Foreign Investment, Duterte Drug War Victim

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/17/2017 12:18:00 PM
Unlike poor, defenseless Philippine teenagers, foreign investors have successfully avoided Duterte's Philippines.
Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte has elicited international condemnation over his bloody drug war,  whose most visible result are thousands of deaths among poor Filipinos unfortunate enough to live in open areas targeted for anti-drug operations. While primarily a security issue, there are also apparent economic consequences for Duterte's "reign of terror" (as the Catholic Church describes it) being waged on the civilian population as foreign direct investment dries up.

In fact, foreign direct investment [FDI] inflows have fallen for the four consecutive quarters Dutertet has been in power.
Investment pledges made by foreign firms slid 55 percent year-on-year to P18.2 billion in the second quarter, the fourth straight quarter that commitments dropped. In a report Friday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said foreign investments approved by seven investment promotion agencies (IPAs) from April to June declined from P40.4 billion in the same three-month period last year.

As of the end of the first six months, IPA-approved foreign investments totaled P41 billion, down 38.4 percent from P66.6 billion a year ago. To recall, foreign investment pledges fell 12.8 percent year-on-year to P22.9 billion in the first quarter. Also, approved foreign investments declined 9.3 percent year-on-year to P125.7 billion in the fourth quarter of last year after commitments dropped by a faster 45 percent to P26.7 billion in the third quarter of 2016. It meant that foreign investors’ pledges decreased in the first four quarters of the Duterte administration.
In brief, what we have here is a political risk issue. Would-be foreign investors fear for their safety in a country where a Korean businessperson has been falsely accused of involvement in the drug trade and killed inside of police headquarters in a kidnap-for-ransom scheme. There's also the problem of possible losses of market access. First, the European Union is evaluating whether to continue preferential trade access to the EU under its Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+). Under GSP+, duty-free rates can be availed if participating countries meet various conventions, of which those concerning human rights are coming under scrutiny:
The Philippines was granted beneficiary country status under the EU-GSP+ in December 2014, allowing the country to export 6,274 eligible products duty-free to the EU market. The alleged cases of extrajudicial killings as part of President Duterte’s drug war, however, has put at risk the country’s GSP+ privileges.

The beneficiary status under the GSP+ necessitates the implementation of the 27 international treaties and conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment and governance. Results of the latest review are expected to come out this year.
Following the EU's lead, others are encouraging fellow democracies to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines to discourage Duterte's violence against his own people. As you would expect, Philippine investment authorities are up in arms:
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez on Tuesday hit The New York Times (NYT) for urging the international community, in an editorial, to impose trade sanctions against the Philippines for extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration's campaign on illegal drugs.

"The editorial by The New York Times last March 24, calling for trade sanctions against the Philippines, is baseless and unfair," Lopez said in a statement. "Any form of trade sanction against the Philippines is uncalled for, unfounded and undeserved," the Trade chief emphasized.

In an editorial, titled "Accountability for Duterte," the American daily urged foreign governments to "hit" President Rodrigo Duterte "where it may hurt the most" – trade – in a bid to hold the Philippine leader accountable over the alleged killings in his "deadly" war on illegal drugs.
It's a cliche to say that businesspersons appreciate the lack of uncertainty, but with Duterte in charge of the Philippines, let's say no one is rushing to make investments in a country that's becoming increasingly isolated due to human rights concerns when there are so many far more predictable places to invest.

Premier League Post-Brexit & Post-Free Movement

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/12/2017 03:06:00 PM
Premier League clubs would have a harder time hiring European talent like N'golo Kante after leaving the EU.
The top flight of British football--the Premier League--is arguably not the most competitive in Europe if you go by the number of European Champions League winners it has produced. That said, the overall level of competition may be rather higher given its higher wages than comparable first divisions in other European countries. Something that has enabled a lot of transfer activity to the Premier League was being part of the European Union, where freedom of movement is part of the deal for EU citizens.

The UK's impending [sort of?] exit from the European Union is causing some consternation among Premier League clubs that will lose easy accessibility to European footballing talent. Instead of being readily available almost as though they were British, European players would now fall under the same restrictions facing migrant workers from elsewhere in the world. Fewer marquee European names playing in England due to these restrictions could negatively impact Premier League revenues:
England’s standing in the soccer world would be diminished if EU stars gravitated to other countries after Brexit, potentially cutting the value of future TV rights after the current 8-billion-pound ($10.5 billion) deal expires. Players from the bloc are allowed in to the U.K. under EU freedom of movement rules, while athletes from elsewhere must meet criteria that only permit the highest level of foreign players, judged on criteria including age and how many times they have played for their national team.
It's  not going to be the same. That said, there are plans afoot to tailor immigration rules to the demands of this sport:
The league says that, under current rules that apply to athletes from outside the EU, two French players who were crucial to Leicester City winning the championship in 2016, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, wouldn’t have gained admittance to the U.K. in a post-Brexit world.

