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Sep 20, 2006
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  • Indian destroyer Mumbai arrives in Mother City

  • US and Mauritius sign trade agreement

  • Gripen fighter to highlight the aerospace expo

  • Cote D’Ivoire: French executives arrested in toxic ship scandal

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    Indian destroyer Mumbai arrives in Mother City

    report and picture by Ian Shiffman

    Click image to enlarge – picture by Ian Shiffman

    The visit of the Indian Navy’s destroyer INS Mumbai to Cape Town is to coincide
    with the 2006 Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition being held at the SA Air Force Base at Ysterplaat Airport, Cape Town from today until Sunday (20 – 24 September).

    The exhibition boasts more than 400 exhibitors from 25 countries. Besides the Indian exhibitors, other big companies exhibiting include Airbus, Boeing, SAAB, BAE systems and ThyssenKrupp Marine systems.

    INS Mumbai is one of three Delhi class destroyers and was the last to be commissioned on 22 January 2001. Sister vessels are INS Delhi & INS Mysore.

    The Delhi Class design, for which Russia’s Severnoye Design Bureau (SDB) acted as a consultant, are hybrids of Western and Russian technology - incorporating elements of the Sovremenny Class destroyer and the Raiput Class (Kashin-II) destroyer with the Indian-designed Godavari Class, including the frigate's most unique aspect, namely the large dual helicopter hangar for two Sea King Mk.42B helicopters.

    Mumbai has a displacement of 6752 tons, is 163m in length with a beam of 17 metres. She is powered by two Ukrainian Zorya Production Association M36E gas turbine plants that produce over 64,000 hp. Maximum Speed: 32+ knots with a range of 5000 miles. The complement of 360 includes 40 officers.

    US and Mauritius sign trade agreement

    by Helen I. Roucewashington File Staff Writer, Washington, DC

    The United States and Mauritius signed an agreement on 18 September that is intended to strengthen and expand trade ties between the two countries.

    The agreement, called a trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA), will provide a formal mechanism to address bilateral trade issues and help enhance trade and investment relations.

    "Mauritius' experience demonstrates how trade and investment can fuel economic growth and development," said Deputy US Trade Representative (USTR) Karan Bhatia, who signed the agreement in Washington along with Mauritian Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Cooperation Minister Madan Murlidhar Dulloo.

    "The government of Mauritius has an impressive track record on democracy, economic growth, openness to foreign direct investment, economic diversification and the expansion of trade," Bhatia said. "The TIFA will provide an opportunity for our governments to work together to expand trade between our two countries and to work more closely on a broad range of trade-related issues, including moving the World Trade Organization Doha Development Round forward, and on signing the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA]."

    Minister Dulloo added: "The signature of the TIFA illustrates the fact that both our countries want to build upon our existing political and economic ties in order to increase trade and investment." He invited American enterprises to consider Mauritius as an investment destination.

    The TIFA provides a mechanism for a more comprehensive trade and investment dialogue that will allow the two countries to explore common objectives and review possibilities for improving trade relations.

    A United States-Mauritius Trade and Investment Council to be formed under the agreement will address matters such as trade promotion and development, export diversification, trade capacity building, intellectual property, labour, investment and environmental issues. The council plans to establish an ongoing dialogue that will help increase commercial and investment opportunities by identifying impediments to trade and investment flows between the two countries and working to remove them.

    Mauritian democracy, private sector well established

    Mauritius, a small Southern African island nation located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, is a well-established multiparty democracy that has a market-based economy with a strong and dynamic private sector. Since achieving independence in 1968, the country has developed from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial and tourist sectors. For most of this period, annual growth has been 5 percent to 6 percent.

    Mauritius's economic growth has helped support more equitable income distribution, decreased poverty and a much-improved infrastructure. The government's development strategy has focused on encouraging trade and economic reforms and facilitating a strong business sector for finance, telecommunications and services.
    Total trade between the United States and Mauritius was valued at US $ 252.7 million in 2005. Significant Mauritian exports include textiles and apparel, sugar, processed diamonds, jewelry, eyewear, and canned and frozen fish.

