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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Global Philanthropy Project (GPP)
  • Abstract: As COVID-19 spread across the globe in 2020, and its health and broader political and socioeconomic implications became evident, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI)2 communities organized. To meet new challenges, LGBTI organizations across the world stepped up, aware that legal and social discrimination and marginalization would make their communities particularly vulnerable to impacts of the pandemic. LGBTI community response included: delivering essential food to communities of unemployed trans men in rural Guatemala; providing housing for LGBTI communities escaping unsafe living environments in Macedonia; ensuring that lesbian, bisexual, and queer female sex workers have access to essential medicines in Uganda; and other examples in communities around the world. As governments, donors, and service providers have largely failed to acknowledge the specific needs of LGBTI people in responding to COVID-19, LGBTI organizations have filled the void to provide basic protection and support for their communities. Many of these organizations have traditionally focused on advocacy and community organizing to advance and protect the human rights of LGBTI people. Now, in the era of COVID-19, they have become direct service providers, out of necessity—albeit with limited resources and capacity. In April 2020, the Global Philanthropy Project launched a short survey to understand the initial response of global LGBTI philanthropy to the pandemic, soliciting data from all GPP member organizations as well as non-GPP members within the top 20 funders of global LGBTI issues. A key outcome from that report was an identified role for GPP to monitor shifts in resources flowing to LGBTI movements and communities, as well as the broader impact of COVID-19 on international development and humanitarian assistance funding.
  • Topic: Health, Discrimination, LGBT+, Advocacy, Community, Marginalization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, Global South
  • Author: Matthias Bauer
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: Corporate tax laws vary significantly between different jurisdictions. Over the past four decades, governments globally competed for business activity by lowering statutory and effective corporate tax rates. Many governments provide special tax incentives for businesses to invest and expand employment. Special economic zones often grant full corporate tax exemptions to stimulate commercial development. Corporate income tax incentives for research and development activities are common across countries’ corporate tax codes reflecting governments’ desire to stimulate innovation and business development. While corporate tax competition is common government practice in the world economy, the OECD currently aims to curb international corporate tax competition. The OECD’s corporate tax reform proposals officially aim to address “corporate tax avoidance” and “unfairness in taxation”. The policy debate is driven by some governments’ motivation to increase revenues from taxes on corporate income. Economic impact assessments of the OECD’s current Pillar I and II proposals are still scarce. Individual governments have so far failed to conduct impact assessments or are hesitant to make their assessments available to the general public. The OECD’s secretariat expects additional tax revenues of 100bn USD annually, which are said to be evenly distributed among the 137 countries comprising the Inclusive Framework. The narrow focus on changes in governments’ revenues and the static nature of the OECD’s analysis is in various respects misleading. This paper highlights that the proposed reforms would shift taxing powers (tax sovereignty) and economic activity away from small open economies to the world’s largest countries, of which most (currently) apply very high statutory corporate tax rates. The implementation of Pillar I and II proposals would pave the way for a global tax redistribution framework transferring financial funds away from governments that embrace free international trade and investment to the many of the world’s worst-performing governments with respect to economic openness, acceptance of the rule of law, corruption, state interventionism, and the recognition of basic human rights (e.g. Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Russia). Conversely, the OECD’s proposed corporate tax reforms would punish the world’s best performing economies with regard to economic freedoms, trade and investment openness and the rule of law (e.g. Estonia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, including small city and island states, such as Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Singapore). The reforms proposed by the OECD would have a significant impact on how much and where multinational enterprises would have to pay corporate income tax in the future. The proposed measures would therefore impact where large companies produce and invest in the future. Continued tax competition would contribute to a narrowing of international corporate tax rate differentials up to the 12.5% minimum tax threshold level proposed by the OCED. The narrowing of tax rate differentials between today’s high-tax jurisdictions, of which most are very large countries, and today’s low-tax jurisdictions would direct international and domestic investments and investment-induced tax revenues away from small countries. Estimates show that inward FDI in today’s high-tax countries would increase and outward FDI would decrease. In a symmetrical way, inward FDI in today’s low-tax countries would decrease and outward FDI would increase. Overall, the shift in effective taxing powers would undermine small countries’ relative attractiveness to international businesses and, on top of that, would induce domestic businesses to relocate to larger countries with the gravity of larger markets. Contrary to claims made by the OECD, the implementation of Pillar I and II proposals would not improve the global allocation of capital. Global trade and investment flows would still be subject to tax competition and prevalent