The government wants to develop an immigration system that’s in the best interest of the whole of the U.K., and plans to make initial proposals for a new policy later in the autumn, a spokesman said. “We recognize the importance of sport to the nation and within that the contribution that international talent makes,” the government said in a statement. “We are in discussions with key representatives from the sport sector, including the Premier League, regarding the challenges and opportunities that our EU exit brings.’’
Together with most things concerning Brexit, the fate of hiring foreign footballers is up in the air. Then again, there is no certainty that the departure will happen.

Deport-o-Mania 2: Houston's Rebuilding Labor Shortage

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/05/2017 03:32:00 PM
Is Donald Trump's America so hateful of immigrants that it'd rather slow Houston's reconstruction significantly?
Being human after all, we have certain cravings that are personally destructive: nicotine cravings, sugar cravings, and so on. For several members of the American Trump administration--and those who voted for this affront to humanity--they have a different sort of craving that is rather worse in being societally destructive. That's right, their one true addiction is deporting people who are "different" from them culturally, ethnically or religiously. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, etc.

In an earlier post I discussed the potential consequences of ramping up deportations from the US just as Houston lies devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Being a Trump voter-rich state, Texas has unfortunately been at the forefront of sending those from other countries packing:
Under President Trump, authorities in Texas have been bearing down on illegal immigrants. Until a judge blocked the measure last week, they threatened to enact a new state law that would outlaw sanctuary cities. Texas also has been leading a group of 10 states demanding that Trump end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which granted reprieves from deportation to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.
The last time a disaster of this magnitude hit the Gulf of Mexico area, then-President George W. Bush silently rolled back strict deportation to help reconstruct New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Indeed, Hurricane Harvey may have made immigrants more vulnerable by literally bringing them out in the open:
It is a harsher landscape for those in the country illegally than it was 12 years ago, when the Gulf Coast faced the similar-size task of cleaning up from Hurricane Katrina. Eight days after that storm made landfall, President George W. Bush bowed to pressure from construction firms and relaxed worker ID rules. By some estimates, that allowed more than a quarter of all government-paid recovery jobs to go to illegal immigrants [my emphasis]...

But 10 days after Harvey struck Texas with record-setting rains and caused unprecedented flooding, the Trump administration has made no similar proclamation. Worse, immigrant rights groups say, federal authorities have sent conflicting signals about whether they might start simply detaining and deporting those flushed out into the open by the storm.
Builders, unlike certain elected officials, know what really needs to be accomplished in order to meet the labor requirements in rebuilding Houston. Most certainly it isn't ramping up deportations:
Leaders in the construction industry have begun sounding alarms that there will not be enough American-born workers to rebuild as quickly as needed. “If they would relax the rules, honestly, that would be great, we could use it,” said Jeffrey Nielsen, executive vice president of the Houston Contractors Association, whose members include the city’s largest firms that build roads, bridges and other public works.

Nielsen said that even before Harvey hit, almost every member of the association was grappling with a shortage of workers. With a crushing list of jobs now growing by the day, thousands need to be hired — and fast. Nielsen said he and other construction industry officials were told at a weekend briefing that roughly 30 percent of all roads in and around Houston will remain impassable without some construction work.
The city's reliance on undocumented workers is substantial if left unsaid. As the saying goes, there are literally few gringos (white natives) willing to do the work:
“The truth is, there are not a lot of people jumping up and down to do civil construction work in Texas. It’s hot, and these jobs are pouring concrete or, worse, hot asphalt,” Nielsen said. “That’s the reality of it, and we need more people than ever.”

There are plenty in and around Houston who might consider taking on the work, which can pay $20 an hour or more, if ID requirements were relaxed, construction industry officials say.

The Houston metropolitan area has the third-largest illegal immigrant population in the country, about 575,000 people, according to a Pew Research Center report this year. Those workers already make up roughly a quarter of all construction laborers citywide, according to the study. Some estimate it could be closer to half [my emphasis].

But as the federal government this week is expected to begin signing massive contracts for debris removal, roofing work and other emergency efforts, none of Houston’s unauthorized immigrant population could pass worker verification guidelines required of federal contractors.
Trump-style bigotry certainly raises several ethical issues. However, as this storm illustrates, racism doesn't make much economic sense either while you're trying to rebuild an American megacity. Somehow, I doubt there are enough Breitbart readers out there [representative headline: Satanic illegals kill US teen!] willing to do the hard work that needs to be done.