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February 22, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

Who’s in the News

Caroline Anstey on the World Bank’s drive to ‘democratize development’ (Phil Thornton, Devex)

The World Bank is at a crossroad — and that goes beyond the matter of leadership.  In the coming weeks, a successor will be found for outgoing President Robert Zoellick, under whose leadership the bank has increased its transparency and focus on results, boosted its funding and anti-corruption drive, and elevated a record number of women and developing country nationals to senior posts.  Caroline Anstey was among those who moved up the bank’s hierarchy under Zoellick. After serving as World Bank chief of staff and vice president for external affairs, she assumed one of three managing director positions at the agency on Sept. 19, 2011. The former BBC producer is in charge of the bank’s modernization drive and has special oversight on gender issues.

Smart Power

Diplomats need to promote business overseas, Clinton says (Tulsa World)

The U.S. needs more economists working in the diplomatic corps to help companies win business overseas and add jobs at home, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.  As part of that strategy, Clinton is appointing the State Department’s first chief economist as the Obama administration tries to fully integrate the agency into its attempts to promote domestic job growth.  Heidi Crebo-Rediker, a top aide to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, is being named to the post.  “The State Department is training diplomats in economics, finance and markets to ensure they are focused on job creation in the U.S. and overseas, Clinton said at the Global Business Conference, which the department hosted in Washington. Diplomats are being told to conduct “business outreach and advocacy” when overseas.  “We’re changing the way we do business to better advance and support the way you do business,” Clinton told corporate leaders attending a luncheon. “We need to see the world like you do, crisscrossed not just by national borders but by global supply chains.”

What Counts as Progress in NK-US Talks? (Evan Ramsted, Wall Street Journal)

With the U.S. and North Korea about to hold their first official meeting since the death of Kim Jong Il, the key question is what would constitute progress in diplomatic dealings that have been stalemated since 2009?  During meetings between the U.S. and North Korea last year, the measuring stick for such seriousness has been whether Kim Kye Gwan, the North Korean first vice foreign minister who has long been charged with dealing with the U.S., had anything to say about the North’s uranium enrichment program or, more specifically, whether he had the authority to say anything about it.  On a separate but not altogether disconnected track, the U.S. and North Korea before Kim Jong Il’s death were believed to be nearing terms for the U.S. to provide food aid to the North.  If the food issue remains stalemated, it’s unlikely the U.S. or anyone else is going to come to the view that Pyongyang is really willing to move forward and discuss the thornier issues of nuclear weapons, proliferation and disarmament.

Politics/Foreign Policy

South Sudan fears impact of oil shutdown (Katrina Manson, Financial Times)

Besides being the newest country in the world, South Sudan is also one of the poorest and most fragile. Its decision to halt oil production, part of a year-long dispute with former warring foe Sudan, could threaten not only the foreign investment that has started to trickle in but also have a disastrous impact on the world’s newest country.  Oil brings in nearly all income and keeps state salaries and the army – which soaks up 40 per cent of spending in a country wracked by internal conflicts – afloat. The oil crisis comes at a difficult time. Nearly a third of the country’s 8.3m population are expected to need food aid this year and half a million South Sudanese may be expelled from Sudan by April.   “Ultimately they will need to borrow seriously and we know they are actively trying,” says a foreign official, citing trips to commercial banks in London, state lenders in South Korea and plans to tap China. “This debt can quickly balloon and it could be very dangerous.”