News Round-up from the Commonwealth - 7 April 2014

Asia and the Pacific News

1. Japan, Australia reach agreement on free-trade deal, Channel News Asia

Japan and Australia on Monday said they had reached "substantive agreement" on a long-awaited free-trade deal, in a rare opening of Japan's protected markets.

2. William and Kate arrive in New Zealand with Prince George, BBC News

It is the first official tour for the eight-month-old prince, who was awake in his mother's arms as the trio were greeted at Wellington airport by Prime Minister John Key and waiting media.

3. World Bank optimistic about Bangladesh’s future,

Visiting World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, Philippe Le Houérou, has said that he is optimistic about Bangladesh’s prospects of ending poverty and achieving shared prosperity.

4. Why India is so good at organising elections, The Economist

India’s general election is a massive affair. From April 7th to May 12th, across seven phases, 815m people will be eligible to cast votes in the biggest democratic exercise on Earth.

5. 11 things to know about world's biggest election, CNN

The 11 things you need to know about the world's biggest election.

Africa and Europe News

1. Nigeria becomes Africa’s top economy, The Globe and Mail

In a dramatic boost for African economic confidence, Nigeria has announced a huge rise in its estimated GDP, making it the biggest economy on the continent and the 26th biggest in the world.

2. Rwanda: Rising from the ashes, Africa Renewal

As the world marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide this year, Rwanda has moved on, economically, socially and politically. It has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, averaging 8% per year over the past decade, according to the International Monetary Fund. The World Bank says Rwanda is the third best place to start a business in Africa, behind Mauritius and South Africa.

3. EU criticised for failure to transfer technology, SciDev.Net

European countries contribute less to global technological development than other developed nations, and are pursuing intellectual property policies that are not “development friendly”, according to a study.

4. Africa strives to rebuild its domestic industries, Africa Renewal

Across Africa, most countries face the problem that Mauritius once did: they produce and export mainly unprocessed crops or minerals, even though such raw materials are fetching lower and lower prices on world markets. In response, some are seeking to follow the example of Mauritius, to consciously and more energetically build up their manufacturing industries.

5. 'Nigeria's Mark Zuckerberg' puts tech into higher learning, CNN

At 23, many people around the world are still at university - at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one. The young entrepreneur is the founder of Beni American University (BAU), Nigeria's first private online university.

The Caribbean and the Americas

1. Canada created 43,000 jobs in March, CBC News

Canada's economy added 43,000 jobs in March as young people found work, Statistics Canada said today.

2. St Lucia considers economic citizenship to boost investment, Caribbean360

The initiative could attract “the brightest and wealthiest people” to a country for the purpose of investment, while at the same time highlighting the need for safeguards.

3. Trinidad experiencing robust growth - IMF, Jamaica Observer

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Trinidad and Tobago is experiencing more robust growth after several years of “sub-par performance.”

4. Small enterprises considered key to a sustainable Caribbean economy, St Lucian News Online

The Commonwealth Secretariat co-hosted, in collaboration with the Government of Saint Lucia, the third Global Biennial Conference on Small States... small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs)... should be at the centre of an economic growth strategy for Caribbean states.

5. Bahamas 'remarkable' as offshore center, The Nassau Guardian

The founder of a global private banking group, EFG International, has launched a new private bank in The Bahamas, arguing that this country's financial services sector has continued opportunities to grow notwithstanding ever-evolving global regulatory standards.

News Round-up from the Commonwealth - 13 March 2014

Asia and the Pacific News

1. Singapore Budget 2014, Strait Times, Singapore

A detailed breakdown of the 2014 Budget of Singapore. On March 3, Parliament debated the Budget statement which was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

2. Land of the long white cow: dairy delivers for New Zealand, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

New Zealand is poised to become the first developed markets economy to raise interest rates on Thursday…New Zealand is exporting dairy, the ‘iron ore of the Pacific’…Another way of saying that is Australia catered to the industrialisation of China but New Zealand is catering to its rising numbers of middle-class consumers.

3. US to back India for permanent UNSC seat, Daily Mail, Pakistan

The US welcomes India as a rising power and backs its inclusion as a permanent member of a reformed and expanded UN Security Council, Secretary of State John Kerry has said ahead of his maiden visit to New Delhi. 

4. Panel discussion on Commonwealth Day Observance, Times of India, India

A panel discussion on 'Opportunities through the Commonwealth in India…Four high commissioners spoke on the scope of the Commonwealth on various subjects: high commissioner of Canada on education, British high commissioner on democracy, high commissioner of South Africa on culture and high commissioner of Singapore on business.

5. ABC clears itself of gross bias on asylum-seeker coverage with report that says only four reports were questionable, .The Daily Telegraph, Australia

However, the audit did not examine the ABC's controversial reporting in January of allegations of Navy officers burning the hands of asylum seekers which fuelled a bias row with the Abbott government.

Africa and Europe News

1. Border Trade Between Cameroon and Nigeria At a Standstill, All Africa, Cameroon

Trade between Cameroon and Nigeria has stagnated following the closure of the border in an attempt to prevent Islamist terrorists from launching attacks from Cameroonian territory. The closure of the border has led to a sharp fall in food exports like sorghum, rice and onions to Nigeria on one hand, while basic commodities imported from Nigeria like fuel cannot enter Cameroon.

