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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Panama Will Host the Ordinary Period of Sessions of the IACHR

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September 29, 2016

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is pleased to announce that Panama has offered financing and hosting the Ordinary Period of Sessions of the second semester of 2016, which had been suspended due to a lack of funds. The Ordinary Period of Sessions will take place from November 29, 2016, to December 7, 2016, in Panama City.

“We are deeply grateful to Panama for the financial support given in response to the crisis and the offer of hosting the Period of Sessions,” said the IACHR President, Commissioner James Cavallaro. “The opportunity to hold the period of sessions of the second semester of this year is priceless. This gesture is a very clear demonstration of Panama’s commitment with the Inter-American System of Human Rights, and constitutes a recognition to the work carried out by the Commission for the defense and guarantee of human rights in the region,” he added.

In the Period of Sessions to be held in Panama, the IACHR will analyze and approve reports on cases, which allows to make progress in the processing of petitions regarding violations of human rights that are currently pending.  Working meetings will be held to follow up on the measures taken by the State in the context of precautionary measures currently in force and also to seek progress with friendly settlements. Public Hearings will also be held concerning human rights situations, as well as meetings with human rights organizations of the region and representatives of the Member States. During internal sessions, the IACHR will debate topics related to its next quinquennial Strategic Plan, analyze the contents of the Annual Report 2016, study the impact of the measures adopted in order to reduce the procedural backlog, amongst other issues.

“It is a very important effort that Panama made to make possible this Period of Sessions, and we recognize it as such,” the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão, said.

The Vice-president, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, added: “Thanks to this effort and to Panama’s compromise, we will be able to listen to victims of violations of human rights, we will be able to get involved in their cases and provide answers, and to reunite with hundreds of human rights organizations and representatives of civil society of the region, amongst many other essential activities”.

The Periods of Sessions of the IACHR have become a forum which gathers hundreds of human right’s defenders form the region, civil society organization’s representatives – which in the last period of sessions were more than 300 organizations – as well as delegations from Member States constituted by high human rights officials, amongst others. This will be the first time that an ordinary period of sessions of the IACHR is held outside its headquarters.

“Panama enables us today to reschedule the period of sessions we have had suspended since May,” said Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, Rapporteur for Panama and Thematic Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. “Thanks to Panama, we will be able to have that direct contact that we have in every ordinary period of sessions with hundreds of defenders of human rights in the region. This contact is essential for receiving first-hand information regarding what is going on in the countries we have the mandate to monitor. They provide us with updated information, they participate in working meeting and hearings, and they provide us with suggestions to improve our work. And certainly, the sessions are also a forum of exchange with the States, which also participate very actively,” he added.

The public hearings will take place during the mornings of December 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7, 2016, and working meetings during the afternoon of December 2 and 5. The deadline to request hearings and working meetings through our online system is at midnight on October 10, 2016. The IACHR hopes to organize at least 30 public hearings during this period of sessions. Hearing regarding any OAS Member country may be organized, since this is an ordinary period of sessions.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

IMF Staff Team Completes Mission to Côte d’Ivoire

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IMF Staff Team Completes Mission to Côte d’Ivoire

