Category Archives: Business

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Electric Car Makers Woo Chinese Buyers with Range, Features

Automakers are showcasing electric SUVs and sedans with more driving range and luxury features at the Shanghai auto show, trying to appeal to Chinese buyers in their biggest market as Beijing slashes subsidies that have propelled demand. 

Communist leaders wanting China to lead in electric vehicles have imposed sales targets. That requires brands to pour money into creating models to compete with gasoline-powered vehicles on price, looks and performance at a time when they are struggling with a Chinese sales slump. 

General Motors, Volkswagen, China’s Geely and other brands on Tuesday displayed dozens of models, from luxury SUVs to compacts priced under $10,000, at Auto Shanghai 2019. The show, the global industry’s biggest marketing event of the year, opens to the public Saturday following a preview for reporters.

On Monday, GM unveiled Buick’s first all-electric model for China. GM says the four-door Velite 6 can travel 301 kilometers (185 miles) before the battery needs charging. 

VW showed off a concept electric SUV, the whimsically named ID. ROOMZZ, designed to travel 450 kilometers (280 miles) on one charge. Features include seats that rotate 25 degrees to create a lounge-like atmosphere. 

Communist leaders have promoted “new energy vehicles” for 15 years with subsidies to developers and buyers. That, along with support including orders to state-owned utilities to blanket China with charging stations, is helping to transform the technology into a mainstream product. 

“People’s mindset and governmental policies are more encouraging toward e-cars than in any other country,” said VW CEO Herbert Diess. 

Electric vehicles play a key role in the ruling Communist Party’s plans for government-led development of Chinese global competitors in technologies from robotics to biotech. 

Those ambitions set off Beijing’s tariff war with President Donald Trump. Washington, Europe and other trading partners complain Chinese subsidies to technology developers and pressure on foreign companies to share know-how violate its market-opening commitments. 

Electric car subsidies end next year, replaced by sales quotas. Automakers that fall short can buy credits from competitors that exceed their targets or face possible fines. 

“Most of the traditional car makers are under huge pressure to launch NEVs,” said industry analyst John Zeng of LMC Automotive. 

Last year’s Chinese sales of pure-electric and hybrid sedans and SUVs soared 60% over 2017 to 1.3 million, or half the global total. At the same time, industry revenue was squeezed by a 4.1% fall in total Chinese auto sales to 23.7 million vehicles. 

That skid that worsened this year. First-quarter sales fell 13.7% from a year ago. 

Still, China is a top market for global automakers, giving them an incentive to go along with Beijing’s electric ambitions. Total annual sales are expected eventually to reach 30 million, nearly double last year’s U.S. level of 17 million. 

Under Beijing’s new rules, automakers must earn credits for sales of electrics equal to at least 10% of purchases this year and 12% in 2020. Longer-range vehicles can earn double credits. That means some brands can fill their quota if electrics make up as little as 5% of sales. 

Also Tuesday, Nissan Motor Co. and its Chinese partner displayed the Sylphy Zero Emission, an all-electric model designed for China. Based on Nissan’s Leaf, the lower-priced Sylphy went on sale in August.

Mercedes Benz displayed its first all-electric model in China, the EQC 400 SUV. The Germany automaker says it can travel 400 kilometers (280 miles) on one charge and can go from zero to 100 kph (62 mph) in 5.2 seconds. 

Mercedes plans to release 10 electrified models worldwide, with most built in China, according to Hubertus Troska, its board member for China. 

Some Chinese rivals have been selling low-priced electrics for a decade or more. 

China’s BYD Auto, the biggest global electric brand by sales volume, unveiled three new pure-electric models last month. All promise ranges of more than 400 kilometers (280 miles) on one charge. 

Last week, Geely Auto unveiled a sedan under its new electric brand, Geometry, with an advertised range of up to 500 kilometers (320 miles) on one charge. 

