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  • Author: Shujie Yao, Zhongwei Han, Genfu Feng
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the pressure for bank reforms has mounted as China ought to fully open up its financial market to foreign competition by 2006. Efficiency is key for domestic banks to survive in a liberalised environment, but it appears that the last hope for raising bank efficiency is through ownership reform. Whether ownership reform and foreign competition can solve China's banking problem remains to be tested. This paper aims to answer this question through using a non-parametric approach to analyse the efficiency changes of 15 large commercial banks during 1998-2005. We find that ownership reform and foreign competition have forced the Chinese commercial banks to improve performance, as their total factor productivity rose by 5.6 per cent per annum. This coincides with the recent bullish Chinese stock markets led by three listed state-owned commercial banks. Despite such encouraging results, we remain cautious about the future of the Chinese banks, as the good results may have been artificially created with massive government support and the fundamentals of the banks may be still weak.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Silvia Nenci
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The rise of the emerging southern economies – China, India, Brazil, and South Africa (CIBS) – as both economic and political actors, is having significant and far-reaching impact on the world economy. Notwithstanding the increasing amount of study and research, there are still important knowledge-gaps with respect to a range of likely consequences of the dynamism of the Southern Economies. One of these gaps concerns the implications for the WTO-multilateral trading system. The present paper proposes a review of the southern participation in the multilateral integration process and suggests a methodology to assess the impact of CIBS' rise on the future of the WTO system. Through the analysis of the trajectories of 'impact' of the trade channel, the paper draws some suggestive remarks.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, India, Asia, South Africa, Brazil, South America
  • Author: Guanghua Wan, Mahvash Saeed Qureshi
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: By exploring the export performances and specialization patterns of China and India, we assess their trade competitiveness and complementarity vis-à-vis each other as well as with the rest of the world. Our analysis indicates that (i) India faces tough competition from China in the third markets especially in clothing, textile and leather products; (ii) there is a moderate potential for expanding trade between the two countries; (iii) China poses a challenge for the East Asian economies, the US, and most of the European countries especially in medium-technology industries; (iv) India appears to be a competitor mainly for its neighbouring South Asian countries; and (v) complementarity exists between the imports of China and India, and the exports of the US, some European states and East Asian countries, especially Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, implying opportunities for trade expansion; and finally (vi) the export structure of China is changing with the exports of skill intensive and high-technology products increasing and those of labour-intensive products decreasing gradually. This suggests that challenges created by China in traditional labour-intensive products might reduce in the long run.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, South Asia, Malaysia, India, Asia, Korea, Singapore, Thailand
  • Author: Gurleen K. Popli
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In this paper I examine the trend in income inequality and poverty among the selfemployed workers in Mexico over the last two decades (1984–2002). This is the period over which Mexico opened its economy to the global market through trade and investment liberalization. For the first decade following the liberalization, inequality and poverty among the self-employed increased; as the economy stabilized and the country saw economic growth inequality started to go down, but poverty kept increasing. To understand the changes in inequality and poverty I decompose the inequality and poverty indices into within and between group components. Rising returns to skilled labour, regional differences in impact of liberalization and sectoral shifts in employment are important factors in explaining the trends in both inequality and poverty.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Obijiofor Aginam, Christina Hansen
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Consumer trust of food producers and the governments that regulate them is in notable decline throughout the world, due to frequent and recurring instances of food contamination. Yet consumer trust is pivotal in order to sustain the increasingly globalized nature of food production, processing, and distribution in the international trading relations of states. With an increasing population, rapid urbanization and rise of the middle class, the demand for processed food is increasing significantly, and thus presents inherent risks for food safety and sustainability. The challenge of ensuring effective global food safety standards is inexorably linked to the progressive trade liberalization agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In a globalized world, food-borne outbreaks, like air-borne infectious diseases, disregard the geopolitical boundaries of sovereign states. Food products grown in one part of the world, because of advancements in food production trends and burgeoning international trade between states, are now easily transported to other regions of the world. International trade norms and policies often focus predominantly on traded goods and services, especially “Northern” access to “Southern” markets. Founded on the free trade agenda of market access, and driven by the principles of “National Treatment” and “Most Favoured Nation”, the international trading system—with nation-states as the dominant actors—is asymmetrical in nature. Very often, the international trading system does not effectively address the many fundamental and pressing issues related to environmental degradation, pesticide use and chemical dependency common in modern agricultural practices.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Globalization, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Vesselin Popovski, Nicholas Turner, Obijiofor Aginam
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Economic development is essential for every country but it is especially crucial for those countries in the aftermath of protracted armed confl ict, needing peacebuilding, recovery and reconstruction. Development aid alone cannot transform damaged economies, and it is here that foreign direct investment (FDI) can be a valuable tool to revitalize industries, rebuild infrastructures and eventually even eliminate the need for aid.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Political Economy, Third World
  • Author: Paul Winters, Angeli Kirk, Benjamim Davis, Calogero Carletto
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: As developing countries continue on the path of economic liberalization, there is a compelling need to ensure that the benefits of globalization reach poor rural communities. Increased commercialization of agriculture and diversification into nontraditional exports (NTXs) is one strategy that has often been advocated as a way for developing countries to use their comparative advantage in lower labor costs and to achieve growth in the agricultural sector. Given the predominantly rural nature of most developing countries and the preponderance of poor people in these areas, high-value agricultural production is considered the ideal mechanism to extend the benefits of globalization directly to the rural poor:1 Allowing poor farmers to shift into the export sector and take advantage of internationally demand driven prices that are higher relative to traditional crops may reduce inequality while fostering overall economic growth (Nissanke and Thorbecke 2007).
