DGI Brief - Aug 11, 2016
- SYRIA: July has been the worst month since the 2011 start of the conflict for medical workers w/ at least 43 attacks on medical facilities. War crime. Airstrikes intensify, taking out critical infrastructure like water pumping stations, leaving thousands up to millions without safe drinking water. Syrian military accused of chlorine gas attack on rebel areas of Aleppo, officials respond “Syrian army would never use chemical weapons”. Right. UN continues to plead that a daily 3-hour ceasefire is simply not enough to get needed aid into Aleppo – at least 48hrs each week necessary. And all signs point to no possible ceasefire as Russia-backed Syrian forces currently have the upper hand on rebels in Aleppo who will clearly fight till death.
- In play is AUSTRALIA’s electricity network operator, Ausgrid, which supplies 1.6 million homes in Sydney area & which is seeking an investment of $7.7 bil. The blocking of the bid is the latest in rising global protectionism – or ‘economic nationalism’ - where countries reject foreign investment in critical infrastructure for fears that foreign control of energy production in particular could bring a country to its knees. With all the globalization, free trade & partnerships, ultimately, we don’t trust each other. Perhaps for a good reason, perhaps not.
- Pending an approval by executive board, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed with EGYPT on a $12 bil loan over 3 years aimed at stabilizing Egypt’s currency, reducing debt & budget deficits & funding other government reforms incl. tax increases & energy subsidies cuts. Economy growth & job creation will be at the forefront of Egypt’s efforts. It has to be given the staggering poverty & inequality, however the challenge will be security.
- URUGUAY, founding member of Mercosur, is invited by the Pacific Alliance to create & also upgrade free trade treaties with Colombia & Peru, Chile (in October), & with Mexico, all members of the PA trade bloc. Pacific Alliance is hailed more effective than Mercosur – made up of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia (onboarding), Paraguay, Uruguay & Venezuela (likely to be downgraded soon). Good news for int’l trade, however Uruguay's labor groups will scrutinize the deals carefully as they view their labor legislation far superior to the PA countries.
- PHILIPPINES: President Duterte’s drug crackdown has resulted in alarming 525 deaths in July only, though many report nearly 1,000, & sparked nationwide protests, calling on the Supreme Court to strike the ‘fight against crime’. Extrajudicial killings are a grave human rights violation. The Senate is slated to start an investigation. Duterte’s response is threats of martial law. Lesson to the Philippines: the war on drugs & crime hasn’t worked so well in the US…or anywhere. If Duterte claims illegal drugs are now a pandemic, than he must approach it as a public health issue, not shoot the Philippines out of it.
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