Geely’s parent, Geely Holding, launched a joint venture with Mercedes parent Daimler AG in March to develop electrics under the smart brand. Geely Holding is Daimler’s biggest shareholder and also owns Sweden’s Volvo Cars. 

Beijing wants to force automakers to speed up innovation and squeeze out producers that rely too heavily on subsidies. But the technology minister acknowledged in January that China faces a difficult transition as that spending is ending. 

Keeping development on track “will be a challenge,” said Miao Wei, according to a transcript on his ministry’s website. 

The shift creates an opportunity for fledgling Chinese automakers that lag global rivals in gasoline technology. They have just 10% of the global market for gasoline-powered vehicles but account for 50% of electric sales. 

The end of subsidies should lead to dramatic changes, said Zeng of LMC Automotive. He said longer-range, feature-rich models from global majors will replace small producers that cannot survive without subsidies. 

Electric vehicles “will be much more competitive,” said Zeng. 

As the cost of batteries and other components falls, industry analysts say electrics in China could match gasoline vehicles in price and become profitable for manufacturers in less than five years. 

EVs carry a higher sticker price in China than gasoline models. But industry analysts say owners who drive at least 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) a year save money in the long run, because maintenance and charging cost less. 

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Electric Car Makers Woo Chinese Buyers with Range, Features

Automakers are showcasing electric SUVs and sedans with more driving range and luxury features at the Shanghai auto show, trying to appeal to Chinese buyers in their biggest market as Beijing slashes subsidies that have propelled demand. 

Communist leaders wanting China to lead in electric vehicles have imposed sales targets. That requires brands to pour money into creating models to compete with gasoline-powered vehicles on price, looks and performance at a time when they are struggling with a Chinese sales slump. 

General Motors, Volkswagen, China’s Geely and other brands on Tuesday displayed dozens of models, from luxury SUVs to compacts priced under $10,000, at Auto Shanghai 2019. The show, the global industry’s biggest marketing event of the year, opens to the public Saturday following a preview for reporters.

On Monday, GM unveiled Buick’s first all-electric model for China. GM says the four-door Velite 6 can travel 301 kilometers (185 miles) before the battery needs charging. 

VW showed off a concept electric SUV, the whimsically named ID. ROOMZZ, designed to travel 450 kilometers (280 miles) on one charge. Features include seats that rotate 25 degrees to create a lounge-like atmosphere. 

Communist leaders have promoted “new energy vehicles” for 15 years with subsidies to developers and buyers. That, along with support including orders to state-owned utilities to blanket China with charging stations, is helping to transform the technology into a mainstream product. 

“People’s mindset and governmental policies are more encouraging toward e-cars than in any other country,” said VW CEO Herbert Diess. 

Electric vehicles play a key role in the ruling Communist Party’s plans for government-led development of Chinese global competitors in technologies from robotics to biotech. 

Those ambitions set off Beijing’s tariff war with President Donald Trump. Washington, Europe and other trading partners complain Chinese subsidies to technology developers and pressure on foreign companies to share know-how violate its market-opening commitments. 

Electric car subsidies end next year, replaced by sales quotas. Automakers that fall short can buy credits from competitors that exceed their targets or face possible fines. 

“Most of the traditional car makers are under huge pressure to launch NEVs,” said industry analyst John Zeng of LMC Automotive. 

Last year’s Chinese sales of pure-electric and hybrid sedans and SUVs soared 60% over 2017 to 1.3 million, or half the global total. At the same time, industry revenue was squeezed by a 4.1% fall in total Chinese auto sales to 23.7 million vehicles. 

That skid that worsened this year. First-quarter sales fell 13.7% from a year ago. 

Still, China is a top market for global automakers, giving them an incentive to go along with Beijing’s electric ambitions. Total annual sales are expected eventually to reach 30 million, nearly double last year’s U.S. level of 17 million. 

Under Beijing’s new rules, automakers must earn credits for sales of electrics equal to at least 10% of purchases this year and 12% in 2020. Longer-range vehicles can earn double credits. That means some brands can fill their quota if electrics make up as little as 5% of sales. 

