10 Ways the EU Supports the Least Developed CountriesThe European Union (EU), comprised of its 27 member states, is the biggest economy in the world. As such, the EU is the biggest exporter and importer of goods and services provided by third parties (non-union members). On the other end of the spectrum, the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) account for only 2% of the global economy and only 1% of global trade in goods and services. The EU’s social policies have always been supportive of these LDCs. Yet, they acknowledge that economic policies and opportunities are most effective in supporting these countries. Even though the LDCs function in the global economy, they struggle with exports (while obtaining the full benefits). Because of this, the EU began allocating resources to help these countries. The EU also opens the European market to their products and services. Here are 10 ways the EU supports Least Developed Countries.

10 Ways the EU Supports the Least Developed Countries

  1. No Customs Taxes, No Quotas: LDCs exporters are not taxed when accessing the EU market. There are no limits on how much LDCs can export to member states without this taxation. This applies to all products or services, as long as it complies with the EU’s quality standards. The only exception is the trade of arms and ammunition.
  2. EU Aid for Least Developed Countries: The EU encourages the LDCs to increase exports and production by investing in their local economies. The Aid for Trade is the EU’s stimulus for the LDCs to take on infrastructural projects such as roads, bridges and ports. It is believed this aid helps the countries develop further and become more competitive.
  3. Least Developed Countries Get Complimentary Access to the EU Market: The EU’s trade policy for LDCs differs from other developing countries. In some cases, it is even more accommodating than their partnerships with traditional allies. By giving LDCs uninhibited access, the EU is providing a competitive advantage over other third parties. This way, LDCs have more opportunities to trade with the EU than stronger economies. Hence, this gives them a better chance to grow.
  4. Full Access for Services: The EU makes it easy for companies in the LDCs to sell innovative services. For example, engineering, management advising and IT. There is dual reasoning behind this policy. First, it creates a more competitive market. Second, it helps LDCs enhance their local technology and engineering service sectors.
  5. Opt-out from World Trade Organization’s Patents: The EU created unique policies that apply only to LDCs to encourage innovation. The LDCs may request an opt-out from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules on intellectual property. This could include things like expensive patents or designs. These things can block their developmental progress. Further, the EU gives LDCs access to otherwise patent-shielded drugs, to ensure that people have access to the medications they need.
  6. Governmental Support and Counseling: The EU supports the LDCs’ governments, so they can make trade a central part of their national agenda and plan to develop their economies. As part of this effort in 2015, the EU pledged €10m to a program designed and guided by top European economists.
  7. No More Unfair Competition Among Farmers: Subsidizing local farmers to export is a common practice around the world. As a result, farmers in weaker states struggle to compete; sometimes they even declare bankruptcies. In 2015, the EU and Brazil discussed a new deal with the WTO. This deal would scrap the unfair practices and export subsidies to farmers. The deal is still in process, but it hides an excellent premise for all the LDCs that would profit from it on the background.
  8. Backing the Fair Trade: EU trade deals with the LDCs that specially designed products to promote fair and ethical trade of products. This includes cocoa, coffee, fruits and other foods; these products are mainly supplied from these countries. Additionally, the EU supports the LDCs by partnering with the International Trade Centre. It invests in projects like 1 RUN that trains small-scale farmers in the LDCs to produce their crops more sustainably.
  9. The Trade Facilitation Agreement: The EU is the loudest supporter and promoter of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. It will make it much more manageable and more affordable to clear goods through customhouses – giving crucial administrative relief to exporters from the world’s poorest countries.
  10. EU Supports the Least Developed Countries on the World Stage: The Union is a prominent member of the world’s international organizations, including the WTO, the UN, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In each one, the EU prioritizes the needs of the Least Developed Countries and encourages other members to open up their markets and provide finance to help their advancement.

 – Olga Uzunova

Photo: Pexels

Five Reasons to Care About Global Health
Caring about global health isn’t limited to providing mosquito nets and vaccines. It is an expansive endeavor that attempts to deal with illnesses resulting from natural disasters, war and poverty. With this in mind, here are five reasons to care about global health.


  • Food Borne Illness: The development of international agricultural trade combined with the misuse of antimicrobials has increased the risk of foodbourne illness outbreaks from microbial contamination, chemicals, toxins and undiscovered diseases.


  • Global Economy: Disease outbreaks strain economies monetarily, but also weaken individual workers’ ability to support their families or contribute to society. The biggest hit to many countries affected by disease outbreak is a loss of tourism and consumer confidence. The cost to treat many diseases on such a large scale is astronomical compared to the preventative costs.


