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East Asia and Pacific

Doing Business 2007: How to reform

In the fourth annual Doing Business report released Wednesday, Singapore edged New Zealand out for top honors. Reform is the theme this year, with examples of how the reform process works and how much it costs - from both the political economy and technical perspectives. The office is buzzing with excitement about the report launch, so if you'll indulge me in a bit of PR, here are a few highlights from the report:

Banking on ethical performance

Michael Jarvis's picture

The recent public tribulations of firms such as BP serve as a further reminder of the importance of business ethics and how lapses can seriously impact corporate operations and reputations. (See Richard's post on BP and brand.) The case for business ethics is reiterated strongly by John Plender and Avinash D.

UN boosts business involvement in development

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, will speak at Case Western Reserve University on October 23rd, 2006 to open three day debate on how business can contribute to development, a topic that is picking up more momentum (and also receiving more skepticism--see blog entry on Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds.)

Oxfam report blasts private sector

The title of Oxfam's press release today, Public not private - the key to ending global poverty, sums up the subject of their brand-new report on how to provide health, education and water for the world's poor. From the release:

Bad news for African internet

This week, just 7 of 23 African nations signed the accord for the East African Submarine cable System (EASSy). EASSy is one of the best single initiatives that could attract investment to the telecom-starved region. From Reuters:

Fight poverty by shopping at Wal-Mart?

Even without considering the $263 billion in consumer savings that Wal-Mart provides for low-income Americans, or the millions lifted out of poverty by Wal-Mart in other developing nations, it is unlikely that there is any single organization on the planet that alleviates poverty so effectively for so many people.

Organizations, not countries, deliver aid

There is much talk - rightly - about improving development effectiveness. In Bill Easterly's excellent book The White Man's Burden, he points out that many aid organizations have multiple objectives without accountability, lack a culture of measurement and focus on high visibility activities rather than those with greater pay-offs - e.g. AIDS treatment rather than prevention.

St Helena musings: on diversification

In the 1850s, St Helena's capital, Jamestown, was one of the busiest ports in the world with 1,000-1,500 ships passing through each year. East Indiamen stopping on their journey home to England, American whalers revictualling after hunting sperm whales in the Southern Ocean, and Royal Navy ships intercepting slavers making the run between West Africa and the Caribbean - and dropping the freed slaves off in St Helena to recover - all meant that Jamestown was well known in shipping circles.


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