Disposable Vaping Devices Wreak Havoc On Our Global Ecosystem

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Not only are disposable vaping devices fueling the world's ongoing youth vaping epidemic, these single–use plastic e–cigarettes are responsible for the growing, exorbitant amount of toxic waste plaguing our earth. As if it isn't harmful enough that disposable vape products are purposely targeting our youth with brightly colored packaging, eye–catching branding, and appealing fruit & dessert flavors; the plastics, heavy metals, and lithium batteries that these devices are comprised of are now a leading source of environmental pollution.

Similar to what we've seen with combustible cigarette butts, littered disposable vaping devices are now a major source of contamination to our ecosystem, on a worldwide scale. The issue is not just the non–decomposable plastic casings we see scattered in the streets, on beaches, and in parks far too often. Disposable vaping devices also leach hazardous waste from their lithium batteries and heavy metals from their circuitry systems. The moment these toxic materials penetrate our environment, the corruption of our ecosystem and our wildlife begins. In addition to the harmful and toxic chemicals found in lithium batteries, these types of batteries are known to explode or start fires if disposed of improperly. Not to mention the illegal child labor associated with up to 30% of cobalt mining facilities responsible for sourcing the material used in lithium–ion batteries.

With disposable devices being the preferred method of vaping among our youth, it is no mystery why we are seeing as much e–cigarette pollution as we are today. A standard disposable vape pen only holds enough E–liquid to last a few days, causing the average user to cycle through approximately 2 to 3 devices per week. That's a lot of waste! Every day, respective Customs entities are seeing thousands of palettes of these disposable vape devices enter from China. If we want to take action and do our part to mitigate the global environmental pollution crisis and the undeniable youth vaping epidemic, we need to stop the infection at its root – put an end to Chinese disposable vaping devices.

About Pure Laboratories

Operating since 2009, Pure Laboratories (Pure Labs) is a Veteran–Owned state–of–the–art 110,000–sq. ft. manufacturing and distribution facility located in Gainesville, Florida. Nicopure Labs, a subsidiary of Pure Labs, is an industry leading manufacturer of American–Made tobacco and menthol E–liquid products. Nicopure Labs is best known for its award–winning E–liquid and hardware brand, Halo. With a 10,000–sq. ft. cleanroom, Pure Labs is synonymous with quality manufacturing. Pure Labs' corporate headquarters are based in Tampa Florida, with additional operations located in Europe.

For additional information about carrying Halo's premium American–made e–liquid and innovative line of vaporizer devices, please email Halo's principal distribution partner, Syndicate Distribution at sales@syndicatedistribution.com.

For additional information on Pure Laboratories' full capabilities visit www.PureLabs.com.

For media inquiries, please email press@purelabs.com

Samantha Knight
Pure Labs

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8729729)

Corre Energy Expands Project Operations to North America

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Incentives for Energy Storage Projects in the US and Canada Offer a Unique Opportunity to Accelerate Decarbonization of North American Power Generation.

Corre Energy B.V. has expanded its energy storage project development operations into the United States and Canada. Corre Energy US Development Company LLC, a subsidiary of Corre Energy B.V., has been formally launched to source and develop utility–scale compressed air energy storage (CAES) projects across North America.

CAES is a commercially proven technology that can use renewable energy to compress air into underground salt caverns when power demand and prices are low. This energy is later released to the grid to increase supply when demand and prices are higher, enhancing the stability, reliability, and security of the network. When combustion of green hydrogen is included as part of the CAES plant's technical design, the electricity it supplies has a zero–carbon footprint.

The US Department of Energy ranks CAES1 as the lowest cost long duration energy storage technology. The relatively inexpensive nature of the physical hedge provided to Corre Energy's customers allows them to "time shift' the variable energy they produce and enhance the profitability of their renewable assets. In this way, CAES facilities can support the more rapid deployment of renewable generation assets across North America, accelerating the decarbonization of the generation fleet.

