The United States has removed tariffs for five Indonesian products under a privileged trade facility as part of ongoing trade negotiations between the two countries, Indonesian officials said.
The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has removed tariffs for five Indonesian products: laminated plywood, some thin plywood, dry onion, rattan handicrafts as well as artificial sugar, honey and caramel, the Indonesian trade ministry said late on Tuesday.
Those products have now become part of more than 3,500 others that get duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences, the ministry said, referring to a U.S. trade facility given to poor and developing economies.
The products were previously taken out of a list of goods that get GSP facility because their exports had breached the U.S. “competitive need limitations”, said Iman Pambagyo, who heads the ministry’s department of international trade negotiations.
Since then, Indonesia’s market share for those products had dropped, he said.
“Based on our request, the products were put back into (GSP),” Pambagyo said by text messages.
The USTR last year announced that it was reviewing Indonesia’s eligibility for GSP, due to issues regarding market access for American goods, services, and investment.
While GSP negotiations were ongoing, Indonesia has managed to conclude discussions with the U.S. on some products, said Rizal Affandi Lukman, deputy coordinating minister for economic affairs who is involved directly in GSP talks.
Indonesia has lobbied the U.S. extensively to keep the facility, including dropping a plan to force credit card transactions to be settled onshore, sources told Reuters and relaxing rules on data storage.
Zimbabwe’s central bank chief, John Mangudya, said he would introduce a new currency in the next two weeks to address biting liquidity shortages in the economy and regain monetary policy control after years of dollarisation.
Mangudya told journalists in the capital on Tuesday that the as-of-yet-unnamed currency will have denominations of coins and notes with a maximum value of five Zimbabwe dollars (US$0.25).
“We are going to be releasing money into circulation. To be precise, within the next two weeks, we will have the new currency,” Mangudya said.
He said the new currency would trade along with the bond notes and the coins and would have the same value as these surrogate currencies.
Mangudya defended the bank’s decision to have a note worth only five Zimbabwe dollars as the highest denomination in a hyperinflationary environment, saying he wanted uniformity with the denominations that were already in the market.
Mangudya said that in line with the law, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa must agree to the creation of a new monetary unit. After he assents, the minister of finance will then issue a decree, paving the way for the printing of the currency.
Zimbabwe ‘s inflation was last measured at 350% after Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube ordered the country’s statistical department to stop publishing annual inflation numbers until February of next year.
Back in 2009, soaring inflation prompted Zimbabwe to ditch its failing sovereign currency in favour of a basket of foreign currencies led by the United States dollar. But “dollarising” the economy hit a major bump in 2015 when greenbacks started vanishing from the formal banking system.
In a bid to end the US dollar shortage, Zimbabwe’s central bank introduced bond notes – a form of surrogate currency – that was backed by a US$200 million bond facility from the Africa Export-Import Bank. But black market speculation quickly eroded the bond note value, triggering a shortage that the central bank tried to offset by creating electronic notes.
Then this past February, bond notes – both physical and electronic – were merged into the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar.
In June, the government moved to defend the Zimdollar against speculators by banning all foreign currencies in local transactions. But the effort has largely failed after the Zimdollar quickly fell prey to black market speculation that sent its value plummeting.
“There is a misconception that once you introduce a currency, then inflation is going to increase. We are simply giving people a chance to choose between electronic balances and cash,” said central bank chief Mangudya.
Economists are not holding out hope for the new currency.
“The only worry about a local currency is excessive money printing by the central bank, which makes multiple currencies dearer options when forced to choose,” Victor Bhoroma, a Harare-based independent economist, told Al Jazeera.
“The solution for Zimbabwe does not lie in any new currencies [whether Zimbabwean dollars or foreign currencies].”
The solution, according to Bhoroma, is instituting key reforms in governance, reining in expenditures in government, creating supply-side interventions to boost production, engaging in confidence-building, and strengthening institutions – such as the rule of law, property rights, and policy consistency.
Gift Mugano, an economics professor at Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University, told Al Jazeera that the introduction of the currency will accelerate its own value decline.
The new currency will have the same value as the bond note and RTGS dollars circulating in the economy.
“This is a continuation of a process that started on 24 June when the central bank outlawed the use of the US dollar and introduced a new currency,” Mugano said.
“What is important to note is that they did this when economic fundamentals were very weak. The fundamentals have not improved as we speak.
“The central bank doesn’t have the reserves to back the value of the currency and has only a month’s import cover at best. It’s going to be difficult to maintain the value of the currency.”
