Friday, February 4, 2011

More than 90% of Egyptians hold their property without legal title. No wonder they can't build wealth.

Egypt's Economic Apartheid. By Hernando de Soto
More than 90% of Egyptians hold their property without legal title. No wonder they can't build wealth and have lost hope.
WSJ, Feb 03, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704358704576118683913032882.html


The headline that appeared on Al Jazeera on Jan. 14, a week before Egyptians took to the streets, affirmed that "[t]he real terror eating away at the Arab world is socio-economic marginalization."

The Egyptian government has long been concerned about the consequences of this marginalization. In 1997, with the financial support of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government hired my organization, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy. It wanted to get the numbers on how many Egyptians were marginalized and how much of the economy operated "extralegally"—that is, without the protections of property rights or access to normal business tools, such as credit, that allow businesses to expand and prosper. The objective was to remove the legal impediments holding back people and their businesses.

After years of fieldwork and analysis—involving over 120 Egyptian and Peruvian technicians with the participation of 300 local leaders and interviews with thousands of ordinary people—we presented a 1,000-page report and a 20-point action plan to the 11-member economic cabinet in 2004. The report was championed by Minister of Finance Muhammad Medhat Hassanein, and the cabinet approved its policy recommendations.

Egypt's major newspaper, Al Ahram, declared that the reforms "would open the doors of history for Egypt." Then, as a result of a cabinet shakeup, Mr. Hassanein was ousted. Hidden forces of the status quo blocked crucial elements of the reforms.

Today, when the streets are filled with so many Egyptians calling for change, it is worth noting some of the key facts uncovered by our investigation and reported in 2004:

• Egypt's underground economy was the nation's biggest employer. The legal private sector employed 6.8 million people and the public sector employed 5.9 million, while 9.6 million people worked in the extralegal sector.

• As far as real estate is concerned, 92% of Egyptians hold their property without normal legal title.

• We estimated the value of all these extralegal businesses and property, rural as well as urban, to be $248 billion—30 times greater than the market value of the companies registered on the Cairo Stock Exchange and 55 times greater than the value of foreign direct investment in Egypt since Napoleon invaded—including the financing of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam. (Those same extralegal assets would be worth more than $400 billion in today's dollars.)

The entrepreneurs who operate outside the legal system are held back. They do not have access to the business organizational forms (partnerships, joint stock companies, corporations, etc.) that would enable them to grow the way legal enterprises do. Because such enterprises are not tied to standard contractual and enforcement rules, outsiders cannot trust that their owners can be held to their promises or contracts. This makes it difficult or impossible to employ the best technicians and professional managers—and the owners of these businesses cannot issue bonds or IOUs to obtain credit.

Nor can such enterprises benefit from the economies of scale available to those who can operate in the entire Egyptian market. The owners of extralegal enterprises are limited to employing their kin to produce for confined circles of customers.

Without clear legal title to their assets and real estate, in short, these entrepreneurs own what I have called "dead capital"—property that cannot be leveraged as collateral for loans, to obtain investment capital, or as security for long-term contractual deals. And so the majority of these Egyptian enterprises remain small and relatively poor. The only thing that can emancipate them is legal reform. And only the political leadership of Egypt can pull this off. Too many technocrats have been trained not to expand the rule of law, but to defend it as they find it. Emancipating people from bad law and devising strategies to overcome the inertia of the status quo is a political job.

The key question to be asked is why most Egyptians choose to remain outside the legal economy? The answer is that, as in most developing countries, Egypt's legal institutions fail the majority of the people. Due to burdensome, discriminatory and just plain bad laws, it is impossible for most people to legalize their property and businesses, no matter how well intentioned they might be.

The examples are legion. To open a small bakery, our investigators found, would take more than 500 days. To get legal title to a vacant piece of land would take more than 10 years of dealing with red tape. To do business in Egypt, an aspiring poor entrepreneur would have to deal with 56 government agencies and repetitive government inspections.

All this helps explain who so many ordinary Egyptians have been "smoldering" for decades. Despite hard work and savings, they can do little to improve their lives.

Bringing the majority of Egypt's people into an open legal system is what will break Egypt's economic apartheid. Empowering the poor begins with the legal system awarding clear property rights to the $400 billion-plus of assets that we found they had created. This would unlock an amount of capital hundreds of times greater than foreign direct investment and what Egypt receives in foreign aid.

Leaders and governments may change and more democracy might come to Egypt. But unless its existing legal institutions are reformed to allow economic growth from the bottom up, the aspirations for a better life that are motivating so many demonstrating in the streets will remain unfulfilled.