trade and investment barriers. The OECD’s current proposals would likely incentivise the governments of large countries to maintain long-standing barriers to trade and investment. The economic gravity of large countries may even incentivise large country governments to erect additional barriers that would restrict market access for companies from small open economies. For small open economies that are home to research- and knowledge-intensive multinational companies, the OECD’s proposed tax reforms would undermine future investments in R&D, innovation and business model development, with adverse implications for existing research clusters, education systems and high value-added jobs. Policymakers should reconsider whether taxes on corporate income actually contribute to governments’ overall social and economic policy objectives, such as economic development, redistribution and fairness in taxation. Replacing tax systems that include taxes on corporate income by systems that rely more or exclusively on direct taxes on labour income, capital income and consumption (VAT/sales taxes) would increase transparency about the distributional effects of taxation and significantly improve governments’ tax manoeuvrability in response to citizens’ preferences for fairer taxation. A regime change towards greater use of VAT/sales taxes would also have a positive impact on global capital allocation. Companies would no longer have to pay attention to corporate tax rate differentials, while governments would have additional invectives to embrace foreign trade and investment, materialising in lower barriers to trade and investment and a more efficient allocation of global capital respectively.
  • Topic: Government, International Political Economy, Business , Tax Systems, R&D, Corporate Tax, OECD
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Frank Lavin, Oscar Guinea
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: We are at the moment, the first in seventy-five years, where there is no international consensus in support of trade. Indeed, trade is unloved, unsupported, and even unwanted. There is no shortage of topics in the rhetoric of trade complaints: from the rapid rise of China to Coronavirus as a metaphor for the evils of greater connectivity. Regardless of the validity of these complaints, none of them negate the central truth of trade: countries that engage in trade move ahead, and those that do not, stagnate. Our political leaders disagree. Anti-trade positions are held by leaders across the political spectrum, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders. And yet, the public is increasingly warm to the idea of trade. When Gallup asks Americans, “Do you see foreign trade more as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports or a threat to the economy from foreign imports?” a record high of 79% see trade as an opportunity, with 18% viewing it as a threat. How did the world arrive at this moment where the benefits of trade are clearly evidenced while trade has become politically toxic? We identify four main factors: (i) U.S. absenteeism from the leadership role; (ii) detachment between trade and security architecture; (iii) no alternative leadership in Europe or elsewhere; and (iv) the cumbersome WTO process. Against this background we put forward five initiatives that will be big enough to count but unobjectionable enough to be adopted. The Big Three. The U.S., EU, and Japan, should establish a consultative body on trade to forge a new approach that allows trade to move ahead in the absence of universal consensus. No harm, no foul. Each of the Big Three should commit to zero tariffs on any item not produced in each particular market. A de minimis strategy. Tariffs should be eliminated on all products where the current tariff is less than 2%. At that level tariffs are simply a nuisance fee. Mind the social costs. Expand the Nairobi Protocols to include health products and green tech. Scrapping import tariffs on medical and green goods would not only encourage additional trade but will also provide health and environmental benefits. Harmonize down. The Big Three should commit that on every tariff line each of the three will be no worse than the next worse. In other words, each of the Big Three will agree to reduce its tariff on every product where it has the highest tariff of the three. These actions will spur the WTO, not undermine it. The measures we propose can be set up on a plurilateral basis that would allow other trading powers to participate. By breaking away from the tyranny of universal consensus, these actions will encourage the trading community – including the WTO – to get back in forward motion. In some respect, convergence between the Big Three is already happening. The EU and Japan signed an FTA that lowers import tariffs between these two economies, while the U.S. and Japan agreed to negotiate a comprehensive FTA. And if China is willing to step up? China should be welcomed into this group if it supports the four initiatives, changing the Big Three to the Big Four.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Global Markets, Trade, WTO
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Fredrik Erixon, Matthias Bauer
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: Covid-19 and its broader implications have highlighted the importance of Europe’s digital transformation to ensure Europeans’ social and economic well-being. It provides important new learnings about Europe’s quest for “technology sovereignty”. While the debate about technology sovereignty is timely, the precise meaning of sovereignty or autonomy in the realm of technologies remains ambiguous. It should be noted that the political discussions about European technology sovereignty emerged far before the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The European Commission’s recently updated industrial and digital policy strategies “institutionalised” different notions of sovereignty, reflecting perceptions that more EU action is needed to defend perceived European values and to secure Europe’s industrial competitiveness. Often the political rhetoric reflected perceptions that Europe is losing global economic clout and geopolitical influence. It was