Bhutan, Kiribati, São Tomé and Principe, and the Solomon Islands to ‘graduate’ out of LDC category

March 22, 2018:  in its 2018 Triennial Review the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP) have recommended that four LDCs: Bhutan, Kiribati, São Tomé and Principe, and the Solomon Island graduate out of the LDC category to being ‘developing countries’. The CDP added that Kiribati’s graduation is contingent on the creation of a category of countries facing extreme vulnerability to environmental shocks, including climate change. This is the first time that four countries have been recommended for graduation in a single triennial review. Continue reading

Developing countries, including LDCs, at risk from US rate rise, debt charity warns

19 March, Larry Elliott, The Guardian: The expected rise in US interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60% jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned. Five of the countries on the charity’s list – Angola, Lebanon, Ghana, Chad and Bhutan – were spending more than a third of government revenues on servicing debts. Countries with the highest external government debt payments as a proportion of revenue include a number of Least Developed Countries, including Angola, Chad and Bhutan.         

The Jubilee Debt Campaign said a study of 126 developing nations showed that they were devoting more than 10% of their revenues on average to paying the interest on money borrowed – the highest level since before the G7 agreement to write off the debts of the world’s poorest nations at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.

Developing country debt moved down the international agenda following the Gleneagles agreement in which the G7 industrial countries agreed to spend £30bn writing off the debts owed to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank by the 18 poor countries.

But developing country debt is now once again being closely monitored by the IMF, which says 30 of the 67 poor countries it assesses are in debt distress or at risk of being so.

Lending to developing countries almost doubled between 2008 and 2014 as low interest rates in the west led to a search for higher-yielding investments. A boom in commodity prices meant many poor countries borrowed in anticipation of tax receipts that have not materialised.

But the Jubilee Debt Campaign said the boom–bust in commodity prices was only one factor behind rising debt, pointing out that some countries were paying back money owed by former dictators, while others had been struggling with high debts for many years but had not been eligible for help. The campaign said developing countries were also vulnerable to a rise in global interest rates as central banks withdrew the support they have been providing since 2008.

The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this week – with the financial markets expecting two or three further upward moves during 2018.

Tim Jones, an economist at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “Debt payments for many countries have risen rapidly as a result of a lending boom and fall in commodity prices. The situation may worsen further as US dollar interest rates rise, and as other central banks reduce monetary stimulus. Debt payments are reducing government budgets when more spending is needed to meet the sustainable development goals.”

The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this week, with markets expecting further rises. Photograph: AFP/Getty

External loans to developing country governments rose from $200bn per year in 2008 to $390bn in 2014 and while they have since dropped to $300-350bn per year from 2015-2017 they remained well above levels seen prior to the global financial crisis.

Commodity prices peaked in the middle of 2014 and more than halved over the next 18 months. Despite a recovery from their low in January 2016 they remain more than 40% lower than they were at their peak.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign said the fall in global commodity prices had reduced the income of many governments that are reliant on commodity exports for earnings. In addition, weaker commodity prices led to the exchange rates of developing countries falling against the US dollar, increasing the relative size of debt payments since external debts tend to be owed in dollars.

Angola and Mozambique, two sub-Saharan African countries, and Least Developed Countries, heavily dependent on commodity exports – had both seen falls of 50% in their exchange rates since 2014.

Jones said there had been a lack of transparency about how debts had been incurred. And he said private lenders should suffer from any restructuring agreements.

“Where there are debt crises, the risk is that the IMF will bail out reckless lenders, and the debt will remain with the country concerned,” Jones said. “Instead, reckless lenders need to be made to bear some of the costs of economic shocks through lower debt payments, allowing governments to maintain spending on essential services.”

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Rohingya marooned in Bangladesh face an uncertain future

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Jan 3 2018 Sohara Mehroze Shachi (IPS) – Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugee women from Myanmar are currently living in the cramped camps along Bangladesh Myanmar border. Victims of sexual and physical violence in the Rakhine state, women have been disproportionately affected by this crisis and these women’s perils are far from over in the host country as they continue to face multifaceted challenges. Continue reading

Le progrès des PMAs passe par l’accès a des services énergétiques modernes

Selon le Rapport 2017 sur les pays les moins avancés de la CNUCED : L’accès à l’énergie comme vecteur de transformation, il est indispensable de développer l’accès à des sources énergétiques modernes adéquates, abordables et fiables pour permettre aux pays les plus pauvres du monde de se libérer du piège de la pauvreté. Continue reading

LDC governments say “COP23 shone a spotlight on the impacts of climate change on island states and particularly vulnerable countries”

18 November: As COP 23 drew to a close, the Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group, Gebru Jember Endalew, said, “As an Ethiopian, I know intimately the pain caused by climate change. My country is in the grip of a severe drought that has put 13 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia at risk of increased food insecurity. At the same time, our friends in South Asia have been drenched by extraordinary monsoon flooding, friends in the Caribbean have been battered by devastating hurricanes, and island states in the pacific are watching their homes disappear before their eyes beneath the water.” Continue reading

People, planet and the climate talks: poles apart?

November 10, Bonn, IBON International Updates, Tetet Nera-Lauron, – The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) taking part in Bonn, is expected to come out with decisions on a range of issues, including (a) the ‘Paris Rulebook’ – the manual that details how the 2015 agreement will be implemented; (b) a ‘Facilitative Dialogue’ to track progress on countries’ implementing the domestic actions they pledged to do; (c) what money is forthcoming and who will foot the bill for lowering emissions and transitioning to low-carbon economies (mitigation) and helping those who face the severest impacts of climate change (adaptation), and (d) how the global community responds as the impacts get more frequent and intense, and the damages are permanent and go beyond the economic sphere (loss and damage). Continue reading

World Bank Not Doing Enough to Resolve Energy Poverty, says new NGO report

October 31, 2017: The global rate of electrification has slowed down in recent years leaving 1.06 billion people still without access.  If progress is not substantially increased, the United Nations’ and World Bank’s Sustainable Energy for All goal to reach universal energy access by 2030 will not be met. Simply put, there are not enough new electricity connections taking place because there is not enough funding for it. Continue reading

Trade will remain vital for global economy says UNCTAD

Trade will remain the main engine of growth for the but it needs to evolve with respect to emerging technology, business and policy innovation. The export-led growth strategy will yield results only when the surpluses generated from such growth are deployed for public good. This was stated by Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Continue reading

Ministers from LDCs call on Global Community to go for strong action at UN Climate Change Negotiations

On 5 October, Ministers and Heads of Delegation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group met in Addis Ababa to discuss the priorities of the LDC group in preparation for the international climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany in November 2017. Mr. Gebru Jember Endalew, Chair of the LDC Group, said “Today Ministers from across the world’s 47 poorest countries have demonstrated how LDCs are continuing to take the lead on ambitious climate action, pursuing sustainable, low carbon and climate resilient pathways to protect our people and our planet.” Continue reading