AN AGENDA FOR THE DEVELOPMENT ROUND OF TRADE NEGOTIATIONS
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AN AGENDA FOR THE DEVELOPMENT ROUND OF TRADE NEGOTIATIONS IN THE AFTERMATH OF CANCUN. April 2004. Background.

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AN AGENDA FOR THE DEVELOPMENT ROUND OF TRADE NEGOTIATIONS

IN THE AFTERMATH OF CANCUN

April 2004


Background

  • Past rounds of trade talks were inherently unfair for the developing countries, both in terms of the ways trade negotiations were conducted and the outcome of the talks – theybenefited only the advanced industrial countries at the expense of developing countries

  • In Doha, WTO members agreed to initiate a new ‘Development Round’ of trade talks to redress the imbalances of the past

  • The failure of Cancun meeting – Many participants felt that Europe and the United States reneged on their promises made in Doha

  • Developing countries’ stand in Cancun – ‘No agreement is better than a bad agreement’


In the Aftermath of Cancun, We Should Ask….

  • What should a ‘Development Round’ of trade negotiations look like?

  • What would an agreement, based on principles of economic analysis and social justice—not on economic power and not catering to special interests, look like?

  • What would be an agreement, that promoted economic development and be fair, look like?


Framework of Analysis

  • Principles of a ‘Development Round’ of trade negotiations

  • Priorities in today’s context

  • Specific issues that are important to developing countries

  • Institutional reforms needed to make trade talks more transparent and democratic

  • Assistance from the International communities to help the developing countries implement trade agreements and the ‘final thoughts’


Principles of a Development Round of Trade Negotiations

  • A trade agreement should be assessed in terms of its impact on development

  • An agreement should be fair

  • An agreement should be fairly arrived at

  • The Agenda should be limited to ‘trade related’ and ‘development-friendly’ issues


An Agreement Should be Fair..

  • Because of inherent differences among countries, any agreement applied uniformly will still have large differential effects

  • Any agreement that differentially hurts developing countries or benefits the developed countries more (the net gains/losses measured as a percentage of GDP) should be viewed as ‘unfair’ – need to be careful in measuring these gains and losses

  • ‘Initial Conditions’ vs. ‘Historical Inequities’ as basis for fairness

  • Fairness and efficiency – Foreign vs. Domestic producers

  • Other problems in interpretation of fairness –Could countries reduce inequities with reform? How do domestic policies influence the outcome of trade agreements?

  • If a trade agreement increases inequality within a country, the government must be encouraged to improve its ‘redistributive welfare’ system


An Agreement Should be Fairly Arrived at..

  • Process involved in arriving at international agreements is markedly different from that employed in national legislation – we need a new approach

  • ‘Procedural justice’ is important – agreements should be arrived at in ‘open’ and ‘transparent’ manner

  • Transparency allows more voices to be heard in the negotiation – particularly important for developing countries where certain affected groups are often under or un-represented in the negotiating table

  • The adjudication and settlement of trade disputes merit the same kind of transparency and protection afforded in domestic setting


A Fair Agenda – ‘Policy Space’ and

‘Principle of Conservatism’

  • There has been a tendency to expand the agenda to include

    all manners of international problems from intellectual property rights to protection of foreign investors

  • The expansion of WTO ‘Policy Space’ disadvantages the developing countries – the developed countries employ the superior bargaining power and resources to ‘concurrently’ address the wide range of issues to exploit the developing countries

  • ‘Principle of Conservatism’ need to be introduced to check the growth of the WTO mandate

  • Issues should be included in the Agenda on the basis of two criteria:

    a. the size of their effect on trade flows

    b. their development ‘friendliness’


An Agreement Should, as Much Possible, Respect National Sovereignty

  • There is no need to enforce ‘conformity’ among countries except when,

    a. actions of each country affect others

    b. there are cross-border externalities

    c. there are benefits to standardization

    d. involves global ‘public good’

  • Avoid trade agreements that intrude into national sovereignty (e.g. TRIP or agreement to liberalize capital markets) but do little to increase global welfare

  • Need ‘International Rule of Law’ to deal with trade disputes or to prevent ‘beggar thy neighbor’ type of trade policies


Further Considerations…. Sovereignty

  • The scope of the agreements should be relatively limited, on the grounds of fairness and practicality, with first priority going to areas where collective action is absolutely required – revisit TRIP, restrict investment competition etc.

