West Africa: Bright Future?

Interview with Jennifer Giroux, senior researcher for the Risk and Resilience Team at the Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich.

atlanticoIn five years, do you see Nigeria dealing with its internal security challenges, such as the insurgencies of Boko Haram and the MEND? If so, how would this affect its foreign policy?

Nigeria’s security challenges, characterized in the last decade by subnational conflicts, have certain distinctions but are driven by common historical and developmental factors. These include issues related to poor governance, poverty and economic inequality, and political and economic marginalization across all regions. Without significant reforms and efforts to genuinely address these factors, Nigeria’s internal challenges will persist and in fact become more complex and potentially destabilizing in the years to come. This will not only impact its ability to manage its own house but also its ability to intervene in other regional matters that require its resources and capacity.

Domestically, insurgencies, such as those experienced in the south between 2005/6 and 2009 and more recently in the north, will continue to be a source of instability – not only because they create environments of criminality and political violence but also because they often result in the deployment of government security forces, which are known for using Continue reading “West Africa: Bright Future?”

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Unilever to acquire T2 premium tea business in Australia

unilever logoUnilever announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire T2, a premium Australian tea business for an undisclosed amount. T2 generated sales approaching AUS$57 million for the 12-month period ending June 30 2013.

Kevin Havelock, Unilever President for Refreshment said: “T2 is a fast growing premium tea business with great potential. Unilever is the biggest tea company in the world with brands like Lipton – one of Unilever’s ‘billion-plus’ brands – available in more than 70 countries. This will allow us to bring the benefits of scale and access to new markets to the T2 business and for both businesses to share tea category expertise. This deal will also bring a premium tea business to complement our portfolio that we can leverage in a similar way to other recent Unilever acquisitions.” Continue reading “Unilever to acquire T2 premium tea business in Australia”

Robeco’s 10 Game Changers

robeco logoRobeco and its subsidiary RobecoSAM, the investment specialist focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing, announce the publication of a magazine naming the 10 corporations that are changing their industries through innovations in sustainability. The magazine features as the cornerstone of Robeco’s global Sustainability Investing (SI) ad campaign, launched on September 2nd.

The magazine, a one-time publication called “The 10 Game Changers”, recognizes ABB, ASML, Cephid, DSM, Fibria, Holcim, Manila Water, Mead Johnson, Unilever and Westpac for their ability and ongoing efforts to drive their respective industries Continue reading “Robeco’s 10 Game Changers”

Weekend Break in Ouro Preto

By Arnout Nuijt

When you are in Brazil’s third economic center, Belo Horizonte, and you have a weekend to spare, there is a range of old colonial towns to visit. One of the most famous is Ouro Preto, or Black Gold, a historic mining center and former capital of Minas Gerais. Once nicknamed Vila Rica or rich town, it is now a Unesco protected site. Ouro Preto is located about a 100 kilometers south of BH, but a taxi ride will take – depending on traffic – around 1.5 hours. The first leg of the journey is along a great modern highway, the one that goes down all the way to Rio de Janeiro. The latter part of the drive is a winding road through a hilly, Tuscany like landscape.

At first sight Ouro Preto is magic. You will recognize the town immediately from the many pictures in Brazil’s tourist brochures or guidebooks, as it is a must to visit and one of the many highlights of visiting Brazil. Arriving feels like visiting an old friend. The town looks are smashing. Ouro Preto is a better preserved Portuguese town than any you can find in Portugal itself, or so it seems. Even the newer buildings are made in old colonial style, including a gas station.

Though Ouro Preto can be very busy with tourists in high seasons and on some Continue reading “Weekend Break in Ouro Preto”

Brazil Weekly – September 6th Edition: Rio real estate prices down

brazilianflagThe September 6th Edition of Brazil Weekly is ready for you at http://brazil-weekly.com with minimum wages set to rise,  how to avoid spying, exports still up, easy innovation money,  a Coca Cola takeover, more investment in fertilizers,  stock exchange to be overhauled, oil field auction set for Oct 21st, Brazil’s housing bubble,  a new virus lurking in the Amazon, first Free Trade Zone inaugurated and of course much more…

Dutch port infrastructure tops WEF world ranking

terminalJust as in 2012, the Dutch port infrastructure leads the rankings of the World Economic Forum. This was revealed in the investigation into the competitive position of national economies worldwide, published yesterday. The same investigation showed that the Netherlands dropped from the fifth position to the eighth overall.

Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority: “The fact that the Netherlands has the best port infrastructure in the world is due to a large extent to our continued investment in the port of Rotterdam during the past years, for instance with Maasvlakte 2. We base these investments on a widely supported vision of the development we desire for the port: the Port Vision 2030. And we do that together with all the parties involved: municipality, ministries, the business sector and NGOs. A vision with broad support ensures clarity and confidence in the future. Businesses know what they can expect.”

The quality of Dutch roads is in tenth place on the worldwide ranking, while the rail infrastructure holds position eleven. Air transport infrastructure is in fourth place.

Investments in education, infrastructure and innovation contribute the most to economic growth in the long term.