September 29, 2016
End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board.
  • IMF team and the authorities made good progress on discussions on a new three-year economic program that could be supported by the IMF through arrangements under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) .
  • Solid macroeconomic performance continued in the first half of 2016 notwithstanding the impact of a drought on agriculture, and real GDP growth is projected at around 8 percent for the year as a whole.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Dan Ghura visited Abidjan from September 21 to 27, 2016 to continue discussions on a new three-year economic program that could be supported by the IMF through arrangements under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). The discussions built on progress made during the previous IMF staff visit in June-July 2016. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Ghura made the following statement:
“Côte d’Ivoire has experienced an impressive turnaround since 2011, with economic growth averaging about 9 percent per year. The economic outlook remains strong. The authorities’ 2016-20 National Development Plan (NDP) appropriately prioritizes inclusive and sustainable growth, focusing on structural transformation and improving living standards.
“In this context, the Ivoirien authorities and the mission made further progress on a three-year macroeconomic and structural program, which may be supported by arrangements under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with a view to building upon its strong record of program implementation during the 2011-15 ECF Arrangement.
“Solid macroeconomic performance continued in the first half of 2016 notwithstanding the impact of a drought on agriculture, and real GDP growth is projected at around 8 percent for the year as a whole. The budget deficit is projected at 4 percent of GDP in 2016, reflecting higher spending, including for security, health and education.
“Economic growth is forecast to remain strong over the medium term, averaging 7.7 percent per year during 2017-19, reflecting buoyant domestic demand. Inflation is projected to remain below 3 percent, and reflecting investment-driven imports, the external current account deficit would widen to about 2.5 percent of GDP.
“To preserve public debt sustainability and support the regional international reserves pool, the government’s budget deficit would converge to the WAEMU norm of 3 percent of GDP by 2019. To this end, the mission agreed with the authorities on the need to strengthen revenue mobilization, through further improvements in tax administration but also tax policy measures aimed at widening the tax base, and to contain recurrent expenditure, which would create space for infrastructure investment and social spending.
“The mission welcomed measures to enhance public financial and debt management practices, including through the establishment of a comprehensive database to monitor the evolution of debt contracted by public entities beyond the central government. The mission and the authorities agreed on measures to address fiscal risks emanating from some public enterprises in financial difficulties. Agreement was also reached on steps to accelerate the restructuring of public banks as well as public enterprise reforms. The mission welcomed the authorities’ request for further technical assistance in support of their efforts to improve the quality and dissemination of economic statistics.
“The authorities and the mission agreed to continue discussions in the weeks ahead, in particular on the fiscal path and the financing modalities of a new program.
“The mission wishes to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality, their excellent cooperation, and the constructive dialogue that prevailed during the discussions.”
The mission met with Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Finance and Budget, Mr. Daniel Kablan Duncan; Mr. Adama Koné, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Economy and Finance; Mr. Abdourahmane Cissé, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of the Budget and State Holdings; Mr. Chalouho Coulibaly, National Director of the BCEAO; other senior government officials; and representatives of Côte d’Ivoire’s development partners.

IMF Executive Board Completes Third ECF Review for Ghana, and Approves US$116.2 Million Disbursement

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IMF Executive Board Completes Third ECF Review for Ghana, and Approves US$116.2 Million Disbursement

September 29, 2016
On September 28, 2016 the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the third review of Ghana’s economic performance under the program supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.[1] Completion of the review enables the disbursement of SDR 83.025 million (about US$116.2 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 332.1 million (about US$464.6 million).
During the review, adjustments were made to the program to ensure that it remains on track and to enhance its prospects of success. In this context, the Executive Board also granted waivers, including for minor deviations in a few program targets.
Ghana’s three-year arrangement for SDR 664.20 million (about US$918 million or 180 percent of quota at the time of approval of the arrangement) was approved on April 3, 2015 (see Press Release No.15/159). It aims to restore debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability in the country to foster a return to high growth and job creation, while protecting social spending.
Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Ghana, Mr. Tao Zhang, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director, said:
“Implementation of the ECF-supported program by the Ghanaian authorities continues to be broadly satisfactory, but the economic outlook remains challenging. There has been progress in stabilizing the macroeconomic situation and reducing financial imbalances, but fiscal risks remain elevated.
“The authorities are continuing their fiscal consolidation program and aim to strengthen policy and reform implementation. Further efforts are needed to address revenue shortfalls, while expenditure control measures should be fully enforced to contain the wage bill and other current spending. The government is projected to run a primary surplus this year, which, along with the stability of the cedi, should contribute to a marked decline in the debt-to-GDP ratio. Ongoing fiscal consolidation and implementation of the medium-term debt management strategy will be key to further reducing domestic refinancing risks in 2017. The authorities will need to remain cautious in accessing external market financing with due consideration to costs and debt sustainability.
“To ensure that the gains from fiscal consolidation are sustained over the medium term, the government needs to continue its efforts to effectively implement a wide range of ambitious reforms. These include measures to broaden the tax base and enhance tax compliance, strengthen control of the wage bill, and enhance public financial management (PFM). In this regard, the recently adopted PFM legislation is an improvement over previous laws. Steps taken to address SOEs financial problems are welcome, but more work is needed to reduce risks to the economy, the financial sector, and the government budget from their underperformance.
“The Bank of Ghana (BoG) should maintain a tight monetary policy stance to bring inflation back to target. Recent amendments to the BoG Act have introduced some improvements to central bank governance, but continued scope for central bank financing of the government and government influence on central bank operations remain significant shortcomings. The authorities’ committment to maintaining zero BoG financing of the government under the program and to introducing additional amendments to the BoG Act in 2017 are welcome.
“Full and timely implementation of the BoG’s roadmap for the banking system is essential to address financial sector risks. Although the adoption of the two new banking sector laws strengthens the authorities’ toolkit, the new legislation warrants further improvements to enable the authorities to effectively safeguard financial stability.”

