News Archive – February 2015

West Africa integration on course – Mcintosh
GhanaWeb, Feb 28, 2015 – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says its efforts to achieve the economic integration of the sub-region are on course. Dr Toga Gayewea Mcintosh, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission; said: …. ECOWAS citizens would, by 2016, be issued with the regional bloc’s biometric identification card to facilitate free movements of persons and to aid security in the sub-region. He said under the ECOWAS Protocol on Right of Establishment, an ECOWAS citizen could move to any member state and establish a business with no hindrances.

Africa in the news: U.S.-EAC trade ties deepen, Lesotho votes, and IMF loans Ghana $1 billion
Brookings Institution, Feb 27, 2015 – Trade ministers from the East African Community (EAC) bloc (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) met in Washington, D.C. this week to sign an agreement amplifying current joint efforts to reduce the barriers and costs associated with trade in the region. The U.S.-EAC Cooperation Agreement, launched on Thursday, February 26, formalizes additional measures between the U.S. and its East African partners to reform EAC customs processes in line with the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO)….

Arab League flagGCC flagARAB LEAGUE, GCC:
Arab leaders speak out on Sisi’s Arab army
Al-Monitor, Feb 26, 2015 – The Associated Press commented that the call is “the first public confirmation by an Arab leader that the creation of such a force was a possibility.” The news agency referred to what it has previously reported about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait discussing the formation of a military agreement between the Arab countries to combat the extremist Islamist militias, with the possibility that this joint force intervenes across the Middle East.

Eurasec Flageurasian-european_unionsEURASIAN UNION:
Is Turkey Turning Towards A Full Eurasian Pivot?
Sputnik, Feb 25, 2015 – The Eurasian Union could provide a suitable enough replacement to Turkey’s stalled 30-year-long journey in joining the EU.

Is Germany about to make significant African investment?
African Business Review, Feb 24, 2015 – Having been to talks in both Kenya and Rwanda, it is increasingly evident that investments will be made in theseAU - African Union & Sub-Regions countries. Since both belong to the East African Community (EAC) it could be part of a move that will support the proposed eventual merger of the member states into a single country, known as the East African Federation.
ECCAS to join forces with ECOWAS to fight Boko Haram – Businessday (Nigeria), Feb 24, 2015 – The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on Monday met with President Goodluck Jonathan seeking to join forces with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to fight the Boko Haram Islamist militants.

Arab League flagARAB LEAGUE:
Egypt’s al-Sisi calls for a joint Arab military force
Breitbart, Feb 23, 2015 – Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday appeared in a nationwide television address in which he called on all Arab nations to join together to create a joint military force to fight terrorism. This call ArabLeaguecomes a week after ISIS-linked terrorists posted a video of the massacre of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in the town of Sirte in neighboring Libya.
Al-Araby welcomes Al-Sisi’s call for Pan-Arab anti-terror force – Kuwait News Agency, Feb 23, 2015 – Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Araby on Monday welcomed a call by Egyptian President Abdelfatah Al-Sisi to form a unified Arab anti-terrorism force…. In press statements, he referred to an Arab League resolution on September 7, 2014 ….The resolution stresses the necessity of a collective confrontation against terrorism – through military, political and intellectual means.
Saudi Calls for Regional Security Cooperation – SUSRIS (Saudi-US Relations Information Service), Feb 23, 2015 – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today warned that the Arab region is witnessing unprecedented dangers and threats which led to the loss of security and stability in a number of countries and threatens others in the region, noting that such threats would not be confronted by a single country whatever its capabilities. Constructive and effective cooperation among all countries is the only way to achieve such confrontation, the Kingdom confirmed.

Cambodia agrees to support Malaysia’s proposed Asean Peacekeeping Force
The Star (Malaysia), Feb 23, 2014 – Cambodia has agreed to support Malaysia’s proposed establishment of an Asean Peacekeeping Force, comprising of personnel from all 10 Asean member states to serve the United Nations.

Norway lobbies Britain to stay in European Union
The Local (Norway), Feb 24, 2015 – Norway this week warned the UK not to leave the European Union, arguing that Russia’s recent aggression meant a British exit would dangerously undermine regional security…. Norway, which is not an EU member but enjoys more or less free trade with the union through the European Economic Area, is often advanced as a model for how the UK might thrive outside the EU.