From Rotterdam Port Authority

The Netherlands drops among most competitive economies

wefThe World Economic Forum (WEF) has published its 2013 ranking of countries on the basis of their innovativeness and competitiveness.

The Netherlands had slipped three places, going down to an 8th place.

Top institute INSCOPE: Research for Innovation, under the direction of Henk Volberda, Professor of Strategic Management & Business Policy at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is partner institute of the WEF and has collected the data for the Netherlands.

The full report (in Dutch) can be found here.

These are the ranking’s most important findings: Continue reading “The Netherlands drops among most competitive economies”

Is Donald Tusk about to lose his parliamentary majority?

By Remi Adekoya

donald tuskWith Poland’s first black MP John Godson quitting Civic Platform (PO) last week, the ruling PO-Polish People’s Party (PSL) coalition saw its parliamentary majority shrink to three votes. Then it was announced that Jacek Żalek, an MP, was being suspended from PO for three months for having repeatedly broken with party ranks during parliamentary voting. On the news, Jarosław Gowin, a former justice minister who just lost PO’s leadership election to Prime Minister Donald Tusk last month, announced he was voluntarily suspending his own membership of the party in solidarity with Mr Żalek, a political ally.

All three politicians are staunch conservatives whose main beef with Prime Minister Tusk today is that he has taken the party too far to the left on social and economic issues.

Along with Mr Żalek, Mr Gowin himself had been given a symbolic fine by PO’s disciplinary committee, also for breaking with party discipline during several parliamentary votes. But now his voluntary suspension means the PO-PSL coalition has the thinnest of possible majorities – one vote. Continue reading “Is Donald Tusk about to lose his parliamentary majority?”

Conservatism, Texas style: Latinos are making their home in a welcoming Republican Party

by Ralph Benko

texas flagThe political stakes could hardly be higher.

Latinos, who have leaned Democratic, demographically are surging in Texas. And if the Democrats can turn Texas blue (or even purple) they would have a huge leg up at winning control of the executive branch of the U.S. government in future presidential elections. By achieving sufficient Democratic preeminence in Texas progressives could turn the White House blue.  And they know it.

As the Democratic party’s George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall once famously said, “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”  So, too, are Plunkitt’s Democratic Party successors taking their opportunity … announcing a full court press in Texas.

But something unexpected is happening.  The more Latino Texas gets the more Republican it is trending.  Latinos are making themselves right at home in a welcoming GOP (Grand Old Party = Republicans – Editor).  Red, not blue, is winning. Continue reading “Conservatism, Texas style: Latinos are making their home in a welcoming Republican Party”

Obama’s Tightrope Walk

By George Friedman

georgefriedmanLast week began with certainty that an attack on Syria was inevitable and even imminent. It ended with the coalition supporting the attack somewhere between falling apart and not coming together, and with U.S. President Barack Obama making it clear that an attack was inevitable, maybe in a month or so, if Congress approves, after Sept. 9 when it reconvenes. This is a comedy in three parts: the reluctant warrior turning into the raging general and finding his followers drifting away, becoming the reluctant warrior again. Begin with the fact that the United States was not the first country calling for military intervention in Syria after pictures of what appeared to be the dead from a chemical attack surfaced. That honor went to France, Turkey and Britain, each of whom called for action. Much as with Libya, where France and Italy were the first and most eager to intervene, the United States came late to the feast. Continue reading “Obama’s Tightrope Walk”

Why Carlos Slim will fail to win KPN

By Arnout Nuijt

carlosslimLate Thursday night news broke that Dutch telecoms firm KPN had activated its firewall against a hostile takeover by Mexican magnate Carlos Slim. A foundation, led by a handful of venerable representatives from Dutch business circles, exercised its right to emit emergency shares that would give it nearly 50% of voting rights on KPN’s board. Such foundations are commonplace among Dutch larger companies, as the country’s economic establishment abhors takeovers that have not been the result of lengthy negotiations with shareholders, management and employees.

Mr Slim could and should have known. Was he misinformed or did he believe that he could pull this off, just as he had pulled off other takeovers? Was this miscalculation the result of a magnate’s autocratic management style or just plain hubris of the world’s richest man? The thing is when Dutchmen or other Europeans intend to invest in Mexico, Brazil or other places, they are told to get themselves acquainted with local business styles, to get a local partner who knows the specific particularities of the market and who has an excellent network. The potential investor is also told that he will be in for the long run and he should take his time. Do Latin American investors receive similar advice about investing in the Netherlands? If not, they should. Continue reading “Why Carlos Slim will fail to win KPN”

In China, an Unprecedented Demographic Problem Takes Shape

From Stratfor

china_demography_2010Chinese society is on the verge of a structural transformation even more profound than the long and painful project of economic rebalancing, which the Communist Party is anxiously beginning to undertake. China’s population is aging more rapidly than it is getting rich, giving rise to a great demographic imbalance with important implications for the Party’s efforts to transform the Chinese economy and preserve its own power in the coming decade. Continue reading “In China, an Unprecedented Demographic Problem Takes Shape”