Stories written by Emad Mekay

POLITICS: Developing Nations Sidelined for IMF Top Job

A coalition of developing countries at the International Monetary Fund issued a tacit warning Monday that the highly political process of selecting the next IMF chief may be intimidating non-European countries from putting forth candidates, and further discrediting the institution.

FINANCE: U.S. Brokers Afghan Debt Cancellation

The United States, Germany and Russia have agreed to write off one billion dollars in bilateral debts owed by Afghanistan, or 92 percent of the poor nation's debt to the three nations.

FINANCE-US: Fed Chief Downplays Effect of Yuan on Deficit

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the U.S. Congress Wednesday that the global economy was growing at a strong pace bolstered by rising consumerism and demand, but the U.S. trade deficit with the world remained at a high level despite a sliding dollar.

TRADE: WTO Offers New Proposal to Break Deadlock

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) proposed a new plan Tuesday to unlock global trade talks that have stalled over farm subsidies in rich countries and reluctance by poor nations to further open their markets for Western goods and services without reciprocation from industrialised nations.

CORRUPTION: World Bank Debars Indian Firms in Fraud Probe

The World Bank ended a several-year investigation Monday by debarring two Indian pharmaceutical companies, citing corrupt procurement practices in a controversial Bank-funded reproductive health programme.

FINANCE: World Bank Moves into the Middle East

The Middle East and North Africa region has become the fastest-growing area for investments from the World Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which surpassed one billion dollars for the first time last year, according to the Bank Information Centre, a Washington-based research group on international public lenders.

FINANCE-US: Congress Reins in Foreign Investors

The U.S. Congress passed legislation this week that strengthens the vetting system for foreign purchases of companies in the U.S., a measure that observers say will mostly likely lead other countries to tighten their rules as well.

TRADE: US Complains to WTO as Deficit with China Creeps Up

Just hours after new data showed an ever-widening U.S. trade deficit with China, Washington asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Thursday to arbitrate its dispute with Beijing over what Washington considers illegal trade subsidies.

POLITICS: U.S. Ups the Ante Against Latin American Populism

The United States and the World Bank are launching a new plan to fight poverty in Latin America by removing obstacles to the flow of private investments, a step that observers say is one of many designed to weaken rising anti-capitalist sentiment in the region.

FINANCE: Development Banks Lag on Sexual Health – Report

Despite strong verbal commitments to reproductive and sexual health, the so-called multilateral development banks (MDBs) that lend to poor nations have spent relatively little money on such projects and, in some cases, have followed policies on the ground that in fact impeded women's empowerment and improved public health, a new study charges.

TRADE: Starbucks Coffee Deal with Ethiopia Hailed as Model

A deal between Starbucks and Ethiopia that ends their trademark dispute and offers more benefits to Ethiopian coffee farmers has been hailed as a potential model for other poor nations seeking to better use the modern trading system, especially the often-controversial intellectual property rights provisions.

TRADE-US: Opposition Hardens to “Fast Track” Power

A group of U.S. lawmakers and advocacy groups are heralding a new era of U.S. trade policies with the expiration on Saturday of a controversial law that gives extraordinary powers to the U.S. president, even as the George W. Bush administration sought an extension of the authority on Thursday.

FINANCE: De Rato Steps Down from IMF Top Job

Rodrigo de Rato, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), says he will be quitting his job at the helm of one of the world's economic powerhouses in October.

President George W. Bush meets with then Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan at his Texas ranch in 2002. Credit: White House Photo

CORRUPTION: Bandar Bribery Case Crosses the Atlantic

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations of bribery by the British defence contractor BAE Systems to Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, a high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family with wide contacts and relations here.

CLIMATE CHANGE: U.S. Backs Clean Energy – In Asia

The United States and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are joining forces to coax Asian nations to switch to cleaner forms of energy, in hopes of averting a predicted spike in carbon emissions by the world's fastest-growing region.

POLITICS: Washington Passes World Bank Torch

The World Bank's board of directors confirmed Robert Zoellick Monday as the lender's next president, under a World War II-era tacit agreement that gives Washington the privilege of filling the institution's top job.

TRADE-US: Details of Compromise Reveal Few Policy Changes

The George W. Bush administration and Congressional leaders Monday finalised a legal text for congressional consideration of pending free trade agreements (FTAs), a move that could pave the way for approval of several pacts, but which has left advocacy groups suggesting that Democrats have reneged on promises that led them to power last fall.

Submerged houses following mudflow at Sidoarjo. Credit: Arif Hidayat

INDONESIA: Mud Volcano Sullies Top Investment Firms

Environmental campaigners are urging several heavyweight investment firms, including Credit Suisse, Barclays, Fortis Group and Merrill Lynch, to shoulder some responsibility for a catastrophic mud volcano on the Indonesian island of Java that resulted from a gas project the firms helped fund.

FINANCE: Bias Seen in Int’l Dispute Arbiters

A little known entity closely affiliated with the World Bank that mediates disputes between sovereign nations and foreign investors appears to be skewed toward corporations in Northern countries, according to an IPS review of pending cases and other independent analyses of the tribunals.

TRADE: NAFTA Claim Dismissed, Dicey Clause Remains

A seven-year legal battle by the U.S. postal carrier United Parcel Service of America (UPS) against Canada, brought under a controversial free trade agreement, has been dismissed, but advocacy groups say a provision that allows corporations to sue for lost profits should be permanently dropped.

Construction of Camisea gas pipeline in Peru. Credit: Adam Goldstein/Amazon Watch

ENVIRONMENT: Audit Clears Once-Leaky Pipeline for Funding

A controversial gas pipeline in the pristine heart of the Amazon forest that has ruptured six times since its inception received a clean bill of health this week from the main financial backer, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), drawing scepticism from indigenous groups and international environmentalists.

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