Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Diversity of thought - Always welcome

This piece in Bloomberg is not about international economic law directly but the logic applies to it too. 

It talks about the need for diversity in thought in Universities, in the context of the US.
Nonetheless, the current numbers make two points unmistakably clear. 
First, those who teach in departments lacking ideological diversity have an obligation to offer competing views and to present them fairly and with respect. A political philosopher who leans left should be willing and able to ask students to think about the force of the argument for free markets, even if they produce a lot of inequality. 
Second, those who run departments lacking ideological diversity have an obligation to find people who will represent competing views — visiting speakers, visiting professors and new hires. Faculties need not be expected to mirror their societies, but students and teachers ought not live in information cocoons. 
John Stuart Mill put it well: “It is hardly possible to overrate the value ... of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.” 
I was trying to draw a parallel with diversity of thought on international trade law and policy, on approaches of free markets and protectionism and of staggered liberalisation and full-fledged opening up. A diversity of opinions and debate is always good!

Stakeholder consultations and FTA negotiations.

Stakeholder consultations in trade negotiations is a challenging task. Which interests constitute 'national interest', which diverse interests are to represented in the negotiations and how do we take stakeholder comments on board.

I found this webpage on consultations by the Canadian government on their FTA with ASEAN very interesting. It is titled 'Consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement', provides basic information on the need for the FTA and what they are looking for.

We want to hear from you. We need to hear your ideas, your experiences, and your priorities in relation to a possible FTA with ASEAN through these consultations.
These consultations will seek the views of Canadians to help define Canada’s interests in a possible free trade agreement, and identify opportunities for such an agreement to create wealth, innovation and jobs for Canadians.
The list of people invited to offer comments is also widespread from labour unions to indigenous people to students.

A good model to follow in complex, trade negotiations? 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Beginning or the End?

A detailed policy brief on what WTO Members must and must not do in the field of negotiations is found in the CATO website titled 'Was Buenos Aires the Beginning of the End of the End of the Beginning? The Future of the World Trade Organization'. 

James Bacchus talks about the relevance of the negotiating function and what should be done.
Members must begin to negotiate in new ways that will lead to new trade agreements— and soon. If WTO members wait, if they hesitate, if they simply talk without really negotiating, and if they fail to act immediately on their shared realization that new challenges necessitate a new way of doing things, then the next ministerial conference of the WTO in 2019 may be the last one that many involved in trade policymaking will bother to attend.
 Whether the negotiating function will regain its momentum, what issues will gain significance and which ones will lead to fruition will depend on a variety of factors including national alignments, alliances and priorities.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Is there a cycle to it?

For those following the trade war and its aftermaths at the WTO, Arvind Panagariya's piece on WTO being on the brink is a concise summation.
A Panglossian may still argue that the vast damage that a wider trade war would inflict would at last convince political leaderships that trade openness is not the enemy, protectionism is. If so, this would be a replay of history that saw the highly prosperous First Globalisation from 1870 to 1914 descend into escalating protection during inter-war years. Lessons learned from that phase of protectionism brought the global leadership together to build what came to be known as the GATT-WTO system.
Times are cyclical. So is trade and responses to the globalization debate, perhaps?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Asia and multilateral rules

More on the importance of a rules-based multilateral trading system and Asian economies vis a vis a growing emphasis on China setting the agenda is found in this piece in the East Asian Forum blog.

It summarises the situation thus:

Asia has more at stake in the global system than any other part of the world — its economies depend on the open rules-based system not only for their economic prosperity but also for their political security. The appeal to the rules-based system is a critically important dimension of protecting economic security and political security more broadly. Asian countries need to stand firm in the face of the threat to the global trade regime. The dynamic of Asian growth depends importantly upon remaining committed to the trade reform agenda and encouraging entrenchment and deepening — including by China, the Southeast Asian economies and India — of the open rules-based international trading system.
There is mention of investment facilitation and building a multilateral-based international digital economy regime in the above piece. The critical question is whether there is a common approach on these issues amongst Asian economies and how would multilateral and bilateral disciplines be framed in these arenas.With the challenges to the dispute settlement system at the WTO as well as the stagnation of the negotiation fora, it would need a renewed sense of purpose vis a vis national positions to revitalise the negotiation of multilateral rules.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

China and world trade rules

A piece on China, globalization and trade rules in the Project Syndicate makes for an interesting read. In Globalization with Chinese characteristics, Barry Eichengreen argues that trade rules influenced by China will be very different from the current ones. 
In sum, while a China-led global economy will remain open to trade, it will be less respectful of US intellectual property, less receptive to US foreign investment, and less accommodating of US exporters and multinationals seeking a level playing field.
Will China really shape future multilateral trade and investment rules? Will it do so in the WTO, regionally or in numerous bilateral agreements? 

We have blogged about China and trade rules here and here.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

ISDS and Carribean islands - a good result so far

For those who follow international investment disputes and love the Carribean, this blogpost in the Kluwer Arbitration Blog gives an account if ISDS disputes pertaining to the Carribean islands.

Interesting to note that out of the 17 disputes covering the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Jamaica, the 5 which were settled were in favour of the State.