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May, 2015


United Nations Refugee Agency Calls For Creative Solutions For Refugees

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: UNHCR}


UNHCR welcomes Bangkok proposals, calls for creative solutions for refugees, migrants at sea

The UN refugee agency is encouraged by the positive outcomes of a regional meeting to resolve the plight of thousands of refugees and migrants risking their lives at sea in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

Organized by the Royal Thai Government, the Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean on Friday brought together 17 countries in the Asia-Pacific and UNHCR, IOM and UNODC. It concluded with a set of proposals and recommendations focusing on immediate responses to assist people in distress at sea, as well as efforts to curb people smuggling and trafficking, and address the root causes of these movements.

More than 88,000 people have departed on smugglers’ boats from the Bay of Bengal since 2014 and over 1,000 are believed to have died as a result of abuse and deprivation at sea.

“Saving lives must be the number one priority,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Türk, welcoming States’ commitment to rescue and disembark people in distress, and to ensure UNHCR’s access to them. “These proposals are a good beginning that will require robust implementation.”

UNHCR and other organizations have offered to help screen the boat arrivals who include refugees, economic migrants, victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors among others to determine their needs and seek appropriate solutions. Migrants are likely to be able to go home; refugees cannot and will need temporary stay arrangements in host countries. Only the most vulnerable will have access to the limited resettlement places available globally.

“In essence, this means that those who cannot return now because of international protection reasons be allowed to stay temporarily and work,” said Türk. “This would simply recognize and regularize what has already been happening in reality for many years.”

UNHCR is ready to support governments with such arrangements through registration, documentation and other means as part of a comprehensive and creative approach to the growing regional problem.

“It would be disingenuous to suggest that there are any simple solutions to this phenomenon,” he said. “Yet, as the world has learned from South-East Asia, there is always an opportunity in a crisis and a real potential for a “win-win” situation for all involved. It will require political will and leadership, individually and collectively, to achieve that.”

A key part of the solution lies in addressing the root causes of flight, including citizenship issues in Myanmar. While welcoming initial steps taken in this regard, Türk said, “In the interim, a legal status for all habitual residents recognizing that Myanmar is their own country is urgently required. Access to identity documentation and the removal of restrictions on basic freedoms is needed to normalize and stabilize lives.”

Participants at the meeting agreed to explore ways to address the root causes of irregular movements and improve livelihoods in at-risk communities. Recommended actions included providing development assistance, enhancing a sense of security and belonging, and promoting full respect for human rights and adequate access to basic rights and services.

Türk led a UNHCR delegation that included the Director of the Bureau of Asia and the Pacific, Daisy Dell, and the Regional Representative and Regional Coordinator in South-East Asia, James Lynch.

Statement by Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, at the Special Meeting.

UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 10-point plan of action.

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South Africa Holds Annual Memorial Services At Freedom Park

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: SAgov}

South Africa

Pretoria, 31 May 2015 – Commitment to sustain peace and stability in South Africa was the order of the day on Sunday during the Annual Memorial Services held at Freedom Park and Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.

The memorial services event is part of the commemoration of soldiers who fought for freedom and humanity of South Africa and was attended by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

The Minister said she had a first time experience of an event of this nature and also participated in laying the wreath during the ceremony at Voortrekker Monument’s South African Defence Force (SADF) Wall of Remembrance.

The Minister said she felt privileged to have commemorated the lives of veterans and heroes who lost their lives in defence of the country.

“It was a mixture of emotions as I watched people laying their wreaths. I am human, I am a mother… I could feel the pain. On the other hand it actually hit me really hard to realise that it is not only just the Military Veterans of the non-statutory forces but I am a Minister for all Military Veterans, both who were in the statutory forces and those in non-statutory forces,” she said.

She described the ceremony as dignified, and symbolising the rainbow nation and South Africa’s reconciliation. The minister said the event also made her realise even more the importance of having a Heroes Acre in South Africa as many heroes “are still out there in the soil of other countries”.

It was important for every human being to remind themselves of their origins and history and commemorate that.

