Multilateralising 21st-century regionalism

Richard Baldwin 20 January 2014

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Trade and trade agreements used to be relatively simple. Trade primarily meant trade in ‘made-here-sold-there’ goods, so 20th-century regional and multilateral trade agreements dealt primarily with barriers to goods crossing borders – especially tariffs. For governments, the key purpose of trade and trade agreements was to help their firms sell things.

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Topics:  Global governance International trade

Tags:  WTO, trade, regional trade agreements, supply chains, harmonisation, global value chain, megaregionals, network effects

Global value chains, interdependence, and the future of trade

Pascal Lamy 18 December 2013

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Today, the expansion of global value or production chains means that most products or services are assembled with inputs from many countries. We may still think in terms of Ricardo’s world of trade between nations, but in reality most trade now takes place within globe-spanning multinational companies and their suppliers. The results of this ‘trade in tasks’ are all around us.

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Topics:  International trade

Tags:  WTO, trade, Doha, global supply chains, Bali, mega-regional negotiations

Building on Bali: A new VoxEU eBook

Simon J Evenett, Alejandro Jara 18 December 2013

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The successful conclusion of the Bali Ministerial Conference and its terrific reception in the international press and from government leaders means that the WTO now has the opportunity to restore its fortunes. Talk of the WTO’s demise as a negotiating forum has been set aside, at least for now. If the WTO membership takes the right decisions in the coming months concerning its near-term work programme, and assiduously follows up, then such talk might be banished for good.

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Topics:  International trade

Tags:  WTO, Bali package

WTO agreement: The Bali Ribbon

Richard Baldwin 12 December 2013

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Bali’s success got multilateralism out of the emergency room and into the intensive care unit – but we don’t know whether the operation was a success. The Bali package is only distantly related to the heart of the 2001 agenda (WTO 2013). Indeed, the ‘Bali Package’ should really be called the ‘Bali Ribbon’ since very large parts of it were already being implemented unilaterally by members (Meltzer 2013).

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Topics:  Global governance International trade

Tags:  WTO, trade, Doha, multilateralism, regional trade agreements, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Bali, mega-regional negotiations

Ukraine’s trade policy: Addressing supply-chain frictions

Bernard Hoekman, Jesper Jensen, David Tarr 29 November 2013

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On November 21 2013, Ukraine suspended preparations for signing the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union (EU) at the Third EU-Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on November 28-29. In 2010, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan formed the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) and have invited Ukraine to become a member. This has become a politically charged issue, generating great uncertainty that is likely to have negative consequences for investment and economic activity (see Handley and Limão 2013, Shepotylo 2013).

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Topics:  EU institutions International trade

Tags:  WTO, barriers to trade, FTAs, global supply chain, Ukraine

Does policy uncertainty reduce economic activity? Insights and evidence from large trade reforms

Kyle Handley, Nuno Limão 23 November 2013

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The impact of policy uncertainty on economic activity is an issue traditionally associated with developing countries. Since 2008, however, the spotlight has shifted. Governments’ responses to the Great Recession and the Eurozone crisis have raised considerable uncertainty about the future policies of advanced economies. Examples include the timing and size of financial bailouts, government expenditures, and the risk of sovereign-debt default. These crises have also heightened trade policy uncertainty.

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Topics:  International trade

Tags:  US, China, WTO, trade, uncertainty, Great Recession, Eurozone crisis

Will the WTO Bali conference advance the Doha Round and Asia?

Matthias Helble, Ganeshan Wignaraja 13 November 2013

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Trade negotiators from Asia and elsewhere are locked in intense negotiations to lay the platform for a Doha trade deal at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, 3–6 December 2013. A new WTO Director-General, a ministerial venue in an influential Asian country, the risk of eroding WTO credibility, and the advent of mega-regional trade agreements have all enthused and motivated trade negotiators. This article assesses what the Bali Ministerial Conference might reasonably deliver, and how this may advance the Doha Round and Asia’s trade.

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Topics:  Global governance International trade

Tags:  WTO, trade, tariffs, Doha, Asia, trade facilitation, food security, Bali, tariff-quota administration

Sustaining trade reform: Institutional lessons from Peru and Argentina

Elías A. Baracat, J. Michael Finger, Julio J. Nogués, Raúl León Thorne 28 October 2013

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Beyond removing restrictions, trade reform in Latin American in the 1980s and 1990s was also an attempt to reform the culture of policy management, and in some countries to introduce an optimistic, ‘Asian’ perspective into trade politics. In Peru, reforms have been sustained over several changes of president. In contrast, Argentina has introduced multiple restrictions and has reverted to the ‘off-the-books’ forms of policymaking that the adoption of GATT/WTO standards by previous the leadership tried to eliminate.

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Topics:  Institutions and economics International trade

Tags:  WTO, trade liberalisation, Latin America, reform, Argentina, Peru

Awakening the WTO

Hector R. Torres 21 September 2013

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Admitting that 'the present is just a snapshot in a journey' is disconcerting, so we feel better assuming that the current state of affairs will turn out to be permanent. Indulging in this mistake is common, and we also see it happening in multilateral institutions – particularly if they do not have a watchdog to keep them free from self-deception. The WTO does not have such a watchdog, and this may explain its resistance to acknowledging the obvious.

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Topics:  Institutions and economics International trade

Tags:  WTO, Doha Round, developing countries, international trade

An unintended consequence of WTO membership

Beata Javorcik, Gaia Narciso 05 September 2013

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The WTO with its 158 member countries is one of the most prominent international bodies. Becoming a member of the club often involves extensive and sometime politically difficult policy changes. For instance, the median time gap between the application and the accession reached 71 months for countries that joined after 1995 (Tang and Wei 2011).

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Topics:  International trade

Tags:  WTO, tariff evasion, smuggling

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