[1] The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems.

IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV Mission to Argentina

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IMF Staff Completes 2016 Article IV Mission to Argentina

September 29, 2016
End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF's Executive Board for discussion and decision.
  • Upon taking office, Argentina’s new government faced pervasive macroeconomic imbalances, microeconomic distortions, and a weakened institutional framework.
  • The government has made important progress with its ambitious and much needed transition toward a better economic policy framework.
  • The government should be commended for its clear commitment to bring inflation to single digit levels and to reduce the fiscal deficit.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Mr. Roberto Cardarelli visited Argentina from September 19–29, 2016 to undertake the first Article IV Consultation since 2006. The mission met with senior officials as well as a range of representatives of the private sector and academics.
At the end of the visit, Mr. Cardarelli made the following statement:
 Upon taking office in December last year, Argentina’s new government faced pervasive macroeconomic imbalances, microeconomic distortions, and a weakened institutional framework. Consumption levels were unsustainably high, investment reached historically low levels, and large fiscal deficits were financed by money creation, which lead to high inflation. Distortions at the micro level included an extensive network of administrative controls (for example, trade barriers, foreign exchange restrictions, and price controls) and a business environment that eroded competitiveness and undermined medium-term growth.
“Confronted with this difficult situation, the new government began an ambitious and much needed transition toward a better economic policy framework. Important progress has been made. The peso is now market determined and exchange controls have been eliminated. The increase in utility tariffs has brought prices more in line with underlying costs. The settlement with creditors has allowed a return to international capital markets by both the private and public sector. Medium-term fiscal and inflation targets have been announced in conjunction with a transition toward a modern system of inflation targeting. Finally, the national statistics agency is being rebuilt, allowing for the publication of improved and credible data on inflation, trade, the labor market, and output.
“The reversal of these serious imbalances and distortions, while necessary to lay the foundation for robust future growth, unavoidably had an adverse near-term impact on the Argentine economy. In this context, the central focus of discussions during the course of this Article IV Consultation was on the authorities’ measures to restore sustained and equitable growth, boost job creation, and protect the more vulnerable segments of society.
“The government should be commended for its clear commitment to bring inflation to single digit levels and to reduce the fiscal deficit. The pace and composition of this shift in the fiscal position and the speed of disinflation will need to be sensitive to the impact on growth, jobs, and on the most vulnerable segments of the Argentine population. A medium-term fiscal plan that guides expectations would be valuable in this adjustment. Strengthening public expenditure management, further improving governance, and increasing the efficiency of public spending would create space for a much needed reduction of the tax burden while continuing reducing the fiscal imbalances. Finally, strong, sustained, and equitable growth will require the implementation of an ambitious agenda of supply-side reforms. Such reforms will create an environment that is more conducive to private investment and will generate significant medium-term dividends in terms of more and better jobs, as well as a steady improvement in living standards for Argentina’s population.
“The mission would like to thank the authorities for the frank and open dialogue. It is expected that the IMF’s Executive Board will consider the 2016 Article IV consultation at the end of November.”

Mining Ruins Lives in Malawi

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Witness: “The Mining Company Brought Me Problems” »

Photo © 2016 Lauren Clifford-Holmes for Human Rights Watch

Nagomba E. is no longer young; her hip is giving her trouble and her back is stooped from years of bending over her corn and rice fields. Yet every morning, at the crack of dawn, the wiry 74-year-old sets out on a strenuous half-hour walk to fetch water from a nearby river so that her ailing husband can take a bath.