    An important positive trend is Mauritius's effort to diversify its exports to the United States. The country is growing as an exporter of worked diamonds, sunglasses and eyewear and also has been able to attract significant investment in the services sector, particularly call centers and information communications technology. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, with investment in the banking sector alone reaching more than $ 1 billion in 2005.

    With its large textile sector, Mauritius is a major beneficiary of AGOA. Exports from Mauritius under AGOA and the Generalized System of Preferences were valued at $ 152.6 million in 2005, accounting for 69 percent of the country's total exports to the United States. AGOA has sparked significant investment in Mauritius, and Mauritian investors have made major AGOA-related investments throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

    The United States has TIFAs with several other trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

    (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

    more news continues below…

    Gripen fighter to highlight the aerospace expo

    by Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

    Cape Town - South Africa's new generation fighter jets, the Swedish-made Gripen are to be the highlights of Africa's largest aerospace, defence and security exhibition kicking off on Wednesday.

    At yesterday's media launch, a South African test pilot performed overflies in the fighter jet which bore South African livery for the benefit of media and visitors to the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2006 at Ysterplaat Air Force Base.

    Executives representing major suppliers of civil and military aerospace, defence and security equipment to the South African government, start arriving today to join the exposition, which will feature more than 400 exhibitors from over 25 countries.

    Companies representing their high-tech hardware include South Africa's arms manufacturer Denel, with international firms NAC, Execujet, ATE, Airbus, Boeing, Saab, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, BAE Systems, EADS also participating.

    The new generation Gripen aircraft, the SA01, forms part of the government's strategic package of purchases that include submarines, helicopters and corvettes.

    The fighter jet arrived in the country two months ago after rolling off Saab's assembly line at Linkoping in Sweden near the end of last year.

    Guy Hornfeldt, the communications director at Sweden's Saab group, says the Gripen fighter jet, with its IT components, is more than merely a weapon.

    The high-tech jet's powerful sensors, he says, provide a ground information-collecting capacity that gives it a strategic advantage in intelligence-driven threat management.

    The Gripen's sensor system, he insists, is "the most advanced sensor system you can find".

    "In the modern age we need information-driven technology and it must be produced with the involvement of local industry," Mr Hornfeldt said, referring to the skills transfer and industrial participation elements that allow Saab, he says, to sell the jets "with", rather than "to", South Africa.

    The Gripen is now in the second stage of its flight test and development programme, having been flown for the first time in November 2005.

    Test pilots at the AAD will not, however, be performing any aerobatics with the heavily-instrumented aircraft ahead of its comprehensive flight test programme.

    The programme will be undertaken at the Air Force's Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC) in Bredasdorp in the Western Cape shortly. It is designed to validate the aircraft's equipment to South African specifications.

    The South African Air Force's TFDC is already home to a group of Swedes who have moved here as part of the test team until the final delivery of the first dual-seat Gripen D jets to the SAAF in 2008, according to Gripen International.

    South African personnel from Denel, Armscor and the SA Air Force are in turn, in Sweden on a two-year skills and technology transfer programme, as part of a 14.7 US million dollars skills and technology transfer contract with Denel Aviation.

    The skills transfer element of the arms procurement package is part of the Gripen Defence Industrial Participation programme, under which Saab and the other Gripen parent company, BAE Systems, are obliged to deliver 350 million US dollars worth of technology transfer to South Africa by 2008.

    According to Gripen International, South Africa's fleet of Gripen jets will be based at 2 Squadron at Air Force Base Makhado in Limpopo Province, replacing the Cheetah aircraft as the country's interceptor and strike aircraft.

    Apart from the presence of the Gripen, this year's AAD is featuring the largest number of commercial aircraft ever seen at an African aerospace, with an estimated 46 planes on show, from micro-lights to propeller-driven aircraft to large commercial airliners.

