Why the US and EU are failing to set information free
Susan Ariel Aaronson, 14 July 2014
The internet promotes educational, technological, and scientific progress, but governments sometimes choose to control the flow of information for national security reasons, or to protect privacy or intellectual property. This column highlights the use of trade rules to regulate the flow of information, and describes how the EU, the US, and their negotiating partners have been unable to find common ground on these issues. Trade agreements have yet to set information free, and may in fact be making it less free.
Tim Berners-Lee, the architect of the World Wide Web, taught us that the internet we have is a function of the choices we (users, companies, policymakers, etc.) make about information flows. For example, in 1995, Berners-Lee chose not to patent his work on the World Wide Web because he feared patenting it could limit its universality and openness. He continues to advocate this.
Topics: EU policies, Global governance, International trade
Tags: data protection, EU, free trade agreements, Human rights, Information, information technology, internet, national security, privacy, technology, trade, US, WTO
Sourcing foreign inputs to improve firm performance
Maria Bas, Vanessa Strauss-Kahn, 14 July 2014
The rise of trade in intermediate inputs is well documented, but its role in shaping domestic economies is not yet completely understood. This column presents evidence from French firms on the effects of importing intermediate inputs. Firms importing more varieties of intermediate inputs increased their productivity and exported more varieties. Foreign inputs from the most advanced economies have the strongest effect on firm productivity, but imported inputs from all countries help raise the number of export varieties.
Should trade policy fight or promote imports of intermediate inputs? While several studies have shown the recent increase in imports of intermediate goods, their role in shaping domestic economies is not yet completely understood. Following the work of Feenstra and Hanson (1996), a large literature focuses on the impact of imported intermediate inputs on employment and inequality.
Topics: International trade
Tags: employment, exports, global value chains, imports, Inequality, Intermediate inputs, outsourcing, productivity, trade, wages
Connecting Brazil to the world
Patricia Ellen, Jaana Remes, 12 July 2014
Brazil has grown rapidly and reduced poverty over the past decade, but it has grown more slowly than other emerging economies and its income per capita remains relatively low by global standards. This column points out that sectors of the Brazilian economy that have been opened up to international competition have outperformed those that remain heavily protected. Deeper integration into global markets and value chains could provide competitive pressures that would improve Brazil’s productivity and living standards.
Despite a decade of rapid growth and falling poverty rates, Brazil has failed to match the global average for income growth – let alone to achieve the kind of impressive gains posted by other rapidly transforming emerging economies.
Topics: Development, International trade, Productivity and Innovation
Tags: Brazil, development, global value chains, globalisation, growth, MERCOSUR, openness, productivity, trade
Mega-regionals and the mega-mess: A way out
Jayant Menon, 9 June 2014
With the rise of mega-regional trade agreements, the world trade system resembles a jigsaw puzzle. This column discusses the difficulties involved in consolidating free trade agreements at the regional level, and argues that piecing together the blocs around the world will be even more challenging. A potential way forward is to return to the most widely used modality of trade liberalisation – unilateral actions – but this time involving the multilateralisation of preferences rather than unreciprocated reductions in tariff rates.
Jagdish Bhagwati (1991) famously described the maze of overlapping free trade agreements (FTAs) as akin to a ‘spaghetti bowl’. Several decades later, with the rise of mega-regionals like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the fragmentation of the world trade system more closely resembles a jigsaw puzzle.
Topics: Global governance, International trade
Tags: free trade agreements, mega-regionals, multilateralisation of preferences, reciprocity, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, trade, trade liberalisation, Trans-Pacific Partnership, WTO
Migrant networks and trade: The Vietnamese boat people as a natural experiment
Christopher Parsons, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 23 May 2014
Immigrants potentially foster international trade by reducing trade costs. This column uses the exodus of the Vietnamese boat people to the US as a natural experiment to provide evidence of such a pro-trade effect. An exogenous allocation of Vietnamese migrants across the US in 1975 was followed by a 20-year trade embargo. Following the lifting of sanctions in 1994, the share of US exports going to Vietnam was higher and more diversified in the states with larger Vietnamese populations.