  • The priorities for trade liberalization should reflect the development concerns of the poorer countries – revisit

    a. sectoral priorities (agriculture vs. industry)

    b. priorities within a sector (unskilled vs. skilled)

    c. the use of non-tariff barriers

    d. the issue of subsidies

    e. the issue of how countries respond to crisis


Priorities of the Developing Countries Sovereignty

  • Developed and developing countries differ not only in terms of the extent of market imperfections but also in their factor endowments

  • Trade liberalization has asymmetric effect on (with respect to each other) developed and developing countries

  • Trade negotiations, during the past half century, focused primarily on manufacturing – a sector of diminishing importance to the developed countries

  • Developed countries are trying to gain ‘longer term advantages’ in sectors (e.g. financial services or intellectual property rights) that are important to them

  • ‘Development Round’ of trade talks should be centered on Europe's ‘All But Arms’ initiative – should include middle-income countries and extend the initiative to eliminate agricultural subsidies


What Would be Best for the Developing Countries and Global Efficiency? Market Access Priorities

  • Facilitate movement of unskilled labor and surrogate of unskilled labor i.e. trade in commodities and services that require unskilled labor

  • Remove tariff and quota restrictions on textiles and other manufactured exports from developing countries

  • Eliminate agricultural subsidies in developed countries – pending that, allow importing/developing countries to impose countervailing duties to offset the adverse effect of subsidies

  • Elimination of subsidies should begin with crops where consumption benefits are small relative to production cost (e.g. cotton)


Non Tariff Barriers (NTB) Efficiency?

  • Non-tariff barriers, such as Voluntary Export Restraint (VER), have much greater adverse effect than those induced by tariff barriers

  • Fear of VER can adversely affect investment in a growing export sector and consequently impact development

  • ‘Safeguard Measures’ - another non-tariff barrier have similar detrimental effect on exporting (developing) economies – the U.S. uses this regularly

  • ‘Dumping duty’ is another form of NTB – use of ‘surrogate country’ method and reliance on ‘Best Available Information’ (BIA) often give the imposing country an arbitrarily unfair advantage in the dispute adjudication process


Non Tariff Barriers (NTB) Efficiency?

  • The principle of ‘national treatment’ needs to be incorporated to deal with disputes related to dumping duties – legal framework should be same for foreign and domestic firms

  • The focus should be on ‘marginal cost’, not on ‘average cost’ to verify dumping charges – it must be ensured that ‘dumping charges’ are actually used to preserve competition, not to eliminate threat of foreign competition

  • There should be an International Tribunal to deal with dumping charges to ensure fairness and non-discrimination

  • Problems posed by non-tariff barriers (NTB), and their elimination, should be high on the agenda of any ‘Development Round’


Intellectual Property Rights Efficiency?

  • Intellectual property rights provide temporary monopoly to the inventors – it is argued, this provides greater motivation for inventive activities

  • There is little evidence that stronger intellectual property protection generates a greater flow of basic ideas

  • Knowledge is a public good – hence government has the responsibility to support it. Since knowledge is the most important input into research, higher level of ‘intellectual property protection’ may actually impede the research process

  • The intellectual property regime must balance concerns about incentives for research with the costs of the inefficiencies; it must balance the interests of some producers of knowledge, with the interests of other producers of knowledge, of consumers, and of the society, in general


Intellectual Property Rights Efficiency?

  • TRIPS agreement, especially in the area of pharmaceutical research, greatly undermines efficiency and equity considerations

  • TRIPS should be amended to provide for licensing of life-saving drugs or drugs that control epidemics

  • The disparity between market price and the marginal cost of producing medicine can be viewed as tax, used to finance research. The poorest of the world are largely and unfairly bearing this tax burden

  • Each country should make a contribution to finance research in medicine and the level of contribution should be based on national income


Special and Differential Treatment for Developing Countries Efficiency?

  • ‘Generalized rules of differential treatment’ is preferred and beneficial for developing countries

  • Principle of ‘Single Undertaking’ should be upheld- allow developing countries to selectively accept provisions of a trade agreement in line with their own national development policies

  • Developing countries should be given:

  • a. longer adjustment period

  • b. greater latitude for providing subsidies, especially for new technology

  • c. differential treatment in case developed countries retain non-tariff barriers


Other Issues of Importance Efficiency?

  • Fair competition – there should be an international agreement to limit competition for foreign investment. International businesses unfairly benefit from competition among developing countries trying to attract investment

  • Anti-corruption policy - non-bribery agreements (e.g. America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) should be made part of an international agreement. There should be full disclosure of all payments by foreign companies

  • Anti-civil strife policy – trade agreements should aim at curbing trade in arms or in goods that facilitate and finance armed conflicts and insurgencies

  • Pro-environment policy – global environmental concerns must be incorporated in new trade agreements. e.g. The Shrimp-turtle case


Other Regulatory Interventions Efficiency?