Regional heads pledge to draft East Africa law before end of year
Constitution for East African Political Federation
Standard Digital News (Kenya), Feb 21, 2015 – Heads of state from the East African Community say the process of drafting the Constitution for East African Political Federation is to be initiated before the end of the year. Speaking Friday after a summit in Nairobi, the member States said they discussed the admission of South Sudan and Somalia into the community.
East African leaders call for speedy implementation of the monetary union – Global Post | Xinhua, Feb 20, 2015 – The East African Community (EAC) leaders on Friday called for the speedy implementation of the East African Monetary Union (EAMU). Incoming Chair of the EAC Summit Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said all the partner states have ratified the protocol on the establishment of the EAMU.
“In order to achieve a single currency in the next 10 years, all the five member states should abide by the approved roadmap,” Kikwete said….

EU-flagEU - european_union_mapEUROPEAN UNION:
Deal reached between Greece, creditors
CNBC, Feb 20, 2015 – Greece and its euro zone creditors reached a deal to extend Greece’s bailout for four months, Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Friday…. Greece’s ruling Syriza party previously opposed anti-austerity measures imposed as part of its bailout agreement with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Malaysia Wants an ASEAN Peacekeeping Force
The country has made the initiative a priority for its ASEAN chairmanship in 2015
The Diplomat, Feb 21, 2015 – Earlier this week, Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein reiterated his country’s desire to establish an ASEAN peacekeeping force as the chair of the grouping this year.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICA:
Obama to seek emergency order restarting immigration programs
The Hill, Feb 21, 2015 – Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas and former Judiciary Committee chairman, ripped Obama’s request for an emergency stay, saying it’s “no surprise that the most partisan and imposing Department of Justice of our time would rush to defend the president’s lawless actions.”
White House Struggles on Immigration Ruling
New York Times, Feb 18, 2015 – President Obama’s lawyers, facing what could be months of delay on the White House’s immigration efforts, are struggling for a response to a Texas judge’s ruling that has imperiled one of the president’s potential legacy achievements…. Monday’s late-night 123-page ruling by Judge Andrew S. Hanen forced Mr. Obama to halt plans to protect millions of undocumented immigrants.
Texas judge blocks Obama plan to protect undocumented immigrants
Reuters, Feb 17, 2015 – Ruling in favor of about two dozen U.S. states opposed to the plan, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, said the administration had not complied with procedure…. Some 26 states, led by Texas and its Republican governor, Greg Abbott, sued the administration to halt the programs, arguing that Obama’s orders violated constitutional limits on his powers. They requested an injunction to block the programs from going into force while the legal process played out.
By Standards Of Immigration Hawks, All 2016 GOP Contenders Support ‘Amnesty’
Daily Caller, Feb 15, 2015 – Much has been made of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s support for a pathway to citizenship for most of the illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. But conservative grassroots stalwarts like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also envision some type of normalization for illegals living in the country.

GCC flagGulf-Cooperation-CouncilGCC:
Sunni Gulf Nations May Act Against Yemen’s Shiite Houthis if UN Doesn’t Intervene
Breitbart, Feb 16, 2015 – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a multinational coalition consisting of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, has warned it may intervene militarily in Yemen to depose the Shiite Houthi revolutionary government if the United Nations Security Council does not properly react to the threat.

Kazakhstan hopes to join WTO this year
EU-EURASIATengri News (Kazakhstan), Feb 16, 2015 – “The Eurasian Union does not mean that we are limiting ourselves only to this project…. This is a balancer of our global economic relations. Through the WTO, we will get access to an extensive global trading system, to its standards, rules and regulations. These same rules and regulations will apply to Kazakhstan in trade with other countries. So for us the WTO is a signifier of growth, which we are consistently working towards,” he said.
In this process, Kazakhstan’s commitments to WTO “standards, rules and regulations” then become the de facto standards of the Eurasian Union as well.

Sub-regional trade
Republica (Nepal), Feb 17, 2015 – If the recently signed Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal—popularly known as the South Asian Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ)—is implemented, it will be a welcome initiative for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)…. The setting up of a sub-regional panel to guide national committees is a significant development towards genuine regionalism. Not least, allowing all SAARC nations to be parties to the Agreement is a wise move that will allow Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to eventually join it with or without their own sub-regional arrangements.

