

In 1950, emerging and developing economies represented three-quarters of the world’s population and a third of global GDP. Today, emerging and developing economies account for 85 per cent of the global population and 50 per cent of GDP.

Before I continue, I’d like to note an important caveat to this. The drivers I’ve outlined here project a convergence of emerging with developed economies—however, this is potential, not preordained, change. For this potential to be converted into outcomes requires good policies, sound institutions, and the conventional facilitators of growth.

The “demographic dividend” faced in countries like India and Indonesia is a good example. We have seen in North Africa and the Middle East the double-edged sword that a large, young population can present. If a country’s economic institutions cannot generate strong and sustainable job growth, the prospective “dividend” can quickly become, as some put it, a time bomb.

Similarly, if institutional arrangements don’t ensure economic growth is reflected in the overall living-standard improvements expected by the lower and middle classes, as their expectations adjust to being global citizens, this can further destabilise growth and derail potential. Emerging economies cannot be complacent.

Implications for International Economic Cooperation

Given these changing global fundamentals, what are the implications for international cooperation and the global architecture?

First and foremost, despite the changing shape of global influence—and even because of it—the need for economic cooperation and collaboration between countries is vital.

Today, the intricate networks of trade, finance, people, and confidence channels that link us all have created a world where a country’s economic circumstances and policies don’t simply affect itself. It’s not necessary to cite examples in support of this as the years since the onset of the global financial crisis have brought this starkly into conventional wisdom, if it wasn’t there previously.

In such a world, international cooperation is essential. It’s important that countries identify commonality of interests, taking action to mitigate negative spill-overs and recognising the potential benefits of collective action to provide global public goods. Comparing the inter-war period with the post-World War II era, the lesson is that global growth and stability requires this co-ordination, and it’s truer now than ever.

However, while the importance of international cooperation remains unquestioned, the changing backdrop is presenting challenges to the global architecture. The global architecture was set up under a Trans-Atlantic hegemony. As the hegemonic status has changed, the system has become strained, and the inability to adjust is resulting in growing fragmentation. The very use of the word “architecture”—implying a relatively fixed, well-designed, and uniformly accepted set of global institutions and conventions—is, arguably, increasingly misleading.

One factor challenging the architecture is the simple fact that global power is shifting and dispersing. As power spreads across multiple centres and hubs, new institutions naturally spring up to represent them.

Also, what we’re seeing is that these centres are themselves more heterogeneous groupings than previously. Asia is a case in point. The Asia-Pacific region represents an area of more divergent interests, values, cultures and histories than, for example, Europe or North America. This diversity can naturally engender multiple forums to reflect it.

A second factor challenging the global architecture is the faltering progress being made to reform the traditional global institutions.

The emergence of multiple centres with stronger and more divergent voices is both a cause of, and a response to, this faltering progress. Common endorsement can no longer be achieved simply through shared interests and values of a small number of countries. Emerging powers are increasingly unwilling to accept outcomes from processes in which they have not been meaningful participants, and they do not necessarily share the core values and interests of the traditional players.

But this faltering progress is also partly due to hesitancy from the larger players to commit to taking the lead to make global cooperation successful.

Here in the US, the belief that global multilateralism is in America’s best interests is arguably being increasingly questioned. Indeed, as Richard Haass has noted, the US has two co-existing but contrary inclinations: “to try to do too much and too little” in foreign policy1.

This is not restricted to foreign policy. Moreover, as Haass also notes: “American political dysfunction… is getting in the way of the US restoring the foundations of its power and doing what it can and should do to make sure that the economic foundations of all that [it does]… in the world are secure”. The unwillingness of Congress to progress IMF reforms is a striking example of Haass’ thesis.

At the other end of the Trans-Atlantic axis, Europe is characterised by introspection as countries struggle to come to grips with the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the failure in many countries to progress structural reforms after the creation of the euro, and the consequences of an ageing population. This introspection, combined with the failure of US leadership, allows those European countries opposed to modernizing the global architecture, to avoid facing today’s economic and strategic realities.