  • Developing countries fear that ‘blue tariff’ (labor standards) and ‘green tariff’ (environmental standards) will further impede their market access

  • Standard economic theory suggests that poorer standards do not necessarily improve country’s competitiveness – hence, trade agreements should generally ignore these issues

  • However, international community or trade agreements have the right to take action:

  • a. if country’s action affects global public good or has cross border externality (global environment – e.g. Shrimp-Turtle case)

  • b. if it’s labor practice grossly violates human rights – e.g. prison labor or child labor

  • c. if a country unfairly reduces the cost of production, by restricting collective bargaining or other measures


Competition Issues Efficiency?

  • As many companies operate across national borders, competition policy in one country can affect companies in other countries

  • Often national ‘anti-trust’ laws are applied in a discriminatory way to hurt foreign companies

  • To begin with, ‘Development Round’ should aim on incorporating the principle of ‘national treatment’ in new trade agreements

  • National authorities also need to take into account ‘anti-competitive’ effects outside their jurisdiction

  • Governments and consumers in all countries should be able to take actions (including class action suits) against international cartels


What Should Efficiency? Not be on the Agenda?

  • If improving ‘investor protection’ attract capital, then developing countries will do so on their own – there is no need for an international agreement on investor’s rights

  • The ‘Development Round’ should focus on the “rights of labor” than on the “rights of capital”

  • Free movement of capital is far less important for global efficiency than free movement of unskilled labor

  • Capital market liberalization should not be in the Agenda – there is little evidence that it enhances economic growth. On the contrary, there is mounting evidence that full mobility of short-term capital (hot money) actually increases economic instability, hence hinder development


Responding to Crisis Efficiency?

  • One of the original motivation for GATT was to avert ‘beggar thy neighbor’ sort of policies in times of economic crisis

  • There are provisions (although never used) within WTO framework that allow countries to take ‘emergency measures’ during a crisis

  • Countries should be allowed to take protectionist measures if in crisis, while encouraging other countries (those not in crisis) to open up – ‘help thy neighbor’ instead of ‘beggar thy neighbor’

  • An international panel within the WTO should assess whether the country is in ‘crisis’ to allow it take ‘protectionist measure’


Institutional Reforms Efficiency?

  • The increase in membership and growing demand for more inclusive bargaining process have made the current structure of WTO inadequate, if not ineffective

  • Trade is too important to be left with trade ministers alone - negotiating team must include other national stake-holders too

  • The principle of ‘representativeness’ must be applied in the next round of trade talks. A couple of countries should represent the interest of a whole group (categorized by income or other criteria)

  • The developed countries should continue the kind of support they have provided to help the developing countries participate more effectively in negotiations

  • There should be an ‘Independent Trade Assessment’ body that would look objectively at the consequences of alternative trade proposals for all the countries of the world


Practical Agenda: Final Thoughts Efficiency?

  • The ‘Development Round’ must accept that less developed countries deserve special and differential treatment, both because they have been disadvantaged in the past, and because of the differences in their current circumstances. This will entail a movement away from the principles of reciprocity and bargaining which influenced the previous rounds of trade negotiations

  • This will entail ‘unilateral’ concessions by the developed countries, both to redress the imbalances of the past and to promote development of the poorest countries of the world

  • There should be strict enforcement of restrictions on regional and bilateral trade agreements, intended to ensure that the benefits of such agreements arise mainly from ‘trade creation’ rather than ‘trade diversion’


Practical Agenda: Final Thoughts Efficiency?

  • The ‘independent trade assessment’ body, as mentioned before, should evaluate each proposed trade agreement to assess its impact on development

  • The new round should prohibit the use of ‘political conditionality’ in trade agreements, other than a commitment to democratic processes

  • ‘Development Round’ should recognize the right of developing countries to subsidize domestic firms, on a temporary basis, to promote the development of new industries

  • The new round should allow developing countries to control foreign banking, and in particular to impose lending requirements, particularly to encourage lending to small and medium sized enterprises (SME)


Practical Agenda: Final Thoughts Efficiency?

  • The new round of negotiation should eliminate all tariffs on all manufactured goods from low income countries

  • The ‘Development Round’ should seek an agreement that there should be no restrictions on off-shore contracting of internet-based services

  • There will be an agreement that further negotiations for liberalization of services in skilled intensive areas will be put on hold until the imbalance of previous rounds of negotiations have been fully redressed

  • The new round should advance the interests of developing countries in acquiring new technology, to close the “knowledge gap,” that separates them from the more advanced countries


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