  • Drug Resistance: With new diseases appearing at a rate of one or more per year, known viruses and diseases are becoming increasingly drug resistant, elevating the likelihood of outbreaks. Diseases that were once considered treatable, like tuberculosis, are now becoming drug resistant.


  • Outbreaks: Transmittable diseases are making their way across oceans via airplane passengers and mosquitoes. Examples include the SARS epidemic in 2003, the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza in 2009 and, most recently, the spread of the Ebola virus in 2014.


  • Bioterrorism: Both accidental and deliberate outbreaks, whether malicious or simply negligent, pose severe threats globally. Examples include toxic chemical accidents, radionuclear accidents, environmental disasters and intentional release of toxic agents like anthrax and other bioterrorist actions.

There are many more reasons to care about global health in such an interconnected society as is present today. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control, USAID and the World Health Organization are working to achieve global health security. Investing in global initiatives that increase the probability of early detection and control of communicable diseases can ensure a healthy global economy.

Rebekah Korn
Photo: Flickr

UN Calls for Action After Rise in Youth Unemployment
With youth unemployment predicted to rise for the first time in three years, the United Nations is calling for increased efforts to increase sustainable employment.

The newest information comes from a new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) titled, “ World Employment and Social Outlook 2016: Trends for Youth.” The data indicates that the youth unemployment level is set to rise to 13.1 percent in 2016, a rise of over half a million people. It will likely remain at that level through 2017.

Even more troubling, says the ILO, is that approximately 37.7 percent of working youth remain in moderate to extreme poverty. This is alarming in comparison to the 26 percent of working adults.

Deborah Greenfield, the ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy explained in a statement that these figures could make it difficult to reach the development goals set by the U.N.

“This research also highlights wide disparities between young women and men in the labor market ,” she added.

However, the ILO, in conjunction with 21 entities in the United Nations, is making an effort to support youth in the labor market by developing the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. This collaboration works together with governments, the private sector, academia and civil society to scale up the impact investments can make on youth unemployment.

The initiative is partnering with the Partnership for Action on Green Economy to ensure the creation of “green” jobs in the marketplace. They are also working with the Global Apprentice’s Network to create quality apprenticeships. The focus is on targeting youth in fragile states and in the informal, rural and digital economies.

Even though the U.N.’s latest report is certainly troublesome, it by no means represents the final state of affairs for youth unemployment — especially not with organizations such as the ILO and the U.N. working tirelessly to change things.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

latin america genderWorkplace gender equality is vital for economic growth. With women making up 50 percent of the working population, but only contributing 37 percent to the GDP, it’s important to realize that their financial success is crucial for the global economy.

In order to see this success, women will need proper training and economic incentives to be economically stable. One small business owner, Daniel Vàsquez, moved his plantain processing plant from Tegucigalpa to Valle de Jamastràn in order to tap into the markets of smallholder farmers, both male and female alike.

Vàsque’s business, Dartma, processes the plantains that are used to make chips and other snack foods throughout small convenience stores in rural Honduras. His business model prioritizes gender equality throughout the workplace and was created by TechnoServe, a nonprofit that focuses on business solutions to poverty.

Dartma purchases produce from male and female farmers, and has a gender-balanced sales and production staff—individual talent determines who works where.

Vàsquez explains broadly, “There’s balance. Women are more creative in some areas, they’re detail-oriented, they’re better at product quality control. Men are better at activities requiring physical strength, like carrying materials.”

After implementing TechnoServe’s goals towards gender equality in the workplace, Dartma saw a 20 percent increase in revenue after one year. With more growth, he hopes to one day provide parental leave to his female employees.

According to global management firm McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), advancing women’s roles in the workforce can contribute $12 trillion in global growth by 2025.

For women to contribute more to the economy, there must be more gender equity at work. This requires adequate training that provides the skills females need to perform well in higher-productivity jobs, along with equal benefits and pay from the employer.

An MGI report states that in order to achieve gender equality at work, there must be economic development and a change in society’s attitude towards gender equality.

Over the last 30 years, these social attitudes have already improved, which has contributed to a 19.7 percent increase in female workforce participation last year, according to the same report. If this growth is maintained, nearly 240 million people will be added to the world’s labor force by 2025.