Also Tuesday, Nissan Motor Co. and its Chinese partner displayed the Sylphy Zero Emission, an all-electric model designed for China. Based on Nissan’s Leaf, the lower-priced Sylphy went on sale in August.

Mercedes Benz displayed its first all-electric model in China, the EQC 400 SUV. The Germany automaker says it can travel 400 kilometers (280 miles) on one charge and can go from zero to 100 kph (62 mph) in 5.2 seconds. 

Mercedes plans to release 10 electrified models worldwide, with most built in China, according to Hubertus Troska, its board member for China. 

Some Chinese rivals have been selling low-priced electrics for a decade or more. 

China’s BYD Auto, the biggest global electric brand by sales volume, unveiled three new pure-electric models last month. All promise ranges of more than 400 kilometers (280 miles) on one charge. 

Last week, Geely Auto unveiled a sedan under its new electric brand, Geometry, with an advertised range of up to 500 kilometers (320 miles) on one charge. 

Geely’s parent, Geely Holding, launched a joint venture with Mercedes parent Daimler AG in March to develop electrics under the smart brand. Geely Holding is Daimler’s biggest shareholder and also owns Sweden’s Volvo Cars. 

Beijing wants to force automakers to speed up innovation and squeeze out producers that rely too heavily on subsidies. But the technology minister acknowledged in January that China faces a difficult transition as that spending is ending. 

Keeping development on track “will be a challenge,” said Miao Wei, according to a transcript on his ministry’s website. 

The shift creates an opportunity for fledgling Chinese automakers that lag global rivals in gasoline technology. They have just 10% of the global market for gasoline-powered vehicles but account for 50% of electric sales. 

The end of subsidies should lead to dramatic changes, said Zeng of LMC Automotive. He said longer-range, feature-rich models from global majors will replace small producers that cannot survive without subsidies. 

Electric vehicles “will be much more competitive,” said Zeng. 

As the cost of batteries and other components falls, industry analysts say electrics in China could match gasoline vehicles in price and become profitable for manufacturers in less than five years. 

EVs carry a higher sticker price in China than gasoline models. But industry analysts say owners who drive at least 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) a year save money in the long run, because maintenance and charging cost less. 

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Heritage Site or Home? Indigenous Thais Fight for Right to Forest

Hundreds of indigenous Karen people in Thailand face evictions from a national park that authorities wish to turn into a World Heritage Site, joining millions in a similarly precarious situation as authorities worldwide push tough conservation laws.

The Kaeng Krachan is Thailand’s biggest national park, sprawled over more than 2,900 square kilometers (1,120 square miles) on the border with neighboring Myanmar.

Renowned for its diverse wildlife, it is also home to about 30 communities of ethnic Karen people, who have traditionally lived and farmed there — and is on a tentative list of world heritage sites.

The United Nations’ cultural agency (UNESCO) had referred the submission back to the Thai government in 2016, asking it to address “rights and livelihood concerns” of the Karen communities, and get their support for the nomination.

The Thai government plans to respond later this year, according to campaigners.

“The communities have not been consulted or reassured on their access to the forest,” said Kittisak Rattanakrajangsri of advocacy group Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact.

“The communities are not opposed to the heritage status,” he told Reuters. “They are just asking that they not be evicted, and that their land rights are secure — because if the park gets heritage status without that, there will be a great many more evictions.”

A spokesman for the forest department did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for the U.N. human rights office (OHCHR) in Bangkok said they had recently facilitated a meeting between a rights organization working with the Karen, and Thai officials.

Worldwide, more than 250,000 people were evicted from protected areas in 15 countries from 1990 to 2014, according to Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Rights and Resources Initiative.

In India, more than 1.9 million indigenous families face evictions after their forest rights claims were rejected.

‘No legal rights’

Since Kaeng Krachan was declared a national park in 1981, hundreds of Karen — a hill tribe people thought to number about 1 million in Thailand — have been evicted, according to activists.