Mr. de Soto, author of "The Mystery of Capital" (Basic Books, 2000) and "The Other Path" (Harper and Row, 1989), is president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy based in Lima, Peru.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Angola country report

Angola country report

1  US State Dept: Angola Briefing: http://www.state.gov/p/af/ci/ao/index.htm.

Economy:


Despite a fast-growing economy largely due to a major oil boom, Angola ranks in the bottom 10% of most socioeconomic indicators. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Angola's real GDP increased by 16% in 2008. However, GDP growth in 2009 was flat due to significantly lower oil prices owing to the global financial crisis. According to IMF the GDP growth in 2010 is projected at around 2.5 percent, but a solid pick-up in the pace of growth is expected for 2011. Angola is still recovering from 27 years of nearly continuous warfare, and it remains beset by corruption and economic mismanagement. Despite abundant natural resources and rising per capita GDP, it was ranked 157 out of 179 countries on the 2008 UN Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index. Subsistence agriculture sustains one-third of the population.

The rapidly expanding petroleum industry reached its Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cap of 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2008. However, Angola’s production was cut to 1.51 million bpd in January 2009 by an OPEC mandate in response to plummeting oil prices. Throughout 2009, Angola never got down to its OPEC quota and produced an average of 1.8 million bpd. Angola is currently Africa’s largest oil producer, a position that Angola has traded places back and forth with Nigeria over the last year. Crude oil accounted for roughly 85% of GDP, 95% of exports, and 85% of government revenues in 2009. Angola also produces 40,000 bpd of locally refined oil. Oil production remains largely offshore and has few linkages with other sectors of the economy, though a local content initiative promulgated by the Angolan Government is pressuring oil companies to source from local businesses. The government is also pressuring oil companies to increase the number of Angolan staff.

Block 15, located offshore of Soyo, currently provides 30% of Angola's crude oil production. ExxonMobil, through its subsidiary Esso, is the operator, with a 40% share. In 2005, Block 15's second major sub-field, Kizomba B, came on line, producing about 250,000 bpd. BP, ENI-Agip, and Statoil are partners in the concession. Chevron operates Block 0, offshore of Cabinda, which provides about 20% of Angola's crude oil production. Its partners in Block 0 are Sonangol (the Angolan state oil company), TotalFinaElf, and ENI-Agip. In 2007, Block 0 had a total production of 370,000 bpd, and drilling activity continues at a high level. Chevron also operates Angola's first deepwater section to go into production, Block 14, which started pumping in January 2000 and produced 105,000 bpd in 2006.

TotalFinaElf brought the first Kwanza Basin deepwater blocks on line with production from its Block 17 concession that began in February 2002. Inauguration of the Dalia oilfield in December 2006 combined with the Girassol field already in operation brought Block 17's total production to approximately 500,000 bpd as of July 2007. Total expected to begin drilling in new oilfield Pazflor in 2009, bringing production to a peak of 700,000 bpd by 2011. Exploration is ongoing in ultra-deep water concessions and in deepwater and shallow concessions in the Namibe Basin. BP made the first significant ultra-deepwater find in its Block 31 concession in 2002 and had reached nine significant discoveries by the end of 2005. BP shipped its first crude from the Plutonio oilfield in Block 18 in 2007 and ultimately expects Plutonio to average 200,000 bpd in full production. Marathon also drilled a successful well in its Block 32 ultra-deep water concession. TotalFinaElf operates Angola's one refinery (in Luanda) for sole owner Sonangol; plans for a second refinery in Lobito with projected production of 200,000 bpd are moving forward, with KBR selected to do the front-end engineering and design work. There are plans to increase capacity of the Luanda refinery from 40,000 bpd to 100,000 bpd. Chevron, Sonangol, BP, Total, and Eni are developing a $4 billion to $5 billion liquefied natural gas plant at Soyo, now under construction by Bechtel, expected to start production in 2012.

Exports to Asian countries have grown rapidly in recent years, particularly to China. In late 2004, China's state oil company Sinopec entered the market, offering two separate $1 billion signing bonus offers on two offshore blocks. Sinopec has also formed a partnership with Sonangol to operate Block 3/05 (formerly Block 3/80), whose operation was transferred from Total to Sonangol. Sonangol will seek to expand its operation of onshore and shallow water blocks. This includes the northern block of Cabinda's onshore concessions, which since the reduction in hostilities with separatist forces is now open to exploration. Sonangol and Sinopec will also be eyeing future concession rounds, particularly for 23 blocks in the Kwanza Basin onshore area and the relinquished parts of Blocks 15, 17, and 18, currently operated by Exxon, Total, and BP. In 2008, Angola was China’s second-leading source country for crude oil by volume, importing 599 million barrels valued at U.S. $59.900 billion, up 19.3% year on year.