Daniel Vàsquez shares why he values the women who work for him and supports gender equality in the workplace. He states, “The main benefit of buying raw materials from women is that they deliver a higher quality product, they always deliver the right order and on time. The other benefit is that the money reaches their hands and they invest it in their children.”

Kelsey Lay

Sources: McKinsey Global Institute, TechnoServe
Photo: Latin Correspondent

Income Disparity in South Africa
The country of South Africa is divided among those with nothing and those with seemingly everything, making for extremely high rates of poverty for the country overall. The income disparity in South Africa has had an impact not only on the domestic economy and security, but also on the global economy.

Reports show that approximately four percent of households in the country of South Africa make up 32 percent of the country’s household incomes. At the same time, about 10 percent of the citizens live in what are considered extreme poverty conditions, meaning families are living on under $1.25 a day. This disparity has not only drawn attention to the state of the economy, but it has also put a significant strain on the social aspects of the country as a whole.

Though South Africa stands as the second largest economy in Africa, economic disparity amidst the population has created more social tensions and controversy than the numbers would anticipate. Research shows that rates of disparity between members of the 90th percentile and 50th percentile citizens, in terms of income and economic security, have been continuing to grow in recent years. This means that the likelihood of social mobility, say from working class to middle class, or any further for that means, are rather difficult, and nearly impossible.

Despite becoming a democracy, South Africa continues to suffer with inequality between its citizens. This has proven to be an issue regarding security, as the growing size of the lower class and number of impoverished people compares to that of the other four percent. Lack of education can be a great contributing factor to this, as the number of unskilled and uneducated workers heavily outweighs the number of skilled workers in the country. Lack of skill and education leads to less opportunity for the average South African worker. Thus, educating and teaching more skill sets to the people of South Africa may, in part, begin to decrease the growing gap that continues to drive the people of the country apart.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: CNBC Africa, World Policy
Photo: Daily Maverick

Global Financing Conference Looks to End Poverty - TBPOn July 15, leaders from all over the world will gather at a global financing conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to discuss major reforms and policies to make a legitimate dent in the issue of global poverty. This meeting marks the first of three summits in 2015 that aim to lock down funding for poverty programs worldwide. World Bank leader Jim Yong Kim summarized the magnitude of the summit by saying, “If we seize this moment we can accomplish the greatest achievement in human history.” The success of this and subsequent summits may finally put humanity on the correct path for eliminating poverty.

A topic of discussion at this summit will be on how to expand on the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight target goals set in 2000 to combat poverty. These goals were set to expire after fifteen years, when a new summit would meet to establish new goals moving forward. The upcoming summit in Addis Ababa will spend time creating what will be known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs will be designed to reflect the changes in the global economy that have occurred since the initial MDGs were created. An excerpt from the World Bank’s website says, “The global development landscape has changed since the MDGs were adopted in 2000. Middle-income countries now account for a much larger share of global GDP. At the same time, inequality within many countries is on the rise and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing.” World leaders will assess a variety of new data to develop effective plans to reduce future poverty.

In order to make the eradication of poverty a reality, nations participating in this summit are preparing to raise the amount of money contributed to fighting poverty from billions to trillions of dollars. The funds necessary to achieving this goal will come “from private investment and domestic tax revenues. Foreign aid is already dwarfed by private financial flows, but it is still a precious resource, important because it reaches people and challenges that private finance alone cannot,” as reported by The Guardian.

This summit may be key in setting the stage for an entirely new era in our planet. The results of this summit and the ones that follow might be the pivotal step for stepping out of the overbearing shadow of poverty and into a bright future for generations to come.

– Diego Catala

Sources: The Guardian, World Bank
Photo: UN

Financial Inclusion Improves Globally

What is financial inclusion? Financial inclusion is when all members of society have access to financial services at affordable prices.

What does financial inclusion have to do with poverty? Some people may not be able to afford certain financial services. In addition, financial inclusion can help decrease global poverty. For example, when people have access to financial services, they can start and expand businesses, invest in higher education for their children and withstand financial hardships more easily. When other marginalized groups like women and disabled people have access to financial services, this can improve the economy of a country as the whole.

In 2011, 51% of adults,, or roughly 2.5 billion people, did not have a bank account. Now, 62% of the world’s adult population, or 2 billion, have an account.

China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Tanzania have seen significant increases in account ownership. Account ownership in China increased from 64% to 79%, from 20% to 36% in Indonesia, from 35% to 53% in India, from 27% to 39% in Mexico, and from 17% to 40% in Tanzania.

