Trade & Investment

OECD Urges Further Reforms for an Inclusive South Africa

While lauding South Africa for impressive social progress over the past two decades, a new study has asked the country to build on the successes achieved and reduce inequality further.The latest OECD Economic Survey of South Africa by the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says: “South Africa has made impressive social progress over the past two decades, lifting millions of people out of poverty and broadening access to essential services like water, electricity and sanitation. Now is the time to build on these successes to reduce inequality further, create badly needed jobs and ensure stronger, sustainable and more inclusive growth for all.”The survey, released in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, notes that prudent macroeconomic policies have secured the confidence of financial markets.However, economic growth has been too slow and further measures are needed to overcome infrastructure bottlenecks, strengthen the business environment, improve labour markets and ensure future spending needs can be financed.“The National Development Plan sets the direction for reforms needed for a strong and inclusive country. Our survey provides targeted recommendations to reach these objectives,” said Gurría.“Millions of young South Africans are eager to work, and their potential must not be wasted. Their future is precious enough to justify tough reforms and hard spending choices,” he added.According to the survey, improving infrastructure will be essential for boosting future growth and living standards while, given the large needs, prioritisation and cost effectiveness will be crucial.The OECD noted out that the most immediate priority is to secure additional electricity generation capacity by opening the market to independent producers. Opening electricity and transport will require strong and independent regulators to protect households and firms.The organisation pointed out that improving the regulatory environment would promote entrepreneurship and growth opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which offer the greatest potential for creating jobs and future growth. Reducing barriers to entry, cutting red tape and promoting competition, will be essential.According to the survey, labour market reforms can raise employment and incomes. Establishing a public employment service as a one-stop shop for job seekers would make it easier for people to find jobs, and for employers to find the right workers.Costly industrial actions have held back the economy without delivering major gains to workers. The OECD suggests an increased role for mediation and arbitration in order to reduce conflict and provide better outcomes for workers and employers.The survey pleads for “a high degree of public sector efficiency, prioritisation of spending and a strong revenue base” with a view to meeting public spending needs for infrastructure and the social safety net.It argues that the South African tax system “is well designed and well administered, but there is scope to broaden key tax bases by reducing deductions, credits and exemptions.  Such tax reform would solidify public finances and make the tax system fairer.”Edited by Phil Harris   

Opinion: A Farewell to Arms that Fuel Atrocities is Within Our Grasp

The recent explosions that apparently destroyed a 2,000-year-old temple in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria were yet another grim example of how the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) uses conventional weapons to further its agenda.

Opinion: How Will Wall Street Greet the Pope?

Millions in the New York City area are excited about Pope Francis’ visit on Sep. 25 to address the U.N. General Assembly as worldwide consensus grows on the need to shift global investments from fossil fuels to clean, efficient, renewable energy in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) scheduled to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

Plant in Chile Opens South America’s Doors to Geothermal Energy

Chile, a land of volcanoes and geysers, has started building South America’s first geothermal plant, which would open a door to this kind of renewable energy in this country that depends largely on fossil fuels.

Shifting Sands: How Rural Women in India Took Mining into their Own Hands

Thirty-seven-year-old Kode Sujatha stands in front of a hut with a palm-thatched roof, surrounded by a group of men shouting angrily and jostling one another for a spot at the front of the crowd.

Opinion: Brazil Poised on Verge of Unstable Equilibrium

As the political situation in Brazil appears to be reaching a state of unstable equilibrium, or more bluntly, as it is transformed from instability to impasse, the economy continues to deteriorate.

China’s Economy Has Sounded the Alert; Will Latin America Listen?

For years, Latin America has exported its raw materials to China’s voracious factories, fuelling economic growth. But now that the Asian giant is putting a priority on domestic consumption over industrial production, how will this region react?

Opinion: Misinformation Hides Real Dimension of Greek “Bailout”

The long saga on Greece is apparently over – European institutions have given Athens a third bailout of 86 billion euros which, combined with the previous two, makes a grand total of 240 billion euros.

Time to Work Out a Plan C for Greece

Just over a month ago, Greek citizens were asked to go to the polls for a referendum that posed the country with an unprecedented existential dilemma and challenged the EU with the possibility of its collapse.

Presalt Oil Drives Technological Development in Brazil

The extraction of deepwater oil, the most abundant kind in Brazil, is costly but foments technological and industrial development, requiring increasingly complex production equipment and techniques.

Opinion: Kerry Going Back Home

Recovering from a broken femur following a bicycle accident suffered in Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – former senator and former presidential candidate – is anxious to accelerate his convalescence and will visit Cuba on Friday Aug. 14, where he will hoist the Stars and Stripes flag over the emblematic U.S. embassy building in Havana.

Opinion: Crisis, Emergency Measures and Failure of the ISDS System: The Case of Argentina

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system has come under increasing criticism in recent years.

Money, Knowledge and Controversy in Brazil’s Development Bank

Brazil’s rush to build hydroelectric dams, refineries, railways, ports and other megaprojects since the last decade, not only at home but in other countries as well, has been fueled by the sheer volume of financing from its development bank.

Opinion: The Road to Paris and the Path to Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is now being seen by many people around the world as a cost-effective development solution both for developed and developing nations. Countries have slowly been realising that the use of coal and the huge amount of carbon emissions it generates harms the environment and impacts our daily activities.

U.N. Post-2015 Development Agenda Adopted Amidst Closed-Door Deals

At about a quarter to seven on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 2, the member states of the United Nations adopted the post-2015 development agenda outcome document, titled "Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda."

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