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Posts tagged ‘Belfer Center’

Securing China’s Nuclear Energy Development

Hui Zhang

Hui Zhang

By Hui Zhang

Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Chinese president Xi Jinping said in his address at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit that, “we should place equal emphasis on development [of nuclear energy] and security, and develop nuclear energy on the premise of security.” He further emphasized that,developing nuclear energy at the expense of security can neither be sustainable nor bring real development. Only by adopting credible steps and safeguards can we keep the risks under effective control and develop nuclear energy in a sustainable way.”

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Stand-off in Crimea: Cui Bono?

Simon Saradzhyan

Simon Saradzhyan

By Simon Saradzhyan

Simon Saradzhyan is assistant director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism and a research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.

It seems there has been no Russia watcher left in the world who has not opined on Vladimir Putin’s swift and not so covert moves in the Crimea, pondering: “who’s to blame and what to do?”  In times like these it is also as customary for analysts of international affairs to wonder “to whose benefit?” Yet this question remains open even though some of the Western diplomats are already calling the current standoff the biggest crisis in Europe of the 21st century.

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Can Chinese Market Reforms Help American Companies?

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman is a frequent contributor)

At the recent Third Plenum political gathering, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) made headlines around the world by committing to a greater role for the market and for competition in China’s government-directed economy. Whether and when the Party will translate that rhetoric into reality is a critical question for the future. But a vital related question is this: Will the Party allow American companies to compete—freely and fairly—in China?

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OPEC Embargo +40: What Have We Learned?

Kathleen Araujo

Kathleen Araujo

By Kathleen Araujo

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Science, Technology, and Public Policy; Project on Managing the Atom: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the OPEC oil embargo. On October 16th, 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised the price of oil by 70%. Production curtailments were set in motion, and an embargo was imposed.  Oil prices quickly quadrupled. This wasn’t the first or last time that major shifts in energy prices would dominate the world news. What is most enlightening, though, is how countries have learned to enhance their energy resilience.

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Forget the Coup: Egypt’s Economy Is the Real Problem

Any new permanent government will face the choice Morsi had but never made: market economic reforms on the one hand and a command-and-control statist economy on the other.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman is a frequent contributor)

Egypt’s political dilemmas are based, in important part, on its economic dilemmas. But since the overthrow of the Morsi government, far less attention has been paid to crucial economic issues than the political and constitutional conflicts. But economic issues–and the lack of a legitimated economic vision–have been as much a cause of the unrest, change and uncertainty in Egypt, and during both the Mubarak and Morsi tenures. And they may be more intractable.

Any new permanent government will face the choice Morsi had but never made: between market economic reforms on the one hand, led by economists and business people to promote growth, jobs, and trade, and a command-and-control statist economy on the other, which provides subsidies for essentials like energy and staples like bread, rice, and sugar–and also provides sinecures for ex-military officers. Part of the problem is that “liberalizing” reforms–there have been three waves since the end of Nassar’s regime than 40 years ago–are perceived as helping the rich and reflecting crony capitalism, rather than raising Egypt as a whole.

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Obama plows new ground in Africa

Calestous Juma

By Calestous Juma

Professor of the Practice of International Development, Harvard Kennedy School; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project, author of The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa.

Many analysts viewed President Barack Obama’s just-completed Africa trip through the jaded lens of China-US competition. Reacting to President Obama’s $7 billion Power Africa initiative, one observer noted that it “may look low-wattage compared with China’s already ongoing big electricity projects on the world’s least-developed—and least lit—continent.”

Others saw Obama’s trip through the lens of America’s traditional deference to Europe in shaping its Africa policies. That often reinforces the view that the US is unable to define its own stances on Africa, and views the continent as an extension of its former colonial masters.

On the ground in Africa (as I happened to be), President Obama himself moved beyond those clichés. He sought to demonstrate that the time has come for the United States to approach Africa as a legitimate player on the global economic and diplomatic scene in its own right.
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China’s nuclear policy: changing or not?

Hui Zhang

Hui Zhang

By Hui Zhang

Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The new defense white paper released by China on April 16 has sparked a debate over whether China is changing its nuclear policy, because this new paper, unlike previous editions, did not reiterate China’s long-standing no-first-use nuclear weapons doctrine. Is China changing its nuclear policy?