Redefining financial integration in Asean
Malaysian Insider, Feb 17, 2015 – In the Asean Economic Community (AEC) context, what lessons can be learned about financial integration? Essentially, several initiatives enacted in the AEC blueprint are still in the first phase of integration, which is a liberalisation phase. It comprises: financial services liberalization, capital account liberalization, capital market liberalisation and harmonisation in payment and settlement system. The second phase of integration is the creation of a single market for financial products, while the third phase is to establish a monetary union.

Governors firm on cash union
East African Business Week (Uganda), Feb 15, 2015 – Under the Protocol, the EAC partner states are expected to surrender monetary and exchange rate policies to the East African Central Bank, thus leading to a single currency regime within the region. However, national Central Banks will remain with the mandate of managing Fiscal policy, Fiscal discipline and harmonize them with other partner states’ National Central Banks.

EU 'Tower of Babel'Church of England campaigning for EU integration
The Telegraph (UK), Feb 13, 2015 – The Church of England is preparing to campaign for greater European Union integration, in a move that will anger senior Conservatives ahead of the general election…. It raises the prospect of the Church actively campaigning for the EU in the build-up to the in-out referendum promised by David Cameron.

ASEAN Eyes Closer Military Ties in 2015
The Diplomat, Feb 12, 2015 – But as Malaysia continues its work as ASEAN chair for the rest of 2015, it is important to recognize that the community-building agenda includes not only the much-discussed ASEAN Economic Community, but a Political Security Community as well which could see new initiatives broached. And even if the headlines are dominated by U.S.-China dynamics or the South China Sea yet again, it is worth paying attention to the incremental efforts being taken or mulled both privately and publicly to build habits of cooperation that are the very foundation of defense collaboration.

Egypt Reaches Free Trade Agreement With Eurasian Economic Union
Sputnik International (Russia), Feb 11, 2015 – In a historic move, President Putin offered Egypt Russia’s full-scale assistance in building the country’s first nuclear energy facility. “If the final agreements are reached, we will not only help building a nuclear power plant but will be able to assist [Egypt] in creating an entire nuclear power industry…including through training of personnel and help with scientific research,” Putin said.
Russia could be the glue between Turkey and Greece through non-dollar trade –, Feb 9, 2015 Eurasian Union, Iran– And while new agreements between Russia and Turkey move forward at lightening speed, the ongoing financial crisis in Greece, coupled with Russia’s willingness to intervene monetarily in the Eurozone country, could be the catalyst that opens the door for a new dawn of joint integration between two longstanding adversaries, and create an economic solution that would benefit both Greece and Turkey through the Eurasian Economic Union.
Iran-EEU Pact Possible Next Year – Bernama (Malaysia), Feb 9, 2015 – Iran may sign an agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) by March 2016, Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency reported citing Iranian media.

ECOWAS, World Bank to hold second tripartite meeting
GhanaWeb, Feb 11, 2015 – The World Bank Group, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on Tuesday, begun a two-day Tripartite Meeting in Accra to deliberate on issues pertinent to the socio-economic development of the ECOWAS Sub-region…. Mr Colin Bruce, the World Bank Africa Region’s Director responsible for Regional Integration, …. noted that the bodies have made considerable progress in implementing their ambitious joint plan in key priority areas of agriculture, education, trade and trade facilitation, transport, regional investment, climate and the Sahel.
ECOWAS discusses single currency in Niger – SpyGhana, Feb 10, 2015 – AU - African Union & Sub-RegionsPresident John Mahama this morning joined his colleague, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, to receive the report of the third meeting of a Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme, in Niamey. The Presidential Task Force, made up of Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors, is helping the two leaders implement the agreed road map for achieving the January 2020 deadline for the introduction of a single currency and launch of the ECOWAS Monetary Union.
East African states to study regional ePassport – Security Document World (press release), Feb 11, 2015 – The East African Community has allocated funds for study into a regional ePassport that would also be used by citizens of member states for international travel. The East African Legislative Assembly last week approved funds of US $49,840 for an assessment of the needs and preparedness of partner states to implement the new generation e-Passport. Plans to create the passport for citizens of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda were first raised in 2013…. A phase-out programme of the national passports as proposed in the roadmap must also be prepared by each partner state.
Single EA currency: Central bank governors push for cooperation – IPP Media (Tanzania), Feb 9, 2015 – Central bank governors from East African Community (EAC) member states have urged stakeholders to be fully determined and cooperate during the interim period of having a single currency.

