Preservation of The International Environment. by: Fkmensah

The preservation of the international environment has been a major concern of the United Nations (UN) for over a decade now. Changing ideas and thinking about the world’s environment is where the UN has probably had its greatest influence. The United States; a member of the UN has contributed a great deal to the preservation of the international environment including its own environment here in the U.S. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with other agencies with the UN, has contributed by way of finances and legislations to help improve the international environment. This has been a major step for the US after nearly a decade of defiance by Washington towards international efforts to protect the environment, notably, the disengagement from the Kyoto Treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  It is a general policy perception that the U.S. is an ardent laggard when it comes to global environmental governance, but is this really the case? As the world’s one remaining superpower, the United States stands forth as a hegemony in international politics. Within the traditional realist perspective, this means that the U.S. is decisive for the ambition and scope of international cooperation. However, research has shown that there is limited empirical support for this assumption when it comes to environmental cooperation. 

Essentially, the U.S. tends to champion a policy of picking and choosing from the menu offered by international organizations only those items that enhance America’s power and of rejecting those items that might constrain it. To use Hoffman’s description, “those who follow a more “realist” tradition explain that world order is based on might, that the network of international law and organizations is “frail scaffolding” that holds only as long as there is a structure of power behind it. They believe that the only thing that matters is what is good for the United States. The rest of the world is not important. They also argue that “under our Constitution, any Congress may, by law, amend an earlier act of Congress, including treaties, thus freeing the U.S. unilaterally of any obligation.” The U.S. Constitution is superior to international law and that international bodies are politically unaccountable and therefore dangerous (Hoffman 2002, p.351). The U.S. plays a “prophetic and reformist role,” because its “sense of mission has led it to conceive and support the establishment of international institutions” and to be the “guardian of world order.

The U.S. in the UN Environmental Arena Unlike in peace and security-related issues, there is no simple and straightforward correlation between America’s hegemonic position and the type of environmental diplomacy it is likely to pursue. This status implies in many cases a convenient option to press for policy changes abroad that the United States has already undertaken at home. “At times, the U.S. government has used its economic strength and political influence to promote global environmental objectives. When the United States takes the lead in a positive manner, the possibility becomes greater that environmental policies and institutions will be stronger. However, if the United States fails to take the lead, progress can be blocked”.(Paarlberg 2002, p.324). Given the absence of a global strategic imperative in U.S. environmental foreign policy, it is possible to suggest that the U.S. pursues global environmental issues largely in response to domestic or ideological imperatives. In fact, domestic factors play a stronger role in determining environmental diplomacy than in many other foreign policy arenas.

As recent as November of last year, a Whitehouse press release stated that, “Obama is prepared to set a goal of reducing emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade. The White House also reiterated Obama’s goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 83 percent by 2050.The targets come from a climate change bill passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate has yet to pass the bill, so the United States has not committed itself to any binding goals”. As the experience with U.S. policy on biodiversity and climate change suggests, U.S. presidential leadership abroad can easily be trumped by Congressional opposition at home. “And although the President has greater room for initiative in environmental foreign policy, the need for Congressional approval of multilateral environmental treaties and domestic programs hinders international leadership efforts that are not backed by a broader coalition of interests at home (Falkner 2005, p.593). 

The U.S. environmental movement is among the largest and best organized in the world but it has been unable to sway U.S. policy regarding the Kyoto Protocol or ratification of the Biodiversity, Basel, Rotterdam or Stockholm Conventions. This is due in part to powerful interests that oppose U.S. participation in these treaties and because the environmental movement has not been able to influence the outcomes of congressional or presidential elections. For example, property rights advocates were concerned that the Convention on Biological Diversity would impose too many restrictions on the way private and public land is used and lobbied Congress and the White House heavily against its ratification. “The relative influence of different interest groups varies across time and between issue areas, which is one of the important reasons for the fluctuations in the pursuit of U.S. environmental diplomacy.” (Falkner 2005, p.594).

The U.S. has also been supportive of the Regional Seas Programs, the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) and the work in chemicals. In 2003, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Governing Council adopted a U.S. proposal to establish the UNEP Mercury Program which assists developing countries in taking action to deal with mercury. The U.S. has provided over 80 percent of the budget of that program, nearly $2 million since its inception. There is no doubt that the US, regardless of its passed reluctance in environmental issues, has played a major role in the preservation of the international environment. And in many cases, including on methyl bromide, climate change, bio-safety, the hazardous waste trade and some chemicals-related issues, the U.S. can be characterized as a powerful laggard and even a threat to regime effectiveness. The bottom line is that the U.S. doesn’t like foreigners telling Americans what they can or cannot do. This is part of the American psyche and has been since 1776. So, since UNEP does not put legally- binding restraints on the U.S., the U.S, in turn, has no problem being a constructive leader in the effort to preserve the international environment.