Before coal was discovered in Mwabulambo, a remote rural community of Karonga District in northern Malawi, water was never something Nagomba and her neighbors would have to worry about. “I never had problems,” says Nagomba, recalling a time where there was enough to eat and safe water to drink. “The mining company brought me problems.”

Over the past decade, Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, has promoted private investment in mining and resource extraction as a way to grow and diversify its largely agriculture-based economy. The government said the mines would provide jobs and improve people’s livelihoods, but hardly any of these promises ever materialized. Instead, the mines mainly caused regression, hazards, and hardship.
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Pakistan Should Overhaul Abusive Police Force

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Guide to 2016 Annual Meetings

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World Bank Blogs

Guide to 2016 Annual Meetings

- Donna Barne, 2016/09/29
Ministers from 189 countries meet in Washington the week of October 3 for the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings. We’re streaming 22 events, with more than 10 in multiple languages, on themes including the need for global cooperation to address risks, encourage trade and economic growth. Watch World Bank Live on Monday as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim sets out his vision for ending extreme poverty. On Tuesday, Oxfam International’s Winnie Byanyima and World Bank experts discuss a just-released report on poverty and inequality. New World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer and Kim talk about the challenges facing global development on Wedne sday.  On Thursday, heads of state and ministers join Kim at the Human Capital Summit and make commitments to reduce chronic malnutrition in children in their countries. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and other high-level panelists discuss progress on financial inclusion, along with de-risking efforts by banks that could reverse it.  Here is a preview of what you can expect.

View full story.

U.S. and Chinese Drug Enforcement Agencies Meet on Synthetic Opioid Efforts

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U.S. and Chinese Drug Enforcement Agencies Meet on Synthetic Opioid Efforts

Meeting held to discuss ways to improve and enhance U.S.-China joint drug investigations

SEP 29 –This week the heads of the national drug-control agencies for the United States and the People’s Republic of China, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg and Director General (DG) Hu Minglang from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of the Ministry of Public Security, met at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to discuss ways to stop the flow from China to the United States of deadly synthetic drugs.  This meeting follows an announcement by America’s President Obama and China’s President Xi Jingping during the G20 Summit held earlier this month in Hangzhou, China that the U.S. and China will continue to work together to address the illicit supply of fentanyl and its compounds.

Chemical makers in China are the United States’ primary source of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and its compounds.  They are smuggled into the country either directly from China by Americans who order them over the Internet or from Mexico by cartels that purchase the drugs in bulk and then smuggle them, alone or mixed with heroin, across America’s Southwest Border.  When China controlled 116 chemicals, including certain fentanyl-related compounds, in October of 2015, seizures of those drugs here in the United States dropped significantly.  
Recently, the DEA and the NCB have seen an increased level of cooperation and intelligence sharing.  Last month, at the invitation of the NCB, a senior-level DEA delegation traveled to China to learn about their drug control efforts and examine steps to further bilateral cooperation.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate painkiller, and related compounds are often mixed with heroin to increase its potency, but dealers and buyers may not know exactly what they are selling or ingesting. These drugs are deadly at very low doses and come in several forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray.  Overdoses in the U.S. due to these drugs have increased exponentially in recent years, and DEA has issued national warnings about the danger.    More information about fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic opiates can be found at    

Brief remarks by Chair Yellen

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - No comments

At the "Banking and the Economy: A Forum for Minority Bankers," sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri (via videoconference)
Released by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Visit us on the web at Federal Reserve Board.

Next Week: Learn About Business Opportunities in Costa Rica

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Webinar: Business Opportunities in Costa Rica

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Join our webinar Oct. 5 to Discover Business Opportunities in Costa Rica, and learn about financing options through the Export-Import Bank!

This is a great opportunity to explore a new market and learn about support available for your business!

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1pm EDT
Cost: $35

Or register for our seven-webinar series at a discount! 

Trade Americas: Business Opportunities in Central America Conference


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This U.S. Commercial Service trade mission March 26-31, 2017 will connect you to business leaders and opportunities in Central America:
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