In the morning of the memorial services, the programme started at the Isivivane in Freedom Park, to allow dignitaries to lay wreaths for fallen heroes of any form of struggle that South Africa ever experienced.

Freedom Park Acting CEO Jane Mufamadi explained Isivivane as a symbolic resting space for those who sacrificed their lives for freedom and humanity. People who visit the place take off their shoes as it is considered sacred.

There are eleven boulders erected in a form of a circle at the Isivivane, representing all nine provinces of South Africa, another one for the nation and the last represents the international community.

Mufamadi said the international community is represented at the Isivivane because South Africa recognises the support it got from the international community to liberate the country.

“We call Isivivane a sacred place because after the boulders were donated from the provinces, we invited religious leaders of diverse faith based organisations that are formally recognised in South Africa, to come together to pray in the space and imbue it with a sense of spirituality,” she said.

She said the nature of Isivivane makes it appropriate to hold memorial services and lay wreaths in a form of a ceremony.

“The significance of today’s ceremony is having members of liberation formations, former sowing enemies, members of SADF and Veterans coming together to recommit to building peace and stability in South Africa,” she said.

She said the ceremony also contributes to opening reconciliation and social cohesion dialogues.

Construction of Freedom Park was completed in 2013, and Mufamadi said more people, including the international community, are starting to show interest in visiting the park and learn about the heritage and history of the country.

“To date, we have about 85 000 names on the wall that are inscribed for people who died for freedom and humanity. But we don’t only focus on the liberation struggle, we acknowledge the eight conflicts that shape the historical consciousness of South Africa because there are different struggles that our people went through, like colonial wars, World War I and II, the South African war— which included black people who were not recognised before,” she said.

The first Deputy President of South African National Military Veterans’ Association (SANMVA), Major General Gert Opperman, said he was grateful that the annual memorial service initiative of this nature was established three years ago and the event is growing.

“For me it signifies that we are more and more aware of the need to come together and to remember the past together, to talk about differences and get beyond those differences that caused a war amongst us.

“We were enemies but we got beyond that and work towards a better future for our country,” he said.

Opperman said it was very important to involve the international community in the annual commemoration, and this year five ambassadors from foreign countries were part of the service, including Zambia, Cuba, Serbia, Belgium and Denmark.

He said as much as it is important to always remember fallen heroes and commemorate their lives, it is vital to note that South Africans are collectively working together for a better life of the country.



The United States Assists Jordan By Entering Into A Loan Guarantee Agreement

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: US/DOS}


United States and Jordan Sign Third Loan Guarantee Agreement

Office of the Spokesperson – Washington, DC
May 31, 2015

The United States today re-affirmed its strong commitment to the people of Jordan by signing a third sovereign loan guarantee agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

This loan guarantee agreement is part of a broader U.S. commitment to help ensure Jordanian stability, security, and economic growth.

The proceeds of the U.S. guaranteed bonds issued pursuant to the agreement will help to ensure that Jordan can continue to provide critical services to its citizens as it hosts the nearly 630,000 refugees registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who have fled the violence in Syria.

The U.S. loan guarantee agreement is designed to support specific economic reforms that the Government of Jordan has been pursuing in order to promote economic stability, growth and prosperity for the Jordanian people.

The signing of this loan guarantee agreement fulfills the commitment made by President Obama during his meeting with King Abdullah on December 5, 2014. At that meeting President Obama noted that, “Jordan is one of our most effective and capable and steadfast partners not only in the Middle East, but around the world.”

This will be the third U.S. loan guarantee to the Government of Jordan.

Pursuant to the loan guarantee agreement, the United States would guarantee repayment of principal and interest on Jordanian sovereign bond issuances totaling up to $1.5 billion with tenors not to exceed ten-years.

Jordan previously issued sovereign bonds worth $1.25 billion in 2013 and $1 billion in 2014 with U.S. Government guarantees.

Both of the previous guarantees were successful in supporting Jordan’s reform efforts during a time of regional instability.

