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TOP HEADLINES 6 April 2012
1. ASIA: Leading urban growth in next 40 years
2. PRC: Time to start FTA negotiations with US?
3. AFGHANISTAN: TB remains serious public health threat
P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
INDIA: Rising number of widows
4. SE ASIA: Talks continue on free trade
5. INDONESIA: Urged to spend more on social aid
6. BANGLADESH: Concern over India's plan to link rivers
7. VIET NAM: Gender imbalance highest in central province
8. KYRGYZ REP: Gold mine production cut to hit economy
9. PNG: Population tops 7 million
10. PAKISTAN OP/ED: The economics of numbers and poverty
IN DEPTH
1. ASIA: Leading urban growth in next 40 years
Source: un.org

"Africa and Asia together will account for 86 percent of all growth in the world's urban population over the next four decades, the United Nations said Thursday, adding that this unprecedented increase will pose new challenges in terms of jobs, housing and infrastructure. Asia's urban population is forecast to increase from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion by 2050.

Over the next four decades, India will add another 497 million to its urban population, China - 341 million, and Indonesia - 92 million. An initial analysis found that among 450 urban areas with one million or more inhabitants in 2011 (representing 1.4 billion people), 60 percent are located in regions exposed to at least one major type of natural disaster risk."



2. PRC OP/ED: Time to start FTA negotiations with US?
Source: Xinhua

"Trade and investments between China and the United States have been increasing continuously and at a substantial rate over the past decades. In order to reduce unnecessary misunderstandings and promote a healthier trade relationship between them, it could be time for China and the US to initiate talks on establishing an FTA. Compared to ten years ago, China is now better prepared to initiate talks with the US on establishing an FTA, and accelerating the implementation of the FTA is an important part of its further opening-up policy.

It is estimated that if China and the US had already established an FTA, and hence reduced their tariffs by 10 percent, China's economic growth rate would have increased by 3.93 percent in 2011 while the US' economic growth rate would have increased by 0.45 percent. During the past decade, US exports to China have grown by 468 percent, while its exports to other countries have only grown by 55 percent."



3. AFGHANISTAN: TB remains serious public health threat
Source: Xinhua

"Tuberculosis (TB) remains a serious public health threat in Afghanistan as 10,500 people lose their lives because of TB each year, Afghan Public Health Minister Suraya Dalil said on Tuesday. Afghanistan is one of 22 TB high-burden counties with almost 53,000 new cases discovered each year.

Available figures show Afghan women are impacted more than men as 66 percent among new infectious TB cases are female, according to the minister. Last year in Afghanistan, over 670 children under the age of 15 were diagnosed with TB. The majority, or 465 cases, are girls."


P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
INDIA: Rising number of widows
Source: India Times

"The World Health Organization warned India that feminization of its aging population could lead to a rapid increase in the number of widows. The trend has significant consequences for the health of older women. According to WHO's representative to India Dr Nata Menabde, a large percentage of older women are at risk of dependency, isolation, and/or dire poverty and neglect.

A quarter of the global elderly population is expected to be in India by 2015, and the elderly population in India will be more than 12 percent of the total population by 2026. Women's longer life-spans compared to men, combined with the fact that men tend to marry women younger than themselves, mean that the number of widows will increase rapidly. Older women have less access to social protection such as health insurance."


4. SE ASIA: Talks continue on free trade
Source: Antara

"The 20th ASEAN Summit which was held in Phnom Penh on Monday and Tuesday discussed the continuation of free trade consolidation with the region's six trading partners, Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said. As a follow up to the process, ASEAN member states agreed to set up a working group.

Earlier, at their 19th ASEAN Summit held in the Indonesian resort island of Bali, ASEAN member states agreed on the formation of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership framework with the region's six trading partners -- Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, China and India. The ASEAN leaders were aware of the need to involve the six trading partners in the effort to increase economic integrity and cooperation based upon common interests, transparency and best practices. If the agreement can be realized it may change the global economic map, the minister said."



5. INDONESIA: Urged to spend more on social aid
Source: Jakarta Globe

"Indonesia should more widely distribute the benefits of strong economic growth and protect poor and vulnerable households from sudden changes in the economy, the World Bank says. The government is spending Rp 137 trillion ($15 billion) to subsidize fuel, and some economists say the funds would be better spent on other programs.

