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  • Author: Dan Ciuriak, Maria Piashkina
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The rapid digital transformation occurring worldwide poses significant challenges for policy makers working within a governance framework that evolved over centuries. Domestic policy space needs to be redefined for the digital age, and the interface with international trade governance recalibrated. In this paper, Dan Ciuriak and Maria Ptashkina organize the issues facing policy makers under the broad pillars of “economic value capture,” “sovereignty” in public choice and “national security,” and outline a conceptual framework with which policy makers can start to think about a coherent integration of the many reform efforts now under way, considering how policies adopted in these areas can be reconciled with commitments under a multilateral framework adapted for the digital age.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Reform, Digital Economy, Multilateralism, Digitization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: Christof Ruhl
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: Oil markets are sending confusing signals at a time when more confusion is the last thing anyone needs. When Russia walked out on OPEC+ rather than contribute to more output cuts, Saudi Arabia turned on the crude taps. Whatever Riyadh’s intention, this “price war” was quickly made meaningless by the impact of the new coronavirus on global oil demand. The price collapse has been beyond anything anyone could have imagined. Now, storage room for crude is becoming scarce. Analysts warn darkly that plunging prices may threaten global economic stability. Equities follow the oil price news. Everyone seems to agree that prices should stop falling; and yet no one seems to argue that a very low oil price is exactly what the world’s economy needs to recover. The combination of price war and pandemic is also creating strange bedfellows. Some American shale producers are advocating that their country blocks Saudi oil imports, others want to talk to OPEC. President Donald Trump’s government has expressed an interest in cooperating on global oil supplies with Saudi Arabia and Russia; it’s nudging OPEC+ to reconvene, or an even wider group of producers to meet. Could we be witnessing the emergence of an unholy alliance of Saudi Arabia, Russia and the U.S., to “manage volatility,” and incidentally shore up the price of oil?
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Nephew
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: The last four years have borne witness to a range of new sanctions, policies, and approaches around the world. Some of these were predicted in November 2016, as Donald Trump took to sanctions far more than his predecessors, using them to tackle virtually every foreign policy problem he encountered. In fact, Trump’s use of sanctions transcended their typical usage in both form and content, as he employed tariffs and other more traditional “trade” tools to try to manage a bevy of nontrade problems. The long-term effects of this decision have yet to be felt or properly understood. It may be that Trump was ahead of the curve in seeing the fracturing of the global liberal economic order and employed the US economy for strategic advantage while it was still ahead. It may also be that Trump undermined the US position in the global economy through his policies, if not actually hastened the demise of this system of managing global economics. Time and the evolution of policy in other global power centers will eventually tell. The shifting approach to sanctions policy by a variety of other states is a manifestation of the potential effects of Trump’s policy choices in using US economic power. From the EU to Russia to China, other countries have changed long-standing policy approaches as they relate to sanctions, either to respond to or perhaps to take advantage of the new paths forged by the United States. The actions that they have taken are not “unprecedented” per se, as each of these countries or organizations has—at times—embraced policies that are consistent with some of these current actions. But, in aggregate, they describe an overall shift in how the world treats sanctions and trade policy, particularly that as practiced by the United States.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jens Velten
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: The EU adopted Regulation 2019/452 (Regulation) as part of a more robust Common commercial policy to strengthen and defend its interests in a shifting global order. More concretely, the Regulation has two objectives: protecting domestic assets from harmful foreign investor interests, and equipping the EU with leverage to achieve more favourable treatment of EU investors abroad. Therefore, the Regulation provides Member States with an option to adopt foreign direct investment (FDI) screening mechanisms on the grounds of “security or public order”. However, the Regulation misses its objectives. The Regulation’s vague screening ground “security or public order” must be interpreted in accordance with WTO law. A detailed analysis finds that the relevant WTO notions of essential security interests and public order are rather narrow. The Regulation’s screening ground “security or public order” therefore only allows the screening of a few, high-profile cases of FDI. Such a narrow scope undermines the Regulation’s objectives.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, WTO
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Julia Grübler, Oliver Reiter
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: Many different approaches have developed for the evaluation of non-tariff measures (NTMs) and free trade agreements (FTAs). Moving on from models using simple dummy variables, today a range of databases can capture different aspects of NTMs and FTAs. Some assess the depth of FTAs by extracting information from legal texts. Other data sources are based on surveys, on complaints by trading partners at the World Trade Organization (WTO) or notifications by companies or countries. This paper uses a gravity model to assess the value added of information on FTAs and NTMs by evaluating ex-post their ability to predict the trade effects of the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, the first ‘second-generation’ FTA of the EU, applied since 2011. Our results show that, when accounting for information on the FTA components, no extra trade effect is attributable to the EU-South Korea FTA. The message from the evolution of NTMs differs considerably according to the indicator used, but trade predictions are hardly affected. On the aggregate country level, provisions on investments exhibit a particularly strong positive effect, while regulations on intellectual property rights seem to hamper bilateral trade. Most specifications, furthermore, point to a negative effect of differences in the number of technical barriers to trade (TBT) applied and sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) against which trading partners issued complaints at the WTO.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, European Union, Free Trade, WTO, Non-Tariff Measures
  • Political Geography: Europe, South Korea
  • Author: Roman Römisch