This third guarantee will further support that strategy and also support Jordan’s ability to independently access international capital markets.



Norway To Intensify Its Trade Policy

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion {source: NOgov}


Norway Government announces more proactive trade policy

Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Victoria Terrasse, Photo: P.Foss, MFA

Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs

‘Norway is a trading nation. Few countries are more dependent on foreign trade than we are. Today, the Government is presenting a white paper on its work to secure increased market access for Norwegian companies and better predictability for exports of goods and services and for investments,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The Government will work to promote freer trade and will pursue a proactive trade policy that emphasises Norway’s interests. This means helping to ensure fair and equal trade rules in today’s open, global economy.

‘The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, the EEA Agreement and the EFTA free trade agreements are the cornerstones of Norwegian trade policy. Safeguarding and strengthening the multilateral trade system is Norway’s main trade policy interest,’ Foreign Minister Brende said.

Trade policy is primarily a tool for promoting value creation and employment in Norway. At the same time, the white paper points out that international trade can help us to reach foreign and development policy goals such as peaceful cooperation between countries and better opportunities for inclusive, sustainable development for all.

However, as highlighted in the white paper, the marked increase in regional initiatives and negotiations in recent years, partly in response to a lack of progress in the WTO, presents challenges for Norway. Extensive negotiations are being conducted to establish trade agreements across both the Pacific and the Atlantic, but Norway is not party to these negotiations and has limited opportunities to influence the course of events. Moreover, Norway lacks free trade agreements with six of the world’s ten largest economies.

File:BW Fjord an Glameyer Stack 2007-12-15.JPG

‘This white paper presents Norwegian trade policy priorities in a changing global economy. In order to ensure the strength of the economy, we need to make active use of the opportunities in existing trade agreements. We also need to negotiate more and better agreements along several tracks, but firmly rooted in the multilateral trading system,’ Mr Brende said.

As outlined in the white paper, the Government will:

  • Intensify its efforts to make active use of trade policy in its strengthened economic diplomacy work.
  • Give greater priority to the work to ensure free trade in seafood on the EU market.
  • Phase out all export subsidies, at the latest by the end of 2019.
  • Continue Norway’s established practice of not using commercially-based restrictive trade measures.
  • Seek to safeguard Norway’s overall interests while the TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US are being conducted, and emphasize the Norwegian business sector’s need for equal conditions of competition.
  • Consider changes that would give further trade preferences to poor developing countries that export goods and services to Norway.
  • Increase support for trade-related development cooperation, also in connection with free trade agreements.



Asian Development Bank And Sri Lanka Sign $107 Million Loan

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: ADB}

Sri Lanka

ADB and Sri Lanka Sign $107 Million Loan Agreement for Roads

  • The loan agreement was signed during a ceremony in Colombo by Sri Widowati, ADB’s Country Director in Sri Lanka, and R.H.S. Samarathunga, Secretary to the Treasury at Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance.
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Sri Lanka signed the $107 million second tranche loan agreement of an $800 million multi-tranche financing facility to upgrade roads.

“Providing all-weather road access will help link rural communities to socio-economic centres in Sri Lanka, thereby enabling rural communities to reap and enjoy the fruit of economic growth,” said Sri Widowati, ADB’s Country Director in Sri Lanka.

Widowati signed the loan on behalf of ADB while R.H.S. Samarathunga, Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance, signed for the Government of Sri Lanka.

The $107 million second tranche of the Integrated Road Investment Program, or so- called “iRoad” in Sri Lanka is largely earmarked for the first slice of projects in the Sabaragamuwa Province; Kalutara District of the Western Province; Central Province; North Central Province; and North Western Province, helping provide 9.3 million people with swifter and safer travel.


The program will improve road connectivity to the rural hubs. With most of the rural access roads currently in poor condition, improvements will result in time savings and a decrease in large vehicle operating costs.

In addition, all-weather rural access roads will result in significant social benefits and poverty reduction, such as increased agriculture productivity since farmers will be able to get goods to market faster, better access to health services and education, and easier access to jobs.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.