The government spends Rp 30 trillion a year -- 0.5 percent of GDP -- on social assistance programs, which is significantly less than the 1.5 percent average for other middle-income countries. The government has eight social assistance programs for the poor, covering at least 18.5 million households. The largest program is rice assistance, which accounted for 53 percent of total spending."



6. BANGLADESH: Concern over India's plan to link rivers
Source: Financial Express

"Relevant authorities in Bangladesh have expressed grave concern over an Indian scheme to link more than 30 rivers for diverting water for irrigation, power generation and human consumption, officials said. According to experts, the $120 billion Indian scheme envisages to build 80 dams for irrigation and generation of hydro-electricity in the next 16 years, besides linking rivers.

Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal may be affected by the plan, as they are either on the downstream side of the major rivers following through India or have tributaries feeding into rivers affected by the plan. The Ganges and the Bramhaputra, Asia's major river systems that flow down to Bangladesh, are among the rivers whose water India has planned to divert to its western and southern parts."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
Hundreds of thousands of poor people will go without life-saving medicines and many more children will miss out on school, as many developed countries announced their first cuts in aid since 1997, Oxfam warned. The international NGO also calls for rich countries to reverse cuts and deliver on their promises to the world's poorest. Figures from the OECD show aid from rich countries was $133bn in 2011 -- a real terms fall of $3.4 billion. The biggest cuts were made by Greece and Spain, with Austria and Belgium also slashing aid budgets.


7. VIET NAM: Gender imbalance highest in central province
Source: VietNamNet

"The gender rate of newborn babies in the central province of Quang Ngai is 100 girls/117.3 boys, the highest imbalance rate in the central and Central Highland regions of Vietnam. This rate is alarming because it far exceeds the average rate of the country, 110 boys/100 girls. In some districts of Quang Ngai, this rate rises to 129 boys/100 girls.

Quang Ngai is among the ten provinces in Vietnam which have high gender imbalance rates. Most of parents in Quang Ngai want to have sons to maintain the continuity of their family lines. Moreover, fishermen all want to have many sons to work as fishermen."



8. KYRGYZ REP: Gold mine production cut to hit economy
Source: 24.kg

"A gold mine in Kyrgyzstan which accounts for a large chunk of the state's income has cut its production forecast by a third because of excessive ice in the pit. Lowering the 2012 output at the Kumtor mine will hit Kyrgyzstan's economy hard as it makes up roughly 12 percent of its annual income.

Kyrgyzstan is one of Central Asia's poorest countries. Unemployment and poverty rates are high in Kyrgyzstan which is landlocked and has a population of 5.5 million. Beyond gold it has few natural resources. Kumtor is a high altitude mine in the eastern mountains of Kyrgyzstan on the border with China."



9. PNG: Population tops 7 million
Source: Pacific Islands Report

"Papua New Guinea now has 7,059,653 people in the country, the government announced Wednesday. This represents an increase of 36 percent in PNG's population count since 2000. National Planning Minister Sam Basil said the figures would be used to plan the 2013 National Budget and in the coming weeks the National Executive Council would be tasked to re-activate the K20 ($9.52) per head tax using these figures.

The preliminary results are the first set of figures of the 2011 Population and Housing Census. Mr. Basil said this official data is very important to help authorities navigate the delivery of basic services to its people. The Highlands Region recorded the highest record population of 3,001,598."



10. PAKISTAN OP/ED: The economics of numbers and poverty
Source: tribune.com.pk

"Paradoxical though it may seem, there are huge business opportunities in countries with large numbers of poor people. The opportunities for businesses to profit are even more lucrative when such populations happen to live in clusters. All modern emerging markets (China, India, Brazil and Indonesia) have risen from a base level where large segments of their populations were living in poverty.

Pakistan is not an exception to this general trend in the global economy. The major difference between Pakistan and other emerging economies is that the latter are attempting to benefit from accelerated growth normally associated with lower base level economic activity. In Pakistan, the political elite (many of whom happen to come from a business background) attempt to benefit from higher profits that accrue from shifting the burden of inflation onto end users. Lucrative as it may seem in the short run, it is definitely unsustainable in the long term."



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