In return for allowing renewable generators to store energy in its CAES plants and discharge that energy when its value is highest, Corre Energy will typically charge a set fee and share in the upside revenue earned by its customers, under what is termed an "offtake agreement."

Keith McGrane, Chief Executive Officer of Corre Energy, commented: "Last month we signed binding commercial terms for a 15–year offtake agreement with Eneco, a leading renewable energy supplier in the Netherlands, for the entire multi–day storage capacity of ZW1, our 320–megawatt project. That agreement confirms the attractiveness of our business model and will support development of a project portfolio in North America." McGrane added: "As the market leader for long duration energy storage projects in Europe, we look forward to transferring our knowhow into the US and Canada. Our North American operations will also provide opportunities for investors mainly focused on the North American market to participate in financing the debt and equity requirements of our North American subsidiary and its CAES projects."

Chet Lyons, a pioneer in the energy storage industry, has been named president of Corre Energy US Development Company LLC. Lyons played an instrumental role in developing and commercializing merchant–based energy storage projects to perform frequency regulation ancillary services in the United States, Canada, and globally.

Lyons commented: "The success of Corre Energy B.V. in Europe and new once–in–a–generation government incentives for long duration energy storage projects in both the US and Canada make this the perfect time to build our North American project portfolio." Lyons added: "Investment Tax Credits of 30 to 40 percent of total project costs and Production Tax Credits for the use of hydrogen will have a beneficial impact on project economics and can make our projects carbon free, enabling us to play a key role in the decarbonization of North American power generation."

1 R. Baxter, et. al., "2022 Grid Energy Storage Technology Cost and Performance Assessment," US Department of Energy, Technical Report Publication No. PNNL 33283, August 2022.

About Corre Energy
Corre Energy B.V. is headquartered in the Netherlands and listed on the Euronext Growth Exchange in Dublin (CORRE). Corre Energy designs, develops, constructs, and operates utility–scale Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) projects in Europe and is developing a project pipeline in North America. Through our project development activities, Corre Energy is working to accelerate the global transition to net zero, while enhancing the security and flexibility of large–scale energy systems.

In North America, project development is done by Corre Energy US Development Company LLC, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

For further information please contact:

European operations:

North American operations:
Chet Lyons, President
Corre Energy US Development Company LLC
Email: chet.lyons@corre.energy
M: 978–930–0760

GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 1000777656)

Crurated Raises $7.2 MM to Further Innovate Blockchain-Based Wine Community and Expand Market Reach

LONDON, Jan. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Crurated, the London–based membership wine community designed to connect connoisseurs with world–class producers, today announced that the company has raised $7.2 MM from a group of private investors. The money will be used to further evolve the technology platform, expand producer partnerships beyond France and Italy, and increase overall market share across the globe.

"The past year has been both innovative and successful for our entire team and the producers we've partnered with," said Alfonso de Gaetano, founder of Crurated. "In addition to becoming the first wine community to offer fractional barrel sales backed by NFT technology, we signed an exclusive distribution deal with Charles Lachaux, grew our roster of producers to more than 60, and have attracted a younger demographic of oenophiles onto the platform."

Crurated reports that 70% of its member base is below the age of 45. With 35% of those members under the age of 35, younger than the majority of wine buyers which skews at 45+. The team believes that Crurated's direct partnerships with the world's top wine producers, innovative approach to how wine is purchased on the platform "" traditional lot purchases/auctions and fractional barrel sales "" as well as the use of NFTs to validate a wine's authenticity is helping to increase the interest in wine with a younger demographic.

In addition, revenues were up 214% in the first half of year two vs. the first half of year one. Membership grew by 180% in the first half of year 2 vs. the first half of year 1 and is up 400% year to date.

About Crurated
Launched in 2021 with an emphasis on France and Italy, Crurated is a membership–based wine community designed to connect connoisseurs with world–class producers. A team of specialists provides personalized services and authentic experiences, while Crurated's seamless logistics service guarantees quality and provenance thanks to secure wine cellar storage and innovative blockchain technology. For more on Crurated, visit crurated.com.