Immigrants potentially foster international trade by reducing trade costs. Such frictions are quantitatively large, especially for poor countries (Anderson and van Wincoop 2004), and recent research has singled out information costs in particular as inhibiting trade flows (Chaney 2011, Allen 2012, Steinwender 2013).
Topics: International trade, Migration
Tags: migrant networks, trade, US exports, Vietnam
Gross trade accounting: A transparent method to discover global value chain-related information behind official trade data: Part 2
Zhi Wang, Shang-Jin Wei, Kunfu Zhu, 16 April 2014
One common measure of trade linked international production networks is the so-called VAX ratio, i.e. the ratio of value-added exports to gross exports. This column argues that this measure is not well-behaved at the sector, bilateral, or bilateral sector level, and does not capture important features of international production sharing. A new gross trade accounting framework is proposed that can better track countries’ movements up and down global value chains.
Topics: International trade
Tags: comparative advantage, competitiveness, global supply chain, global value chains, globalisation, statistics, trade
Gross trade accounting: A transparent method to discover global value chain-related information behind official trade data: Part 1
Zhi Wang, Shang-Jin Wei, Kunfu Zhu, 7 April 2014
The growth of international trade in intermediate inputs means that standard trade statistics can give a misleading picture of the real patterns of production behind world trade. This column introduces an accounting framework that decomposes traditional trade flows into components that better reflect the underlying location of the value addition linked to exports.
Production segmentation across national borders has become an important feature of the world economy. With the rapid increase in intermediate trade flows, trade economists and policymakers have reached a near consensus that official trade statistics based on gross terms are deficient, often hiding the extent of global value chains.
Topics: International trade
Tags: global supply chain, global value chains, globalisation, statistics, trade
Sustainable growth requires a long-term focus
Pascal Lamy, Ian Goldin, 28 March 2014
Excessive short-termism is always a problem for policy, but the Global Crisis has brought it sharply into focus. This column introduces a report that discusses how a shift to longer-term solutions is necessary and possible. A key message is that businesses as well as governments need to take a longer-term view. The report identifies ways to overcome the current impasse in key economic, climate, trade, security, and other negotiations.
Just when we thought high-frequency trading couldn’t get any faster, a US communications company is developing a high-speed laser network between the New Jersey data centres of the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ stock exchange, to shave an additional few nanoseconds off high-frequency trading times.
Topics: Environment, Financial markets, Global crisis, International trade
Tags: climate change, corporate governance, environment, global crisis, growth, high-frequency trading, mark-to-market accounting, short-termism, trade
Waste of effort? International environmental agreements
Derek Kellenberg, Arik Levinson, 1 March 2014
Economic theory predicts that international environmental agreements will fail due to free-rider problems, and previous empirical work suggests that such agreements do not in fact reduce emissions. This column presents evidence that the Basel Convention and Ban on trade in hazardous waste has also been ineffective. The authors find no evidence that Annex-7 countries that ratified the Ban slowed their exports to non-Annex-7 countries as the agreement requires.
To address environmental problems that span national borders, countries have negotiated more than 1,000 international environmental agreements (IEAs). But do they work? According to most theoretical economic models, because of free-rider problems IEAs cannot reduce pollution much below business-as-usual levels (Barrett 1994, 1997; Carraro and Siniscalco 1993; Finus and Maus 2008).
Topics: Environment, International trade
Tags: environment, trade, waste
How the euro synchronised EZ cycles
Ayako Saiki, Sunghyun Henry Kim, 2 February 2014
Before the introduction of the euro, it was hoped that by promoting increased intra-regional trade it would increase business-cycle synchronisation within the Eurozone, and thus help it to fulfil the criteria for an optimum currency area. This column presents recent research that compares the evolution of business-cycle synchronisation in the Eurozone and east Asia. While the euro has had some impact on business-cycle synchronisation in the Eurozone, it has done so not through increased intra-regional trade intensity, but rather through some other channel – most likely financial integration.
Prior to the introduction of the euro, the topic of whether the Eurozone fulfils the conditions for an optimum currency area was highly debated (e.g. Bayoumi and Eichengreen 1992).
Topics: EU institutions, International finance, International trade
Tags: business cycles, East Asia, euro, eurozone, optimum currency area, supply chains, trade