Last year the country’s top court ruled that about 400 who had been evicted in 2011 had no legal right over the land.

“The security of indigenous people in Thailand is so tenuous because they have no legal rights, and no recognition of their dependence on forests,” said Worawuth Tamee, an indigenous rights lawyer.

“The laws have made them encroachers,” he said. 

A 2010 Cabinet resolution had called for recognizing the Karen people’s way of life and their right to earn a livelihood the traditional way. But this has not been implemented, said

Tamee.

After the military government took charge in 2014, it vowed to “take back the forest” and increase forest cover to about 40 percent of the total surface area from about a third.

This has resulted in hundreds of reclamations from farmers and forest dwellers, according to research organization Mekong Region Land Governance.

“It is the biggest challenge facing indigenous people,” said Tamee. “Parks are not just for the enjoyment of city people and tourists. They are also the home of poor, indigenous people who have nowhere else to go.”

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Heritage Site or Home? Indigenous Thais Fight for Right to Forest

Hundreds of indigenous Karen people in Thailand face evictions from a national park that authorities wish to turn into a World Heritage Site, joining millions in a similarly precarious situation as authorities worldwide push tough conservation laws.

The Kaeng Krachan is Thailand’s biggest national park, sprawled over more than 2,900 square kilometers (1,120 square miles) on the border with neighboring Myanmar.

Renowned for its diverse wildlife, it is also home to about 30 communities of ethnic Karen people, who have traditionally lived and farmed there — and is on a tentative list of world heritage sites.

The United Nations’ cultural agency (UNESCO) had referred the submission back to the Thai government in 2016, asking it to address “rights and livelihood concerns” of the Karen communities, and get their support for the nomination.

The Thai government plans to respond later this year, according to campaigners.

“The communities have not been consulted or reassured on their access to the forest,” said Kittisak Rattanakrajangsri of advocacy group Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact.

“The communities are not opposed to the heritage status,” he told Reuters. “They are just asking that they not be evicted, and that their land rights are secure — because if the park gets heritage status without that, there will be a great many more evictions.”

A spokesman for the forest department did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for the U.N. human rights office (OHCHR) in Bangkok said they had recently facilitated a meeting between a rights organization working with the Karen, and Thai officials.

Worldwide, more than 250,000 people were evicted from protected areas in 15 countries from 1990 to 2014, according to Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Rights and Resources Initiative.

In India, more than 1.9 million indigenous families face evictions after their forest rights claims were rejected.

‘No legal rights’

Since Kaeng Krachan was declared a national park in 1981, hundreds of Karen — a hill tribe people thought to number about 1 million in Thailand — have been evicted, according to activists.

Last year the country’s top court ruled that about 400 who had been evicted in 2011 had no legal right over the land.

“The security of indigenous people in Thailand is so tenuous because they have no legal rights, and no recognition of their dependence on forests,” said Worawuth Tamee, an indigenous rights lawyer.

“The laws have made them encroachers,” he said. 

A 2010 Cabinet resolution had called for recognizing the Karen people’s way of life and their right to earn a livelihood the traditional way. But this has not been implemented, said

Tamee.

After the military government took charge in 2014, it vowed to “take back the forest” and increase forest cover to about 40 percent of the total surface area from about a third.

This has resulted in hundreds of reclamations from farmers and forest dwellers, according to research organization Mekong Region Land Governance.

“It is the biggest challenge facing indigenous people,” said Tamee. “Parks are not just for the enjoyment of city people and tourists. They are also the home of poor, indigenous people who have nowhere else to go.”

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Mexican President Says to Return ‘Stolen’ Wealth to the People

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he will create a “Robin Hood” institute to return to the people the ill-gotten wealth seized from corrupt politicians and gangsters.

His administration is drawing up a bill to create an independent “Robin Hood” institute “against the corrupt” that would put confiscated goods such as real estate, jewelry and cars into the public’s hands, the president told reporters.

“Let’s quickly return everything to the people that’s been stolen,” he said at his regular morning news conference.