PR Contact
Michael Volpatt

A video accompanying this announcement is available at


Photos accompanying this announcement are available at



GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8730478)

The Year of Inflation Exposes Dogma and Class Bias

By Anis Chowdhury
SYDNEY, Jan 17 2023 – Inflation worries topped Ipsos’s What Worries the World survey in 2022 overtaking COVID concerns. The return of inflation caught major central banks, e.g., the US Federal Reserve (Fed), Bank of England, European Central Bank “off guard”. The persistence of inflation also surprised the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The return of inflation and its persistence exposed the poverty of the economics profession, unable to agree on its causes and required policy responses. It also exposed the profession’s anti-working class biases.

Anis Chowdhury

Inflation goof
Almost all major central banks as well as the IMF dismally failed to see the coming of inflation. In December 2020, the US Fed forecast that prices would rise by less than 2% in 2021 and 2022. It failed spectacularly when in December 2021, it estimated that inflation in 2022 would be just 2.6% even though prices were already rising by more than 5% a year.

The US Fed was not alone in failing to see inflation coming. The Governor of Australia’s central bank – the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) – was so confident of low inflation that he declared in March 2021 that the interest rate would remain at a historic low until at least 2024. Inflation in advanced economies during 2021 exceeded the average of forecasters’ expectations by around 5–8 percentage points. The IMF’s forecasts have badly and repeatedly undershot inflation.

There was a widespread view among most central bankers and leading economists that the price increases (or inflation) that began in mid-2021 were temporary, and price increases would slow or inflation would drift downwards in 2022. Some, of course, insisted otherwise, and wanted immediate anti-inflationary measures. Thus, policy confusion ruled.

Inflation phobia and dogma
Soon inflation phobia overtook and central banks were advised to act decisively with interest rate hikes even if it meant slowing the economy or a rise in unemployment. Exaggerated claims were made without evidence that not acting now would be more costly later.
References to rare episodes of hyperinflation were made to justify tough policy stances.

The dogmatic inflation hawks ignored the fact that, in most cases, inflation does not accelerate to become harmful hyperinflation, but remains moderate. They also ignored their own neo-classical macroeconomic model, which suggests small welfare loss from moderate inflation.

Notwithstanding the IMF’s Article IV preamble which provides that economic policies should aim to foster “orderly economic growth with reasonable price stability, with due regard to [country specific] circumstances”, a one-size-fits-all policy of steep interest rate hikes became the only medicine to be applied to achieve a universal inflation target of 2%, a figure plucked from thin air. Yet, central bankers and mainstream economists boast their credibility!

Inflation excuse for class war
Inflation is primarily an expression and outcome of conflicting claims over the distribution of national output and income, e.g., firms’ profit mark-ups vis-à-vis workers’ wages. Thus, no sooner inflation spiked early in the year due to slow adjustment of COVID-induced supply shortages to pent-up demand, exacerbated by war and sanctions, leading central bankers and mainstream economists found an excuse to weaponise economic policies against the working class.

Stoking the fear of wage-price spirals, they advocate the use of an interest rate sledgehammer to create unemployment and, in turn, discipline labour. This is despite research within the IMF and the Reserve Bank of Australia which found no evidence of wage-price spirals since the 1980s due to declines in labour’s bargaining power. Thus, Bloomberg headlined, “Fattest Profits Since 1950 Debunk Wage-Inflation Story of CEOs”.

Research conducted by the IMF also found increases in firms’ or corporations’ market power, resulting in higher prices and profit margins. Yet, the IMF does not think such factors “are contributing in any sizeable way to the current inflationary environment”. Instead, it justifies such fattening of profits on the ground that “they provide flexible buffers between general wage and general price increases” and that it is only a catching-up “after taking a hit in 2020”!

But no such compassion is extended to the working people who have lost their lives and livelihoods. The calls for “front-loaded interest rate hikes simply got louder. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned, “With the prospect of higher wages as workers look to make up for the purchasing power they lost, inflation could be high for long”.