Mugano said the bond note and the RTGS dollar, the Zimbabwe dollar’s predecessor, had failed to act as a store of value, forcing ordinary Zimbabweans and companies to buy US dollars to preserve value.
He sees companies using the new currency to acquire US dollars.
“What will happen is very simple: companies will get cash to buy US dollars and then the rate will go higher as more cash chases the few US dollars in the market,” Mugano said. “The pressure on the exchange rate will be higher.”
The RTGS dollar and Zimbabwe’s surrogate currency, the bond note, have both struggled to hold value against the US dollar as demand outstrips supply.
Once valued at 1:1 with the greenback, the currency is now trading at 1:20 against the US dollar on the black market.
“It is obvious the Zimbabwean dollar will not hold any value because of negative fundamentals in the economy which include key among them confidence deficit and high demand for foreign currency to import commodities [current account deficit],” Bhoroma said.
“It is also inevitable that the central bank will continue to grow money supply in the economy to fund runaway government expenditure. This will further weaken the local currency.”
This year alone, the economy in Zimbabwe is contracting by more than 6.5%.
South Africa’s approach to managing its fishing industry is supposed to include all interested parties. Fishers and government should work together to make decisions. But this has proven to be easier said than done.
The country adopted the ecosystem approach to fisheries management at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. This approach aims to keep the marine ecosystem healthy while allowing people to make a sustainable living from it. Later, the country adopted a small-scale fisheries policy that follows the same bottom-up management principles.
Putting it into practice requires systems thinking – looking at how the parts of a system relate to each other and how the system functions over time. This is where South Africa has fallen short of its policy goals. The government’s fisheries management still works from the top down, leaving very little room for anyone else, such as small-scale fishers, to contribute. And it doesn’t build their capacity to get involved in governing fisheries.
If government is to implement the ecosystem approach, it has to create space for participation – from making policy and decisions to managing activities.
A study I undertook in a fishing community showed one way of creating this space and capacity. It could result in a better flow of information within the fisheries system and better decisions at all levels.
Developing a scenario-based approach
Not all South African fishers have the capacity to participate in bottom-up management approaches. It’s not easy, either, for government to change its traditional top-down way of running things.
Looking for a solution, I developed and tested a scenario-based approach to change. One of the aims was to build adaptive capacity at the smallest scale of the fishery. I worked with fishers in the country’s southern Cape linefishery. This is a small-scale, boat-based operation mainly targeting silver kob (Argyrosomus inodorus) and, in its absence, sharks (Chondrichthyes spp) and carpenter (Argyrozona argyrozona).
Many of the fishers who act as crew on the small-scale commercial linefish boats are members of families who have been fishing there for generations. They have long been marginalised in terms of access to fishing rights and the financial capital required to use these rights, but they will be the main beneficiaries of South Africa’s small-scale fisheries policy.
I used causal maps, Bayesian networks (a form of graphical model for computing probabilities) and scenario narratives to develop a deeper understanding of the system and to reframe the problem. In this case the problem refers to drivers of change in the southern Cape linefishery. Working with the fishers, I also created a vision of the future for the town of Melkhoutfontein, where they are based.
This futuristic vision was created using a causal map, Bayesian network outputs, the fishers’ inputs and research knowledge on climate change and linefish resources. Scenarios, or stories, were constructed around two main driving forces – access to money and access to marine resources.
Taking part in a process like this helps to create and share knowledge. This can make it easier for fishers and fisheries to prepare for change. The fishers learned more about the fishery system and how it responds to various factors. These include the effect of changing weather patterns on safety and ultimately their choice of fishing boat size and type.
Understanding complex systems
Thinking about the future fishers want can help them to make better decisions in the present. They can capture important local ecological knowledge to integrate into formal decision-making processes.
The scenario approach is a practical way for information to be exchanged between various levels of management structures. It can improve management in complex systems such as fisheries.
Importantly, this research showed that marginalised fishers, with little formal education, can use tools which they do not normally use in their day-to-day lives. It paves the way for them to participate in the ecosystem approach to fisheries management.
The small-scale fisheries policy makes explicit provision for co-management of resources. But this is not the case for other fishing sectors, where top-down management structures are still in place. My approach identifies a method that can get information to flow in all directions and involve all role-players.
Trans-disciplinary approaches, of which this scenario-planning process is an example, need to be embedded at all levels of the structures that govern fisheries. For this to happen government must be willing to try new things.
Ultimately, better decision-making throughout the system promotes not only social justice for the fishers, but also ecosystem justice, both of which are crucial to sustain natural resources and livelihoods.