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ICRC And SADC Sign Memorandum Of Understanding In South Africa

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: ICRC}

South Africa

ICRC and SADC sign MoU

South Africa: ICRC and SADC sign memorandum of understanding
The Executive Secretary of the SADC, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, and Jürg Eglin, head of the ICRC regional delegation in Pretoria, shake hands following the signing of an MoU between the two organizations in Gaborone, Botswana on 15 May 2015. ©SADC

Pretoria (ICRC) – The ICRC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have recently concluded a memorandum of understanding that will strengthen relations between them and improve coordination of their activities.

The memorandum was signed on 15 May in Gaborone, Botswana, by Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the executive secretary of the SADC, and Jürg Eglin, the head of the ICRC’s regional delegation in Pretoria.

The two organizations have agreed to meet regularly to discuss various issues of common concern, such as: the protection of refugees, internally displaced people and other civilians affected by armed conflict or other violence; the protection of health-care workers and facilities during conflict; humanitarian activities during post-conflict reconstruction; penal reforms and prison management; and arms-related issues that are specific to Africa.

The SADC and the ICRC will also work together to promote international humanitarian law and to urge SADC member States to fully comply with their treaty obligations; the ICRC may provide training in humanitarian law, and in international human rights standards applicable in law enforcement operations, to bodies within the SADC, such as the SADC Standby Brigade.

The SADC and the ICRC may also be invited to take part as observers in each other’s meetings. The ICRC works in all 15 SADC member States (Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), in cooperation with their National Red Cross Societies, to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other violence. The ICRC devotes more than a third of its annual budget to its activities in Africa. In terms of resources committed, its operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among its largest.

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UNODC Crime Commission Addresses The World’s Most Daunting Challenges

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: UNODC}

UNODC Crime Commission closes with call to tackle some of world’s most daunting challenges

Photo: UNODC May 2015 – Terrorism, migrant smuggling and trafficking in cultural property are some of the world’s most daunting challenges, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said today.

“The magnitude of the problems we face is such that it is sometimes hard to imagine how any effort can be enough to confront them. But to quote Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it is done.’ We must keep working together, until it is done.”

Speaking at the closing of the 24th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Crime Commission), Mr. Fedotov said the recent seizure of the ancient UNESCO world heritage site of Palmyra by ISIL/Daesh was “an alarming development that comes at terrible cost in human life, and threatens a UNESCO site that is an invaluable part of our common human heritage”.

He informed the audience that, just last year, the Crime Commission had passed international guidelines for crime prevention and criminal justice responses to trafficking in cultural property. A new resolution passed this year at the Crime Congress in Doha, Mr. Fedotov said, would take further steps to prevent criminals and terrorists profiting from the looting of the world’s historical sites.

On smuggling of migrants, Mr. Fedotov noted, “The migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, the Andaman Sea and elsewhere continues to unfold, and the lives of too many vulnerable women, men and children remain at risk.”

UNODC would also continue to help countries confront the challenges of terrorism, including the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, he said. “This remains a top priority for us, and I hope we can rely on [Member States] to help us.”

The Crime Commission brought together as many as 1,000 delegates from Member States, non-governmental organizations and civil society, including several high-level speakers. This year, nine resolutions were passed, including one on the UN standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners (known as the “Mandela rules”). More than 30 side events on a wide range of crime prevention and criminal justice topics were also held, as well as numerous exhibitions.

Please visit the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes


Hawaii Tourism Authority Posts Statistics For April 2015

World Travel – Tourism

Open Eyes Opinion {source: HTA}

Hawaii Tourism Statistics for April 2015



HONOLULU – Total visitor arrivals to the Hawaiian Islands in April 2015 increased 2.3 percent to 677,754 visitors, according to preliminary statistics released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Arrivals by air grew 4.1 percent to 665,393 visitors, offsetting a 46.6 percent decline in arrivals by cruise ships.

Total visitor days were up 2.1 percent compared to April 2014.