Mobile money accounts have also helped increase financial inclusion. In Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, adults are more likely to have a mobile money account than an account at a financial institution. Mobile money accounts are the sole reason for the dramatic increase of account ownership in Tanzania.

In terms of the poor, account ownership increased disproportionately among adults in the poorest 40% of households. In 2011, only 29% of the poorest individuals had an account. Now, 46% of these individuals own an account. This is great news!

Overall, women are more likely to own an account than ever before. In 2011, 47% of women owned an account. Now, 58% of women own an account. Again, this is significant progress.

Account holders are using their accounts. About half of account owners in developing countries use their account to make or receive a payment. About a quarter of account owners in developing countries use their debit card to make direct payments. About 39% of account holders in developing countries use their accounts to save. This is secure and helps the economy grow.

Can we still make progress? The short answer is, of course we can. About half of the poorest individuals still do not have an account. Additionally, there is about a 7% gender gap in account ownership. The good news is that there are many ways that we can decrease this number.

Governments and businesses could drastically decrease the number of unbanked adults by digitizing wages and transfers. Additionally, many farmers are unbanked. About 23% of people in developing countries receive cash for agricultural sales. Countries could focus on banking these farmers. Additionally, mobile money accounts could be a way to expand account ownership significantly, especially among women and the poorest individuals.

Overall, financial inclusion is improving in developing countries. More adults than ever own an account. This will help improve both financial equality and financial prosperity.

– Ella Cady

Sources: Center for Financial Inclusion, Impatient Optimists, World Bank
Photo: Live Mint

TourismMillions of people travel around the world every day, whether for work, vacation, personal leisure or to visit family and friends. In less than a day, you can fly to any corner of the world you please; you can go to sleep on a flight leaving from the U.S. and wake up in Europe or Asia. Advancements in international travel have shrunk the world, making once inaccessible regions open to tourists from all over the globe.

The travel and visitation to other countries, known as tourism, not only allows for personal exploration and adventure, but it also serves as a key factor in maintaining international relations and the international economy. Here are some reasons why tourism can help redefine a country’s image:

1. Tourism campaigns can change the way foreigners perceive a country.

A prime example of this phenomenon is seen in South Africa. In South Africa’s history filled with racially-based conflict and identity challenges, the detrimental period of apartheid has become one of the nation’s most well-known historical markers. The government, largely through the tourism sector, has successfully managed to secure its newfound democratic identity as an interracially knit community of diverse peoples which is equally supportive of all races and ethnicities. Through various video and advertising campaigns, the country created a new label for itself: the rainbow nation. Since then, South Africa’s tourism sector has seen widespread growth, and the country’s efforts to unite its ethnically and culturally diverse population has led to a revamping of the entire economic sector, largely caused by tourism.

2. Tourism boosts the economy.

Tourism is widely used as a tool to ignite economic and internal progress. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the tourism industry generates over two point one trillion dollars in economic output every year. This type of large-scale spending is often the sole savior for countries buried in debt. Additionally, 15 million jobs are supported by travel expenditures (includes eight million directly in the travel industry and seven million in other industries). Think about the wide variety of employment opportunities here: airlines, tour guides, travel consultants, and many more.

3. Tourism creates domestic and foreign appreciation of culture and heritage.

When you visit another country, you gain a sense of appreciation for that country’s existing culture and heritage. Many travelers use tourism solely for this purpose: to learn and appreciate the diverse ways in which other people live their lives. This appreciation, however, goes both ways. When a country creates tourism campaigns and celebrates its own national pride and beauty in order to convince foreigners to visit, this also fosters a sense of citizens’ pride and national identity.

4. Tourism can help a country re-populate.

Tourism Excellence, a business created to help the tourism industry prosper, said, “In many areas tourism has helped to slow or halt the drift to cities, by not only making the local area and its employment opportunities more attractive to young people, but by attracting ‘sea changers and ‘tree changers’ from major population centers.” Increasing an area’s population can transform a place from being a small town to a highly-populated, desirable location to live, which has unending benefits for a country’s image.

All of these points further clarify the importance of the tourism industry to a country. Travel and tourism remain essential components of a country’s economic, cultural, and social success.

