Indonesian president says trade wars too destructive

Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged the IMF to identify countries that use economic, foreign exchange, and trade policies to ‘contribute to unfair competitive advantages.’ (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018
0

Indonesian president says trade wars too destructive

  • ‘Victory or defeat in wars always brings the same result — destruction. It’s pointless to become the leading economy in a sinking world’

NUSA DUA, Indonesia: Indonesian President Joko Widodo added to the chorus of criticism on Friday over trade friction between the US and China, telling financial leaders gathered in Bali, Indonesia, that victory in a trade war would be pointless in a “sinking world.”
Widodo’s comments to the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank came as share markets rebounded after The Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may meet at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, late next month.
Much attention at the finance meetings in this tropical resort has focused on threats to growth from the uncertainty and disruptions associated with trade friction. A bout of turmoil in financial markets this week added to the sense of urgency over the issue.
Widodo, who often sprinkles his speeches with references to movies, underscored those worries in his opening speech as host to the IMF-World Bank meeting.
“The balance of powers and the alliances among major economies are breaking down. Weakness in coordination and cooperation has caused many problems, including the dramatic rise in the price of crude oil and turmoil in the currency markets of developing economies,” Widodo told the gathering of financial officials, central bank governors and experts.
Instead, attention should be focused on slowing growth and disruptions from new technologies that are turning many industries “upside down,” he said.
In an allusion to the popular TV series “Game of Thrones,” he said fighting among the “great houses” was distracting them from the threat of an “evil winter.”
“Victory or defeat in wars always brings the same result — destruction,” he said. “It’s pointless to become the leading economy in a sinking world.”
In a statement released Thursday, the senior American official in Bali, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, pointed to relatively strong US economic indicators as evidence policies meant to nurture sustained growth are working.
He urged the IMF to identify countries that use economic, foreign exchange, and trade policies to “contribute to unfair competitive advantages.”
The Trump “administration is committed to achieving a fair and reciprocal trading and investment relationship with all of our partners, including China,” he said. “We welcome the IMF’s work on tariff and non-tariff barriers, and we encourage the IMF to focus on less open trade regimes in order to play a constructive role in promoting global solutions.”
Finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 industrial nations wrapped their meeting in Bali with no major announcements.
Asked about the tussle between Washington and Beijing over technology policy and trade, Argentine Finance Minister Nicolas Dujovne said the G-20 does provide a ground for discussing such issues.
But he added, the “difference that persists should be resolved between those countries.”
Friday’s IMF-World Bank meeting began with a moment of silence for victims of recent disasters, including a Sept. 28 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 2,000 people on another Indonesian island, Sulawesi, and left perhaps thousands buried in mud.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the disasters were a reminder of the institution’s mission of helping countries build resilience and deal with disasters, manage debt levels and invest in their people to prepare for the future, while helping to alleviate poverty and promote economic growth.
“Every day that you don’t build human capital, your economy, and your country, will fall farther and farther behind,” Kim said, noting that as when he was born in 1959, South Korea, now an affluent manufacturing powerhouse, was among the poorest countries in the world, with a literacy rate of only 23 percent.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
0

Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.