Combined with higher average daily spending (+3.2% to $196 per person), total visitor expenditures rose 5.4 percent to $1.2 billion

For the U.S. West, arrivals by air increased 7.7 percent to 295,683 visitors, and contributed to a 6.7 percent growth in visitor expenditures to $424.2 million. Daily spending was $162 per person (+0.5%). U.S. East arrivals grew 3.6 percent to 133,509 visitors and the average daily spending was $195 per person (-0.5%).

U.S. East visitor expenditures increased 2.6 percent to $248.5 million.

After four previous months of declines, Japanese arrivals rose 1.9 percent to 98,240 visitors in April 2015. However, lower daily spending (-11.2% to $242 per person) led to a 10.5 percent decrease in visitor expenditures to $136.2 million.

At the top of the slow season, Canadian arrivals declined 8.3 percent to 45,422 visitors, which resulted in a 7.1 percent drop in visitor expenditures to $88.1 million.

Arrivals from All Other markets rose 2.9 percent to 92,538 visitors. Combined expenditures from All Other visitors were $256.8 million, 26.5 percent higher than last April.

Visitors days increased on O‘ahu (+4.8%), Maui (+2.5%) and Hawai‘i Island (+4.3%) and was relatively unchanged for Kaua‘i (+0.2%) compared to April 2014.

There were 978,585 total air seats to Hawai‘i in April 2015, up 8.9 percent from a year ago. Growth in scheduled seats from U.S. West (+14.7%), Oceania (+14%), U.S. East (+12.8%) and Canada (+12.5%) offset fewer seats from Other Asia (-11.7%) and Japan (-7.7%).

Year-to-Date 2015:

For the first four months of 2015, total arrivals (by air and by cruise ships) increased 2.9 percent to 2,798,427 visitors. Total visitor expenditures of $5 billion were similar to year-to-date 2014. Total visitor expenditures increased on Kaua‘i (+6.2%) and Maui (+5.4%), but declined on Hawai‘i Island (-8.3%) and O‘ahu (-1.8%).



1 Aggregate number of days stayed by all visitors.

2 Total visitor expenditure statistics presented in this press release are not adjusted for inflation (nominal dollars)

Please visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority




USDA Foreign Agriculture Service Sends Trade Mission To Central America

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion {source: USDA/FAS}


FAS Main Banner Image USDA Foreign Agricultural Service 

Under Secretary Scuse to Lead USDA Trade Mission to Central America-Caribbean June 1-5


WASHINGTON, May 29, 2015 – Leaders from six state agriculture departments and 19 U.S. agribusinesses and organizations will accompany U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Michael T. Scuse on a mission to the Dominican Republic and Panama June 1 throughJune 5, to expand export opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products in the Central American-Caribbean region.

“Countries in this region, with their close geographic and economic ties to the United States, have always been important markets for U.S. agricultural exports,” said Scuse, who leads USDA’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services mission area. “With strong economic growth expected to continue, the region holds significant untapped market potential for U.S. exporters.”

“Since the United States implemented trade agreements with the Dominican Republic and Panama, trade has flourished,” Scuse said. “U.S. market share in this region averages more than 40 percent, the highest outside of Canada and Mexico.”

Scuse noted that the majority of participating companies are small- or medium-sized enterprises and many are owned by women, minorities and veterans.

The Dominican Republic is the largest market for U.S. agricultural exports in the Central America-Caribbean region, with sales reaching a record $1.3 billion in 2014. As one of the top tourist destinations in the Caribbean, the country has vibrant and expanding retail and hotel/restaurant/institutional sectors, further boosting demand for high-value U.S. food products.

Panama is the third-largest market for U.S. agricultural exports in the Central America-Caribbean region, with sales reaching a record $654 million in 2014. Panama has the fastest-growing economy in the Central America-Caribbean region. The Panama Canal expansion project, expected to be completed next year, will more than double the canal’s capacity and further boost economic growth.

