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  • Author: Michael D Bordo, Mickey D. Levy
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ratcheting up of tariffs and the Fed’s discretionary conduct of monetary policy are a toxic mix for economic performance. Escalating tariffs and President Trump’s erratic and unpredictable trade policy and threats are harming global economic performance, distorting monetary policy, and undermining the Fed’s credibility and independence. President Trump’s objectives to force China to open access to its markets for international trade, reduce capital controls, modify unfair treatment of intellectual property, and address cybersecurity issues and other U.S. national security issues are laudable goals with sizable benefits. However, the costs of escalating tariffs are mounting, and the tactic of relying exclusively on barriers to trade and protectionism is misguided and potentially dangerous. The economic costs to the United States so far have been relatively modest, dampening exports, industrial production, and business investment. However, the tariffs and policy uncertainties have had a significantly larger impact on China, accentuating its structural economic slowdown, and are disrupting and distorting global supply chains. This is harming other nations that have significant exposure to international trade and investment overseas, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Germany. As a result, global trade volumes and industrial production are falling. Weaker global growth is reflected in a combination of a reduction in aggregate demand and constraints on aggregate supply.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Economic growth, Tariffs, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, Asia, South Korea, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Lester, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Donald Trump was a trade “hawk” long before he became president. In the late 1980s, he went on the Oprah Winfrey show and complained about Japan “beating the hell out of this country” on trade (Real Clear Politics 2019). As president, he has continued with the same rhetoric, using it against a wide range of U.S. trading partners, and he has followed it up with action (often in the form of tariffs). While many countries have found themselves threatened by Trump’s aggressive trade policy, his main focus has been China. As a result, the United States and China have been engaged in an escalating tariff, trade, and national security conflict since July 2018, when the first set of U.S. tariffs on China went into effect and China retaliated with tariffs of its own. In this article, we explore the U.S.-China economic conflict, from its origins to the trade war as it stands today. We then offer our thoughts on where this conflict is heading and when it might end.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Trade Wars, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jennifer Brown, Tara Flint, Jessca LaMay
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Woodrow Wilson School Journal of Public and International Affairs
  • Institution: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: The Global North’s growing demand for fresh pineapple has created a system that is disproportionately profitable for companies and consumers in those countries to the detriment of people living and working in the Global South. Since the mid-1980s the Pineapple Development Corporation (PINDECO), a subsidiary of U.S.-based Del Monte, has established a monopoly over fresh pineapple exports in southern Costa Rica. We conducted pilot research in the municipalities of Buenos Aires and San Isidro del General in 2019, where the majority of PINDECO’s production takes place. PINDECO and the Costa Rican state claim pineapple production is beneficial to national development through its contribution to Costa Rican gross domestic product and employment opportunities, but our research and recent data reveal that in pineapple producing areas in the southwest, poverty levels remain high with worsening water and food security despite PINDECO’s large profit margins. There are numerous human and environmental health concerns linked to pineapple monocropping. Intensive pesticide use often utilizes chemicals that are banned or restricted in the countries they are imported from. PINDECO has been able to evade responsibility for environmental damages and social welfare obligations to employees while maintaining a largely positive public image through a lax regulatory environment and extensive subcontracting structure. This article connects regional socioeconomic issues to the intricate power dynamics and collusion between industry and state. The findings suggest that Costa Rica is not as environmentally conscious and sustainable as its public image portrays, with pockets of profit-driven industries taking precedence over community well-being and environmental sustainability.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Development
  • Political Geography: South America, Central America, Costa Rica
  • Author: Roland Rajah
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Indonesia has much economic potential but the trade-off between growth and stability continues to bind its growth ambitions. Indonesian economic policy continues to prioritise stability over growth but the adequacy of economic growth has become the bigger issue. President Joko Widodo’s commendable pro-growth efforts have so far only stabilised Indonesia’s trajectory rather than boost it. Doing better will require reforms to be calibrated to make the trade-off between growth and stability less binding while enhancing productivity.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Economy, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Giuliano Garavini
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Oil markets are facing a perfect storm. The scissors of supply and demand are moving against one another, generating increasing pain on the oil industry and the political and financial stability of oil-producing countries. Global oil demand is dropping due to the recession induced by the COVID-19 shut down of economic activity and transport in the most industrialized countries. Goldman Sachs predicts that global demand could drop from 100 million barrels per day (mdb) in 2019 to nearly 80 mdb in 2020.1 If confirmed, this would be single biggest demand shock since petroleum started its race to become the most important energy source in the world.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Oil, Global Markets, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Global Focus
  • Author: Chad P. Bown, Aksel Erbahar, Maurizio Zanardi