    A maritime element includes the presence of one of the South African Navy's new frigates, the recently-commissioned SAS Isandlwana, as well as its Indian counterpart, the INS Mumbai, which is currently moored at the city's Waterfront.

    AAD 2006 will feature three trade days and two public days and this year's show coincides with the South African government's strategy for strengthening, growing and forging worldwide alliances for its domestic aerospace, air transport, maritime, land systems, security and space industries.

    Cote D’Ivoire: French executives arrested in toxic ship scandal

    Abidjan, 19 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Authorities in Cote d’Ivoire have arrested two senior French officials of a Dutch-based commodities company in connection with a toxic waste scandal that has shaken an already jittery government in the war-divided country.

    "They have been charged with infractions of toxic waste laws," said Justice Ministry official Ali Yeo.

    Authorities prevented the two executives of commodities trader Trafigura Beheer BV from leaving the country late Saturday as they were about to board a flight to Europe. Their passports were confiscated because they had not yet appeared before a judge, Yeo said.

    More than 44,000 people have sought assistance at hospitals and clinics since the toxic waste was dumped last month. Many complained of nausea, headaches and breathing difficulties. It is unclear, however, how many were seeking help for unrelated ailments to take advantage of a government offer of free medical treatment. Seven people have died but autopsies have not determined the cause of death.

    The sludge, which United Nations experts say contains the potentially lethal hydrogen sulfide, arrived in Abidjan last month aboard a tanker chartered by Trafigura Beheer BV. A local contractor apparently dumped the waste in the city’s residential neighbourhoods.

    Some 400 tonnes of waste were scattered at 16 different sites, ranging from ditches and roads to the main garbage dump, according to a team of experts from the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Mission (UNDAC). International waste removal experts began cleaning up the sludge on Sunday and the effort is expected to last up to two months.

    The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reassured Abidjan residents on Tuesday that city’s water system had not been contaminated. Humanitarian coordinator Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, however, cautioned against eating produce grown near dumpsites.

    Trafigura Beheer BV said in a statement it was "very shocked" over the arrest of its director, Claude Dauphin, and its West Africa manager, Jean-Pierre Valentini. The company said the two men had been in Abidjan on a "humanitarian mission" and had been working with the authorities as witnesses in the ongoing investigation.

    A company spokeswoman, Jo Josh, told IRIN the sludge consisted of "perfectly normal gasoline blend stock", a common waste product obtained when washing oil tankers.

    But UN hazardous waste expert Rudolph Walder said on Tuesday that the product dumped in Abidjan was "very clearly a hazardous waste".

    "It is very clear to me that this product violates the Basel convention," said Walder.

    The international Basel agreement was signed in 1989 to address hazardous waste disposal and included a special clause to protect poor nations that are less able to protect their environments from unscrupulous dumpers.

    The chartered tanker, Probo Koala, tried to offload its cargo in the Dutch port of Amsterdam in July but continued on to West Africa when Trafigura considered treatment of the waste there too costly, Dutch port officials said earlier this month.

    Dutch environmental police, who were alerted by residents complaining of foul-smelling fumes, are currently in Cote d'Ivoire to investigate whether the vessel was authorised to leave the Amsterdam port.

    The Cote d’Ivoire government resigned nearly two weeks ago after the waste scandal broke. A new, larger Cabinet was announced on Saturday, but there were effectively few changes. The ministers of transport and environment, however, were replaced.

    The government has begun an investigation into the waste scandal and suspended a number of high-ranking officials, including the general manager of the Abidjan port and the head of customs.

    Meanwhile, the UN Security Council on Tuesday was set to discuss Cote d’Ivoire, which has been divided between a rebel-held north and government-run south since a coup failed to topple President Laurent Gbagbo in September 2002. His term is set to expire 31 October and it is unclear how the country will be governed thereafter.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Picture of the day

    Stolt Tankers Stolt Inspiration enters the Esplanade Channel as she departs from Durban’s Maydon Wharf on a cloudy spring afternoon, 19 September 2006. Click image to enlarge. Picture Terry Hutson

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