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Thoughts on trade, investment and development from the ARTNeT community

To share your thoughts on particular issues on trade, investment and development, or to respond to any of the posts below, send an email to [email protected].

CAI and sustainable development: No sure-fire success

The European Union (EU) and China agreed on the draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) text in January 2021, after over seven years of negotiations. Both parties opine that a distinct feature of the CAI is the inclusion of a standalone Section on sustainable development (SD) and investment. While around a dozen EU trade agreements contain an SD Chapter, it is rather exceptional that an investment agreement includes comprehensive SD provisions.

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Why are women missing from policymaking in trade and what are the consequences?

The almost certainty that a woman is about to be the new Director General of  the World Trade Organization (WTO), does not change the fact that the world of international trade has been very slow in accommodating progress in women’s participation as policy-makers. Over the period of 20 years, female professional staff population at the WTO has increased from 31% in 1995 to 45% in 2016 – that is an increase of just above 0.5% per year. Clearly, much more has to be done for the WTO Secretariat to break the glass ceiling within the organization and its bodies.

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She might be left behind if we focus on inclusivity only

Along with the expansion of trade activities, trade is increasingly perceived as leaving too many individuals and communities behind, making a strong case for reformulating trade policies and practices to be inclusive. Although the importance of having this high-end goal of making trade inclusive is undeniable, one has to ask what does that mean in a practical sense? When we say that something, in this case, trade, is inclusive, what does this mean and how do we measure it?  

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Will COVID-19 advance sustainable trade?

For trade to be sustainable, it must not only generate balanced economic growth but also strengthen social capital and promote environmental stewardship. These three pillars of sustainability -- economic, social, and environmental – were first laid out by the UN Brundtland Commission in 1986, and also form the basis for the Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index. The index recognizes that although trade is an essential ingredient in economic development, it cannot be sustainably pursued without an equivalent commitment to social capital and the environment.
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No one size fits all for COVID-19 response

“The virus affects everyone the same, rich and poor”; “Priority of policy should be to take care of people, not the economy”... These kinds of statements sound very nice, but they can be very misleading and unhelpful for policymaking.
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Does regional integration move a needle towards a gender parity in South Asia?

To answer some aspects of this question, we have undertaken a study to measure the impact of trade liberalization and regional integration measures on gender employment and wages. The study incorporates gender-differentiated employment and wages for selected South Asian economies across sectors to identify targeted value chains and economic activities, particularly among green trade sectors.

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Trade deficit once again falls victim of populist policies

India just decided not to join RCEP, a trade agreement with mostly small countries (most of ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand), plus two medium economies (Indonesia and Republic of Korea), and two large economies (China and Japan, besides India itself). The concern at the top appears to have been about bilateral trade deficits with RCEP countries, especially China. Trade economists are always mystified by political concerns over bilateral deficits. They do not indicate winning, losing, fairness, unfairness, or anything else.

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Is Technology Driving the US-China Trade War

The United States (US) and China are locked into a trade war, wherein actions and counter-actions are being taken at a bilateral level, bypassing the established international trade rules. Although the immediate trigger of the US trade restrictions on imports from China was the trade deficit of the US, it is increasingly becoming clear that technology is the real driver of the tensions.

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What are the Implications of Greater Bay Area Plan for Trade and Investment Governance?

China has recently initiated a new development plan, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (“GBA”) plan. Notably, the GBA plan was first formally stated in China’s 13th Five Year Plan for Economic and Social Development in 2016 and later written in the Report on the Work of the Government in 2017.

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