Mission participants include representatives from the Arkansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, and Tennessee State departments of agriculture, as well as the following companies and organizations:

• Allied Potato, Inc.; Arvin, Calif.
• American Natural Food & Beverage Company, San Diego, Calif.
• Amstad Produce; Sherwood, Ore.
• Commercial Lynks; Alexandria, Va.
• Illyrian Import; Rochester, Mich.
• JM Grain; Garrison, N.D.
• Mariani Packing Company; Vacaville, Calif.
• MetaFoods; Atlanta, Ga.
• Mixes, Inc.; Hutchinson, Kan.
• Pristina Capital Partners; Midland Park, N.J.
• Tomex Foods; Glen Ellyn, Ill.
• TRC Group; Roseville, Calif.
• United Dairymen of Arizona; Tempe, Ariz.
• United Global Trading; Dallas, Texas
• USA Rice Federation; Arlington, Va.
• US Rice Producers; Houston, Texas
• Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA); Vancouver, Wash.
• Zafi Beverages & Agricultural Technologies, Inc.; Chicago, Ill.

USDA trade missions open doors and deliver results for U.S. exporters, giving them the opportunity to forge relationships with potential customers and foreign government officials, as well as to gather market intelligence that will help develop strategies to expand sales in key markets overseas.

Please Visit USDA Foreign Agriculture Service


Kuwait Donates 1.5 Million USD To The United Nations Youth Office

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: WAM}


Kuwait contributes USD 1.5 mln to UN youth office

 File:Kuwait City.jpg

Kuwait will offer a financial contribution of USD 1.5 million to the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth over the coming two years, “in order to assist in realizing its envisaged youth programs and activities.”

The statement was made by the country’s Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah in his speech at the High-Level Event of the UN General Assembly to commemorate the Anniversary of the World Program on Action for Youth.

The contribution was prompted by Kuwait’s firm belief “in the importance of enabling the youth, and in their role in building the human civilization, and guided by the directives of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Leader of Humanitarian Work,” Sheikh Salman added.

On behalf of the member states of the Arab League, the minister extended thanks and appreciation to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for “his sustained efforts to improve the situation of world youth.” He also thanked President of the UN General Assembly Sam Kutesa “for his gracious invitation to convene this special session on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the launch of the World Program of Action on Youth.” Kuwait is head of the current Thirty-Eighth session of the Council of Arab Ministers for Youth and Sports, he said.

Sheikh Salman stated that the Arab region has made progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but it “was not sufficient to achieve food security, combat poverty and marginalization, and realizing the required social justice.

According to the minister, the Council of Arab Ministers for Youth and Sports adopted in its recent 38th session several important resolutions on developing the Arab Youth Policy.

At the same time we realize that the recent changes and inter-connectivity occurring in the world, as much as they contributed to the maximization and efficiency of the realized achievements, yet on the other hand, have made it easier for the domestic problems, with all their ensuing risks, to move to any other sport in the world,” he said s quoted by KUNA.

This inevitably reduces the space of action available for national and regional policies which aim at establishing the desired security, development and stability in the context of a fast increasing globalization, and the speed at which problems are moving through the globe, Sheikh Salman added.

In this context, it is “imperative that joint cooperation should be enhanced between concerned United Nations organization and the League of Arab States, represented by the Council of Ministers for Youth and Sports.” Sheikh Salman referred to “thorny challenges” the Arab world is facing, such as “poor societal participation by the youth, and a lower per capita income of the Gross National Income.”



APEC Tourism Working Group Addresses The Effects Of Tax Policies

World Travel – Tourism

Open Eyes Opinion {source: APEC}


Philippines, Balicuartro (6886581476).jpg

Sound Tax Policies Boost Tourism and Economic Growth

Issued by the APEC Tourism Working Group

Boracay, the Philippines May 2015 – Changes in taxes on travel and tourism impact the number of visiting tourists, affecting both jobs and income for local communities.  To help guide members, the APEC Tourism Working Group and the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) presented a study assessing the impact of taxation policies on tourism and its contribution to economic growth at a conference last week in Boracay.

