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  • Author: Tetyana Payosova, Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Jeffrey Schott
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since its inception in 1995, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism has resolved an impressive number of trade disputes and has earned a reputation as the “crown jewel” of the global trading system. Today, however, the mechanism is in crisis. WTO members have failed to negotiate updates to the rulebook, including rules on dispute settlement itself. As a result, the WTO Appellate Body increasingly is asked to render decisions on ambiguous or incomplete WTO rules. Its interpretations of such provisions have provoked charges by the United States and others that binding Appellate Body rulings, which establish precedents for future cases, effectively circumvent the prerogative of member countries to revise the WTO rulebook and thus undercut the national sovereignty of WTO members. For the past few years, US officials have blocked appointments of Appellate Body members to force WTO members to negotiate new rules that address US concerns and limit the scope for judicial overreach. If this problem is not resolved, the Appellate Body soon will not have enough members to review cases and the vaunted WTO dispute settlement system will grind to a halt.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Christopher G. Collins, Mohammad R Jahan-Parvar, Thomas Pellet
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Immediately following the US presidential election in November 2016, many economists were concerned that increased uncertainty over economic policy would lead to a decline in the US stock market. From the time of the election to the end of 2017, however, the stock market, as measured by the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 index, increased by about 25 percent. Price swings since then have led investors and economists to increasingly ask: Was the stock market rise justified by an increase in actual and expected future dividends, or did it reflect unhealthy price developments, which may reverse in the future?
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Markets
  • Author: William R Cline
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The centerpiece of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 is the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the net revenue loss from the tax overhaul at $1 trillion over the next decade. The underlying premise of the legislation is that lower corporate taxes will spur growth, with trickle-down wage benefits that spread the resulting economic gains.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Formidable barriers stand between the modern financial system and the hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens still using costly informal credit. For many, the financial data that could be used to give them a credit score that would lead to a fair priced loan exist but are not being used. This analysis finds that the most difficult barriers cutting these data off from their potential use for greater financial inclusion are the legal and political restrictions on data sharing and use, economic and competitive concerns from data holders, and the technical difficulty of integrating disparate systems. Policies that encourage coordination between public authorities and private actors in finance and technology can go a long way towards making these data available and driving access to credit in China. This shift would not only help borrowers: It would also encourage the needed economic rebalancing towards consumption, increase competition in the financial sector, raise efficiency through better credit allocation, and contribute to sustainable economic growth and social welfare.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Few challenges facing the European Union—immigration pressures, the need to decrease security dependence on an increasingly erratic United States, and the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (Brexit)—are compelling EU leaders to consider overhauling the revenue side of the European Union’s existing budget. To deal with these challenges in the future, the European Union will need resources—at a time when Europeans are increasingly skeptical about the effectiveness of budget-making in Brussels. Longstanding US budgetary procedures of trust fund accounting and earmarking government revenue towards specific priorities can provide a template for European policymakers. Shifting the EU budget towards more earmarked resources would reduce distrust among taxpayers by limiting Brussels’ spending discretion while focusing expenditures on specific challenges facing the European project.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Wojciech Lorenz
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia’s annexation of Crimea triggered a shift in NATO’s policy towards Georgia. NATO moved from mainly political support for Georgia’s NATO membership aspirations to enhanced practical military cooperation. Although it might be more difficult for Russia to coerce its small neighbour, the lack of visible progress on the path to NATO membership may weaken Georgian morale and lead to a reversal of democratic gains. Hence, it is important that during the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels the Allies offer additional support to help Georgia increase its resilience.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Georgia
  • Author: Łukasz Ogrodnik
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Austria’s government has declared it will be a bridge-builder in the European Union between its western and eastern members. This is in fact rather more an endorsement of the Union cohesion on the eve of Austria’s presidency of the EU Council than a genuine offer to represent the Visegrad states’ interests in the EU. Vienna is also trying to strengthen its position in Central Europe using regional cooperation initiatives such as the Slavkov Triangle, Three Seas Initiative, and the V4+ format. However, Austria’s pro-Russia stances and economic conflicts of interest have burdened relations with regional partners. Common goals remain limited but include the development of transport infrastructure, an endorsement of the European integration of the Western Balkans and strengthening the EU’s external borders.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Austria
  • Author: Justyna Szczudlik
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In his first term, Chinese leader Xi Jinping abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s foreign policy dictum of “keeping a low profile.” But China’s activism in the middle of Xi’s first term was still more reactive than creative. However, in the last two years a new phase of diplomacy has emerged, in which all actions are subordinated to China’s unchanging strategic foreign policy goal of regaining its superpower status. This means that China strives to enforce change in the global system, which is dominated by the West.[1] The PRC is already trying to introduce new standards for international relations and promotes its values and principles more aggressively worldwide. There are already examples that Xi is effectively implementing his ideas.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Johannes Lang, Robin May Schott, Rens van Munster
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Formal UN discussions have begun to address how the international community should regulate the development and use of lethal autonomous weapons – also known as ‘killer robots’. Denmark has so far chosen not to participate in these discussions, but there are good reasons to get involved.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Peter Albrecht
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Elections in Sierra Leone will not change the circumstances that have led to war in the country – and already marginalized citizens stand to lose. The greatest concern is not the election, but the deep-seated patronage networks that govern the country.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Sierra Leone
  • Author: Johannes Lang, Rens van Munster, Robin May Schott
