Economist 5/12/15

  1. Civil wars in the Middle East and oppression in Africa have contributed to a surge in the number of asylum applications to Europe, from 336,000 in 2012 to over 600,000 last year. Applications from Syria and Eritrea have increased fivefold. But currently only a handful of countries shoulder the costs associated with accepting asylum-seekers. Germany, France and Italy took over half of refugees applying to European countries in 2014. They, unsurprisingly, support quotas, while other countries are far less keen to spread the burden. Hungary, which fervently objects to quotas, processed only 6,000 of the over 40,000 applications it received in 2014. Fewer than 10% of those were accepted—the lowest acceptance rate in Europe.
  2. South Africa’s wine sales to China grew by 63% in 2014. Whereas the South Africans are still small fry compared with French winemakers or even with Australians, they are determined to find a way into the hearts of Chinese drinkers.Mr Koegelenberg, for example, took the advice of his Chinese partner, who told him to make the labels look French. So in 2011 “L’Huguenot” was born, a South African brand for China only. Mr Koegelenberg has had to keep up with China’s changing tastes: for example, sales of expensive wines for “gifting” to business partners have fallen off under the edicts of President Xi Jinping.
  3. BEFORE the refugees came, Dadaab was a forgettable little way-station in north-eastern Kenya on a dusty road to Somalia. It is Kenya’s fourth-largest population centre and the world’s biggest refugee settlement. As Kenya’s government struggles to deal with Islamist terrorism, it is blaming Somali refugees and wants Dadaab gone.Kenya’s response to the latest attack was to threaten to close the camp and to outlaw 85 remittance companies, civil-society groups and businesses, all accused of funding terrorism. After Westgate, Kenya’s government proclaimed a “voluntary repatriation” scheme that took over a year to get going and was largely ignored; barely 2,000 Somalis have taken up the offer to return.In Dadaab the refugees expressed panic and defiance. Many have lived there for a quarter of a century and are afraid to go back to their country, which is still rent by violence.Residents deny that the camps are riddled with jihadists.
  4. With a few exceptions the world’s 45 landlocked countries are poor. Of the 15 lowest-ranking countries in the Human Development Index, eight have no coastline. All of these are in Africa, which is a poor region. But even compared with similar sea-front countries those without coastlines have lagged behind. Their GDP per person is 40% lower than that of their maritime neighbours.Their most obvious handicap is in moving goods to and from ports. International treaties promise access to the oceans, but responsibility for implementing them lies with the governments of the “transit states”. They have little incentive to build infrastructure that would mainly help their neighbours.Enterprises regard landlocked trading partners as unreliable, since transit states can interrupt commerce. A strike by Chilean customs officials in 2013 caused a queue of lorries 20km (12 miles) long in Bolivia.The success of the few rich landlocked countries offers little hope to poorer ones. Switzerland specialises in finance, which does not travel by boat.Botswana, a middle-income landlocked country, exports diamonds, which are shipped by air.
  5. For many outside observers Chile remains an admirable success story. Public debt and inflation are low. Only one Chilean in ten lives in poverty, while infant mortality is not much above that in the United States. Santiago, the capital, is laced not just with urban motorways but also with metro lines.Yet Chile is ill at ease. Mr Piñera’s government was dogged by massive student demonstrations calling for free education. In 2013 Michelle Bachelet, the moderate Socialist president in 2006-10, won a landslide victory on the most left-wing platform since democracy was restored, calling for a new constitution and reforms aimed at tackling pervasive socioeconomic inequality.Chile has the least-bad schools in Latin America, though that is not saying much. But the president chose to adopt the students’ political agenda. The first of several education reforms bans school selection of pupils, bars privately run but publicly supported schools (which educate 58% of children) from making profits and will gradually replace parental top-up fees at these schools with public funding. This will eat up most of the extra tax revenue.The left insists the reforms will turn a country run for and by a small elite into a social democracy. Many on the right and in business say they threaten Chile’s success.
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