Labour a clear loser
Labour is a clear loser. Labour’s income share in the GDP has been in decline since the early 1970s. Casualisation, off-shoring, anti-union legislation and technological progress have greatly reduced labour’s bargaining power, while privatisation and dilution of anti-monopoly legislation hugely strengthened corporate power and their collusive anti-competitive behaviour. Meanwhile, CEO compensation packages swelled to obnoxious levels, rising 940% since 1978 in the US as opposed to a 12% rise for workers during that period. Profiting from the pandemic, CEO pay increased by 16% in 2020 when workers suffered, and to a record level in 2021.

Leading central bankers and mainstream economists conveniently created a dogma around a 2% inflation target to justify their anti-labour stance. The 2% inflation target has become a global norm akin to the law of gravity, even though it has no theoretical or empirical basis. The law of gravity differs depending on altitude, but the 2% target is said to be universal regardless of circumstances!

Collateral damage
Meanwhile, the advanced countries’ inflation fight is causing adverse spillover into developing countries. Higher interest rates have slowed the world economy, and triggered capital outflows from developing countries, thereby depreciating their currencies and lowering their export earnings.

Together, these are causing devastating debt crises in many developing countries, similar to what happened in the 1980s. The rating agency S&P estimates that central bank rate rises could land global borrowers with US$8.6t in extra debt servicing costs in the coming years.

Instead of providing genuine debt-relief, the G20 kicked the can down the road. As wealthy nations failed the poor countries during the pandemic, the IMF is moving to debt-distressed countries with conditionality-laden one-size-fits-all austerity packages. Thus, a Foreign Policy op-ed asked, “The International Monetary Fund: Holy Grail or Poisoned Chalice?”

Meanwhile, the chiefs of the World Bank and the BIS urged “supply-side” policies professed to increase labour force participation and investment. These are code words for further labour market deregulation, privatisation and liberalisation.

IPS UN Bureau


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The UN Keeps Shrinking– Amid Pandemic Lockdowns & Flexible Working Hours

The UN’s empty corridors when the world body went into a lockdown mode because of the Covid-19 pandemic beginning March 2020. Credit: United Nations

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 17 2023 – A new variant of Covid-19, spreading across New York city, is forcing businesses, banks and high-powered financial institutions to re-introduce flexible working hours after a brief hiatus.

At the United Nations, the lockdown has reduced the 39-storeyed Secretariat building to a veritable ghost town since most staffers continue to work from home— at least two or three days per week

The UN, which has office space, either on-rent or on long-term commercial leases outside the Secretariat, is looking for options to terminate some of these contracts– or have already done so.

When the issue of rented office space came up at a meeting of the UN’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee back in December 2015, it was revealed that over 5,300 staffers were in off-campus, leased-buildings at a cost of more than $56 million a year.

But since the pandemic shutdown, beginning March 2020, the UN has been downsizing its off-campus operations.

Asked for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ reaction to a “completely empty building at the moment”, his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters: “We have experience with flexible working hours. I think it shows that it can be very productive in many cases. We continue to be also guided by recommendations from our health and safety experts.”

Asked about the rented properties for several UN departments and divisions, currently sporadically occupied, Dujarric said: “We’ve shrunk our footprint from rental properties that we have in Manhattan”.

This was in fact a trend before COVID with the “hot-desking” that has been put in place in many departments where people don’t have assigned spaces, but they will just take spaces as they come every day, given that– especially in a lot of departments — there is a lot of travel, Dujarric said.

“So, we’ve been able to shrink our real estate expenses,” he noted, while jokingly using a Hollywood metaphor: “Look Ma, I shrank the UN.”

Ian Richards, a development economist based in Geneva and a former President of the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations, told IPS through successive resolutions on what is called “flexible workplace strategies,” the General Assembly has been installing “hot-desking” at UN offices in New York, Geneva and elsewhere.

Hot-desking rules are premised on there being fewer desks than people (staff, consultants, interns) and therefore require staff to work part-time from home.