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: This paper develops a simple method to consistently break down world input-output tables to regional input-output tables. They are used to estimate Cohesion Policy-induced demand spillovers in the EU, covering the years 2007-2018. Results indicate that Cohesion spillovers from less developed regions to other regions exceed 40% of their initial EU support in some cases. In addition, spillovers from the more developed regions are equivalent to 24% of their initial EU support. This shows that the existing trade and investment linkages across the EU regions are strong and not only run from less developed to more developed regions but also vice versa. Our results are good news for the net paying regions in the EU. Taking into account capacity growth effects, Cohesion Policy spillovers might well be a multiple of the pure demand spillovers estimated in this paper. Thus, for net paying regions, Cohesion Policy is not only an act of European solidarity but also a rational long-run economic growth policy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, European Union, Investment, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Julia Grübler, Oliver Reiter
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: Political debates and economic analyses often focus on single free trade agreements and their potential economic effects on participating trading partners. This study contributes to the literature by shedding light on the significance of trade agreements in the context of countries’ positions in worldwide trade agreement networks, by combining network theory with gravity trade modelling. We illustrate, both numerically and graphically, the evolution of the global web of trade agreements in general, and the network of the European Union specifically, accounting for the geographical and temporal change in the depth of agreements implemented. Gravity estimations for the period 1995-2017 distinguish the direct bilateral effects of trade agreements from indirect effects attributable to the scope of trade networks and countries’ positions therein.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Profit, Models
  • Political Geography: Europe, Austria
  • Author: Mahdi Ghodsi, Mohammad Sharif Karimi, Robert Stehrer
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: Until 2012, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) used its policy rate to stabilise the rial’s exchange rate and, given a persistent current-account surplus, had accumulated sizeable currency reserves. In 2012, however, international sanctions against Iran intensified and the value of the rial halved against the US dollar. Since then Iran has followed a dual interest rate policy, with both a market rate and an official rate applied by the CBI to major imports. In recent years, as sanctions have cut access to foreign reserves, the gap between the two rates has widened substantially. Given these important changes in the exchange rate regime, this paper investigates the impact of the real exchange rate on the trade balance in Iran over the period 1997-2017. For this purpose, an asymmetric model is used, as the speed of the effects of changes in the exchange rate can be asymmetric. The results of the nonlinear autoregressive distributed lag model (NARDL) indicate that this is indeed the case. Results are generally consistent with the Marshall-Lerner condition: an exchange rate depreciation improves the trade balance, whereas an appreciation worsens it. However, the trade balance reacts more strongly in the short run to depreciations of the rial than to appreciations. Although the government could easily improve the trade balance in the short run through currency depreciation, policymakers should in the longer run promote non-oil exports to reduce dependency on oil and to diversify the economy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Exchange Rate Policy, Central Bank, Models
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran
  • Author: Mahdi Ghodsi, Robert Stehrer
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: Eight multilateral rounds of negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and international agreements under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have contributed significantly to the reduction of tariffs among WTO members. However, over the years legitimate reasons for the imposition of non-tariff measures (NTMs) within regulations have triggered their extensive use. Among these measures, technical barriers to trade (TBTs) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures allow countries to impose restrictions on the import of low-quality products suspected of harming domestic consumers’ health, plant life or the environment. Such trade policy instruments may lead to higher standards in the import market, in addition to improving market efficiency through information requirements such as mandatory labelling. This paper analyses two types of regulative and standard-like NTMs – TBTs and SPS measures – and the quality improvement of traded products that is driven by their imposition, which might be a general underlying motive for the adoption of such regulations. Based on a model framework involving both the supply and the demand side of trade and using four types of measures of these NTMs, this paper assesses the impact of TBTs and SPS measures on the quality of traded products. A dummy variable measuring the existence of these NTMs and a count variable indicating their stringency are used in the analysis. Moreover, two other variables indicate flows of NTMs imposed in each year and stocks of these NTMs accumulated over years. The results indicate that TBTs and SPS measures do indeed imply a higher quality of traded products, which is also consistent with the model when NTMs enter as a specific trade cost. Stringent TBTs with more regulations imposed in each year (i.e. flows of count TBTs) have the largest impact on the quality of traded products. However, for SPS measures only the existence of a regulation (i.e. the dummy variable on flows of SPS measures) on a traded product has the strongest impact on its quality.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, WTO, Non-Tariff Measures, GATT
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Patrick Leblond
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: On the margins of the Group of Twenty leaders’ meeting in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29, 2019, Canada and 23 others signed the Osaka Declaration on the Digital Economy. This declaration launched the “Osaka Track,” which reinforces the signatories’ commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on “trade-related aspects of electronic commerce.” In this context, unlike its main economic partners (China, the European Union and the United States), Canada has yet to decide its position. The purpose of this paper is thus to help Canada define its position in those negotiations. To do so, it offers a detailed analysis of the e-commerce/digital trade chapters found in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), the North American Free Trade Agreement’s replacement, in order to identify the potential constraints that these agreements could impose on the federal government’s ability to regulate data nationally as it seeks to establish a trusting digital environment for consumers and businesses. The analysis leads to the conclusion that Canada’s CPTPP and CUSMA commitments could ultimately negate the effectiveness of future data protection policies that the federal government might want to adopt to create trust in the data-driven economy. As a result, Canada should not follow the United States’ position in the WTO negotiations. Instead, the best thing that Canada could do is to push for a distinct international regime (i.e., separate from the WTO) to govern data and its cross-border flows.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, World Trade Organization, European Union, Digital Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Canada, Asia, North America