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  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Trade and investment, coupled with transfers of knowledge and technology and an appropriate institutional framework, have been major engines of global economic growth in developed and developing countries over the past 50 years. From the mid-1980s, the pace of global economic integration and growth accelerated significantly. Sustaining global economic growth and achieving a better sharing of its benefits will further the interests of all countries, developing and developed alike. Recognising this, the international community has committed itself to specific Millennium Development Goals and to ways of achieving them.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The building sector is economically important in OECD countries, accounting for a significant proportion of industrial activities and jobs. In fact, the construction industry - buildings and infrastructure such as roads and electricity networks - accounts for around 5%-15% of their gross domestic product (GDP), and 45%-55% of their gross capital formation. The industry also provides 5%-10% of total employment in OECD countries. The building sector also has a great impact on the environment. Building activities such as design, construction, use, refurbishment and demolition all affect the environment, either directly or indirectly. p>
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The global annual welfare gains from further multilateral trade liberalisation, involving both tariff reduction and trade facilitation, would be substantial. Recent OECD estimates suggest that they would range, depending on the precise scenario, between US$117 billion and US$173 billion. For individual economies, depending on the region to which they belong, the gains would amount to annual real increases in gross domestic product (GDP) of between 0.2% and 1.8%, the OECD estimates show. These figures are sufficiently impressive to inspire international action. But would the gains be automatic? Would significantly improved market access be enough to stimulate diversification and trade-led growth? And will increased trade necessarily contribute to reducing poverty and achieving the other Millennium Development Goals identified by the international community?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Services, from health and education to telecommunications and transport, are becoming the single largest sector in many economies. Not only do they provide the bulk of employment and income in many countries, but in areas such as the financial or telecommunications sectors, services provide vital input for the production of other goods and services. So the efficiency of the services sector is crucial to the efficiency of the overall economy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The development focus of the current multilateral trade negotiations launched in Doha in late 2001 has highlighted the need for trade liberalisation in areas of export interest for developing countries. When it comes to services, a key issue for these countries is the temporary movement of people across borders to supply services, for example in areas such as nursing or information technology.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Regional trade agreements (RTAs) are an integral part of international trade, accounting for almost half of world trade and expected to grow further in the next few years. These agreements operate alongside global multilateral agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and have both positive and negative effects. They can be attractive, for example, because it may be easier for a small group of neighbouring countries with similar concerns and cultures to agree on market opening in a particular area than to reach agreement in a wider forum such as the WTO. They can also offer new approaches to rule-making and so act as stepping stones on the way to a multilateral agreement.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: International trade has grown rapidly in recent years, and with it the relative importance of border procedures such as Customs requirements, adding to the cost for governments and business, and ultimately for the customer. Indeed, surveys suggest that border-related costs such as the expense of supplying the required Customs documents or the surcharges arising from procedural delays when importing goods could total as much as 15% of the value of the goods being traded in some cases.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The opening of markets has boosted trade and economic growth worldwide in the past few decades. Yet tariffs – taxes imposed by importing countries on foreign goods – still remain a key obstacle to market access. The potential benefits of further reducing this obstacle are significant. OECD estimates indicate that scrapping all tariffs on merchandise trade and reducing trade costs by 1% of the value of trade worldwide would boost global welfare by more than USD 170 billion dollars a year. These gains would contribute a boost to regions around the world, adding the equivalent of up to 2% to the present annual gross domestic product (GDP) in some areas. No wonder that both developed and developing countries consider substantial tariff reductions as a central goal of the current multilateral trade talks in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Entering its fifth year of existence, the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has met major headwinds. At the advent of the single currency the euro area experienced solid economic growth, with unemployment falling and public finances rapidly improving. However, a number of structural problems were exposed with the cyclical downturn since 2001, from which the area is recovering only hesitantly. The challenges facing policy makers at present are both of a short-run and medium-run nature. Policy makers are currently grappling with sluggish demand. Responding to this challenge, monetary policy has been eased and fiscal policy reacted through the automatic stabilisers. However, the room for manoeuvre was reduced by lingering inflationary pressures and earlier insufficient fiscal adjustment in several member states. Meanwhile the euro exchange rate has appreciated significantly. Over the medium term, the Community has set ambitious targets and a vast programme for enhancing the performance of labour, product and financial markets. This programme needs to be pursued with vigour, thereby raising the odds of large gains in trend growth and jobs while making it easier to achieve sound fiscal positions.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: After several years of rapid expansion, the French economy has entered into a period of below potential growth, with a negative output gap opening up. Monetary conditions have been relaxed, while fiscal policy has eased excessively, provoking the European Commission to initiate an excessive deficit procedure. As uncertainty dissipates towards the middle of this year, the economy should pick up speed, reaching a growth rhythm of around 2 per cent in 2004. Nevertheless, over the medium term, in the absence of substantial reforms the ageing of the population risks threatening economic and fiscal equilibrium. Current pension and healthcare reform initiatives and plans to redress spending over the medium term go in the right direction. However, in order to ensure medium and long-term fiscal sustainability, additional policies to slow the expansion of health and pension spending are required, while efforts to raise employment rates and potential output are needed to improve the economy's ability to finance future ageing-related expenditure. Here, programmes that offer the possibility of on-the-job training should be expanded so as to reactivate young and lowskilled workers, while reforms to early-retirement schemes and the pension system need to be continued so as to restore work incentives for older workers. Ongoing tax and labour market reforms and policies to facilitate the development of high-tech and fast growing enterprises, which should help promote investment and higher productivity growth, also need to be pursued. The opening of the capital of stateowned enterprises and their eventual privatisation, and planned improvements to governance structures should help promote growth, but revenues from sell-offs ought to be used to reduce debt. Finally, in order to better manage the totality of public expenditures, the authorities need to implement reforms that can be used to ensure that all spending organisms contribute to controlling spending. Here, it will be necessary to implement mechanisms that would improve the effectiveness of measures to control healthcare spending. Moreover, decision-makers need to be more directly confronted with the long-term consequences of their actions. Initiatives such as decentralisation and the new budget framework law should help in this regard. Pursuit of reforms along all of these lines should permit society to meet the fiscal challenge posed by population ageing, while retaining high levels of service.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France