 

Falkner, Robert. 2005. “American Hegemony and the Global Environment,” International Studies Review4:7 (December), pp. 585-599.

 Hoffman, Stanley. 2002. “The United States and International Organizations,” in Robert J. Lieber, ed. Eagle Rules: Foreign Policy and American Primacy in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, pp. 342-352.

Paarlberg, Robert. 2002. “The Eagle and the Global Environment: The Burden of Being Essential,” in Robert J. Lieber, ed. Eagle Rules: Foreign Policy and American Primacy in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, pp.324-341

CNN.    “Obama to attend Climate Change Summit”. Whitehouse. November 25, 2009.

            < http://articles.cnn.com/2009-11-25/politics/obama.copenhagen.climat>

            

Why Choose Emerging Markets?. by: Fkmensah

Emerging markets(developing economies) mostly third world countries, are little known in this global economy because of their moderate economic scale and their negligible impact on the world economy in this new age of globalization. Even though emerging markets are known to be developing economies mostly located in third world regions and states, these markets have been the ideal destinations for investors who have now come to realize the importance of these markets to the global economy. Over the past decade, Brazil, India, Russia, and China (BRIC) has been the most noticed and talked about developing economies making tremendous impact in the global market, some of these countries in some cases have been perceived to be major players among the world’s largest economies.
images (3)When we consider an economy or market to be an Emerging market, there are several factors that constitute this status— currency value, population, GDP per Capita, socio-economic development level, Infrastructure and Inflation. Some of these factors could act as stimulants to the positive growth of a potential emerging market. Most developing country in Asia, Africa, South America and in some cases the middle east, does exhibit these traits but are most often neglected based on the idea that they are third world countries whose footprints on the world economy is minimal.
Globalization has made it possible for emerging markets in this global economy to gain unlimited potential of becoming part of engine of growth among the economic powerhouses around the world. Emerging markets are now becoming well known and recognized in some aspects as influential components in this global market whose contributions and commodity exchange create positive impact on other first world economies. Based on these advancements, foreign investors are moving away from their saturated home markets to seek other profitable ventures in regions like Africa, Asia, and South America. This is partly because business environment in these Emerging markets have become more business friendly by way of Tax benefits to investors, massive profit potential due to population and customer demand for products, economies of scale, managerial urge, technological and infrastructure advancements, and easy excess to foreign market opportunities.
When it comes to Tax incentives, some foreign governments in emerging markets make provisions for investors through tax benefits in order to create and retain job creation in their economy. Trade agreements among emerging markets and developed markets has contributed to the evidence that tax incentives are part of the mechanisms that attract many foreign investors to either establish subsidiaries or relocate to emerging markets. According to Morisset, “It is no coincidence that in 1985–94 foreign direct investment grew more than five-fold in tax havens in the Caribbean and South Pacific. And Ireland’s tax incentives have been recognized as key in attracting international investors over the past two decades. Moreover, in recent years there has been growing evidence that tax rates and incentives influence the location decisions of companies within regional economic groupings…”(2003). These tax incentives policies are being practices by some emerging markets that find the need to attract foreign inventors into their economy.

Tax incentives are not the only influential components of foreign investment in emerging markets. The economies of scale factor─ the benefits that a business or investor derives from expanding into other markets; also plays a major role in incentivizing investors to move from their saturated and competitive local markets into emerging markets that will create a demand for their products. Emerging markets sometimes provides investors and businesses with the option of expanding and becoming multinational companies by way of establishing subsidiaries or entirely relocation to a new market where there is the demand for their products. Expansion into other markets economies does provide an investor with the option to diversify its resources to other markets where the potential of increasing their market share are high and limited the risk of a potential lose of resources in a single market.

Emerging markets in most cases does create an environment where investors and business can set a profit and growth goals due to the large and diversified customer base mostly present in emerging markets. The goal of every foreign investor is to generate profit and growth, this goal is most often realized in some potential emerging markets whose business climate promotes such growth and profitability. Emerging markets are also known to be a destination for young labor forces. Labor and other overhead cost are comparatively cheaper in emerging markets and this sometimes adds to the profitability and potential growth a new business in emerging markets. Many companies like Nestlé, Phillips, and Vodafone all saw their profits rise in due to their expansion into emerging markets. “Led by the rapidly expanding economies of Brazil, China and India, as well as countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and even Africa, investor appetite for higher return investments has led to a newfound interest in emerging markets. The continuing policy of lowering taxes, privatizing government-run companies, and giving incentives to entrepreneurs has been instrumental in the rapid economic growth in these regions”(Katsman 2011).

