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European News


Romania moves towards EU membership


One of the two countries expected to join the EU in 2007 has moved to end speculation in its currency and in doing so is attempting to prepare another part of its financial sector ready for eventual membership of the Euro. Romania recently announced that it was trying to stop speculative flows of money entering the country. The recent inflows have put pressure on authorities to raise interest rates but they fear that this will attract ‘hot money’. So, they are allowing some extra liquidity to remain in the economy and so reduce the speculators taking a gamble that as membership of the EU draws nearer so returns in Romania will increase. Officials of the Central Bank fear that too much money is entering the country in search of short-term profits and that this will destabilise the financial sector.

This deliberate strategy to keep hot money out is an attempt to stop interest rates from rising and so making eventual membership of the Euro a reality...




Some sites that might be of use in any study you may make of the economy of Romania.


For daily news on Romania in English why not log onto and read the Bucharest Daily News.



Each week we will look at some useful web sites to visit for those studying The European Union.

This week we offer some suggestions on the Czech Republic. 


Websites worth visiting

This is the excellent BBC country profile that includes links to the main national news papers and radio stations in the Czech Republic and other relevant sources.

The official site of the Czech government site.

An English language newspaper published in Prague.'economy%20of%20czech%20republic'

A PDF presentation on why invest in Czech Republic.

A site that will allow you to have considerable access to economic data



World News


Cell phones in Africa


For the first twenty years of their marriage if Skhanhane wanted to contact her husband it meant a potential walk of over 300 miles. Today she pulls out her cell phone and calls him. People like Skhanhane have made Africa the fast growing market for cell phones in the world. From 1999 to 2004 the number of mobile phone subscribers in Africa jumped from 7.5 million to 76.8 million an annual average increase of 58%. The next fastest growing market was Asia, which recorded an annual increase of 34% during the same period. Buying her air time is now part of her grocery budget, even though she still washes the clothes of her three children in a bucket. This huge increase comes against the historical fact that Africans have never been big phones users (Mongolians until recently used the phone more) and the simple truth that the majority of Africans live on less than $2 a day. They are supposed to be too poor to generate the business necessary for companies to invest in the infrastructure needed for a cell phone network.  But when African nations began to privatise their telephone monopolies in the mid-1990’s it led to an influx of operators selling air time in smaller units and the ‘lift-off’ took place. Hand set are not cheap and average $50 per set but even the poorest members of the continent’s population are beginning to buy phones. One in eleven Africans now won a cell phone. Some Africa watchers see cell phones have as big an impact on the continent as television did in the US in the 1940’s. Suddenly remote villages can contact one another and receive news from around the country and across the world. With one land line per thirty three people the cell phone in jumping over both conventional telephone usage and the art of writing a letter – which again offers opportunity to those who did not attend school and never saw themselves owning a ‘conventional’ phone.

Healthcare workers are seeing mothers present themselves for assistance before their unborn child experiences difficulties, elderly relatives are being communicated with and are allowed to feel part of their children’s lives and commercial information is being transmitted around countries. The latter means that products can be shifted to areas where supply is low and even perishable items can now experience a slightly scaled down version of ‘just in time’ delivery. So, as masts appear in some very remote areas of such countries as the Congo trade, education, health and simple ‘family affairs’ are feeling the positive impact of something that many thought would take decades to reach developing countries.





The international economy – some useful trends and data


Poor Countries and Trade


At the Gleneagles Summit of the G8 (held in Scotland in July 2005) the world’s largest economies discussed some very important topics concerning developing economies. This week we look at trade and the problems the poorest nations in the world face.

The following charts and tables offer a useful resource for showing how trade moves between developed and developing economies. They may also assist you in provoking discussions within groups.










The major trade blocks of the world.



The United States has linked with Canada and Mexico to form a free trade zone, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA agreement covers environmental and labour issues as well as trade and investment, but US unions and environmental groups argue that the safeguards are too weak. The USA hopes to expand the area to the rest of Latin America creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by 2005, but key countries like Brazil are sceptical of its benefits. The US is separately signing free trade agreements with Chile and the five Central American countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and Costa Rica. Meanwhile, the regional free trade pact called Mercosur, between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, has been put under severe strain because of currency devaluation first by Brazil, then by Argentina


Cairns group of agricultural exporting nations was formed in 1986 to lobby at the last round of world trade talks in order to free up trade in agricultural products. It is named after the town in Australia where the first meeting took place. Highly efficient agricultural producers, including those in both developed and developing countries, want to ensure that their products are not excluded from markets in Europe and Asia. Canada, Brazil and Argentina are other leading members. Recently key developing country members like Brazil, India and China appear to be working towards forming a separate negotiating group.


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is a loose grouping of the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean who have pledged to facilitate free trade. Its 21 members range from China and Russia to the United States, Japan and Australia, and account for 45% of world trade. Progress on free trade initiatives was seriously dented by the 1997-98 Asian Crisis, which hurt the economies of the fast-growing newly industrialised countries like South Korea and Indonesia. The SARS epidemic of 2003 also dented growth though recent data suggests that this blip has now passed. But recently China suggested it would be interested in establishing a free-trade zone with the growing economies of South-east Asia.