For example, the institute could assign seized homes to municipalities for schools, hospitals or elderly care centers, he said. Assets seized by the government tend to have been ransacked or require expensive upkeep, he noted.

He did not estimate the value of the assets, or offer details on how they would be given back to the people.

Since taking office in December, veteran leftist Lopez Obrador has rolled out a string of welfare programs for the poor and the elderly, cut salaries for top civil servants and says he is saving public money by eliminating corruption.

Lopez Obrador has shunned the often luxurious trappings of Mexico’s wealthy elites, choosing to fly coach and drive through the capital in a white Volkswagen Jetta.

Immediately upon taking office, he turned over the presidential palace to the public and put his predecessor’s official plane up for sale.

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Mexican President Says to Return ‘Stolen’ Wealth to the People

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he will create a “Robin Hood” institute to return to the people the ill-gotten wealth seized from corrupt politicians and gangsters.

His administration is drawing up a bill to create an independent “Robin Hood” institute “against the corrupt” that would put confiscated goods such as real estate, jewelry and cars into the public’s hands, the president told reporters.

“Let’s quickly return everything to the people that’s been stolen,” he said at his regular morning news conference.

For example, the institute could assign seized homes to municipalities for schools, hospitals or elderly care centers, he said. Assets seized by the government tend to have been ransacked or require expensive upkeep, he noted.

He did not estimate the value of the assets, or offer details on how they would be given back to the people.

Since taking office in December, veteran leftist Lopez Obrador has rolled out a string of welfare programs for the poor and the elderly, cut salaries for top civil servants and says he is saving public money by eliminating corruption.

Lopez Obrador has shunned the often luxurious trappings of Mexico’s wealthy elites, choosing to fly coach and drive through the capital in a white Volkswagen Jetta.

Immediately upon taking office, he turned over the presidential palace to the public and put his predecessor’s official plane up for sale.

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US Agency Plans to Invest in Businesses That Empower African Women

A U.S. government agency says it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in businesses that empower women in Africa.

President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and the acting head of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), David Bohigian, announced the initiative Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where they are part of a U.S. government delegation.

A statement from OPIC says the “2X Africa” initiative aims to mobilize $1 billion and directly invest $350 million in companies and funds “owned by women, led by women,” or by “providing a good or service that intentionally empowers women on the continent.”

The statement said that on Sunday, Bohigian signed a “letter of interest” with an Ethiopian company called Muya to help support the company through OPIC financing. Muya, owned by fasion designer Sara Abera, produces household products and was the first Ethiopian company to obtain membership in the World Fair Trade Organization.

Ivanka Trump visited Muya on Sunday after she arrived in Addis Ababa for a summit on African women’s economic inclusion and empowerment.

She is in the East African country to promote a $50 million initiative enacted by her father in February that is aimed at encouraging women’s employment in developing countries.

“Fundamentally, we believe that investing in women is a smart development policy and it is a smart business,” Trump said after sampling coffee at a traditional Ethiopian ceremony. “It’s also in our security interest, because women, when we’re empowered, foster peace and stability.”

Trump also laid a wreath at an Ethiopian Orthodox church to honor the victims of last month’s Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board.

It was not immediately clear if the controversy that surrounds the U.S. president will follow his daughter to Africa. The president has not been kind in his remarks about Africa and its migrants.

Ivanka Trump is also scheduled to meet with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed before going on to Ivory Coast, where she will attend a meeting on economic opportunities for women in West Africa.

She is also scheduled to make an appearance at a World Bank policy summit.

 

 

 

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Warren Has New Plan for Fossil Fuel Leasing on Public Lands

Elizabeth Warren is vowing to prohibit new fossil fuel leasing on public lands if she’s elected president, one of several new energy proposals she rolled out on Monday before a campaign swing in two Western states.

Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, already has launched more than a half-dozen new proposals since entering the Democratic primary , outpacing her many rivals in a calculated bid to lead 2020′s ideas race. Her latest addition to her policy agenda aims to reverse the significant climb in drilling on public lands under President Donald Trump while also fleshing out her approach to climate change, a key issue for her party’s liberal base.

Besides an executive order barring new fossil fuel leases on public lands on shore and offshore, Warren said Monday that she would work toward boosting U.S. electricity generation from renewable sources offshore or on public lands. Her plan also includes free entry to national parks, the reinstatement of Obama-era environmental policies Trump rolled back and the creation of a service program to help maintain public lands.

“Any serious effort to address climate change must include public lands — fossil fuel extraction in these areas is responsible for nearly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,” Warren wrote in a Monday blog post announcing her proposals.

Warren is set to discuss the public lands policies this week during campaign stops in South Carolina, Colorado and Utah.

Her proposals, particularly the bid to end new fossil fuel leasing on public lands, are likely to draw plaudits from environmental groups while running afoul of the oil and gas industry, which has benefited from millions of acres of public land offered for lease since Trump took office. Advocacy groups had urged then-President Barack Obama to halt new leases on federal land without success.

However, the Trump administration’s plans for new offshore drilling have sparked legal challenges of their own, including one affecting tests on the Atlantic coast that’s backed by the Republican attorney general of South Carolina.

Warren’s bid for a dramatic increase in renewable electricity generation on public land and offshore is a major turnabout from current policy. She acknowledged in her blog post that her goal is “nearly ten times what we are currently generating” but billed it as achievable.

Among Warren’s other policy rollouts this year are proposals to tax the nation’s wealthiest people and tax corporations with profits greater than $100 million , a universal child care plan and proposals designed to decrease consolidation in the tech industry and the agriculture industry.

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Row With US Energy Trader Worsens Haiti’s Fuel Crisis

A dispute between Haiti and a U.S. energy trading firm is leading to long blackouts and fuel shortages in the Caribbean nation, feeding anger at President Jovenel Moise’s government following the collapse of a supply deal with Venezuela last year.

The capital Port-au-Prince’s fragile power grid was dealt a blow when Novum Energy Trading Corp suspended shipments in February, leaving residents without electricity for days and many gas stations with no fuel at the pumps.

Novum says the government owes it $40 million in overdue payments for fuel. Haitian officials did not reply to requests for comment.

The Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, Haiti long relied on fuel shipments from nearby OPEC member Venezuela, which offered cheap financing to several Caribbean nations to buy its gasoline, diesel and other products through a program called Petrocaribe.

But the scheme fell apart last year due to economic turmoil in Venezuela, forcing Haiti – a nation of 11 million people – to return to international markets.

Novum, which has supplied Haiti with fuel for more than four years, stepped up its shipments as the Petrocaribe deal unravelled. Novum said it supplied 80 percent of Haiti’s gasoline and diesel needs last year.

On Feb. 27, Novum anchored a vessel carrying 150,000 barrels of gasoline off Port-au-Prince until the payment dispute could be resolved. The cargo was equivalent to roughly half of Haiti’s monthly consumption of gasoline, according to industry experts.

After more than a month waiting, Novum on April 4 said the situation was “untenable” and sent the vessel to Jamaica to take on provisions.

Youri Chevry, mayor of Port-au-Prince, a sprawling city of more than 2.6 million people, said electricity and gasoline shortages had grown worse over the past month as Haiti waited for the shipment.

“It’s a very bad situation … It has a lot of repercussions,” he said.

Chris Scott, Novum’s chief financial officer, said the vessel would not dock until the government could pay. He said Novum had taken such measures “fairly regularly” since mid-2018 as Haiti started to fall behind on payments after the Petrocaribe program collapsed.

“They need to pay in order for us to be able to discharge,” Scott said.

A government official, who asked not to be identified, said fuel distribution companies in Haiti had not paid the government for gasoline and diesel it purchased on their behalf from Novum. That in turn meant the government could not pay the U.S. company for the fuel.

The official said other companies were still supplying Haiti with fuel. He did not provide details.

