How to change the perception of African countries

This week I had the opportunity to visit Madam Mavis Esi Kusorgbor the Minister in charge of economical and politic affairs at the Ghana Embassy in Madrid. We touched on topics such as her background in international relations and economic, political or cultural aspect of her task in representing and promoting her country.

Her daily tasks consist in looking after Ghana’s political interest in Madrid, promoting economic relations between Ghana and Spain and as a deputy to the Ambassador in administrative issues of the Embassy. Madam Kusorgbor envisaged working in a similar position from an early stage of her education. Before starting university, she studied Governments as major which prepared her for her studies in political science and later international affairs.

After her degree, she managed to find a role in the Foreign Ministry in 1995 which marks the beginning of her employment with the Government of Ghana. The different roles she has taken in the past 20 years were all related to handling Ghana’s foreign affairs and relations either from inside the country or in different departments and countries of the world.

Her first posting outside of Ghana was with the Ghana permanent mission at the United Nations in New York. She served on the Third Committee of the General Assembly which is responsible for social and human right issues and treating questions related to the advancement of women, the protection of children and the promotion of fundamental freedoms .”Everybody is basically pursuing their own interest and not thinking about what is really happening globally.” she said and questioned some countries disregarding events on security issues and humanitarian consensus and sticking to their political stands. After being sent out to Egypt from 2008 to 2012 which represented a momentous time for the country , she then served in Dubai for a brief period before taking her current position at the Ghana Embassy in Spain last year.

During those years she learned about different cultures of the world and how they perceive Ghana. That plays an important aspect in understanding how to present the interest to the different audiences. It is important to take the different aspects of the international relations of Ghana with the countries in consideration. The different strategies focus on knowledge of culture, development, social cultural aspects and most importantly the history of the relations with Ghana. Egypt for example as bilateral partner has a strong relationship, what ensures a lot of support to initiatives. People to people relations are also very important as Ghana is not very know for example in Dubai, but has seen increased activity. In Spain or Europe in general it is more difficult as you must first find out what people think about Ghana and what might be attractive in terms of “business, investment or cultural relations”.

The Embassy tries to promote Ghana as politically stable country with many economic prospects. Western countries look for certain factors such as “good governance”, “committed leaders”, “efforts to improve the well-being of the people” and “democracy” in their potential partners. Ghana fulfills all those factors and the duty of its representatives is now to showcase that potential. In her current role, she tries to attract investments to Ghana from chambers of commerce and companies. Arguments like the low cost of labor and the logistic aspects allowing short distances of production speak for those investments. The readiness of investor due to security and financial concerns are obstacles that she has to face. For that to change the Embassy also tries to showcase the culture of Ghana to attract tourism and subsequently the awareness about the country.

“As small individual countries if we do not come together as a bloc we will not have a voice strong enough to be able to engage with other regional groups like the European Union or even a bigger country like the United States, because after all it is just one small Ghana or one small Gambia.” With this statement, she shows the importance of unity between African countries. Ghana can serve as a leader for West Africa in such negotiations. Most countries of Africa have gone through difficulties. It is important to understand the different dynamics and to help development. It is for that reason that the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) exists. One important aspect in trade negotiations will be the possibility to sell processed goods rather than raw materials in order to be able to have more say in the prices negotiations. With a more unified stand these issues will be easier to solve.

In conclusion, it can be said that more countries have discovered or are discovering the economic potential in Ghana and what it has to offer culturally. With this development, the country can serve as a great role model for neighboring countries and as voice for international negotiations. To achieve that goal different parties and individuals have to come together and work on that common goal.

Rudiger Atchon

“It could become the most expensive waste of money in history”

Marina Barberá Matías

All the actions done by the president Donald J. Trump have been done to “make America great again” but despite of what people may say the intention is not what matters. Those political moves may produce different outcomes of those sought by Mr. Trump.

One of the f086c412irst decisions when he arrived to his actual position and one of the well-known promises done during the presidential campaign of Mr. Trump was the withdrawal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Charles Kushner program director of the Bachelor in International Relations at IE University in Madrid Spain, sees it like the perfect opportunity for Canada to step into America’s leadership role in order to facilitate better trade, as Canada largely avoided the 2008 financial crisis by avoiding the risky banking practices that were responsible for the collapse, thus they are well poised to step into this leadership role.

Mr. Trump said “now American workers will be protected against competition from low-wage countries like Vietnam and Malaysia.” but the reasons established by experts for the manufacturing jobs decline differ from his. The central cause is the automation, which has developed into the decline of human labour. It is a fact that despite the decline in manufacturing jobs, the productivity in American factories has been increased. We are producing more while employing fewer. “This is exactly why Donald Trump’s plan to pull out of trade deals won’t only not bring back jobs to the American economy, it will actually hurt the economy further, as products exported by America would undoubtedly suffer with less trading partners.” Mr. Kushner said. The economic position of the U.S. as the world leader can be at risk by the isolationist strategy followed by Mr. Trump as affects their international image in the free market. Mr. Kushner said that in order to maintain its status as the beacon of the free world, America in fact needs to be a part of the world. It cannot afford to shut itself in behind pointless and costly walls.

Also, the acts done by the new president will without discussion cause changes on the relation between the U.S. and the countries from all around the world. The TPP was a pact in which the United States, the world’s largest economy and Japan, the third world largest economy, were together in a free-trade pact. The end of this agreement could cause some differences in the relation between Japan and the U.S., but the reality is that their relation despite the event from the past is better than the one that Japan has with its neighbours. “The dismantling of the TPP doesn’t affect current trade deals the U.S. and Japan share. Currently Japan is the United States 4th largest trading partner”. The relation among them will remain as usual but it is a fact that the withdrawal of the U.S. from the TPP will cause an economic vacuum that China will look forward to fill. It will be matter of time see if the relation between other members and the U.S. is enough to prevent China of fulfilling that position.