2. New Study Reveals Africa's Top Tweeting Cities, All Africa, Kenya

In a follow up to its 2012 study, strategic communications agency Portland analysed geo-located tweets originating from Africa during the final three months of 2013. The second How Africa Tweets study dives deeper into Twitter use on the continent, looking at which cities are the most active, what languages are being used the most and what issues are driving the conversation online. 

  • Johannesburg is the most active city in Africa, with 344,215 geo-located tweets
  • Nairobi is the most active city in East Africa and the sixth most active on the continent, with 123,078 geo-located tweets
  • Brands in Africa are becoming increasingly prevalent on Twitter.

3. SA Government silent after diplomats expelled from Rwanda, Times Live, South Africa

Last week, South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats, one of whom, according to reports, has been linked to an "attempted hit" on exiled Rwandan army chief Faustin Nyamwasa at his home in Johannesburg. Rwanda responded by expelling six diplomats based at the South African mission in its capital Kigali.

4. If Joyce Banda loses, it will be by suicide, not murder, Nyasa Times, Malawi

Malawi heads to the polls on 20 May 2014 to elect their President. This Ed-op piece explains the political terrain going into the election itself.

5. Major salute to Indian war effort, Telegraph of India, India

John Major, the former Conservative Prime Minister, has waded into the immigration debate in the UK by declaring that Indians had the right to be an integral part of British society because their forefathers had fought and died for Britain.

The Caribbean and the Americas

1. Canada's military squeezed out of cyber-defence, emails warm,, Canada

Military advisers working on the cyber-security file warned a year ago that the Canadian Forces were on the verge of being pushed entirely out of the realm of cyber-defence, according to internal emails from the military’s cyber task force.

2. Caribbean leaders end “very successful” CARICOM summit, Caribbean 360 news, St. Vincent 

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders say they have had a “very successful” two day inter-sessional summit here, completing a 20-odd agenda and implementing policies and strategies that would ensure the future socio-economic and political development of the region.

3. An independent Quebec wants to keep Canadian dollar, have seat at Bank of Canada, Pauline Marois says, National Post, Canada

An independent Quebec wants to keep using the Canadian dollar and hopes to have a seat at the Bank of Canada, Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois said. The Quebec economy is in good shape and it would be beneficial to Canada for Quebec to be involved with the dollar and the central bank, Marois said ahead of the April 7 provincial vote.

4. Five accused granted $5.4m bail, Trinidad Express, Trinidad & Tobago

Five men were granted a total of $5.4 million in bail when they appeared before a Sangre Grande magistrate yesterday charged with the daring $4.5 million heist at the Republic Bank’s Sangre Grande branch on Carnival.

5. Debate wages over ‘police brutality’ video, Antigua Observer, Antigua

Youtube video shows video of alleged police brutality. Read Police Commissioner Vere Brown’s reaction here.

Asia and the Pacific News

1. Japan keen to seal first trade deal with Tony Abbott, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

Tony Abbott's hopes of signing a series of bilateral free trade agreements with some countries within a year may not be as unrealistic as first thought, with at least Japan privately keen to get the jump on its Asian competitors.

2. India-Russia ties should adapt to changing times, Times of India, India

India has lately been looking at new vendors like the US and Israel for its military hardware, creating apprehensions in Russia which has been long-standing major supplier of the defence equipment.

3. Militarisation warning for Antarctica as China and Iran show increasing interest, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

A report highlights a Chinese base inland in the Australian Antarctic Territory for its satellite intelligence gathering potential and also flags Iran's recent interest in establishing a polar presence. Abuses of the treaty's strict controls on any use of military personnel are said to have already occurred with many countries not reporting their use in Antarctica, while Australia is neglecting to use defence assets there.

4. Singapore 'least bogged down in Asia by bureaucracy', Strait Times, Singapore

Singapore's civil service emerged tops in a survey of 12 Asian economies, for being least encumbered by red tape and concentration of power

5. Malaysia may lose out without TPP pact, Business Times, Malaysia

MALAYSIA risks losing out to other countries if it refrains from joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as its reluctance may impede investments trickling into the country.

Asia and the Pacific News

1. In his sights: Covert Kevin's mission to get Julia, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

An extract from the latest book The Stalking of Julia Gillard, by Kerry-Anne Walsh.

2. Fiji, Russia ink deals, The Fiji Times, Fiji

Fiji has signed a series of bilateral agreements with the Russian Federation and one of them includes a mutual visa exemption scheme for easy travel between the two countries.

3.China should accept McMahon Line as border with India, Times of India, India

Ed-op: "Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy has asked China to accept the McMahon Line as the border with India just as it did in the case of Myanmar to resolve the vexed dispute. China should accept McMahon Line since it had accepted the same line drawn at the same time in 1912 with Myanmar."

4. African nations need vision to propel development: Najib, The Malay Mail, Malaysia

African nations need a clear vision with political leadership in propelling their development to the next level, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

5. Rajapaksa looks to win over Tanzania and Seychelles, Tamil Guardian, Sri Lanka

Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in Tanzania to commence a 5 day visit to Tanzania and Seychelles. Rajapaksa’s arrival in Tanzania marks the first ever visit by a Sri Lankan president to the two nations.