said that dependency on technological solutions, often originating abroad, would require a European industrial and regulatory response. Against this background, the Corona crisis provides two important lessons for EU technology policymaking. Firstly, during the crisis digital technologies and solutions made European citizens stronger. Technology kept Europe open for business despite the lock-down by enabling Europeans to work from home, receive essential home deliveries, home schooling, online deliveries and to use online payments, etc. In addition, Europe’s citizens became more sovereign with respect to accessing information and data that helped track and contain the spread of the virus. Secondly, the crisis tested Europe’s resilience and perceived dependency on (foreign) technology solutions. Early developments indicate that Member States’ homemade solutions did not fare better than existing European and international solutions. A few national and EU IT solutions failed while existing European and global solutions, from cloud infrastructure to communications, payments to streaming services, all continued to work well. Politically, however, the crisis could be used to justify more EU or national government interference in Europe’s digital transformation. Indeed, for some the debate about European technology sovereignty is largely about designing prescriptive policies, which paradoxically risk reducing Europeans’ access to the innovative technologies, products and services that helped Europe through the crisis. Policies taken into consideration include new subsidies to politically picked companies, or new rules and obligations for certain online business models. Policy-makers advocating for such policies tend to ignore critical insights from the Covid-19 crisis and failed industrial policy initiatives, including sunk public investments and protracted subsidies for industrial laggards. In a time of economic hardship, the EU and national governments should be wary of spending even more taxpayer money to replicate existing world-class technology solutions, that in most cases are used in combination with local technologies, with “Made in EU” services of inferior quality and reliability. Moreover, due to different levels of economic development and differences in regulatory cultures, prescriptive technology policies would exclude many Member States from utilising existing and new opportunities that arise from digitalisation, slowing down economic renewal and convergence. The EU cannot be considered a monolithic block that thrives on a unique set of prescriptive technology policies. Before the Corona pandemic, initiatives towards European technology sovereignty were mainly pushed by France and Germany, fed by concerns over their companies’ industrial strength in times of growing economic and geopolitical competition. Industrial and technology policies favoured by the EU’s two largest countries will have a disproportionately negative impact on Europe’s smaller open economies, whose companies and citizens could be deprived from cutting-edge technologies, new economic opportunities and partnerships on global markets, undermining these economies’ development and international competitiveness. Any EU-imposed technology protectionism along the lines suggested by some policy-makers in large EU Member States would leave the entire EU worse off. It would disproportionately hurt countries in Europe’s northern, eastern and southern countries more than the large countries whose economies are generally more diverse than Europe’s smaller Member States. It would, however, make sense for the EU to agree on a shared definition of “technology sovereignty”. Different interpretations could cause serious policy inconsistencies, undermining the effectiveness of EU and national economic policies. Anchored in technological openness, technology sovereignty can indeed be a useful ambition to let Europe’s highly diverse economies leapfrog by using existing technologies. To become more sovereign in a global economy, Europeans need to focus on becoming global leaders in economic innovation – not just in regulation. If anchored in mercantilist or protectionist ideas, technological sovereignty would make it harder for many Member States to access modern technologies, adopt new business models and attract foreign investment – with adverse implications on future global competitiveness, economic renewal and economic convergence. Policymaking towards a European technology sovereignty that benefits the greatest number of Europeans – not just a few politically selected “winners” – should aim for a regulatory environment in which technology companies and technology adopters can thrive across EU Member States’ national borders. The European Single Market has deteriorated in recent years and significantly during the crisis. The new von der Leyen Commission has now repeatedly called for a strengthening of the Single Market. Becoming a world leader in innovation requires a real Single Market in which companies can scale up, with as few hurdles as possible, and then compete globally. It should be supplemented by pro-competitive policies and incentives for research and investment. Brussels cannot set the global standards in technology policymaking alone. Europe’s policy-makers should aim for closer market integration and regulatory cooperation with trustworthy international partners such as the G7 or the larger group of the OECD countries. It is in the EU’s self-interest to advocate for a rules-based international order with open markets. International cooperation should be extended beyond trade to include cooperation on technology policies, e.g. artificial intelligence. Regulatory cooperation with allies such as the USA is essential to jointly set global standards that are based on shared values. Both the EU and the US have much more to gain if they prioritise such alignment, to advance a shared vision for a revamped open international trading system, in a world increasingly influenced by regimes with fundamentally different views on state intervention and human rights. Anchored in technological openness, the EU and the US can promote technology sovereignty that allows for development and renewal elsewhere in the world.