– Hanna Darroll

Sources: Tourism Excellence, U.S. Travel Association
Photo: Karibu

Business deals between companies headquartered at opposite ends of the earth have become the rule, rather than the exception. These deals may make headlines for their magnitude, but not for their intercontinental nature. But recently, two such deals caught this writer’s attention. Though they received little coverage in the press, these deals exemplify the benefits of poverty reduction and development not only in countries experiencing development, but also in developed and undeveloped countries alike.

Both deals concern Zijin Mining Group Co., a Chinese firm, which late last month purchased large shares of two mines owned by Canadian firms. According to Bloomberg, Zijin bought a 50 percent share of the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea from Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. and a 49.5 percent share of Kamoa mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. These deals infuse Canadian physical capital with Chinese financial capital, all while helping Papua New Guinea and the DR Congo grow their exports.

For Barrick and Ivanhoe, these deals amount to a crucial injection of capital. Both companies have faced financial difficulties recently: Barrick aims cut $3 billion of its $10 billion net debt by year’s end, while Ivanhoe declared bankruptcy at the beginning of this month after negotiations with creditors fell through. Both firms are expected to pursue expanded mining partnerships with Zijin in the coming years, so as to keep themselves solvent. For Western firms like Barrick and Ivanhoe, capital-rich corporations based in the developing world represent invaluable allies as global competition grows stiffer.

For Zijin, these deals not only offer a chance to get some cash off its hands, they also represent the culmination of decades-long poverty reduction efforts in China. Fifty years ago, a business like Zijin would have been unthinkable in China or any other low-development country; had China been a capitalist economy, foreign firms would have likely dominated its primary sector. But as China’s domestic industrial capacity grew, poverty rates in China plummeted. Firms like Zijin have turned poor countries into middle-income countries. Now, these countries are poised for a new stage of development as domestic firms go global by partnering with Western businesses.

Last but not least, these deals symbolize an opportunity for development and poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea and the Congo, where the mines in question are located. By aiding struggling Western firms, Zijin ensures that locals will remain employed and that transit infrastructure is well maintained. Employment and infrastructure are not only useful in and of themselves, they also give other businesses a chance to proliferate and make poverty reduction efforts simpler. Furthermore, these deals underscore what happens when a country outgrows its poverty—it begins trading intensively with other countries, many of which it helps to develop in the process.

Zijin, Barrick and Ivanhoe are not household names, and may never become household names. Nevertheless, these three firms exemplify how poverty reduction pays dividends for developed countries, developing countries and countries that have yet to develop. American firms take heed, partnerships with companies in the developing world help all countries, not just your bottom line.

– Leo Zucker

Sources: Barron’s Asia, Bloomberg, Financial Times, The Globe and Mail, The Northern Miner, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance
Photo: Demanjo

The World Health Organization (WTO) recently announced the largest global trade deal in its history. After years of waiting for this deal to go through numerous negotiations, the WTO has finally passed legislation on the first world wide trade reform.

This deal took a whopping 19 years to be passed into law. After years of gridlock the reform became a major priority when food started stockpiling in India. The Indian government has long been against the deal because it simplifies customs regulations across the board. A deal brokered between the U.S. and India on the details of the agreement put the reform back in motion. All 160 members of the WTO had to agree to the deal in order for it to go through and it passed into WTO law on November 27, 2014.

This deal has brought attention to how the WTO should proceed without massive stalemates that last years. India previously stymied the trillion dollar reform due to a disagreement in trade subsidies. Because the WTO requires unanimity among all member states, it is no surprise that this is the first deal affecting global trade reform to pass in 20 years.

The “Bali package” as it is called is important because it boosts the ability for countries across the globe to trade more easily with one another. It decreases trade restrictions that inhibit poor countries from trading with wealthier nations.

Cecilia Malmstrom, WTO commissioner says, “Once in force, it will help developing countries better integrate into the global economy, intensify regional integration and lift millions out of poverty.” Both governments and businesses are expected to benefit from the deal. This multilateral trade agreement is expected to boost jobs as well providing millions of jobs across many countries.

The trade package will make it easier for countries to trade. India will still be allowed to stockpile food based on subsidy agreements. The consensus between India and the U.S. on the trade agreements was a welcomed relief and has allowed for the trillion dollar package to go through.

This deal comes at a critical hour for the global economy. As global inequality between the wealthy and poor countries of the world increases, this WTO reform should help out. The breakthrough should provide other opportunities to increase trade among WTO member states. Reforming global trade regulations will allow countries to benefit from international trade and to support domestic development as well.

– Maxine Gordon

Sources: International Business Times, Reuters, Asia One
Photo: BBC