Further, and this is well documented in the scientific literature, hot-desking spaces do not allow staff to actually focus on their work, pushing more staff to work from home part of the week in order to be more productive, said Richards.

“Obviously, certain jobs lend themselves better to part-time telecommuting than others —and this is reflected in how the policy is implemented.”

However, he noted, the feedback from managers is that working from home part of the week improves productivity and motivation.
“It is also a non-negotiable requirement in the current job market if the UN wants to remain a competitive employer and keep attracting the cutting-edge skills it needs”.

In a light-hearted piece, the BBC last week focused on flashy new job titles resulting from flexible working hours: Chief Visionary Officer, Development Guru, Chief Innovation Evangelist and Chief Remote Officer.

Meanwhile, according to Cable News Network (CNN), virologists and epidemiologists say the new Omicron sub-lineage, the XBB 1.5, has features that give it the potential to drive a new surge of Covid-19 cases in the US, although it’s still unclear how large that wave will be and whether it could send many more people to the hospital.

Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 at the World Health Organization (WHO) is quoted as saying the XBB.1.5 is the “most transmissible subvariant detected yet”.

Speaking of flexibility at work, the Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO) last week released a report pointing out that flexible working hours can benefit productivity and also advance economies and businesses while helping employees and families achieve a better work-life balance.

The issues surrounding working hours and conditions are “at the heart of most labour market reforms and evolutions taking place in the world today”, Branch Chief Philippe Marcadent said in a foreword to ILO’s Working Time and Work-Life Balance Around the World.

“The number of hours worked, the way in which they are organized, and the availability of rest periods can significantly affect not only the quality of work, but also life outside the workplace”.

The study, described as the first to focus on work-life balance, examines the affects that working hours and time schedules have on the performance of businesses and their employees.

Covering the periods before and during COVID-19, the report reveals that more than a third of all employees are regularly working more than 48 hours per week, while a fifth of the global workforce is labouring fewer than 35 hours per week, on a part-time basis.

“The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon has placed work-life balance at the forefront of social and labour market issues in the post-pandemic world”, said lead author Jon Messenger.

The study analyses different work schedules and their effects on work-life balance, including shifts, arrangements for being on call, compressed hours, and hours-averaging schemes.

Innovative working-time arrangements, such as those introduced during the COVID-19 crisis, can bring great benefits, including greater productivity and improved work-life balance, said Messenger.

“This report shows that if we apply some of the lessons of the COVID-19 crisis and look very carefully at the way working hours are structured, as well as their overall length, we can create a win-win, improving both business performance and work-life balance”, he added.

However, the report cautioned that the benefits of some flexible arrangements, such as spending more time with the family, may also be accompanied by greater gender imbalances and health risks.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Boyden Welcomes New Team in Turkey

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Jan. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Boyden, a premier leadership and talent advisory firm with more than 70 offices in over 45 countries, is delighted to announce the arrival of a new leadership team in Turkey, Murat Ergene and Ibrahim Paksoy.

"We are delighted to join Boyden, a firm we have known very closely," said Murat Ergene Managing Partner, Country Leader Boyden Turkey. "Our local strength, combined with Boyden's global synergy and capabilities will provide valuable services to clients in Turkey and worldwide. Our differentiating strength has always been the wide range of business domain expertise of our consultants who held multinational executive management roles at leading companies. We pride ourselves in our agility to meet the changing demands of our customers such as the impact of digital advancements and technology. Our aim is to exceed clients' expectations by delivering services at a global level through collaborative efforts with our colleagues worldwide."

Ibrahim Paksoy, Managing Partner, Boyden Turkey, adds, "I am delighted to join a global team of leadership consultants, which will strengthen our capabilities in both executive search and leadership consulting services."

