Free trade has hurt some, admits World Bank; Abu Dhabi not to have private cars on roads; Gandhi statue banished in Ghana

1 Free trade has hurt some, admits World Bank (Kamal Ahmed on BBC) The World Bank has admitted the growth of global free trade has not been a success for all. An internal briefing document says the effects of globalisation on advanced economies is “often uneven” and “may have led to rising wage inequality”.

The bank, which provides loans to developing countries, also says that “adjustment costs”, such as helping people who have lost their jobs, have been higher than expected.

Dr Jim Kim, the head of the World Bank, told the BBC that he understood why people were angry in advanced economies despite the fact that free trade was one of the “most powerful” drivers of growth and prosperity.

Dr Kim said that 20% of jobs lost in advanced economies could be linked to trade, with the rest down to automation and the need for new skills. The document, written by World Bank economists, does say that “trade has played a powerful role in creating jobs and contributing to rising incomes in advanced economies”, as well as in emerging economies.

But it highlights problems that have been created. “Recent evidence for the US suggests that adjustment costs for those employed in sectors exposed to import competition from China are much higher than previously thought,” the document says.

Dr Kim said that if developed countries start throwing up trade barriers, ambitious targets to eradicate poverty by 2030 could be missed because global economic growth would be slower. “We can build all the infrastructure we want and we can increase trade among the emerging market countries, [but] at the end of the day if global trade does not grow at a more robust rate it is going to be very hard to make those targets.”

2 Abu Dhabi not to have any private cars on roads (Khaleej Times) Abu Dhabi is working on a futuristic integrated public transport plan that will take on the dependence on private cars. The Department of Municipality and Transport (Dmat) said the surface transport project which will be built in phases in 25 years “aims to change transport behaviour from dependence on private cars to a fully integrated public transport system that makes use of new and upcoming technologies.”

The plan sets out the required strategies to support the expanding capital, which complements Abu Dhabi’s vision and goals including clear policy and infrastructure directions. The plan is designed to meet clearly articulated goals to improve the quality of life for the residents, supporting the economic development of the city and minimise harmful effects on the environment by using sustainable alternatives that supports Plan Capital Abu Dhabi 2030.

Dmat also invited engineering and planning students from universities to participate, given that they will have a major role in delivering the Plan in the future. An independent panel of five international experts provided a peer review of the Plan.

3 Gandhi statue banished in Ghana (Jason Burke in The Guardian) A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be removed from a university campus in Ghana after professors launched a petition claiming the revered Indian independence leader and thinker was racist.

The statue of Gandhi was unveiled in June at the University of Ghana campus in Accra by Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India, as a symbol of close ties between the two countries. But in September a group of professors started a petition calling for the removal of the statue, saying Gandhi was racist and that the university should put African heroes and heroines “first and foremost”.

The petition states “it is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super power”, and quotes passages written by Gandhi which say Indians are “infinitely superior” to black Africans.

More than 1,000 people signed the petition, which claimed that not only was Gandhi racist towards black South Africans when he lived in South Africa as a young man, but that he campaigned for the maintenance of India’s caste system, an ancient social hierarchy that still defines the status in that country of hundreds of millions of people.

Statues on university campuses have recently prompted bitter arguments in Africa as students wrestle with the legacy of colonialism and history of racism on the continent. Last year students in South Africa successfully campaigned for the removal, from the University of Cape Town campus, of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a notoriously racist mining magnate who died in 1902.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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