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close this bookThe Courier N° 122 July - August 1990 - Dossier Tourism - Country Report: Mali (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)
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Micoenterprises in Developing Countries. Intermediate Technology Publications, 103 - 106 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4HH - UK

Microenterprises, very small businesses consisting of a single self employed person, a family, or at most a few employees, are the main source of livelihood of up to half of the population of most developing countries. In the past, this vital sector, often referred to - almost slightingly - as the informal sector, has received inadequate attention. Increasingly, however, multilateral and bilateral agencies and NGOs are searching for ways to help increase the effectiveness of microenterprises and to help them make a greater contribution to the development of the region and the country in which they are to be found, and to the overall efforts to increase incomes and raise the living standards of the developing world.

This collection of papers by experts with considerable experience in the field is the result of an International Conference on Microenterprises which took place in the USA in 1988. It is organised according to the major issues relating to the subject: the structure of the microenterprise sector; government policies towards microenterprises; informal credit markets; financial and technical services; institutional aspects and a review of the experience of assistance projects.

RAMSES 90 - Edited by Thierry de Montbrial and Jacques Edin and published by Dunod for the Institut Frans des Relations Internationales

Every year brings its RAMSES and we report on it punctually because this IFRI publication is an interesting one. The eighth edition, which came out in October 1989, is in four parts, on the end of an era, arms for the Third World, questions and conflicts in the world economy and the new Spain. Part four, on Spain, which joined the Community on I January 1986, is an excellent analysis of present - day Spain and the way it is developing. Parts one and three do not, of course, cover the recent rapid developments in the Eastern bloc and so are somewhat less interesting than they might be. So we shall only comment on the two parts dealing more particularly with the Third World the end of part one, that is to say, the one entitled: ‘The cocaine era the drug between the two Americas”, and part two: “ Arms for the Third World “.

According to the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, Latin America’s share of drug sales in the USA in 1987 was 100% for cocaine, 40 % for heroin and 63.4 % for marijuana - and there were six million cocaine takers in the USA at the time. This drug is the biggest product of Bolivia and probably Peru too and the second, after coffee, of Colombia. These figures go to show the extent of the scourge and the fact that it is also a problem of underdevelopment. “ Cocaine has its economic networks and geographical set - up. It is present to varying degrees in the economy, the politics and the social life of several countries in South America and in Central America and the Caribbean and it is a subject of increasing concern in the USA, which is trying to combine internal suppression with external pressure on the countries of supply and transit”. But should more be done to contain supply (production and marketing and the laundering of drug money) and demand (prevention, treatment and the repression of drug addition)?

Part two, “ Arms for the Third World”, is a mine of information. World arms sales, it says, are declining (although they were still worth $ 35 billion in 1986), 80% of arms exports are to the developing countries, the six biggest suppliers are still the USSR, the USA, France, the UK, the Federal Republic of Germany and China, and arms exports are highly geographically concentrated. In 198286, for example, 50% of exports to the Third World went to the Middle East, 17% to Africa and 13% to the Far East. But there are plenty of countries producing arms - 40 or so at the moment, twice as many as there were 10 years ago. Although the proliferation of nuclear arms is fairly circumscribed, chemical weapons, on the other hand, are increasingly common. They are cheap and easy to produce and their potential was highlighted in the Iran - lraq conflict. Briefly, as a major economic journal said recently, the more progress that is made with East - West disarmament, the more the Third World’s arsenals swell.