Meanwhile the emerging powers are still only taking tentative steps towards a leadership role in providing global public goods. Despite their desire to exercise influence, they’ve so far been conservative in what they bring to the table, with agendas that are relatively inward-looking, due partly to challenges some face in transitioning from emerging to advanced status. This hesitance is making it easier for others to leave the architecture unchanged at little short-term political cost.

To the extent these actions are generating complacency, about the sustainability of the current architecture, that complacency is seriously misplaced.

The growing number of voices and the absence of meaningful progress at the global level are resulting in a preference for issues to be addressed in sub-global forums. This is taking a number of forms.

As the most obvious form, regional multilateral groupings are common. These groupings, with more formal institutional structures, processes and membership, to some extent replicate the structures at the global level, but with fewer voices around the table and more commonality between members.

What we’re also seeing is a range of less formal arrangements, sometimes described as “softer” governance and coordination.

One approach is the creation of issue- or context-specific plurilateral groupings with constrained membership based on shared interests and a predisposition to work together. Formal and legal requirements may still exist, but the key is that their commitment and shared interests allow faster progress on an issue or initiative, sometimes on the basis that the final agreement is open to others to join at a later date.

Another trend is towards plurilateral groupings based on voluntary participation and without strong ex ante expectations of outcomes or initiatives. These groupings are designed more to facilitate the exchange of views and dialogue, and create a stronger, more coordinated voice in larger forums. Where necessary, they rely primarily on “peer pressure” to achieve outcomes.

The result of all this is the emergence of a large, loose and evolving web of overlapping forums, institutions, and arrangements—each with a slightly different emphasis and key players—that sits both below and within the global architecture.

Engagement and Leadership in a Plurilateral World

So, in this world, is economic cooperation at risk? And if so, how do we ensure it continues meaningfully?

Firstly, I want to make clear that I still believe that global multilateralism delivers benefits that cannot be achieved through a network of bilateral, plurilateral, and regional arrangements.

While its ability to address new issues may be facing challenges, the existing architecture of global institutions, forums and agreements provides a stock of rules and standards that still underpin international behaviour, including in the sub-global forums.

Also, given the global interconnectedness I described earlier, it’s vital we retain effective global economic dialogue that recognises the spill-overs—both positive and negative—that stretch so prevalently across today’s world. This includes the need for global cooperation to address challenges that, in terms of their nature and potential impacts, are truly global.

To paraphrase Richard Haass again, the world faces a number of global challenges—climate change for example—where there is a significant gap between the scale and nature of the challenge and the scale and nature of the global consensus and arrangements in place to manage it. Closing this gap through effective global cooperation is the only way to address these global challenges.

That said, I caution against the temptation to try to insert every major global issue into those forums that work reasonably well.  This is almost certainly a recipe to undermine what is actually effective.  Instead, if subject specific forums—such as the World Trade Organisation or United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—are not delivering, a key focus of effort should be renovating those bodies to make them more useful.

It’s also important to note that the current architecture reflects, at its core, a set of values for which the traditional powers stand. While some argue this is part of the issue, these countries ought to see that it’s in their interest to retain these institutions that are best able to build on those values—although when I say “retain”, they also need to adapt to the new global backdrop and ensure they are fit for purpose. Without adaption and evolution, retention of those institutions will not equate to retention of their existing capabilities!

A recent model for global cooperation in which Australia sees significant merits is the G20.

The G20 represents around 85 per cent of the world economy, 75 per cent of global trade and two thirds of foreign direct investment, so it’s naturally well-placed to be a key global economic policy-making body. However, its strengths are broader. Its representation is designed to be regionally balanced and reflective of the global economy, while its less formal structure allows both flexibility and frankness in discussions.

We have seen the strength of the G20 through the global financial crisis. As bad as it was, the crisis could have been much worse if not for the leadership and actions taken by the G20, which moved quickly to help stabilise financial markets and support the global recovery.