GCC flagGulf-Cooperation-CouncilGCC & ‘REGIONAL HEALTHCARE’:
GCC moves closer to unified healthcare system
Asharq Alawsat English, Feb 6, 2015 – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) group of states moved closer to establishing a unified healthcare system following a meeting of GCC health ministers in Riyadh earlier this week. The GCC’s 78th Health Minister’s conference began on Wednesday in Riyadh and saw Gulf health ministers put forward a number of recommendations to standardize healthcare across GCC states, including the introduction of a unified smart card system that would provide GCC residents with healthcare coverage in any GCC state.

nafta-flagNORTH AMERICA:
Boehner’s Amnesty Advocate Becky Tallent Aims To Secretly Revive Dead Border Bill
Breitbart, Feb 6, 2015 – The once-thought-to-be-dead House GOP leadership vehicle for a series of immigration bills including, presumably, an amnesty bill is roaring back to life thanks to Speaker John Boehner’s immigration adviser Becky Tallent’s efforts, several key Capitol Hill sources tell Breitbart News. Tallent is a former chief of staff to Senate “Gang of Eight” ringleader Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who lost to President Barack Obama. During her time with McCain, Tallent helped craft—working with the office of the now late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)—a previous amnesty bill that failed to pass during the second term of the George W. Bush administration.

ASEAN map_1ASEAN integration a boon for TPP nations
Japan Times, Feb 6, 2015 – “Malaysia and the ASEAN will become a single economic community, and four countries in ASEAN are now working on the TPP,” Abdul Wahid said, referring to Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia…. If we all agreed to TPP terms, then I believe prospect for cross-border business for Japanese SMEs to expand into the ASEAN market through Malaysia will be greatly enhanced.”
Malaysia, Indonesia to pursue single time zone for ASEAN – Channel News Asia, Feb 6, 2015 – Supporters say a single time zone would make regional banking more efficient, with coordinated opening times for banks and stock markets.

SAARC Flagsaarc-mapSAARC:
One for the road: 4 Saarc nations to ink pact on seamless transit
Economic Times (India), Feb 6, 2015 – The sub-regional pact would be a parallel initiative to the proposed SAARC transport agreement for which ongoing efforts to find early resolution would continue. The government said the membership of this sub-regional agreement would be open to all other neighbouring countries, should they so desire…. Building on the progress made in negotiating and finalising the Saarc Motor Vehicles Agreement, this agreement would facilitate the transit of all types of vehicles between the contracting parties as is prevalent in other common markets like the European Union.

German president appeals to EAC member states to support integration process
Shanghai Daily, Feb 6, 2015 – DAR ES SALAAM (Xinhua) – Visiting German President Joachim Gauck on Thursday appealed to member states of the East African Community (EAC) to continue supporting the integration process…. The German leader urged the EAC member states of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to borrow a leaf from the European Union’s book, saying several areas of the two blocs were in common.

What Europe can do for Israeli-Palestinian ties that the U.S. can’t
Haaretz (Israel), Feb 5, 2015 – Besides its power to legitimize a solution to the conflict, the European Union, as Israel’s biggest trading partner, has tremendous economic power that it can use against Israel. The settlement guidelines are just one of several signs that the European Union is becoming more ready to use its contractual agreements with Israel as sticks rather than carrots.

Eurasec Flageurasian-european_unionsEURASIAN UNION:
Russia and Turkey: unprecedented unity
Vestnik Kavkaza (Russia), Feb 4, 2015 – Sergei Markov, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia, the director of the Institute of Political Studies, doesn’t exclude that the issue of Turkey’s access to the Customs and Eurasian Union will be formed, as Ankara has no chances of becoming a member of the EU.
Parliaments of Russia and Kyrgyzstan are actively working on harmonization of legislation within Eurasian Economic Union (Kyrgyzstan), Feb 3, 2015 – “Parliaments of Russia and Kyrgyzstan are actively working on harmonization of legislation within the Eurasian Economic Union,” the chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev said…

AU-FlagAU - African Union & Sub-RegionsAFRICAN UNION:
No strings attached: African Union seeks financial independence
Yahoo News | AFP, Feb 1, 2015 – African leaders have agreed in principle to impose a flurry of taxes in a bid to finance their pan-African bloc, set up to push the continent’s diplomatic agenda but dependent on foreign handouts…. The AU was once heavily bankrolled by toppled Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi, who championed the institution as a means to challenge Western hegemony. Now, however, 72 percent of the AU’s operational budget comes from international donors led by the United States and European Union.

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