Colonel Yang Yujun, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Defense, answered this question unambiguously during a briefing on April 25. Yang stated that “China repeatedly reaffirms that China has always pursued no-first-use nuclear weapons policy, upholds its nuclear strategy of self-defense, and never takes part in any form of nuclear arms race with any country. The policy has never been changed. The concern about changes of China’s nuclear policy is unnecessary.”

Colonel Yang further explained that this new white paper elaborates clearly the readiness level of the PLA Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) in peacetime and the conditions under which China would launch a resolute counterattack –if China comes under a nuclear attack. All these details, as Yang stated in the briefing, show exactly that “China is earnestly fulfilling its no-fist-use nuclear pledge.” Read more

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The Cost of Saving Lives in Bangladesh

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman is a frequent contributor)

The horrific death of more than 900 Bangladesh garment workers in the collapse of a building, following the death of 112 garment workers in a Bangladesh factory fire five months ago, has led, of course, to the inevitable calls for reform. The immediate question is how to ensure structural soundness of factories after the multi-storied Rana Plaza facility–making garments for as many as 30 international retailers–broke apart, burning, suffocating and crushing its workforce. But broader issues of worker health and safety for Bangladesh’s 5,000 garment factories have also come to the fore.

But if real reform is to occur on the ground, hard, complex questions must be asked and answered. Most importantly, what is the cost of necessary changes to protect workers and who will pay? Many actors have a role: the Bangladesh government, the factory owners, the garment buyers (including many international brands), consumers across the globe looking for cheap prices and developed world governments which have allowed preferential treatment for Bangladesh imports (using “trade” in lieu of “aid”) without serious review of worker standards. Read more

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Name the Trade Rep, Mr. President

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

(This article first appeared in Harvard Business Review Blog Network, where Ben Heineman is a frequent contributor)

In President Obama’s second term, the United States has an ambitious and challenging Atlantic and Pacific trade agenda which could significantly alter the architecture of the global economy.

But the President has yet to designate someone to fill the crucial Cabinet level position of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The stakes, both internationally and domestically, are extremely high and Mr. Obama should immediately send to the Senate for confirmation a nominee of prominence and stature.

Doing so would show that he places the highest priority on both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations — started in 2011 and slated to end this year — and the newly launched free trade negotiations between the US and EU which are scheduled (optimistically) to be completed before the 2016 election. He should simultaneously push hard for Congressional renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) which gives the Executive the power to negotiate trade agreements subject only to a prompt up or down vote in the House and Senate with no amendments. This authority expired in 2007. Read more

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The Off-Shoring, Out-Sourcing Debate is Out of Date

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman is a frequent contributor)

Labor markets have for the past quarter century been at the center of the globalization disputes under the “off-shoring and out-sourcing” rubric. How many jobs were lost at home to cheap labor abroad? What were conditions for those overseas workers? But the rapidly changing nature of the global economy has changed much, though not all, of that “off-shoring/out-sourcing” debate. Today, cheap labor is only one of many factors leading global companies to choose where to do business in diverse nations across the world. Major economic changes like the internal growth of emerging markets have scrambled debates about the global economy, posed challenges for international business, stimulated contradictory public policies and confused the general public.

It was often cheap labor in emerging markets that, more than two decades ago, led companies in developed markets to move company jobs away from the home country either to company owned facilities (off-shoring) or to third parties (out-sourcing) in developing markets. The broad idea was that less expensive manufacturing or inexpensive white collar workers would create goods and services in developing nations that would serve world markets. China, especially, would be the global product-manufacturing center; India, via the web, would be the global service provider.

The well known debate ensued between free-trade (more competition, cheaper goods in U.S., growth in developing markets) and fair trade (only wealthy benefit, hollowing out of U.S. middle class, exploitative labor standards overseas). The debate heated up in political years (including 2012), when “outsourcing” became an especially a dirty word. But, in addition to dramatic economic growth in emerging markets, four recent trends have significantly modified this old off-shoring and out-sourcing schematic. Read more

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