Murat Ergene is a well–known executive search and human resources expert, collaborating with C–suite leaders to identify high performers and improve team effectiveness. He identifies senior executives and board members for organisations across a range of sectors, and provides expertise in HR consulting. He is a partner in one of the most comprehensive people analytics technology solutions providers in the market. He is the founder of Ergene Consulting, a market–leading consulting firm and held human resources leadership roles in FMCG, Retail and Finance sectors at industry–leading firms such as Unilever, Carrefour and Garanti Bank BBVA. He started his career in the sales division at Unilever. Murat holds a Bachelor's degree in political science and international relations from Boazii University and a Master's degree in HR Management.

brahim Paksoy leverages more than 25 years' experience in executive management, providing executive search services to clients across a range of industries. He is a partner in one of the most comprehensive people analytics technology solutions providers in the market. He was previously partner in Ergene Consulting, and held executive management roles in Real Estate and Banking sectors at industry–leading institutions in Turkey, Germany, Russia, Netherlands, Romania and The United Arab Emirates. He started his career in Audit and Business Advisory division at Arthur Andersen. brahim holds a Master's degree in finance from Ko University, and a Bachelor's degree in economics from Marmara University.

About Boyden

Boyden is a premier leadership and talent advisory firm with more than 70 offices in over 45 countries. Our global reach enables us to serve client needs anywhere they conduct business. We connect great companies with great leaders through executive search, interim management and leadership consulting solutions. Boyden is ranked amongst the top companies on Forbes' Americas Best Executive Recruiting Firms for 2021. For further information, visit www.boyden.com.


Chris Swee, Boyden New York
Chief Marketing Officer
T: +1 914 747 0172
E: cswee@boyden.com

Infographics accompanying this announcement are available at:



GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8730793)

Africa Wants IMF Special Drawing Rights Re-Allocated to Finance Its Development

African countries are looking for cheaper funding for infrastructure development. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

African countries are looking for cheaper funding for infrastructure development. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Jan 17 2023 – African countries, many reeling under high debt and experiencing economic recession, could benefit from the reallocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), financial instruments of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

SDRs are interest-bearing units of accounts created by the IMF in 1969 to increase the official reserves of member countries. External shocks that have hit the world in the last two years have reversed socioeconomic gains and efforts to protect vulnerable communities in Africa, says Adam Elhiraika, Director of the Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Normally, many African countries would get concessional finance, borrow money from the markets or mobilise it domestically – all options the global pandemic has compromised.

The ECA, in collaboration with African ministries, is advocating for the issuance of new SDRs and the re-allocation of existing SDRs to countries most in need.

“We need to reform the G20 Common Framework to make access to international financial markets and debt restructuring effective and inclusive,” Elhiraika told IPS in an interview.

He added that: “Africa would benefit from having a permanent seat at the G20 through its African Union, just as European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are represented. This will bring the voice of more than one billion people into the G20 processes, including discussions around debt restructuring and inequality of the SDR quota system.”

To date, nearly USD 1 trillion US dollars has been allocated by the IMF, including USD 456 billion and SDR equivalent to USD 650 billion, approved in August 2021 to help low and middle-income countries cope with the impact of COVID-19.

According to the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), African countries need more than 200 billion USD to counter the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adam Elhiraika, Director for the Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the Economic Commission for Africa. Credit: Daniel Getachew

Adam Elhiraika, Director for the Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the Economic Commission for Africa. Credit: Daniel Getachew


IPS: Why is it necessary to reallocate SDRs, and how would this reallocation benefit African countries?

AE: SDR is a supplementary reserve asset which the Board of the IMF unconditionally allocates to all or part of its membership when it determines that there is a need to boost global liquidity. Allocations are based on economic size hence poorer countries receive less than rich countries. For instance, Africa collectively received 5.1 percent of the recent SDR650 allocation. Consequently, while the SDR allocation provided very welcome liquidity to African countries to cope with the pandemic crisis, the considerable financing needs associated with the pandemic and the overlapping crises currently facing Africa (including the climate, food, and energy crises) mean that Africa needs more than its current allocation.