Diamonds make up most of Angola's remaining exports, with yearly production at 6 million carats. However, the financial crisis severely depressed diamond prices in 2009, sharply curtailing Angola’s diamond exports, and at one point forcing the state diamond authority, Endiama, to buy up production at cost for stockpiling to keep operators going. Diamond sales reached approximately $1.1 billion in 2006. Despite increased corporate ownership of diamond fields, much production is currently in the hands of small-scale prospectors, often operating illegally. Eight large-scale mines operate out of a total of 145 concessions. In June 2005, De Beers signed a $10 million prospecting contract with the government's diamond parastatal, ending a 4-year investment dispute between De Beers and the government. The government is making an increased effort to register and license prospectors. Legal sales of rough diamonds may occur only through the government's diamond-buying parastatal, although many producers continue to bypass the system to obtain higher prices. The government has established an export certification scheme consistent with the "Kimberley Process" to identify legitimate production and sales. Other mineral resources, including gold, remain largely undeveloped, though granite and marble quarrying has begun.

In the last decade of the colonial period, Angola was a major African agricultural exporter. Because of severe wartime conditions, including the massive dislocation of rural people and the extensive laying of landmines throughout the countryside, agricultural activities came to a near standstill, and the country now imports over half of its food. Small-scale agricultural production has increased several-fold over the last 5 years due to demining efforts, infrastructure improvements, and the ability of returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return safely to agricultural areas, yet production of most crops remains below 1974 levels. Some efforts at commercial agricultural recovery have gone forward, notably in fisheries and tropical fruits, but most of the country's vast potential remains untapped. Recently proposed land reform laws attempt to reconcile overlapping traditional land use rights, colonial-era land claims, and recent land grants to facilitate significant commercial agricultural development. However, the lack of clear title to land tracts and burdensome registration process in Angola continues to be a significant impediment to foreign investment in the agriculture sector.

An economic reform effort launched in 1998 was only marginally successful in addressing persistent fiscal mismanagement and corruption. In April 2000, Angola started an IMF staff-monitored program (SMP). The program lapsed in June 2001 over IMF concerns about lack of progress by Angola. Under the program, the Government of Angola did succeed in unifying exchange rates and moving fuel, electricity, and water prices closer to market rates. In March 2007, the government announced it was not interested in a formally structured IMF program, but would continue to participate in Article IV consultations and other technical assistance on an ad hoc basis. In November 2009, following increased Angolan efforts to make oil revenues more transparent, the IMF approved a 27-month Standby Arrangement (SBA) with Angola in the amount of approximately $1.4 billion to help the country cope with the effects of the global economic crisis. According to a statement released by the IMF, “While the immediate goal is to mitigate the repercussions of the adverse terms of trade shocks linked to the global crisis, the program also includes a reform agenda aimed at medium-term structural issues to foster non-oil sector growth.” The loan is the largest IMF financing package to date for a sub-Saharan African country during the current global crisis.

In December 2002, President dos Santos named a new economic team to oversee homegrown reform efforts. The new team succeeded in decreasing overall government spending, rationalizing the Kwanza exchange rate, closing regulatory loopholes that allowed off-budget expenditures, and capturing all revenues in the state budget. New procedures were implemented to track the flow of funds among the Treasury, Banco Nacional de Angola (the central bank), and the state-owned Banco de Poupan├ža e Credito, which operates the budget. The Angolan Government adopted a new investment code. Concerns remain about quasi-fiscal operations by the state oil company Sonangol, opaque oil-backed concessionary lines of credit that operate outside the budget process, inadequate transparency, oversight in the management of public accounts, and the lack of supervision of the commercial banking sector. A recent Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) report cited Angola for a significant lack of laws and regulations regarding anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CFT). The Angolan commercial code, financial sector law, and telecommunications law all require substantial revision.

Angola is the second-largest trading partner of the United States in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly because of its petroleum exports. U.S. exports to Angola primarily consist of industrial goods and services--such as oilfield equipment, mining equipment, chemicals, aircraft, and food. On December 30, 2003, President George W. Bush approved the designation of Angola as eligible for tariff preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

2  CIA summary: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ao.html

3  World Bank: Angola at a glance, http://devdata.worldbank.org/AAG/ago_aag.pdf

4  World Bank: costs of doing business in Angola, http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/angola. Here you can see costs for all of these (downloadable as Excel sheet):

Starting a Business
Dealing with Construction Permits
Registering Property
Getting Credit
Protecting Investors
Paying Taxes
Trading Across Borders
Enforcing Contracts
Closing a Business
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Employees:
Difficulty of hiring
Rigidity of hours
Difficulty of redundancy
Redundancy costs (weeks of salary)