The African Union and European Union: shared lessons but separate destinies Part I: Political process

 

The months and years ahead shall pose growing challenges for African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU). Though vast differences exist in geography, economy, and governance, there is much the AU can stand to learn from the EU – both in achievement and shortcomings – as it progresses into an uncertain future with it already certain 2016 and beyond shall pose some significant challenges to AU in its 15th year of existence since establishment in 2001.

 

Assessing the future of a nation – much less an entire continent – is always a task fraught with great peril. This is true of the future of the AU and EU. Yet, within their recent history clear trends can be seen which illustrate the EU is likely to face further threats to its structure due to political events, and it is conversely due to political events that the AU need grow its structure. To assess where the AU can learn from the older EU’s missteps, first an overview of Europe’s recent years are necessary.

 

Put simply, the European Union in recent times has battled through the lowest point in its 22 year history. First, the monetary crisis between Greece Click to continue reading

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What Economic Trouble in China Could Mean for Africa

 

Chinese investment on the African continent is huge. This in itself is not news. Further, China as a global economy is huge. By one measure in recent times, it has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest economy. Yet, it is also a reality that Beijing began January 2016 by sending tremors of fear throughout regional and global stock markets, and so it need be considered what a continuation of this would mean for African nations. First, an overview of recent events is necessary.

Upheaval on the Chinese share market is not new. Foremost among the turmoil of recent times is perceived inexperience of new Chinese ‘mom and pop’ investors combined with the Chinese government’s need to maintain a positive economic outlook at all costs to ensure its ongoing legitimacy. Though investors may have traded before believing it a manageable risk Beijing could be artificially fabricating figures, the rate in which the economic slowdown in China has occurred – with this month’s figures showing annual growth the lowest in 25 years – has meant there is growing concern the risks of doing business in China right now outweigh the rewards.

Yet, it Click to continue reading

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Melbourne and Sydney Property Markets vs the World

 

Large-scale investment from Asia and particularly China is not confined to Australia. Yet, skim some local headlines on your phone or pick up any Sunday morning paper and you’d be hard pressed to find a mention of the word that is crucial to any report on the trend: context.

Certainly, both the Melbourne and Sydney property markets have been going through a certifiable surge in recent months and years. Yet, neither Melbourne nor Sydney nor wider Australia is unique in this regard. At all.

Simply put, foreign investment by Chinese investors is immense the world over right now. From Melbourne and Sydney to London,  New York, Toronto and beyond. Chinese investment is big business. To most this is not news, but now and then some of the more sensationalist coverage in Australian media deploys a ‘blind spot’ this reality. So, here now a ‘just in case’ overview…

The “China Challenge” for Australia’s economy

For those yet to encounter the debate surrounding Chinese investment in Australia it is largely is as follows. While Australians may welcome the economic growth and greater wealth that comes from a growing relationship with its largest trading partner, recent years have Click to continue reading

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The growing importance of Germany to Africa and the world

 

Recent years has seen ample discussion of the growing trade and economic relationship of China with numerous African nations. Accordingly, this has led to debate surrounding the USA’s ongoing status as a trade leader on the African continent; and how this may change with China’s rise. Yet, thus far there has been little in-depth coverage of the capacity for growth in trade and political links with African nations and Germany, and the EU more broadly. All signs show this will change fast.

Germany offers the African continent an array of advantages.  While ongoing challenges remain with Greece and the Euro, domestically Germany has enjoyed a long and sustained period of economic growth in recent years, and this has largely occurred alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s record ten-year tenure as Germany’s leader. Stability in a nation’s politics generally encourages confidence in its economics. Further, Eurozone crisis has shown Berlin’s leadership in maintaining a (relative) cohesion in the EU, and increasingly viewed as the de-facto leading nation of Europe.

Further, while much has rightfully been written of China’s growing presence across Africa, it is undoubted Beijing main priorities reside within Asia. This is evidenced by its territorial skirmishes in the South Click to continue reading

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Chris Cincotta’s Camera and Community

 

CC are Melbourne photographer Chris Cincotta’s initials. Yet, they may as well stand for the two pillars upon which he’s built his career: cameras and community. In the day-to-day trade of being a photographer in Melbourne, engagement and interaction with community is a must. However, the way in which Chris does it surely makes him a rare commodity.

This Melbourne photographer, who has spent many afternoons and evenings along the coastal trails and among the Melbourne CBD – including having shot some of Bayside’s most famed and picturesque spots – is now in a sense very much anchored down. After a most interesting couple of years around Australia and across the world, Chris is now a Melbourne-based photographer, regularly selling his photos day-by-day in the CBD, and who also a very proud Melburnian. It sounds so straightforward, but just like an Ansel Adams landscape or a Leibovitz portrait; the detail is so very often everything. Chris’ story needs to be given some further colour and scope then.

By his own words, Chris says photography was not the first or most foremost love of his early life. Like many young men who’ve grown up in rural NSW – Chris originally … Click to continue reading

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A New Debate About the Old: Vintage and Replica Furniture

 

by Ed Kennedy

What Gary and Rachel have cannot be manufactured. You’ll never find the British-expats who have come to Melbourne via Perth selling goods of which they cannot detail in-depth. The history, the significance and quality of craftsmanship that underpins an item in the vintage goods store can routinely be listed off-the-cuff by this couple.

Gary and Rachel represent one side of the coin in a furniture and goods industry that is facing a growing challenge to the ‘ways of old’ by replica furniture salespeople.

The existence of ‘new’ enthusiasts for old goods is becoming more common in modern commerce, as evidenced by the current debate surrounding replica furniture in Australia and the wider international market.

With copyright laws difficult to enforce internationally – combined with the rise of globalisation and online shopping – the idea of furniture pieces being unique, distinct and one-off is being challenged.

For Rachel, the issues within the industry are clear.

“Replicas are everywhere and it’s an insult to the second hand industry”, she said.

Having opened Nook’s first store at 258 Johnston St in January 2010 – and established a warehouse in North Fitzroy during 2012 – the couple crossed over the … Click to continue reading

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Rich Story Sewn Into Life By Ricci The Italian Tailor

by Ed Kennedy

Niccola Ricci is not foreign to fame. Walking into his shop and looking across the slew of jobs he is to finish one can see carefully strewn across the walls inklings of a great past and a quiet but proud acknowledgement of the recognition his work has brought him.

Ricci is one of the last great tailors not only of Carlton – but all of Melbourne. At 90 years old his work now is driven far less by necessity and more by ritual. On the days he feels unwell he does not arrive to open up shop on Rathdowne St. For those who’ve quickly need jeans shortened or a tear in a shirt repaired he may not be your man then. But, given the quality of the work done – and the clear evidence across the store of a ongoing demand for his talents – the willingness to wait a little longer for something done well seems something his customers are more than willing to accept.

This theme of quality has been key not only to Ricci’s attitude to work but attitude to life. Having begun his career in tailoring by learning in a small Italian town … Click to continue reading

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