The recent SDR allocation has mostly been used by African countries to bridge their post-COVID liquidity challenges. More specifically, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa allocated part of their SDR holdings to address their pandemic response or social spending needs. At least 41 Sub-Saharan countries made use of SDRs for various public spending, including vaccine procurement and pandemic relief, ration cards, welfare payments, wages, and budget support.

Further, the median SDR utilization rates of G7 countries are about 5.9 percent, which means that G7 members alone could potentially reallocate $266 billion of SDRs to vulnerable countries. So, recycling/reallocations of the unused SDRs from countries with strong external positions, such as G7 and G20, could provide much-needed and affordable resources to vulnerable African countries.

Already, African countries are constrained by high debt, is tapping SDRs a viable route to affordable financing for economic development and SDGs?

SDR reallocations are made by countries that choose to make their own SDRs available to other countries that need them by lending them to an institution like the IMF. Tapping into SDRs is one of the options for improving Africa’s access to affordable external finance.

African ministers have been advocating for an acceleration of the implementation of SDR re-allocation mechanisms aligned with the needs of African economies. This includes considering channelling unused SDRs by G20 through regional banks, such as the African Development Banks, to support the development financing of Africa. Since the interest rates associated with SDR lending are much lower than prevailing market rates, on-lending SDRs via market mechanisms can lower the cost of borrowing and leverage critical investments in countries with market access.

IPS: The ECA has advocated for the reform of the IMF and Global Financial Architecture; why and what benefits would this reform have for African countries in need of development finance?

AE: Recent global shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent war in Ukraine, have exacerbated the already constrained Africa’s fiscal space. While Africa has benefited from bilateral and multilateral support, particularly during the pandemic, the global financing architecture is still grossly inadequate for low—income countries and Africa.

In consultation with African finance ministries and others, the High-Level Working Group is working to identify structural challenges within the Global Financial Architecture impacting African economies. Furthermore, it also working to advance near and long-term policy recommendations for the IMF’s consideration which proposes a new working agenda for the IMF to better respond to the challenges Africa faces in the current global financial architecture.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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NATO’s Opportunity in the Indo-Pacific

By Taehun Lim
GWANGIU, South Korea, Jan 17 2023 – Given the tensions in the Indo-Pacific, a co-operation between South Korea, Japan and NATO sends a message of deterrence and shared liberal values.

The year 2022 was pivotal for the West and the NATO military alliance. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s mounting military threats against Taiwan forced NATO to recalibrate its risk analysis.

The NATO summit in Madrid in June was, therefore, remarkable in that two far-eastern states, South Korea and Japan, were invited. While Japan already has the status of a Western actor within the framework of the G7, the invitation to South Korea to attend the summit was particularly surprising.

Although Seoul has been a global partner of NATO since 2006, co-operation to date has been essentially diplomatic. South Korea had already been invited to NATO meetings of foreign ministers several times before, but this had not led to any geopolitical commitment on its part to NATO or Europe.

But circumstances have changed. The invitation to the summit was driven by NATO’s most important member by far – the US, an ally of South Korea. Does this mean that Japan and South Korea will now take on new significance for Europe and the Far East in terms of security policy?

There was immediate praise for the Indo-Pacific strategy from Washington.

On 28 December, the South Korean government under new President Yoon Suk-yeol published a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region for the first time. It stated that the country’s focus should be on promoting freedom, peace and prosperity through the creation of a rules-based order and co-operation on the rule of law and human rights.

The 43-page document includes only one paragraph on China, Seoul’s largest trading partner and the rival of its most important ally, the US. On taking office in May, Yoon announced a hard line towards China and since then has intensified the security co-operation with the US.

The Indo-Pacific strategy indirectly addresses fears of military action by China against Taiwan and calls for a resumption of the summit meetings between South Korea, Japan and China, the last of which took place in 2019.

It states that co-operation with Japan is essential for promoting co-operation and solidarity between like-minded nations in the Indo-Pacific region – a clear indication that Yoon wants to improve relations between these neighbouring countries.

