Monday, October 28, 2013

HSBC Global Connections Report 2013

For those looking to be optimistic about global trade volumes, a recent study by HSBC states that global trade stating that it would quadruple by 2030 is music to the ears. 

The report forecasts that infrastructure related trade in goods would rise in the coming years as major emerging economies invest in large infrastructure projects. It concludes:
"This analysis suggests that even as economies develop and become wealthier, their demand for infrastructure products remains strong – for both intermediate goods and for investment in equipment. There is no single model for the pattern of industrial capacity, infrastructure 
spending and wealth creation. While much of Asia has followed a traditional export-driven industrialisation pattern, India has still been able to achieve growth 
without the same focus on infrastructure, but 
infrastructure bottlenecks are now blamed for stalling 
growth. As the country becomes wealthier, it will 
increasingly build up its infrastructure. 

 At the same time, advanced economies like the USA, the UK and Germany will need to continue investing in infrastructure to maintain their competitive advantage in supplying investment goods to the rest of the world. 
We expect infrastructure-related goods to increase their 
share of rising global trade, providing opportunities for 
both exporters and importers of both those goods and 
the merchandise that can be manufactured as a result.
Trade forecasts looking down due to protectionism?  Thought I heard that somewhere...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Services liberalisation - FTZ style

For those watching services liberalisation, this is something to watch out for - the Shanghai Free Trade Zone that was opened recently.

The details are found here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Trade and sub-national interests

I came across this interesting website titled "Trade Benefits America" that maps benefits of trade to states within the country as contrasted to the national level.Normally, trade analysis is limited to the benefits a country gets in terms of national outcomes - jobs, GDP growth, investment and export growth. Going to the sub-national level is normally not attempted. This website maps perceived benefits right upto the State level on many parameters. It makes trade look more relevant and grounded.

I had blogged about this issue some time back here.

Some lessons to be learnt for countries having federal polities.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's LIVE, well almost!

The WTO website announced the viewing of the compliance proceedings of the much talked about Boeing Subsidies case about which I have blogged here, here and here.
"At the request of the parties in the dispute “United States — Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (Second Complaint) — Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by the European Union” (DS353), the panel has agreed to show to the public a video recording of the non-confidential portions of its hearing. The screening is scheduled for 31 October 2013 at the WTO."

Though it is not live, it is a recording of some parts of the hearing.

What lies next - a webcast perhaps?

Monday, October 14, 2013

WTO disputes, trade and strategic litigation?

An interesting link between WTO disputes and the growth of trade is analysed in a paper titled "Do WTO disputes actually increase trade?". The paper finds:
"We find that WTO disputes do not, on average, increase a country’s imports of the products at issue. We find only very specific effects of disputes based on the dispute outcome and issue-area. We find significant variation across countries in their responsiveness to disputes, yet that most common explanations cannot account for this variation. This article highlights and begins to fill a significant gap in our understanding of the purpose of the WTO and its effects on trade."
The paper concludes:
"This paper presents an important finding: the effect of WTO disputes on imports at issue is, at best, inconsistent. In the aggregate, disputes are not associated with a statistically significant increase in imports. Looking at particular dispute outcomes and issue areas, only certain types of disputes have been associated with increased trade, and many have resulted in decreases. More- over, certain respondents are more “responsive” to disputes than others. Disputes against some countries have resulted in increased imports, while disputes against others have failed to do so. We do not find strong evidence of a systematic explanation for this variation."
While the relationship between a dispute and the impact it has on trade is far more complex, I found two reasons noted in the paper as to why countries probably file WTO cases interesting - rule clarifying and setting precedence for one's advantage.
"It may be, for instance, that the benefit of dispute settlement rests entirely on its rule-clarifying function. In such a telling, a dispute’s resolution leads to a convergence of expectations over country behavior. If we are to believe that most noncompliance amounts to a misunderstanding of the meaning of rules (Chayes and Chayes, 1993), the main benefit of a dispute may be to clarify the meaning of the underlying law. This benefit would be felt throughout the institution, as countries adjust their behavior to take into account that, e.g. the use of safeguards is now known to require the demonstration of “unforeseen developments”.If this is the case, however, our null finding over the effect on trade of mutually agreed solutions is of special concern. Indeed, settlements have no clarifying effect, since their content is usually kept largely private. When taken together with the finding that settlements have no average effect on trade, there remains little to recommend settlements. This is especially striking given the literature’s contention that MAS are where most of the action occurs in dispute settlement. 
Related to the idea of rule-clarification, it could be that dispute settlement is mostly an exercise in changing the meaning of the rules to one’s advantage. Perhaps countries file to set favorable precedents about matters of concern to them. Although the WTO features no formally binding precedent, or stare decisis, scholars largely agree that something akin to de facto stare decisis actually takes place (Bhala, 1998), where rulings do constrain the rulings of judges in subsequent cases. .."
Strategic litigation? 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Trade, Law and Development - Call for papers

I have blogged about the brilliant work Trade, Law and Development journal has done in the area of international economic law and policy. For those interested, Trade, Law and Development has called for papers.  

Here is the call for papers:

Call for Submissions
Special Issue on Trade and Climate Change
Founded in 2009, the philosophy of Trade, Law and Development has been to generate and sustain a constructive and democratic debate on emergent issues in international economic law and to serve as a forum for the discussion and distribution of ideas. In keeping with these ideals, the Board of Editors is pleased to announce Trade and Climate Change as the theme for its next Special Issue (Vol. VI, No. 1). 
Climate change is one of the foremost challenges facing the global community today and intersects with international trade in numerous ways. Sustainable development and protection and preservation of the environment are recognized as fundamental goals of the WTO, although its principal objective is to foster international trade. The WTO permits members to avail of exceptions to its principles in order to protect the environment under specific conditions. The on-going Doha Round has further consolidated the WTO’s stance on the environment by launching the first ever multilateral trade and environment negotiations. Moreover, the recent COP-15, Rio+20 and Earth Summit negotiations have given significant impetus towards achieving a global solution to climate change. There is hope that this multilateral dialogue will materialise into a global climate change deal in 2015 under the auspices of the UNFCCC.

This Special Issue, currently scheduled for publication in June, 2014, will provide an ideal platform for deliberation on the relationship between trade and climate change in the run-up to the proposed 2015 global climate change deal. Accordingly, the Board of Editors is pleased to invite original, unpublished submissions for the Special Issue on Trade and Climate Change for publication as ‘Articles’, ‘Notes’, ‘Comments’ and ‘Book Reviews’. Preference will be given to submissions that espouse perspectives of developing and under-developed countries.

Manuscripts may be submitted via email, ExpressO, or the TL&D website. For further information and submission guidelines, please visit the Journal’s website:

In case of any queries, please feel free to contact us at: editors[at]tradelawdevelopment[dot]com


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

And now it is Indonesia

I have blogged about the Plain packaging of Tobacco products dispute here, here and here

And now Indonesia joins the battle over Tobacco Plain Packaging.  More details here.