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G-8 leaders to marshal support for Arab nations; President Barack Obama and the other leaders will seek to marshal their combined economic might behind …


G-8 leaders to marshal support for Arab nations
May 25, 2011, 9:57 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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PARIS (AP) — Arab uprisings are pushing aside deficits and austerity as the biggest worry of the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations this year.

President Barack Obama and the other leaders will seek to marshal their combined economic might behind the grass-roots democracy movements that have swept the Arab world — and driven away tourists and investors.

Egypt and Tunisia, where popular revolts this year overthrew authoritarian regimes, want to show G-8 leaders and international financiers that they are still sound investment destinations — which might be a tall order as the future shape and policies of their governments remains unclear.

The discussions starting Thursday in the chic Normandy resort of Deauville will see the host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, bring together the heads of wealthy nations for what one of Sarkozy’s top advisers describes as “the founding moment” of a partnership between the G-8 and the Arab countries.

That partnership may be strained, however, by tensions over how to handle Libya’s rebel movement and entrenched leader Moammar Gadhafi. NATO appears to have no exit strategy, and efforts to oust Gadhafi remain elusive.

The leaders of the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Russia will greet counterparts from Tunisia, Egypt and the head of the Arab League to hash out details of what some are calling a new “Marshall Plan” for these countries, similar to the massive U.S. aid to Europe after World War II that helped the continent rebuild and stave off communism.

The historic parallel is fitting, as Deauville is just a short drive along the English Channel from the D-Day landing beaches where the U.S. and its allies began to roll back the Third Reich in 1944.

A top Sarkozy official drew another historical analogy, saying the aid and investment to be promised to the Arab nations would resemble that which the G-8 offered to Eastern and Central European nations after the collapse of communism in 1989.

Last week President Barack Obama said the U.S. has asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at the G-8 summit that sets a path to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt.

The U.S. will forgive up to $1 billion in Egyptian debt and guarantee another $1 billion to finance infrastructure and new jobs. Obama said he will ask Congress to finance enterprise funds that will provide money for investment in both countries — a request that comes as Congress seeks to cut spending.

Tunisia, followed by Egypt, kicked off change around the Arab world, as broad-based popular movements took to the streets demanding greater rights and political representation from their authoritarian governments.

But the street demonstrations in Cairo and Tunis that thrilled and inspired the Arab world also drove away the tourists and investors on which these economies are heavily dependent.

“The first thing they will be looking for is direct financial aid,” said Said Hirsh, a Middle East economist with Capital Economics consultancy in London. “Both countries need quite a lot of money considering the hit to their economies and their revenues.”

While U.S. officials say G-8 countries will discuss their role in the process, they say it is too soon to reach a deal on dollar amounts for assistance.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a London-based institution set up in 1991 to foster transition to market economies in post-communist Europe, could be “repurposed” to focus its expertise on the southern Mediterranean region, a top official in Sarkozy’s office said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of protocol.

The heads of the World Bank and the United Nations will also be present and add their signatures to the partnership declaration. Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, under house arrest in New York following his indictment for sexual assault, will be replaced for the event by the institution’s acting managing director John Lipsky.

Finding a permanent replacement for Strauss-Kahn is likely to take up a good part of the summiteers’ small talk.

Nuclear safety will be another topic, with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan scheduled to provide leaders with an update on the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The future of the Internet will also figure in the G-8 leaders’ talks. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Eric Schmidt of Google and other Internet executives took part in two days of debates focused broadly on the Internet’s impact on the global economy. Several of the Internet conference’s speakers will then take policy recommendations to Deauville in talks with the G-8 leaders.

Police have established one security cordon around the conference center where the leaders are meeting, and another perimeter encompassing all of Deauville. Local ports, train stations and the airport will be shut from Wednesday to Friday, and a no-fly zone enforced over the town.

The show of force may have discouraged radicals and other protesters from attempting to organize demonstrations close to the summit. Anti-G8 protesters plan symbolic demonstrations in the neighboring towns of Caen and Le Havre, but they do not plan to try to disrupt the event in Deauville itself, according to a statement circulated by radical groups online.

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Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Washington, D.C., Geir Moulson in Berlin, Charmaine Noronha in Toronto, David Stringer in London and Paul Schemm in Rabat, Morocco contributed to this report.

Greg Keller can be reached at http://twitter.com/Greg_Keller

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Taiwan: Japan quake may cut economic growth


Taiwan: Japan quake may cut economic growth
Associated Press
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: https://economicnewsblog.wordpress.com and http://LedSomeBioMetrics.com

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A senior Taiwanese official says the recent Japan earthquake may cut Taiwan’s economic growth by 0.2 percentage point this year.

Taiwan Premier Wu Den-yih said Tuesday that local industries are feeling repercussions from the disaster, but some Taiwanese liquid crystal display and semiconductor components makers have got more orders from Japanese clients following the quake.

“Our worst estimate is our economic growth will lose 0.2 percentage point over the quake, but our best assessment is the economy will not be affected as the extra orders Taiwanese companies have received will offset the negative impact,” Wu said.

Japan is Taiwan’s second biggest trading partner. Taiwan officials predicted before the quake the island’s economy will grow 4.9 percent in 2011.

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German business confidence slips as outlook clouds


German business confidence slips as outlook clouds
Associated Press
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr., Owner and Founder of: https://economicnewsblog.wordpress.com and http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

BERLIN (AP) — German business confidence has slipped off a two-decade high as managers’ outlook for the next six months was tempered by a slight decline in optimism on exports, a closely watched survey showed Friday.

The Ifo institute said its confidence index was down slightly to 111.1 points for March from 111.3 in February. The slip followed nine consecutive months of increases, and Ifo stressed that the “traffic lights still signal ‘green.'”

Managers’ assessment of the current situation improved and the overall decline was due entirely to a less optimistic six-month outlook. The subindex measuring expectations sank to 106.5 points from 107.9 in February.

Ifo said that manufacturing firms plan to increase staff numbers even though “future export business is no longer assessed quite so optimistically.” Friday’s survey showed that retailers, wholesalers and construction firms also were less optimistic for the next half-year.

Export strength has been central to Germany‘s powerful economic recovery over the past year, although it has been accompanied by signs of improving domestic demand.

Slightly less than half of this month’s Ifo survey responses arrived after problems started at Japan’s earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.

There was little evidence, however, that events in Japan pose a direct, immediate economic threat to Germany. Problems with delivery of Japanese products to German carmakers, for example, “could only delay but not stop production,” ING economist Carsten Brzeski said.

“The only serious and substantial threat for the German economy from recent global developments is linked to energy prices,” which could rise on spreading political unrest in the Arab world or as a results of consequences of the Japanese nuclear plant accident, he added.

The Ifo decline “is no reason to get petrified,” Brzeski said. “The economy is slipping on oil but is not tumbling. The fundamentals of the German economy are strong enough to withstand some setbacks.”

IHS Global Insight economist Timo Klein noted that “Germany’s increasing domestic strength continues to be boosted by interest rates that are much too low for its own economic conditions” — even though the European Central Bank is expected to raise rates from a record-low 1 percent next month.

“The German economy will stay very robust during 2011,” assuming global growth isn’t hobbled by much wider Middle East troubles, a major escalation of Japan’s nuclear crisis or fast-growing China slamming on the brakes to combat inflation, he added.

The monthly Ifo survey is based on responses from about 7,000 companies.

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