Evolution of Technology in the Digital Arena: Theories, firm-level strategies and state policies Smitha Francis

This paper analyses the evolution of technology, encompassing the characteristics and dynamics of innovation and technological change, as well as their interactions and interrelations across diverse technical areas that generate organisational changes and systemic socio-economic changes. It provides a brief overview of the various theoretical approaches that have examined technological evolution at different analytical levels, which is followed by a detailed discussion of Carlota Perez‟s techno-economic paradigm. Evolution_Technology (Download the full text in PDF format) (This study was commissioned by the Centre for WTO Studies (CWS), IIFT, New Delhi,  and carried out by the author as an independent consultant)

RCEP: Is the mega FTA leading us into non strategy? Smitha Francis

As the 19th Round of the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) negotiations winds up in Hyderabad, India, there are many grounds for being apprehensive about the direction in which it has moved. RCEP is one of the two proposed mega free trade agreements (FTAs) aiming at greater integration in the Asia-Pacific region, the other being the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Beginning in May 2013, the RCEP negotiations are being undertaken between the ten member countries of ASEAN and its six FTA partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The initiative was launched to address concerns about the ‘noodle…

Changing the Investment Policy Menu Smitha Francis

The WIR rightly focussed on the interactions between national investment policymaking and international agreements. But its investment policy reform agenda remains incomplete. Changing_Investment_Policy  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLVIII, No. 05, February 02, 2013.)

Transfer Pricing and Tax Evasion: Beyond the trans-Atlantic furore Smitha Francis

As the countries of the European Union struggle to find the resources required to close their budget deficits and face enormous pressure to cut expenditures, tax avoidance in their jurisdiction by US transnational corporations (TNCs) like Google, Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft through transfer pricing practices has come under intense scrutiny by fiscal authorities there. Despite the irony, the significance of this should not be lost on developing country governments, where transfer pricing has long been an issue for host economies of foreign direct investment (FDI). Transfer pricing refers to the pricing set between two related companies in intra-company transactions or…

Fiscal Policy Evolution and Distributional Implications: The Indonesian experience Smitha Francis

[Working Paper No. 01/2012] This paper analyses Indonesia's resource mobilisation and public expenditure policies against the backdrop of her inequality trends and macroeconomic policy evolution. It is argued that the country's fiscal policy stance has been adversely impacted by her monetary and financial sector policies under an open capital account, with attendant regressive distributional implications. Juxtaposing the analysis of revenue mobilisation trends and taxation policies with the evidence of increasing asset and land concentration and persisting high inequalities reveals that the increase in income tax revenue did not necessarily come from the upper income profiles or corporate profits. Meanwhile, although…

Rethinking Investment Provisions in Free Trade Agreements Smitha Francis

Developing country governments are increasingly resorting to comprehensive trade agreements involving profound commitments in public policy, which have wide-ranging adverse consequences on food security, industrial development, financial stability, etc. This paper analyses investment disciplines in FTAs in order to come to an understanding of their overall impact on a developing country FTA partner’s policy space, and therefore, on its development prospects. It is argued that given the links between trade and investment commitments within and across different FTAs, South-South FTAs have become as problematic as North-South FTAs. Rethinking_Investment_Provisions  (Download the full text in PDF format)

The New Regionalism in Southeast Asian Trade Policy and Issues in Market Access and Industrial Development: An Analysis of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement Smitha Francis and Murali Kallummal

[Working Paper No. 06/2008] This paper argues that the recent bilateral free trade initiatives of ASEAN members and, in particular, the ASEAN-China free trade agreement (ACFTA), are driven by ASEAN’s desire to maintain its export growth based on the regional production networks promoted by multinational corporations. The paper undertakes an analysis of ASEAN-China bilateral trade and the tariff preferences under the ACFTA to understand the actual prospects for Southeast Asian countries to expand their market access. It is concluded that without effective strategies for industrial upgradation and restructuring at the national levels, ASEAN’s attempts to obtain increased investment and export…