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wim Naudé, Marianne Matthee
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The success of Africa's exports, as well as its spatial development, depends on lowering transport costs. In this Policy Brief, we address a number of pertinent questions on transport costs in Africa, such as 'what are transport costs?', 'do transport costs matter for trade?', 'how important are transport costs in practice?', and 'why are Africa's transport costs so high?' We present a case study of the firm location decisions of exporters in South Africa to illustrate the significance in particular of domestic transport costs for manufactured exports. The message from this Policy Brief is that Africa's international transport costs are significantly higher than that of other regions, and its domestic transport costs could be just as significant. Moreover we show how domestic transport costs influence the location, the quantity, and the diversity of manufactured exports. Various policy options to reduce transport costs in Africa are discussed.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Ha-Joon Chang
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The volume Institutional Change and Economic Development fills some important gaps in our understanding of the relationship between institutional changes and economic development. It does so by developing new discourses on the 'technology of institution building' and by providing detailed case studies—historical and more recent— of institution building. It is argued that functional multiplicity, the importance of informal institutions, unintended consequences, and intended 'perversion' of institutions all imply that the orthodox recipe of importing 'best practice' formal institutions does not work. While denying the existence of universal formulas, the volume distills some general principles of institutions building from theoretical explorations and case studies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Sergey Filippov, Iornara Costa, Mariana Zanatta
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The growing importance attached to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) is evidenced by the steady rise of investment promotion agencies (IPAs) worldwide, especially from the early 1990s. Since its launch in 1995, the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) has registered a growing number of members representing cities, regions, countries and free zones from all over the world: from 112 in 2002, 161 in 2004, rising to 191 members from 149 countries in 2006. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) there were around 500 IPAs in more than 160 countries in 2004.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: A.J.E. Charman, J. Hodge
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This study aims to help identify how the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) could potentially constrain government action to achieve food security in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The paper considers the proposed tariff and subsidy reduction modalities of the current round of WTO negotiations. The main focus is on the potential direct effects of the AoA, in terms of proposed reductions to domestic subsidies and tariffs, on food security policy in SADC countries. The study examines the argument that subsidy reductions and further liberalizing market access may pose constraints on the food security policy options of governments within the region.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Yin Ge
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: How do foreign trade and foreign direct investment affect regional inequality? Foreign trade and investment may affect internal economic geography, and the resulting industry agglomeration may contribute to regional inequality. This paper provides empirical evidence supporting this linkage. The results indicate that the increasing regional inequality in China has been accompanied by an increase in the degree of regional specialization and industry agglomeration. Foreign trade and foreign investment are closely related to industry agglomeration in China. Industries dependent on foreign trade and FDI are more likely to locate in regions with easy access to foreign markets, and exporting industries have a higher degree of agglomeration.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Robert Lensink, Pham Thi Thu Trà
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper deals with loan contracting from a private bank in Vietnam. We focus on the main loan contract features that the bank uses in lending to business firms, namely loan maturity, collateral and loan interest rate. Based upon the simultaneous equation model of Dennis et al. (2000) and the bank's loan contracting policies, we examine the possible interdependency of the three different loan contract terms. Also, we try to determine which firm characteristics and exogenous factors are relevant for loan contracts. We find strong interdependencies between these contract terms with significant bi-directional relationships between collateral and loan maturity, loan rate and loan maturity, and a uni-directional relationship between loan rate and collateral. The conflicting signs within the collateral–loan maturity relationship and the loan interest rate–loan maturity relationship can be explained by our hypothesis that the choice for a certain loan maturity is primarily determined by borrowers' behaviors, whereas the loan rate and the collateral requirements are primarily determined by banks policies. In addition, our results support the relevance of firm quality, agency costs of debt and relationship lending in loan contract design.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Mingming Zhou, Iftekhar Hasan
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper documents the financial and institutional developments of China during the past two decades, when China was successfully transformed from a rigid centralplanning economy to a dynamic market economy following its unique path. We empirically examine the relationship between financial development and economic growth in China by employing a panel sample covering 31 Chinese provinces during the important transition period 1986-2002. Our evidence suggests that the development of financial markets, institutions, and instruments have been robustly associated with economic growth in China.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Bassam A. Fattouh, Panicos O. Demetriades