Technology is a major driving force in this new age of globalization. Much of the global economies are now within easier reach more than before. Emerging markets are now catching up with the technological advancements that use to be limited to developed economies for the past decade. Based on this positive shift, governments in emerging markets are creating and developing ways to tap into the technological advancement of the first world economies by way of investing in technological institutions within their economies. This adds to the reasons why merging markets are becoming potential emerging of growth within the technological realm of the global economy. According Segran, “Until recently, growth in emerging markets was predominantly driven by execution capabilities. Today, this is undergoing a paradigm shift, says a top executive with a leading Indian IT company: this growth engine is increasingly being driven by innovation…Emerging markets today, says Shibulal, provide three key opportunities: new growth markets, talent hubs, and innovation hubs. These are not the threats to developed countries as they are commonly perceived to be – but opportunities that need to be leveraged…” (2011).
Emerging markets does provide business with another option of having to sell their products all year round. The life cycle of a product is prolonged when a business establishes foreign subsidiaries in emerging markets whereby products that are out of season in one market could be sold in another market where the product might still be in demand. This is a strategic move been adopted by business and investors who wish to extend the life of their products. Emerging markets are normally a great source for such business ideas to be executed swiftly because these markets most often have different seasons than that of the investor’s home market and therefore creating another market to products which may have completed its life cycle in an investor’s home market.

Aaron Katsman, http://seekingalpha.com/article/266312-emerging-markets-profit-from-outside-the-u-s

Jacques Morisset. http://rru.worldbank.org/documents/publicpolicyjournal/253Moris-020603.pdf

Grace Segran, http://knowledge.insead.edu/innovation-emerging-markets-110112.cfm?vid=515

Simplification Of Document Shearing.

Google Docs in one way or the other an alternative to using Microsoft’s office. It has the basic Word, Spreadsheet, andPowerPoint applications as Microsoft Office; better yet its free to use! many people use Google on a daily basis, yet they may not have realize the other benefits Google has to offer through the use of their Google Docs Application to simplify their daily computer tasks like document shearing –an act of sending , reviewing, editing the same document with as many people as possible. This application in my opinion does simplify document shearing.Even though the normal everyday use of emails to send and receive document is still popular, many people are yet to know about this feature Google offers besides free emails.

Document shearing , in recent years have become a common trend among computer and internet users around the world. The simple act of showing or sending someone a document in some sense is no longer a tedious task;instead,Google Docs has made it simple by creating a “cloud computing”—a process where on can shear or send document to many people at the click of a mouse on a computer, tablet or mobile phones, by allowing these individuals to review and edit the same document as originally sent to them. The simplification of document shearing through Google Docs, Dropbox, Apple’s Cloud, MSN’s Skydrive, etc. is still not known by many people, majority of internet users still send and receive document through emails which is not a complicated task but only becomes hectic if you are someone who receives tons of emails a day, try going back to look for an email attachment sent to you 48hours ago!
Some have argued that Google’s technological inventions, i.e., Google Docs application is a major add on to fulfilling the computers’ main object—to minimize or even eliminate the use of paper which sometimes take up too much space on our desks at home or at work. Some google Docs enthusiast even argue that using cloud computing goes a long way to help achieve sustainable initiatives(Going Green); may be true, but whether the use of cloud computing will one day dominate the traditional way of shearing documents, i.e., faxes, emails, mail etc, it is yet to be known.

The Ignored Economies

 

Economic ideas can matter in various ways to transform or bring down a country’s economy; these ideas often shape reality; but in my opinion, ideas are like seeds of crops that must fall on fertile ground to grow—paying attention to the “political economy” of policy reform can boost and help unveil the fertile ground. In the event that a development economists be it political, social or pure economics are to exercise more influence, there will be no doubt that they will have to achieve greater and coherent understanding of pressing problems that are not easy to fix in comparison to the technical analysis they so proudly perform– more politicized, involve issues of constitutive rationality, and require institutional change. They will then better understand the causes of differences in development performance and how to institute policy reform towards other economies that are so functionally different from what they are used to. Under developed economies in recent years, has been either disregarded or thought of as insignificant contributors to the global economy. These developing economies that is widely known in the business world as emerging markets are gaining traction, third world economies that make up these emerging markets are mostly Africa, Some Asian, and Latin American countries, yet it’s only the (BRIC) economies are mostly viewed as “ideal” business environments for the western world.
Let me refer you to the neoclassical Hecksher-Ohlin-Samuelson (HOS) model, which argues that firms are supposed to compete based on static comparative advantages, and free trade maximizes both national and international welfare. So if many economist embrace this idea, I guess my question will be , isn’t global economies supposed to compete based on comparative and competitive advantages? If that’s the case do these other ignored or left behind economies not have either of these advantages to compete in the global economy? Or do they not understand these concepts well enough to apply it? Or is it the simple fact that, regardless of what natural resources they may have in abundance still does not make those economies suitable enough to investors and countries to enter into trade agreements to foster growth in the so called third world economies?. What do you say?