Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trade Infographics at its best

Thought I would share some trade infographics at its best courtesy this report by Deloitte University Press titled " A New View of International Trade". 

Data and visuals do have a powerful way of depicting a message as clearly shown in these infographics. They are self-explanatory. Have a look.

Featured Image

Figure 1

Figure 7

More contributors to Tread the Middle Path!

Welcome Prabhash Ranjan - hope to see more of you here!

Shailja Singh also joins in - Welcome!

More the merrier - Tread the Middle Path gets more expert contributors joining

Three more experts in international trade law have joined the blog. 

Welcoming Anil B. Suraj to the blog!

Moushami Joshi, its great to see you as a contributor here.

And the "Unknown" contributor is James Nedumpara. We will fix that profile soon!

The blog now gets more exciting. Looking forward to more prolific contributors to join.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tread the Middle Path - Takes a New Path

It has been over four years since Tread the Middle Path was started - a blog to be an informal, academic forum to discuss issues of international trade law, especially WTO law. The journey has been enriching and a learning experience.

Time has come to have more contributors and enrich it further. In the coming days, Tread the Middle Path will have more contributors and contributions from international trade law experts.

Contributors will be writing in their personal capacity and the views expressed will be only academic in nature to stimulate discussion on various aspects of international trade law.

I welcome Anuradha to the blog! Many more to follow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Domestic policy space, GVCs and some questions

I have often written on  the issue of domestic policy space and international trade law obligations in this blog piece. The issue essentially is whether countries, especially developing and least developed countries,  have sufficient domestic policy space (flexibility) to undertake industrial or other policies and still not fall foul of the international trade regime? Do trade rules restrict countries sovereign right to undertake certain policies that they see as essential to promote national socio-economic development? Is there a uniform prescription for development or do trade rules provide for that space to couner the "one-size-fits all" answer.

To find this debate resonate in a piece on Global Value Chains (GVCs) caught my attention. A piece in the VoxEU titled "Industrial Policy and developmental space: The missing piece in the GVCs debate" highlighted the possibility of exercising this domestic policy space in engaging with GVCs. We all know the critique of the narrative of GVCs being good for all and requiring liberalisation of goods and services sectors as a pre-requisite. All countries may not benefit equally from GVCs. This piece touched on what could be an alternative narrative. 
GVCs seem to be seen as a far-reaching analytical tool and as a mandatory topic in the debates that will be held in the different international economic fora in the next years. However, efforts made so far from the southern hemisphere and, in particular, from Latin America, appear to be insufficient to carry out a critical analysis of the contributions that international think tanks and academics are making. 
If we are willing to reject the linear proposal stating that the path to successfully integrate into GVCs depends almost exclusively on trade and investment liberalisation, then we should map the concrete examples of public policies that have been proposed to create the right incentives for national companies to upgrade and determine how accessible these proposals are for developing countries, which usually have budget and normative constraints that limit their room for manoeuvre.
However, is there a clear alternative? Do we have workable models of selective engagement with GVCs as per national needs? How does this play by WTO rules? How can domestic policy space be exercised? What are the limits? Apart from domestic constraints what are the international law constraints?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Investor State Dispute Settlement - Things heating up?

I usually do not write about investment issues. That is not my forte. However, have been coming across a lot of pieces on the issue of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that caught my attention. The ISDS provision in an investment agreement essentially permits private investors to initiate a dispute against the State where it has invested in cases of alleged violations of the State's obligations under the investment treaty.

The IELP blog carried this piece on the latest Australian FTA with Japan that apparently does not have an ISDS provision. The recent example of this FTA establishes that the issue is not resolved and will continue to arise in international negotiations. The pros and cons of having ISDS provisions have been debated ad naseum. Two pieces on varying positions are an interesting read.

This piece called "Profiting from Injustice" essentially argues against having provisions of ISDS due a variety of reason including that it is fuelled by law firms, arbitrators and financiers and is essentially not neutral. 

Countering the above premise, a detailed piece in the Harvard Journal of International Law argues against the "re-statification" of investment state disputes essentially arguing in favour of the existing ISDS provisions.

A whole lot of literature, interests and impacts. Issues about what constitutes "neutrality" itself? is there a pro-investor or pro-state bias? What trend would coming bilateral, plurilateral agreements follow? Is there a middle ground?