The relation with Mexico is the most affected by the actions of Mr. Trump as one of the most polemic orders is the construction of the wall in the frontier between Mexico and the United States. The main cause of its controversy is the dispute about who is going to pay for it, as the president of the United States has affirmed from the campaign that his country will not pay and the president of Mexico also declared that no Mexican money will be used for the construction of that wall, Mexico is face to face against the multimillionaire Donald Trump who has promised to find the way to make them pay and one of the ideas is through taxes. This will not be a good option as Mr. Kushner says that Mexican exporters would likely just raise taxes on American products as well as the prices of their own exports, resulting in price increases in the U.S. and ultimately the cost of the wall would be paid by Americans, not Mexico. Moreover, the construction of the wall will be unproductive as there are another ways through which the immigrants arrive to the U.S. so “it could become the most expensive waste of money in history as most undocumented immigrants in America fly into the country and overstay a valid visa.”

Not so “great great wall”

The U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to begin the construction of his famous wall along the 1,900-mile border with Mexico but the outcome will not be as good as he promised due to the arguments he gave during the campaign haven’t got any sense.

During the campaign, Trump promised a wall in the U.S.-Mexican border which would be paid by the Mexicans. The wall will cost nearly twice the $10 billion estimated by Trump, which by the moment will be paid with U.S. federal dollars as Mexico still refuses to pay for it. This dilemma has broken the historical relationship among them, as they used to fight together against illegal immigration. Recently the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a landmark meeting with the new President. The different ways Trump may use to make Mexican pay (as a sky-high export tax), will cause economic damage on both countries.

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The Department of Homeland Security’s estimates that the total undocumented population peaked at 12 million in 2008, and has fallen since then. And that decline is not because of rising border enforcement but because Mexico is producing less demographic pressure to migrate to the U.S.. Moreover, according to the BJS, black males are 37% of the male prison population, white males made up 32%, followed by 22% of Hispanics that were in state or federal prison at yearend 2014. So the “malos hombres” that Trump always talked about are not the main cause of criminality in U.S..

Also, Trump said that “undocumented immigrants take jobs away from native-born Americans”, but it has been proved that most of immigrants take different jobs than American. For example, farmers can’t find enough native-born Americans to pick crops, as often Americans are unwilling to do the jobs done by immigrants. There has been numerous cases in towns of the U.S., where they enforce laws against immigrants, which has led to a catastrophic result in their town.The Town of Riverside, New Jersey is a clear example of it. 11 years ago, the Town Comitee became the first municipality in New Jersey to establish a law against illegal immigrants, by fining or even sending to jail to their householders. This led to a massive exodus of immigrants in the Town, leaving it without workers or customers. Their local economy suffered to the point that the local shops, like hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered the immigrants went broke, which made a big part of them close.

If Trump thinks that kicking the immigrants out of the U.S. is a good thing, we think that there are more reasons showing the opposite. The diversity of ethnics has always been one of the pillars of the U.S. in terms of economy, referring that any person of any country could seek fortune in the U.S., which turned the U.S. into “the land of opportunity and liberty”, and the construction of the wall will suppose the end of it.

By Marina Barberá, Alejandro Martín, Alba Tissera.

Saudi Arabia: The expression of international interests

Saudi Arabia is an independent state located in the Middle East, north of Yemen, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. It has a population of 26,534,504 and its oil based industry has ensured a $740.5 billion GDP in 2012. Politically, it is organized as a constitutional monarchy under King Abdullah. The Saudi legal system is based on Islamic (sharia) law and it includes Egyptian and French elements.

In the international news, Saudi Arabia makes headlines with its multi-billion dollar oil industry, international investments in other countries and its constant human rights abuses. Only this Tuesday, Saudi Arabia executed five Yemenis under sharia law despite international pressure for reform in the legal system. The UN condemned these executions under the assumption that “they violate international standards because the bodies were left in public” as an example of the severity of the law in this country. This serves as a realistic reminder of the speed at which changes take place in a highly conservative and religious society.

Women are still treated as minors and they are not allowed to travel, study or work without permission from their male guardians. The King did announce that they will enjoy the right to vote in the 2015 municipal elections however, the harsh restrictions continue to cause international debate over whether or not the government will uphold its promise to reform the country. Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest and torture. Also, authorities leave very little space for public criticism of officials or government policies in the wake of the pro-democracy Arab Spring movements. The Saudi Ministry of Culture adopted policies of heavy censorship regarding printed press and broadcasted media.

This brings into focus the nature of the political class of Saudi Arabia considering the rather hypocritical attitude adopted with regards to Human Rights. The Saudi government openly condemned the H.R. violations in Syria despite its own obvious problems, having arrested a woman for driving.

 

Courtesy of Mario, A. (Setyoufreenews.com)

 

The reason for this controversial Saudi attitude can be found in the economic and political relationships that it developed over time. At the end of the Second World War US President Franklin D. Roosevelt extended American protection to Saudi Arabia, saying “the defense of Saudi Arabia is a vital interest for the defense of the United States of America”. Having such an influential ally in the international arena has its benefits, the U.S. being highly supportive with the Saudi regime. Japan is another important ally of Saudi Arabia and their joint statement related to the H.R. violations in Syria proves that both parties’ national interests are intertwined.  These interests revolve around the Saudi oil industry as Saudi Arabia exports a very large quantity of crude oil to the U.S, Europe, Japan and many other countries.

This brings into question the strength of the American resolve to stand against oppressive, non-democratic regimes which it has condemned since before the beginning of the Cold War. An interest based resolve of the American political class would imply that the rhetoric against non-democratic regimes can be brought into question.