And following the crisis, the G20 remains relevant. It has continued to press for domestic policy shifts from members, such as euro-area structural reform and the easing of austerity measures, and renminbi appreciation. And, as is being seen with the crisis in Ukraine, the G20 recognises that countries will need IMF support at critical junctures. It was the G20 that pushed for a substantial increase in the IMF’s resourcing to ensure a strong global safety net exists, and for reforms to IMF governance to ensure ongoing legitimacy and credibility.

In saying this, it’s important to acknowledge that the G20 has its own shortcomings.

One criticism levelled at the G20 in recent times is that it has become less effective as its agenda has become broad and unwieldy. Australia is acutely aware of this and in our presidency year we are running a tight agenda focused on promoting private-sector-led growth and building global resilience.

We fully expected, and are seeing, pushback on our attempts to narrow and focus the agenda. We will, however, maintain the discipline we think is necessary for the G20 to function effectively and deliver in those areas where it can best make a real difference. In short, under Australia’s presidency, “forum shopping” and efforts to bring other issues into the G20 will be strongly resisted.

In the same vein, the quality of debate and interaction among ministers has been characterised as less robust than in the past, leading to less effective policy outcomes. To address this, Australia has introduced innovations to the G20 meeting format to facilitate genuine debate on policy issues – in short, to allow Leaders to be Leaders.

Given its depth and reach, the G20 has an important role to play in steering the global economy, and Australia is committed to securing it as the key international economic governance institution.

However, despite the importance of global forums, we also have to accept the world we’re living in: one in which the emerging importance of an ever-growing network of sub-global engagement is unlikely to reverse. As such, countries need to be creative and flexible in how they balance their commitments and interests to ensure they engage meaningfully across these sub-global forums.

This engagement is important – countries need to remain involved in cross-border issues and policy initiatives that are increasingly addressed at the sub-global level.

It’s also important for the respective forums themselves. The trend towards regional and plurilateral engagement risks undermining international cooperation, potentially engendering regionalism and nationalism that could inhibit global efforts. But at the same time, it can also support international cooperation.

To achieve the latter, we need to ensure that global and sub-global forums coordinate and maintain linkages across the web of interconnections I noted earlier. If countries engage effectively across these forums, overlapping membership is one way to help ensure consistency across frameworks, and thus ensure that sub-global efforts strengthen and complement—rather than undermine—global efforts.

Plurilateralism in the Asia-Pacific

Before finishing, I’d like to briefly focus on the Asia-Pacific. As an area not traditionally heavily involved in the global institutions, and one with disparate interests, values and cultures, the Asia-Pacific is a region where this regional and plurilateral engagement is especially important. As such it provides a good example of the sub-global network I have just described.

The Asia-Pacific’s network of forums and arrangements for economic and financial cooperation has grown significantly over recent decades. This has been spurred by the broader global economic fundamentals I outlined earlier, as well as region-specific factors like the financial volatility experienced during the Asian and global financial crises, a growing sense of common opportunity in the “Asian Century”, and a response to the shifting power relativities that are evolving quickly and significantly.

Achieving cooperation in this environment—particularly cooperation that complements global efforts—is challenging, but possible.

Regional forums, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Partnership (APEC), the East-Asia Summit (EAS), and the Association of East-Asian Nations (ASEAN), provide established vehicles for region-wide cooperation. APEC’s institution of voluntary commitments, without binding agreements, has provided a solid basis for collaboration and dialogue, and made progress in areas where difficulties with formal treaty ratification may otherwise, as in the US, have presented hurdles. Meanwhile, the Association of East-Asian Nations (ASEAN) has strongly encouraged its members to recognise their commonality of interests and strengthen their voice in larger forums.

Plurilateral arrangements have also resulted in cooperation where, arguably, progress wouldn’t have occurred through traditional vehicles. For example, voluntary initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement and the Asia Region Funds Passport—an initiative aimed at facilitating cross-border recognition of mutual funds products—were driven initially by a subgroup of like-minded countries operating separately from, but alongside, broader multilateral efforts, to make progress and gain traction. These have both been opened to broader country participation once progress has been made.

