Rethinking Free Trade Agreements in Uncertain Times Jomo Kwame Sundaram

After US President Donald Trump withdrew from Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving twelve countries on the Pacific rim, on his first day in office, Japan, Australia and their closest allies proposed and promoted the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to draw the US back into the region to counter China's fast-growing power and influence. Geostrategic deal to re-engage US in East Asia The modest projected gains claimed by the most popularly used trade models are based on dubious methodologies. President Obama had explicitly promoted the TPP for geostrategic reasons even though both US government cost-benefit analyses found very modest…

Are Global Oil prices the culprit for India’s burgeoning Trade Deficit? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

India’s external account has once again emerged as a source of concern, as the current account deficit widened to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP over April-June 2018. This increase was driven entirely by the trade deficit, which grew rapidly in 2017-18. Since 2014, as Figure 1 shows, exports have been mostly stagnant (after a period of healthy increases before then) but total imports came down and then increased sharply in 2017-18. This was reflected in the total merchandise trade deficit, which declined for several years from the large deficit observed in 2013-14, and only rose sharply once again in…

Remittances as Saviour C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Once again, the World Bank has released a Brief declaring India to be the largest recipient of remittances from abroad. According to the Bank, remittances to India that totaled $65 billion in 2017, are likely to touch $80 billion this year, way ahead of China, the second largest recipient with $67 billion. The rise is in keeping with longer term trends, despite short periods when it appeared that remittance volumes were on the decline. Official Indian balance of payments data provide information on private transfers (which include (i) remittances for family maintenance, (ii) local withdrawals from Non-Resident Rupee Accounts (NRE…

Can the RBI’s open market operations help the rupee? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The recent depreciation of the rupee has created consternation among those who need to buy foreign exchange. It has also caused panic in the stock markets, whose decline partly reflects the exit of foreign investors, which contributes to the rupee’s fall. It spells further trouble for companies that borrowed heavily in foreign currency, encouraged by lower interest rates abroad. It adds to domestic inflationary pressures that were already rising with higher global oil prices, which have been mostly passed on to domestic consumers. While the recent slide in the rupee’s value is particularly steep, it is part of a longer…

Trade War Due To Deeper Malaise Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram

The world economy remains tepid and unstable a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, while growing trade conflicts are symptoms of deeper economic malaise, according to a new United Nations publication. While the global economy has picked up since early 2017, growth remains hesitant, with many countries operating below potential. The year ahead is unlikely to see much improvement as the world economy is under stress again, with rising tariffs and volatile financial flows. Underlying such threats to global economic stability is the failure to address fundamental weaknesses in global economic governance which have been fostering global economic inequities and…

The Fall Of The Rupee Prabhat Patnaik

The rupee’s current tendency to fall is hardly surprising. India’s growth experience, unlike China’s, was built on the quicksand of a more or less persistent trade and current account deficit on the balance of payments. But there was always enough financial inflow not just to cover the current account deficit but even to add to our foreign exchange reserves. Initially this inflow was stimulated by the sheer fact of the economy’s being opened up to such flows: wealth-holders abroad got a chance to diversify their portfolios by buying into hitherto- unavailable Indian assets. Later, the higher interest rates in India…

The Indian Economy in A Tailspin Prabhat Patnaik

The Indian economy is in a tailspin. This cannot be attributed only to innocence in economic matters of the command-centre of the NDA government. While that is indubitably a contributing factor, the current travails of the economy point to something deeper, namely the dead-end to which neo-liberalism has brought the economy. Without moving away from the neo-liberal trajectory, the economy cannot come out of its current difficulties. India’s success in raising the GDP growth rate, the main selling point for the neo-liberal regime, was, unlike China’s, built upon the quicksand of a persistent trade and current account deficit on the…

RCEP Deal can be disastrous for India Biswajit Dhar

Trade ministers of 16 countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) met for their crucial sixth meeting in Singapore in end-August, in an effort to create by far the largest economic integration agreement. The joint media statement issued at the end of the ministerial meeting provides some key pointers to where the negotiations are headed. The statement mentions that the ministers exchanged views on the next steps toward the conclusion of negotiations and that they adopted a package of deliverables. Although the contents of the package are under wraps, the statement says that the ministers instructed their negotiators to…

The Real Problem with Free Trade Jayati Ghosh

Even if free trade is ultimately broadly beneficial, the fact remains that as trade has become freer, inequality has worsened. One major reason for this is that current global trade rules have enabled a few large firms to capture an ever-larger share of value-added, at a massive cost to economies, workers, and the environment. For full article click here (This article was originally published in the Project Syndicate on September 10, 2018)