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, International Political Economy, Science and Technology, Sovereignty, European Union, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Philipp Lamprecht, Fredrik Erixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: There is now a long history of countries improving sustainability standards in most parts of the economy while at the same time pursuing the ambitions of rules-based international trade and economic integration with other countries. It is not surprising that countries at the vanguard of sustainability also tend to be the countries that are most open to trade. This Report looks closer at the interplay between the formulation of domestic standards and provisions in Free Trade Agreements that either acknowledge domestic standards or establish standards in a direct way. This interplay is crucial for two reasons: first to establish market access arrangements that help to promote sustainability standards, second to provide the policy basis to make standards and possible market access restrictions conducive to basic trade rules. It lays a focus particularly on the growing importance of sustainability standards in international trade agreements, or Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) – in particular for the food sector. Such standards are relevant for all new high-ambition Free Trade Agreements – from the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between eleven trans-pacific nations. The Report considers especially nine modern FTAs. The purpose of the Report is to investigate how governments with high sustainability ambitions approach the issue of trade and sustainability – in particular how they work with, on the one hand, specific provisions in FTAs and, on the other hand, the development of domestic standards and their linkage to trade. The Report also looks directly at how these standards are designed, and what lessons that can be learned for governments that want to raise sustainability ambitions. It puts the results of the analysis in the context of Norwegian ambitions to improve its sustainability standards for food placed on the Norwegian market. The analysis of how trade and sustainability have been made compatible starts with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These rules are important in their own right, but they also carry political significance. WTO-rules form the basis of the bilateral free trade agreements that countries sign with each other – and that now make up the main plank of international trade negotiations. In the language of the WTO, basic trade rules serve to protect the principles of national treatment and non-discrimination. Sustainability policies that are grounded on solid evidence and that follow international scientific norms will be compatible with WTO rules. Sustainability policies that confer advantages to domestic producers or that are arbitrary will get a harsh treatment. Consequently, the bilateral free trade deals that the European Union or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) have concluded with other parts of the world are not just compatible with WTO rules, they rely on these rules as the foundation stone. Moreover, these rules inform governments how they should organise their sustainability policy if they also want the opportunity to take part in modern trade agreements. If countries aren’t willing to play by these rules, they should also accept that they won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of trade agreements. What member countries of the WTO have agreed in past multilateral trade accords are not a blockage of sustainability policy, but they bar countries from pursuing such policies in a way that would lead to unequal application of trade rules – between home and foreign producers, or between different foreign producers. In addition, it is of interest – also to the Norwegian policy discussion – to consider how EU policies are likely to change in the forceable future. The analysis provides a discussion of issues that are likely to remain very high on the agenda of the next European Commission. These include possible improvements in the TSD Chapters of trade agreements in particular with regard to enforcement mechanisms, the engagement of civil society, and climate action. Further policy highlights include a possible introduction of a carbon border tax, as well as the discussions related to due diligence of supply chains, and multilateralism. In terms of conclusions, the Report identifies four main observations that should inform future policy development in Norway: First, there is clearly a case to be made for aligning Norwegian trade policy to EU trade policy when it comes to provisions on trade and sustainability in Free Trade Agreements. Second, there is a substantial body of scientific evidence, risk assessments and international experience of standards in areas that are related to sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards and to environmental standards which any government that want to raise sustainability standards can draw on. Third, many countries struggle to formulate their domestic sustainability standards in a structured way. Arguably, this is a critical point for governments that are considering to introduce higher standards with consequence for market access for foreign producers. To avoid confusion or accusation of standards being a disguised trade restrictions, countries like Norway would have to structure and systematise its standards if the ambitions were to be raised and formed part of market access policy. A first step for a policy that seeks to condition import on the compliance with a stand is to make the standard clear and explicit. Fourth, there are direct and indirect relations between domestic standards and provisions in FTAs. FTAs often deal with policies that cannot be directly formulated in a domestic standard, like some aspects of labour laws. They also deal with other forms of standards that need policy convergence in order to guarantee smooth trade between the contracting parties. Generally, it cannot be said that the EU or other entities use FTAs to “regulate” or to establish the standard. That rather happens bottom-up – through domestic regulations that later get reflected in trade agreements.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Partnerships, Global Markets, Free Trade, Trade, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Deborah Gordon, Frances Reuland