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Disagreements on how to define “autonomy” are stalling formal UN discussions on the compliance of autonomous weapons with international humanitarian law. A pragmatic approach that focuses on the weapon’s critical functions, such as target selection and firing, can help move discussions forward in the future.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jairo Munive, Finn Stepputat
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Armed non-state actors are significant players in most conflicts. The international community is often forced to engage with them in order to secure humanitarian aid for civilians or to end armed political conflicts. The question of when and how to engage is being debated. We sug­gest a more pragmatic approach.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Chad Michael Briggs
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Paid parental leave can provide important health and educational benefits to children while enabling mothers to remain attached to their prior jobs, which can increase earnings substantially once the mother returns to work
  • Topic: Finance, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: China is investing much less in the US than it did just a year ago. It has never invested much in the Belt and Road. Yet China’s global investment spending remains healthy, with impressive diversification across countries and the reemergence of private firms.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Michael Bohnet, Stephan Klingebiel, Paul Marschall
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The structure of German Official Development Assistance (ODA) is in a state of transition. Germany’s growing international role, the increasing importance of climate issues as well as the refugee crisis are contributing greatly to a significant increase in German ODA, which has more than doubled since 2012 and amounted to around EUR 22 billion in 2017. The coalition agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD in 2018 has prioritised ODA-eligible expenditures and views development policy as a priority area. Significant changes can also be seen with regard to the scope and pattern of ODA expenditures
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Max Otto Baumann, Silke Weinlich
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Can the United Nations Development System (UNDS) become a resourceful, well-organised partner for member states in implementing the 2030 Agenda? The UNDS is the biggest multilateral development actor, accounting for $18.4 billion, or 33 per cent, of multilateral aid in 2015. Its functions range from providing a forum for dialogue, decision-making and norm-setting, to research, advocacy, technical assistance and humanitarian aid. Numerous governments, including those of high-income countries, are counting on the UN’s assistance for advancing their development in a sustainable way. More than any other development organisation, the UNDS needs to adjust in order to fulfil these expectations. In May 2018, UN member states set the course for reforming the UNDS by agreeing on a draft resolution. The resolution contains five potentially transformative decisions that will bring the UNDS a step closer to being “fit for purpose”, the term under which the reform process was initiated more than three years ago. The global structures of the UNDS are to be strengthened, making the system more strategic and accountable; Resident Coordinators are to coordinate more effectively and objectively; their funding will be guaranteed by a new 1 per cent levy on tightly earmarked contributions; common business operations are to be advanced, with potential efficiency gains of $380 million per year; and the UN’s vast network of country offices is to be consolidated for more efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Claudia Schwegmann, Sarah Holzapfel
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Data is a central but underestimated prerequisite for the realisation of the 2030 Agenda. Although technical innovations such as smartphones or the internet of things have led to a data explosion in recent years, there are still considerable gaps in the availability and use of data in developing countries and development cooperation (DC) in particular. So far it is not possible to report regularly on the majority of the 230 indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Topic: International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Annabelle Houdret, Irene Pasqua, Saâd Filali Meknassi
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: In Tunisia, Morocco and other North African countries, en¬vironmental problems increasingly lead to political protest. Industrial pollution and a lack of clean drinking water adversely impact the living conditions and income op¬portunities of already marginalised groups and trigger unrest. Environmental governance in the region is often highly centralised, and takes no consideration of the needs of the citizens in the use of natural resources. In a political context that remains unstable following the 2011 uprisings, the double challenge of mounting environmental problems and related social unrest calls for new approaches. Reinforcing accountable environmental governance could help, not only by addressing environmental problems and needs, but by contributing to the overall transformation of societal relationships towards more democratic (i.e. transparent, accountable and participative) governance in the longer term.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Author: Clare Castillejo
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Migration was an important issue at the November African Union (AU)-European Union (EU) summit. While the tone of discussion was somewhat improved on that of recent years, divisions between the two continents remain great. Europe and Africa still have fundamentally different positions in relation to migration, with the EU and many European member states prioritising prevention and return, while African governments focus more on remittances and legal migration opportunities. However, Europe’s current approach does not acknowledge these differing interests and instead seeks to impose its own agenda in ways that threaten to undermine important African ambitions. In recent years, the EU has launched initiatives aimed at curbing migration from Africa that have caused significant controversy, notably the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and the Migration Partnership Framework (MPF). These initiatives suffer from a number of weaknesses. The EUTF is based on the flawed premise that development assistance can prevent migration. It diverts aid to migration goals, and its projects often do not comply with development principles such as transparency, ownership and alignment. Meanwhile, the MPF seeks to use positive and negative incentives across a range of external action areas to encourage partners to cooperate with the EU’s migration goals – primarily on prevention and return. So far, results have been limited and it has soured relations with some partner countries.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jean-Frédéric Morin, Vera Chaudhuri, Mathilde Gauquelin
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Trade agreements have mixed effects on the environment. On the one hand, trade generates additional pollution by raising production levels. Trade rules can also restrict the capacity of governments to adopt environmental regulations. On the other hand, trade agreements can favour the diffusion of green technologies, make production more efficient and foster environmental cooperation. Whether the overall effect is positive or negative partly depends on the content of the trade agreement itself. Recent studies have found that trade agreements with detailed environmental provisions, in contrast to agreements without such provisions, are associated with reduced levels of CO2 emission and suspended particulate matter (Baghdadi et al., 2013; Zhou, 2017). It remains unclear, however, which specific provisions have a positive environmental impact and how they are actually implemented.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus