African press review 17 December 2015

Progress of a sort is made at the World Trade Organistaion summit taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, but the news is not welcomed by Korean peasant farmers. There's more trouble in the South African economic arena, with ratings agency Moody's giving the country its third adverse assessment in two weeks.


The big story in regional paper The East African is headlined "World Trade Organisation signs biggest deal in 19 years."

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Despite yesterday's pessimism in the same paper about the trade summit taking place in Nairobi, today's report hails a breakthrough on the Information Technology Agreement signed yesterday by 79 World Trade Organisation (WTO) members.

This, says The East African, is the biggest tariffs cut in 19 years of the history of the WTO and unlocks trade worth billions of dollars. While this high-technology deal will have a negligible impact in Africa, the WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said the agreement shows that compromise can be reached and has set an example for the next few days in Nairobi when crucial questions affecting African exporters will be debated.

A separate story in the same East African reports that a group of South Korean farmers want the WTO talks in Nairobi halted saying the agenda favours producers in developed countries to the detriment of peasant farmers.

The Korean Peasants League yesterday held peaceful demonstrations outside the Kenya National Archives in Nairobi.

They say poor farmers will continue to suffer if the talks funded by rich nations allow those nations to open up markets for their cheap goods in the developing world.

The Kenyan Daily Nation says World Trade Organisation members stuck to their guns at the opening of the 10th ministerial meeting as opposing camps emerged on yesterday's first day of talks.

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Developed nations, including the European Union and Australia, insisted that a deal on the Doha Round could not be reached, while developing countries say their agenda must be included.

The developed nations feel the talks that have been deadlocked for 14 years should be wound up to pave the way for new issues.

There's more trouble in the South African economic arena.

The financial ratings agency Moody’s yesterday changed the outlook on South Africa’s credit rating to negative from stable, the third adverse ratings decision for the country in less than two weeks, this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay reports.

Moody's still rates South Africa two notches above junk level, partly because of the reappointment of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

Persistent low growth and an increasing risk of spending targets being exceeded because of political pressure were the main reasons behind moving the outlook to negative, Moody’s said.

The change means that Moody’s could downgrade South Africa next year if the economy does not grow faster or if the state strays from fiscal prudence.

The other two ratings agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, currently rate South Africa just one level above junk status.

Slideshow Mandela

BusinessDay also reports that more than 1,000 people marched across the Nelson Mandela bridge in Newtown, Johannesburg, on Wednesday, calling for the removal of President Jacob Zuma and for stronger action against corruption within the government.

In Cape Town thousands of marchers gathered outside Parliament and marched to the nearby Cape Town Gardens chanting "Zuma must fall".

Echoing that call, a former editor of the Rand Daily Mail, Alistair Sparks, says in an opinion piece in BusinessDay that Zuma must go because he has blown his credibility as president and can no longer be trusted.

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