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: Earth's temperature is rising to dangerous levels. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is increasingly urgent. Although carbon dioxide is the major greenhouse gas, short-lived climate pollutants like methane are rapidly accelerating global warming in the near term. Methane emissions are on the rise. The global growth in oil and gas production and consumption is a prime driver. A new report released today by researchers at the Watson Institute identifies a multi-pronged approach for mapping and measuring methane and provides new tools to more effectively manage this super pollutant. Under a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, authors Deborah Gordon, Watson Institute Senior Fellow, and Frances Reuland, former Brown University Researcher, assess the many ways that methane escapes from the oil and gas sector, both unintentionally and purposefully. Using a first-of-its-kind model under development, the Oil Climate Index + Gas, they estimate that oil operations are at greater risk for intentional venting and flaring of methane while gas operations pose a higher risk of inadvertent fugitive methane and accidental releases. The ability to focus detection and policymaking on the operators who bear direct emissions responsibility holds out the best prospects for methane reductions worldwide. While governments, NGOs, and companies continue to improve their methods to pinpoint and measure methane, difficulties remain. Overcoming these barriers requires: increased transparency and data collection; improved oversight through monitoring, reporting, and verification; regulations and binding agreements; research and development (R&D) and technology transfer; and financial incentives and penalties. In order to offer durable climate solutions, efforts to mitigate methane must be designed to withstand future political pressures.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Science and Technology, Pollution, Fossil Fuels, Methane
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ng Ser Song
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: Illicit drug use exacts a high cost on abusers, their families, and ultimately society as a whole. Livelihoods are lost, relationships are destroyed, children suffer, and the wider community pays a hefty price through a resulting worsened crime situation. Singapore has hence adopted a harm-prevention approach to drugs, incorporating educational, legal, and rehabilitative measures. While we acknowledge that there is a variety of approaches to drug policy globally, our approach has worked well for our local context and enabled people here to live to their fullest potentials.
  • Topic: Crime, Health, Law, Criminal Justice, Drugs
  • Political Geography: Singapore, Global Focus
  • Author: Russell Buchan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: The essence of espionage is the non-consensual collection of confidential information. Espionage takes different forms depending upon the identity of the perpetrator and the nature of the confidential information targeted. Political espionage describes the state-sponsored theft of confidential information, and its purpose is to shed light on the capabilities and intentions of other state and non- state actors. Economic espionage is also state-sponsored, and it involves states stealing trade secrets from companies located in foreign jurisdictions, usually with the intention of passing this information to domestic companies so that they possess a competitive advantage. In contrast, industrial espionage is perpetrated by non-state actors insofar as it entails companies stealing foreign competitors’ confidential information without the support or assistance of a state.
  • Topic: Globalization, International Law, Business , Espionage
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Cristina Flesher Fominaya
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, hundreds of protests spread across the world. Remarkably, despite the diversity of polities, regimes, and socioeconomic status across countries, these protests share two core demands to a varying degree: greater, more meaningful, or “real” democracy; and greater economic justice. While these are two distinct demands, they cannot be sepa- rated from each other. Although initially (and understandably) the protests were interpreted in direct relation to the global economic crash, especially in those countries hit hardest by the crisis and austerity politics, it soon became clear that the protests also reflected a crisis of representative democracy.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Protests, Global Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Coalter G. Lathrop
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: On land, the political map of the world has been relatively stable since the end of World War II: with some significant exceptions, most countries are, spatially, as they were in 1945 or shortly thereafter. Land borders are mostly set, and the major state-to-state territorial disputes that persist today are—again, with some notable exceptions—disputes over relatively small areas, mostly tiny insular features with negligible inherent value.
  • Topic: International Relations, Geopolitics, Navy, Oceans and Seas, Cartography
  • Political Geography: Global Focus