Avenues for linking these forums with larger ones are also in place. For example, the rotating chair of ASEAN has a permanent invitation to the G20, while under Australia’s G20 presidency this year symposiums will be held to discuss areas of complementarity between the agendas of both G20 and APEC—being held, in fact, next week in Shanghai—and G20 and ASEAN.

While this is only a brief insight into the web of forums and institutions within the region, it provides a taste of how the growing trend towards sub-global forums doesn’t have to present an obstacle for international cooperation.

Conclusion

The global backdrop has changed significantly. This has had major repercussions for the environment and the mechanisms for international economic cooperation. Partly in response to the global institutions’ failure to adapt to the change, a growing web of sub-global overlapping forums, institutions and arrangements are emerging that, on the face of it, present a risk to international cooperation—and at the very time when it’s needed most.

However, I believe this is not an insurmountable challenge. In fact, it can strengthen the existing global architecture.

If we remain creative and flexible in how we engage with this web, and if we approach it as providing a complement rather than a threat to the existing global architecture, international economic cooperation can be stronger than ever.

If we don’t, the costs from reduced international economic cooperation will be large, permanent and felt by all countries.

1. Haass, R. ‘The Post-Cold War World 25 Years On’. Speech to the Council of Councils Regional Conference, 23-25 February 2014

Peru offers endless attractive investment possibilities.

9 April 2014.. The government of Peru is seeking overseas assistance to develop its natural resources and infrastructure.

Recently, at the Intercontinental Sydney, the Embassy of Peru in Australia hosted a Road Show called “Peru, Endless investment opportunities”, with a seminar to showcase the highest profile projects on offer to investors and companies from around the World. ProInversion, the Private Investment Promotion Agency of Peru presented a wide range of business opportunities in sectors such as land transportation, energy and sanitation.

Following two decades of careful management of growth policies, Peru has experienced a rapidly expanding economy and is consolidating as an attractive investment destination, becoming the best performing economy in Latin America.

The trade representatives from Peru welcomed a delegation of business people and media to encourage foreign investment through a friendly, stable and predictable legal framework that is said to offer preferential access to a market of over 3.5 billion people through its network of trade agreements, that has attracted more than US$85 billion in foreign investment in the last two decades.

Peru is consolidating that growth with an annual GDP growth rate (6.4%) and lowest annual inflation (2.8%) and is seeking co-operation with investors and businesses from the rest of the world.

Javier Illescas, Executive Director ProInversionI spoke with Javier Illescas, Executive Director and Manuel Suarez, Technical Advisor for Energy who were key note speakers on behalf of the Private Investment Promotion Agency of Peru - ProInversion.

Q. "Is Peru a safe place to invest?
A. "Yes. The political stability and the openness of the market rules mean that those who have invested in our country did so with confidence."

Q. "Why should business people from around the world consider making an investment in Peru?"
A. "We currently have around fifty capital investment and capital opportunities on offer and each one has competitive advantages that are not present in the traditional markets. In addition, we are reducing most tariffs on imported goods to boost growth while maintaining a careful watch on Asian nations that might try to "dump" products into our market. There is 0% on capital goods and that policy makes my country an attractive place to invest."

The range of business opportunities available in Peru.


Although the opportunities available for investment in Peru fluctuate each month, as investors take up offers and new exciting projects emerge, in March 2014 there was $14.5 Billion in USD on offer.

Airport, Irrigation, Culture and Tourism, Electricity, Penal Facilities, Railways, Hydrocarbons, Real Estate, Capital market, Mining, Ports, Health, Sanitation, Telecommunications and Land Transport

Find out more about the development categories here. Investment Opportunities in Peru for a full list of infrastructure projects and to personally contact the manager responsible for each- http://www.proyectosapp.pe/modulos/JER/PlantillaProyectoEstadoSector.aspx?are=1&prf=2&jer=5892&sec=30

Download a recent outline of the opportunities for investment in Peru here. http://www.international.to/ppt_ proyectos.pdf

Headquarters

PROINVERSION - LIMA: Av. Enrique Canaval Moreyra Nº 150, Piso 9 San Isidro – Lima Telf: (511) 200-1200 Fax:(511) 221-2941 www.investinperu.pe/

The author - Greg Rogers is the editor of www.International.to and www.Businesses.com.au

U.N. Non-Committal over U.S. Visa Refusal to Iranian Envoy


UNITED NATIONS, Apr 08 (IPS)  - When New York City was picked as the location for the United Nations many moons ago, the politically-important decision was followed by the 1947 U.S.-U.N. Headquarters Agreement which obligated Washington to facilitate - not hinder - the smooth functioning of the world body.But over the years, there have been clear violations of this agreement, as evidenced in the refusal of a visa to Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat to address the U.N. General Assembly back in 1988, and the current mass cancellations of bank accounts of over 70 U.N. missions and their diplomatic staff in New York.

And on Monday the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to urge the administration of President Barack Obama to refuse a visa to Iran's newly appointed U.N. ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, on the grounds he was involved in the 1979 forcible takeover of the U.S. embassy and its diplomatic personnel in Tehran.

The ambassador-in-waiting says he was only a translator and negotiator between the hostages and the hostage takers - and that he was not even in Tehran when the embassy was physically taken over by a group called the Muslim Students.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is currently visiting Africa, has implicitly refused to weigh in on the dispute, judging by the sentiments expressed by his deputy spokesperson.

Asked for a response, U.N. Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told IPS it is essentially a bilateral dispute between the United States and Iran.

"Let's see what develops and if we need to pronounce ourselves on that somewhere down the line, we'd look at what we need to say," he said last week.

"I don't think we are going to get ahead of the game and try to speculate what might happen based on current circumstances," Haq added.

Asked whether the United States, as host country, can block any U.N. envoys taking office, he told reporters Tuesday he has no comments since it is being handled bilaterally.

Samir Sanbar, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general (ASG) who served in various capacities under five different secretaries-general, told IPS the Iranian case reflects confusion between bilateral politics and international diplomacy.

"While relations between two member states are subject mainly to dual reciprocal relations, membership of the international community would have wider inclusive guidelines including, for example, the 1947 U.N. Headquarters Agreement with the host country," he added.

"With all due support for the Palestinian cause, a basic difference between Chairman Arafat's visa-refusal is that while the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had the status of an Observer, Iran is a founding member of the U.N. - regardless of political inclination," said Sanbar, a former head of the U.N.'s Department of Public Information.

Just after the Senate vote, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was quoted as saying that Washington had raised "serious concerns" with Iran about the envoy's appointment.

She added, "But we do take our obligations as host nation for the United Nations very seriously."

Asked if any ambassadors accredited to the United Nations had been refused visas, Haq told reporters that was a fairly long historical question.

"I think the U.N. Library has a lot of the resources that you need in terms of something that goes back through the entire history of the United Nations," he said.

It would be difficult to find at this stage, he said, adding, "What I can tell you is there have been times when there have been differing problems about credentials, which have been resolved in different ways, but each case is basically unique."

In his address to the 1988 General Assembly session in Geneva, perhaps the only one of its kind, Arafat took a swipe at Washington when he prefaced his statement by saying "it never occurred to me that my second meeting with this honourable Assembly, since 1974, would take place in the hospitable city of Geneva".

That visa refusal took place under the administration of then U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.

Last month, an African ambassador who had his bank accounts arbitrarily cancelled told delegates it is time to seriously consider relocating the U.N. headquarters away from the United States because of the increasingly unfriendly environment to U.N. diplomats in New York City.

Sanbar told IPS when the General Assembly temporarily moved to Geneva to hear Arafat, the most senior U.S./U.N.Secretariat official at the time, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs Ambassador Joseph Vernon Reed, who was politically a Republican like President Reagan, took a position of principled courage by going to oversee the politically-charged meeting.

He also said it will be interesting to note the stand taken by the current Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, a former U.S. ambassador in Lebanon and assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs who, as a U.N. official had already visited Tehran twice.

"By nature of its work, the U.N. is an Organisation of Peace. Any step towards reconciliation will be better than attempts at confrontation," he said.

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