The scarcity of fuel and growing economic problems has put basic necessities increasingly out of reach for many Haitians, despite a $229 million loan program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached last month.

“I’m barely surviving,” said 40-year-old Amos, one of scores of hawkers selling black market gasoline on a busy street in the capital. On bad day, he earns little more than 50 cents. “It’s going to be difficult to see change in this country.”

Protests

Protesters have for months agitated to remove Moise, a former businessman who took office in February 2017. They blame him for inflation running at around 17 percent, the depreciation of the gourde currency, and for not investigating alleged misuse of Petrocaribe funds by public officials.

Between Feb. 7 and Feb. 27, the protests claimed at least 26 lives and injured more than 77 people, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, though the situation has calmed since then.

Moise has refused to step aside, saying in February he would not hand power to the leaders of violent protests. He pledged his government would take steps to address people’s grievances.

Corruption is a perennial concern in Haiti. The nation ranked 166 from 183 countries in Transparency International’s global survey of perceptions of corruption last year – only Venezuela had a worse ranking in the Western Hemisphere.

International pressure has grown for an investigation. In a March 20 letter, 104 member of the U.S. Congress asked President Donald Trump’s government to support investigations into Petrocaribe in Haiti, pointing to the alleged misuse of $2 billion in low-interest loans under the scheme.

At the height of the Petrocaribe program, Venezuelan fuel covered nearly 70 percent of Haiti’s needs. Venezuela provided long-term financing for the oil on flexible terms, with a maximum 2 percent interest rate and a two-year grace period.

Petrocaribe included a fund for infrastructure and social projects in member countries.

By April 2018, Venezuela was no longer exporting fuel to Haiti, according to documents from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA seen by Reuters.

After the program lapsed, Haitian energy companies lacked the hard U.S. currency to be able to buy fuel on international markets, said an executive at one firm, who asked not to be identified.

Andre Michel, an opposition leader looking into the alleged corruption surrounding Petrocaribe, said it was difficult to estimate how much was stolen but the signs of misused of funds appeared compelling.

“No serious projects have been completed: no hospitals, no campus for students, no roads, no housing projects,” he said.

An oft-heard lament on the streets of Port-au-Prince is that while politicians pilfer billions, Haitians go hungry. Roads in the city are potholed and the vestiges of a deadly 2010 earthquake can still be seen at practically every corner.

Destine Legagneur, a small business owner, whose shop is a stone’s throw from the presidential palace, said Haitians would be scarred by the Petrocaribe scheme for years to come.

“That money is going to have to be paid to Venezuela one way or another,” he said. “If it’s not me, it’s my kids that are going to have to pay.”

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Ivanka Trump In Africa For Women’s Economic Summit

Ivanka Trump arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Sunday for a summit on African women’s economic inclusion and empowerment.

President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser visited a coffee shop and textile company in Addis Ababa. She is there to promote a $50 million initiative enacted by her father in February that is aimed at encouraging women’s employment in developing countries.

The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative says it hopes to “reach 50 million women by 2025, through the work of the the United States Government and its partners.”

“Fundamentally, we believe that investing in women is a smart development policy and it is a smart business,” Ivanka Trump said after sampling coffee at a traditional Ethiopian ceremony. “It’s also in our security interest, because women, when we’re empowered, foster peace and stability.”

It was not immediately clear if the controversy that surrounds the U.S. president will follow his daughter to Africa. The president has not been kind in his remarks about Africa and its migrants.

“I don’t think people will have a good feeling” Ethiopian journalist Sisay Woubshet said about the president’s daughter visit to the continent.

Marakle Tesfaye, an activist, said, however, “I think she’s coming genuinely to empower women and it’s good that she’s coming because she will push forward our agenda.”

Ivanka Trump will also meet with meet with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed before going on to Ivory Coast, where she will attend a meeting on economic opportunities for women in West Africa.

She is also scheduled to an make an appearance at a World Bank policy summit.

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