With the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific tourism sector, governments are looking to the industry as a possible revenue source. However, tax hikes on hotels, restaurants or air passenger travel bump up prices of destinations, causing tourists to shy away. This in turn potentially leads to less spending by tourists on tourism-related services—ultimately depressing jobs in local communities.

“Properly constituted taxes are certainly a necessary and legitimate fiscal tool for every economy as they create a level playing field for private enterprises and the tourism sector should naturally contribute to it,” said Javier Guillermo Molina, Chair of the APEC Tourism Working Group.

“The sector has proven to be resilient and contributed to the recovery of many of our economies. Thus, fiscal policy makers should bear in mind the medium and long term impacts on its authority to create economic growth and development while designing new taxes.”

“For example, which taxes have a positive or negative effect on the number of tourists who visit and its implications on the wider economy,” added Guillermo.

Using economic modeling to assess the effects of tax rises or cuts on five APEC economies—Chile, Indonesia, Korea, Peru and the Philippines—the study discovered that tax increases will cause visitor demand to fall and eventually will negatively impact GDP and employment. For example, according to the study, a 1% increase in tax leads to an average loss of USD 56.7 million to GDP and an average of 4,030 less jobs in the tourism sector per economy.

“Changes in taxation can have different impacts on the travel and tourism sector.  Large, sudden increases in taxation can cause a sharp downturn in demand.  Conversely, a generous cut in taxation can draw more visitors to an economy.  These indicate the importance of the size of the change in tax rate in projecting its impact,” explained Rolando Canizal, Assistant Secretary of the Philippines Department of Tourism, who spearheaded the APEC tourism taxation assessment study.

“Moreover, if the increased government revenue collected from the tax is then used to re-invest in the tourism sector through conservation of tourism cultural sites, construction of basic infrastructure or skills training of tourism workers, this contributes to the long-term growth of the tourism industry,” added Canizal.

The findings of the study were shared with relevant stakeholders at the APEC and WTTC Conference on Tourism and Taxation in Boracay and will form the basis of tourism taxation policies for APEC members moving forward.

Please visit APEC


Mekong Ministers Endorse New Strategy To Combat Drugs In The Region

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: UNODC}

Mekong Region

File:Ferry across the Mekong River in Neak Leung.jpg

Mekong region officials vow to counter drug threat

Mekong Ministers and UNODC sign Regional Action Plan, 21 May 2015. Photo: UNODC

May 2015 – Ministers and senior officials from the six countries of the Mekong river region, which includes Cambodia , China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, together with UNODC, convened to endorse a new strategy to combat the growing and evolving drug threat to the region.

As the latest data shows, the flow of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals continues to increase and threaten the Mekong sub-region.

Production and trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin within and from the region alone are generating a conservatively estimated annual value of over $31 billion for organized crime groups.

Synthetic drugs, particularly methamphetamine, remain the largest drug threat, with all Mekong countries reporting growing use and supply. The emergence of new non-controlled psychoactive synthetic drugs is also starting to have an impact.

The illicit cultivation of opium and related production of heroin remains an additional major concern. The annual UNODC opium survey estimates show that opium cultivation in the Golden Triangle area of Myanmar and Lao PDR has tripled since 2006 to an estimated 762 tons of opium and 76 tons of heroin as of 2014, making the area second only to Afghanistan in the production of this substance.

At the signing ceremony in Hanoi, Viet Nam, UNODC Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, noted that the Mekong Sub-regional Action Plan provides an ideal platform to address operational challenges related to the production and trade in drugs and precursor chemicals.

“The countries themselves own the process, and the new action-oriented nature of the Action Plan will provide vital support for improvements to institutional and operational capacities. The countries share a sense of urgency to take action and work together.”

The Mekong Sub-regional Action Plan addresses the drug threat through increased efforts and strengthened cooperation in key areas such as law enforcement, including border management; legal and judicial matters; drug use and health; and alternative development.

The regional approach includes an implementation plan with clearly defined objectives and initiatives. At the meeting, country officials and UNODC representatives exchanged views with diplomats and international partners on how best to deal with the regional drug challenge and the impact on the countries of the Mekong region.