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: We provide a novel empirical analysis of the South Korean credit market that reveals large volumes of excess credit since the late 1970s, indicating that a sizeable proportion of total credit was being used to refinance unprofitable projects. Our findings are consistent with theoretical literature that suggests that soft budget constraints and overborrowing were significant factors behind the Korean financial crisis of 1997-98.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jonathan Di John
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Taxation provides one of the principal lenses in measuring state capacity, state formation and power relations in a society. This paper critically examines three main approaches (economic, administrative and political economy) to understanding taxation. It also examines differences in tax composition across middle-income developing regions and finds that Latin American economies tax upper income groups much less than in East Asia and Eastern Europe, and explores the political economy and policy implications of these differences. The paper also examines issues of tax reform in low income/post-war economies and explores the problem that capital flight poses for less developed countries.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Third World
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, East Asia, Latin America
  • Author: K.L. Sharma
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper analyses the status of food security in selected South Pacific Island countries, namely Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu at the national and household levels during the period 1991-2002. Due to narrow resource base and production conditions, Pacific Islands concentrate on a few primary commodities for production and exports. During recent years import dependency for food items has increased mainly due to a decline in per capita food production and a rapid rate of rural-urban migration. Currently, export earnings can finance food imports but earnings could fall short of the requirements needed after the expiry of some commodity preferential price agreements with importing countries. National food security is dependent on the continuation of subsistence farming and tapping ocean resources in conjunction with the on-going commercial farming of those crops in which Pacific Islands have a comparative advantage. Increased productivity is crucial for improving agricultural performance through government investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension, irrigation and appropriate price incentives. This would also help alleviate poverty for improvement in economic accessibility of food by households. There is also a need to design appropriate disaster risk management programmes to minimize any adverse effects on the food supply.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific, Solomon Islands, Papua, Guinea, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji
  • Author: Elaine Zuckerman, Marcia E. Greenberg
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Based on analysing World Bank and other donor post-conflict reconstruction (PCR) loans and grants from rights-based, macroeconomic and microeconomic perspectives, we conclude that few PCR projects identify or address gender discrimination issues. Bank PCR investments hardly reflect Bank research recognizing that gender inequality increases the likelihood of conflict and gender equality is central to development and peace. Our conceptual framework examining women's programmes, gender mainstreaming, and gender roles in transforming violent into peaceful societies, leads to recommending that PCR projects systematically address gender issues and promote gender equality to make peace work.
  • Topic: Development, Gender Issues, Humanitarian Aid, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Samuel K. Gayi
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The paper examines the state of food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), based on an analysis of a selection of indicators of food security and nutritional wellbeing during the period 1990-2002 within the context of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. It argues that it may be advisable for those SSA countries with both static and dynamic comparative advantage in agriculture to pursue policies towards 'food self-sufficiency' as a means to attaining food security, considering their large rural farming population, at least until such time that international trade in agriculture is fully integrated into the WTO disciplines. This is particularly relevant in view of the fact that high agricultural protectionism in the north currently distorts price signals and thus the opportunity costs of allocating factors of production in these economies. The SSA countries that lack comparative advantage in agriculture may want to aim for a 'food self-reliance' strategy to attain food security.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Human Welfare, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Jonna P. Estudillo, Yasuyuki Sawada
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper investigates how the two types of globalization—i.e., integration of international trade and emigration—affected poverty reduction in the Philippines. Using the Family Income and Expenditure Surveys from 1985 to 2000, we found that both nontransfer and transfer incomes decreased poverty significantly but transfer income exerted greater impact. External openness reduced poverty significantly before the Asian currency crises but its impact had been reversed since. The effect of land reform in inducing transfer income from abroad was significant only in the 1990s. Yet, the ultra poor were bypassed in the land reform-credit-emigration-transfer nexus.
  • Topic: Development, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Migration