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper examines how trade protection is affected by changes in the value-added content of production arising through global value chains (GVCs). Exploiting a new set of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules adopted in 1995 that impose an exogenously timed requirement for countries to reevaluate their previously imposed trade protection, the authors adopt an instrumental variables strategy and identify the causal effect of GVC integration on the likelihood that a trade barrier is removed. Using a newly constructed dataset of protection removal decisions involving 10 countries, 41 trading partners, and 18 industries over 1995–2013, they find that bilateral industry-specific domestic value-added growth in foreign production significantly raises the probability of removing a duty. The results are not limited to imports from China but are only found for the protection decisions of high-income countries. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that rapid GVC growth in the 2000s freed almost a third of the trade flows subject to the most common temporary restrictions (i.e., antidumping) applied by high-income countries in 2006.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Markets, Finance, Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeremy de Beer
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is the new high-water mark in international intellectual property (IP) law. CUSMA includes most of the Trans-Pacific Partnership provisions that were suspended in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, except for a few pharmaceutical-related provisions amended after signing. Canada will be required to make meaningful changes to domestic IP laws, including copyright term extension, criminal penalties for tampering with digital rights management information, restoration of patent terms to compensate for administrative and regulatory delays, broader and longer protection for undisclosed testing data and other data, new civil and criminal remedies for the misappropriation of trade secrets, and additional powers for customs officials to seize and destroy IP-infringing goods.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Intellectual Property/Copyright, NAFTA, USMCA
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Dan Ciuriak, Maria Piashkina
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The rapid digital transformation occurring worldwide poses significant challenges for policy makers working within a governance framework that evolved over centuries. Domestic policy space needs to be redefined for the digital age, and the interface with international trade governance recalibrated. In this paper, Dan Ciuriak and Maria Ptashkina organize the issues facing policy makers under the broad pillars of “economic value capture,” “sovereignty” in public choice and “national security,” and outline a conceptual framework with which policy makers can start to think about a coherent integration of the many reform efforts now under way, considering how policies adopted in these areas can be reconciled with commitments under a multilateral framework adapted for the digital age.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Reform, Digital Economy, Multilateralism, Digitization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: Judit Fabian
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: International trade is often framed in starkly divergent terms: either countries choose multilateral trade agreements (MTAs) and advance the cause of global economic liberalization, or they choose preferred trade agreements (PTAs) and put the entire system at risk. Canada has a long track record of pursuing PTAs and with the Trump administration’s opposition to multilateralism, and longstanding opposition in elements of the Republican and Democratic parties, this trend will likely continue. The question is whether progress will come at the expense of the global trade system. Some economists believe PTAs to be trade-diverting, reducing trade with more efficient producers outside the agreement. Others insist that PTAs can create trade by shifting production to lower-cost producers in one of the participating countries. One prominent contrary argument holds that PTAs lead to discontinuities in tariff regimes between countries and regions, increasing transaction costs, disrupting supply chains, creating opportunities for corruption and harming global welfare, especially in developing nations. While debate continues about the effects of PTAs, a closer examination suggests that worries are overblown about their negative impacts on global trade flows. Evidence indicates that they support rather than harm the international trading system. Countries shut out of PTAs are more motivated to seek out agreements in new markets, increasing liberalization overall. They may also seek a reduction in most-favoured nation (MFN) tariffs, which would deprive PTAs of their major tariff benefits. Studies have found complementarity between preferential and MFN tariffs, revealing that PTAs promote external trade liberalization. Even if a PTA reduces a given country’s incentive to push for multilateral liberalization, it raises the odds of that country liberalizing its trade to avoid getting left behind. PTAs are a response to the difficulties of securing sweeping multilateral agreements. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements authorize them under GATT Article XXIV, GATS Article V, and the enabling clause, and the WTO facilitates a degree of governance over PTAs through its dispute settlement process. Over the past 25 years, countries have adopted these deals at a rapid pace. Between 1994 and 2005, the number of PTAs increased from 50 to 200. By April 2018, 336 were in effect. At the same time, global trade has increased significantly. Between 1994 and 2010, the volume of world merchandise exports more than doubled. The proliferation of PTAs has resulted in a rise in international trade governance, because the countries involved shape their relationships in line with the WTO agreements. This juridification makes PTAs subordinate to the international system rather than giving them room to dissolve it. Canada should therefore have no fear of pursuing PTAs within the larger framework of the effort to achieve multilateral trade liberalization.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Marcin Przychodniak
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China’s cooperation with the Western Balkans through the “17+1” format and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), among others, is primarily political. In the economic sphere, Chinese investments are to a large extent only declarations, and trade is marginal in comparison to cooperation with the EU or others. China’s goals are to gain political influence in future EU countries and limit their cooperation with the U.S. Competition with China in the region requires more intense EU-U.S. cooperation, made more difficult by the pandemic.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Investment, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Balkans