Seoul also wants to expand co-operation with the Quad – the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the US – which is seen as a counterweight to China’s ambitions in the region. There was immediate praise for the Indo-Pacific strategy from Washington.

Advantages of closer co-operation for NATO

Closer ties between South Korea and Japan and a security partnership with the two East Asian states would have strategic advantages for NATO. With South Korea, it can benefit immediately from the strength of the country’s armed forces, not least in light of China’s military build-up in the Indo-Pacific.

The South Korean military is well-equipped and combat-ready because of constant North Korean military provocations. Moreover, South Korea holds large-scale joint military exercises with the US every year. Secondly, South Korea can contribute to NATO through co-operation on armaments, and can supply high-quality weapons.

The competitiveness of its arms industry is demonstrated, for example, by Poland’s purchase of South Korean tanks and howitzers in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Third, as a leader in digital technology, South Korea can strengthen NATO’s cybersecurity against Russia and China (and North Korea).

Fourth, as a globally important microchip manufacturer, South Korea – along with Japan and Taiwan – is seen by the US as part of a microchip alliance whose task is to isolate China completely from the microchip supply chain. Conversely, South Korea thus serves as a reliable partner in the microchip supply chain for NATO countries.

The current Japanese government under Fumio Kishida wants to raise the country’s military spending to two per cent of GDP by 2027 and to acquire 500 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Such an enhancement of Japan’s military capabilities would provide NATO with further strategic options in the face of China’s military build-up in the Indo-Pacific.

Advantages for South Korea and Japan

From a Far Eastern perspective, a strategic partnership with NATO would help in managing the Chinese military threat.

As a first step, joint military exercises involving NATO and East Asian countries could be held in the Indo-Pacific (where the US, France, the UK and Germany already have a military presence) or in Europe, in order to enable, for instance, the defence of free and unfettered trade flows in the South China Sea.

As a second step, the Far Eastern countries and NATO could perhaps establish an intelligence alliance comparable to the ‘Five Eyes’ of the Anglo-Saxon powers. This would enable the two sides of the alliance to exchange military intelligence and facilitate the formulation of joint strategies towards China and Russia.

As a third step, NATO and the Far Eastern countries could establish an informal military alliance similar to the Quad, which would strengthen collective security on both sides.

Co-operation between South Korea and NATO not only sends a clear message about deterrence but also represents a commitment to the defence across the world of the liberal values that both sides share.

For a successful strategic partnership between NATO and the Far East to develop, relations between South Korea and Japan must improve significantly. The smouldering conflict over how to address the issue of Japan’s colonial history stands in the way of close co-operation.

The enforced prostitution of Korean women during the colonial period, the visits of Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese war criminals are buried, and the border dispute over the Liancourt rocks (Dokdo in Korean, Takeshima in Japanese) are some of the unresolved historically controversial issues.

This is compounded by the Japanese trade sanctions imposed on South Korea in 2019, which aim to impede the further rise of the South Korean industry. Fortunately, the current South Korean government under Yoon Suk-yeol is keen on significantly improving relations with its neighbour in order to boost a security co-operation between the two sides vis-à-vis China and North Korea.

The Japanese government will now have to respond to the signals from Seoul, if necessary, also involving the US as a mediator.

NATO’s decision in August to accept South Korea’s request to designate an embassy to represent the country in dealings with the military alliance bodes well for the development of a close strategic partnership. Given the rising military tensions in the Indo-Pacific and China’s military threats against Taiwan, co-operation between South Korea and NATO not only sends a clear message about deterrence (and thus the prevention of war) but also represents a commitment to the defence across the world of the liberal values that both sides share.

Dr Taehun Lim, who works at the Institute for Eurasian Research and Humanities at Chonnam National University, South Korea, studied international politics at the University of Strasbourg and received his PhD in the same field from the University of Cologne. From 2011 to 2013, Dr Lim served as an artillery lieutenant in the South Korean army.

Source: International Politics and Society (IPS)-Journal published by the International Political Analysis Unit of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastrasse 28, D-10785 Berlin

IPS UN Bureau


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