Hype and Facts on Free Trade C. P. Chandrasekhar

Voices questioning the claim that nations and the majority of their people stand to gain from global trade are growing louder. The one difference now is that the leading protagonist of protectionism is not a developing country, but global hegemon United States under Donald Trump. Free trade benefits big corporations with production facilities abroad, Trump argues, while harming those looking for a decent livelihood working in America. With time Trump has made clear that his words are not mere rhetoric, matching them with tariffs that have frightened European and North American allies and US corporations, besides troubling the likes of…

Trade Wars of United States Biswajit Dhar

In the past few months, President Donald Trump has authorised a series of protectionist measures, the likes of which have not been seen in the postwar decades. The first salvo was fired in early March 2018, with the imposition of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from all countries except its immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico. The President of the United States (US) then turned his attention to China, announcing that relatively high tariffs would be imposed to counter, what he perceived was “unfair” trade practiced by the second largest economy. Both acts of protectionism were promptly responded to…

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…

Has Donald Trump Already Changed US Trade? C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

There is no doubt that President Trump is upending global trade. He has unleashed a trade war with China as well as with some of the US’ s purported allies, using grounds of “threats to national security” to impose tariffs on many US imports. The likely retaliation will obviously affect some US exports in turn. The trajectory of world trade suddenly looks quite uncertain – and this will also depress investment across the trading world. So the Trump effect on world trade is clearly just beginning. But the naked self-interest of Trump’s moves, the “America first” orientation declared by the…

Electronic Commerce and the WTO: The Changing Contours of Engagement Biswajit Dhar

Electronic Commerce (e-commerce) has emerged as a key issue in the run-up to the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017. A number of countries across the development spectrum have backed inclusion of e-commerce in the WTO. Although the nature of disciplines that these countries favour is not entirely clear, yet the proposals strongly suggest that they would prefer using e-commerce as a vehicle for trade liberalisation in goods and services. Electronic_Commerce _WTO  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally posted in Madhyam.org.in on November…

China’s Capital Flight Syndrome C.P. Chandrasekhar

China, now one of the world’s two largest nations measured by gross domestic product (GDP), is displa­ying a strange malady. A sudden and large outflow of capital from the country is resulting in a sharp fall in its reserves. Going by International Monetary Fund (IMF) statistics, between the quarter ending June 2014 and the one ending June 2016, China’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $752 billion, from $4.1 trillion to $3.3 trillion. According to recent reports, reserves had fallen further to $3.1 trillion by the end of October 2016. This collapse in reserves due to an outflow of capital is…

Analysis of the Main Controversies on Domestic Agricultural Supports Jacques Berthelot

This paper tries to provide food for thought for the debate in analysing the main controversies around ten methodological issues of opposite concepts such as, agricultural supports vs agricultural subsidies; administered prices vs market prices etc. domestic_agricultural_supports (Download the full text in PDF format)    

Coverage of Prudential Measures in the GATS: Some conclusions of a WTO Appellate Body Andrew Cornford

Since issuance of the framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) as part of the results of the Uruguay Round negotiations, there has been a continuing controversy as to the scope which it provides for financial regulation. The principal focus of this controversy has been the so-called of the “prudential carve-out” or “prudential exception” of paragraph 2(a) of the Annex on Financial services. This provides latitude under GATS rules for measures taken by members for prudential reasons affecting their financial sectors, notwithstanding other provisions of the GATS. A recent dispute between Panama and Argentina was the occasion…

Imperialism’s New Trade-Negotiating Strategy Prabhat Patnaik

The WTO has been a major weapon used by the advanced countries to roll back the structures that the third world dirigiste regimes which came into existence after decolonization had erected for achieving a degree of self-reliance. The TRIPS agreement for instance which tightens the Multinational Corporations’ stranglehold over technology was pushed through the WTO. But the advanced capitalist world has of late found an even stronger weapon, which consists of bilateral or regional trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The advantage of RTAs for them is that, unlike at global multilateral negotiations where they have to contend…

Financial Services under WTO: Disciplining governments and freeing business C. P. Chandrasekhar

Though overshadowed by the deep differences over agricultural subsidies and food security and on the rules governing trade in industrial goods, services were an important bone of contention at WTO’s Nairobi Ministerial Conference over 15-18 December, 2015. Developed countries had achieved a major victory in the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, when they managed to bring trade in services, defined broadly as occurring under four modes (cross-border supply, consumption abroad, commercial presence and movement of natural persons), onto the negotiating table through the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). That began a process of liberalisation of trade in services,…