Research Papers

Research Paper 94, April 2019

Tax Haven Listing in Multiple Hues: Blind, Winking or Conniving?

Tax havens are among the biggest challenges faced by developing countries in achieving their national development goals. States, international organisations, multilateral agencies and non-governmental organisations have all made several efforts at compiling ‘lists’ of tax havens at the multilateral and national levels, with varying levels of seriousness and outcomes. This research paper examines these efforts by analysing the objectivity of criteria used and the clarity of the final outcome in a comparative manner. The paper is organized into four sections dealing with the tax haven blacklisting by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the countries of the South, the European Union (EU) and an analysis across lists. The concluding section offers some suggestions.

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Research Paper 93, March 2019

Regulating the Digital Economy: Dilemmas, Trade Offs and Potential Options 

The digital economy has been growing exponentially in recent years thanks to new technologies that are promoting a global transformation. Key technologies responsible for this transformation have become the subject of intense discussions under the umbrella term ‘fourth industrial revolution’. This paper offers a discussion on the differentiated impact of digital technologies on unemployment, capabilities building and technological catch-up for developing countries. It articulates some of the key issues and tradeoffs for developing countries that should be considered in policy discussions and deliberations.

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Research Paper 92, March 2019

Notification and Transparency Issues in the WTO and the US’ November 2018 Communication

Various WTO Members submitted a Communication to the WTO in November 2018 which, if accepted, would affect the implementation of Members’ transparency and notification obligations at the WTO. It would strengthen the already burdensome notification obligations and introduce new punitive administrative measures should obligations not be complied with. This paper provides information about WTO Members’ current notification obligations and their level of compliance; looks at the history of discussions on notifications, particularly in the Working Group on Notification Obligations and Procedures which took place in  1995 – 1996; and provides an analysis of the Communication. The analysis focuses on the extent to which the elements are consistent with or go beyond the current WTO disciplines. It concludes that non-compliance with notification obligations is real. However, rather than expanding obligations and introducing punitive measures, constructive and effective solutions should be based on nuancing of obligations in the context of a Special and Differential Treatment approach and through the use of incentives. It also acknowledges that countries with a chronic lack of capacities will continue to struggle with the WTO’s complex notification obligations and requirements until they attain higher levels of development and, thus, improved institutional capacities.

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Research Paper 91, February 2019

Key Issues for BAPA+40: South-South Cooperation and the BAPA+40 Subthemes

Developing countries today face multiple interlinked macroeconomic, financial, climate, and development challenges. South-South cooperation is an important element for developing countries to meet these challenges individually and collectively, and in multilateral North-South dialogue and global governance. The overall theme of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (40 years after the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promotion and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries/BAPA+40) is the “Role of South-South cooperation and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: challenges and opportunities”, with sub-themes. This  research paper will present some concepts relating to South-South cooperation that have been developed by the South and the United Nations system, and looks at some issues that would be relevant to discussions that may be undertaken with respect to Subthemes (i) “Comparative advantages and opportunities of South-South cooperation”; (ii) “Challenges and the strengthening of the institutional framework of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation”;  and (iv) “Scaling up the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in support of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation”. It concludes by providing recommendations for the consideration of developing countries in response to the various subthemes, as inputs to support the active engagement by developing countries in the negotiations for the BAPA+40 outcome document.

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Research Paper 90, December 2018

Compulsory Licensing Jurisprudence in South Africa: Do We Have Our Priorities Right?

Compulsory licences are generally available on a variety of grounds, most notably on patents where the patentee is found to have abused its rights in one manner or another. This research paper attempts to review South African case law on applications for compulsory licences since the inception of the current legislation, analyse the interpretations placed on the relevant sections, and draw conclusions about judicial reasoning, impediments to the grant of such licences, and generally the courts’ approach to disputes relating to patents.

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Research Paper 89, November 2018

History and Politics of Climate Change Adaptation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

This research paper provides a perspective on how climate change adaptation has progressed in the multilateral space, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It describes adaptation and financial institutions under the climate regime and the current scope of their activities. The paper highlights the challenges that lie ahead, particularly around financing, for developing countries to adapt to a rapidly warming world and presents recommendations for the governments to accord higher priority to adaptation.

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Research Paper 88, November 2018

Assessment of South-South Cooperation and the Global Narrative on the Eve of BAPA+40

This research paper gives a brief account of the fast expansion of South-South cooperation (SSC) in volume, modalities and participating countries and institutions. Though SSC is a de facto development compact, there is a tendency to overstate the total concessional financial element of SSC compared to Official Development Assistance (ODA), as SSC constitutes only a small portion of the total ODA from traditional donors.   North-South cooperation (NSC) is still the dominant pillar of development finance; hence SSC needs to be regarded as a complement to and not a substitute for NSC. (more…)

Research Paper 87, November 2018

Stemming ‘Commercial’ Illicit Financial Flows & Developing Country Innovations in the Global Tax Reform Agenda

Illicit Financial Flows generated due to the commercial activities of multinational enterprises are quantitatively the most important challenge faced by developing countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Current efforts for stemming these illicit flows and reforming the international tax system are however being led by developed countries, with developing country interests poorly reflected in the reform agenda. This research paper highlights the tax issues of great priority for developing countries and how international tax cooperation can contribute to preventing such illicit flows.

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Research Paper 86, September 2018

US’ Section 301 Actions: Why They are Illegitimate and Misguided

This research paper examines the US’ Section 301 unilateral actions against China, stemming from the US’ concerns over China’s ambitious industrial policies and its rapid technological advancements. It outlines the accusations of the US regarding China’s conditions for technology transfer and what the US sees as overly intrusive Chinese government involvement in investments. It looks in detail at why the US’ actions are in fact illegitimate and misguided. (more…)

Documento de Investigación 85, Mayo 2018

Acceso a medicamentos: experiencias con licencias obligatorias y uso gubernamental – el caso de la Hepatitis C

El acceso a medicamentos está fuertemente condicionado por su precio y por los mecanismos de financiamiento que pueden aplicarse en cada país. […] Un factor determinante en la fijación del precio de los medicamentos es el grado de competencia existente en una particular clase terapéutica, la que a su vez es influenciada por la existencia o no de derechos de propiedad intelectual, como patentes de invención.

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Research Paper 84, February 2018

Playing with Financial Fire: A South Perspective on the International Financial System

Playing with Fire (PWF) is a continuation of the analysis of the integration of Emerging and Developing Economies (EDEs) into the international financial system which Yılmaz Akyüz has carried out in his roles as senior economist for many years responsible for UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report and Chief Economist at the South Centre. The treatment covers cross-border financial flows, increased commercial presence of foreign financial institutions in EDEs and their increased participation in their local financial markets as well as policy and regulatory issues. PWF deploys data on major cross-border financial flows on a gross as well as a net basis. This innovative approach facilitates identification of financial stability issues posed by the increased participation of EDEs in international financial markets.

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Research Paper 83, November 2017

China’s Debt Problem and Rising Systemic Risks: Impact of the global financial crisis and structural problems

The fast expansion of China’s debt, in particular corporate and local government debt, has attracted international attention and has also become a major concern of China’s policy makers. Even though China can tolerate a higher debt level than many other emerging and developing economies owing to the sheer size and other special features of the Chinese economy, systemic risks for financial stability have been rising since the global financial crisis and the cushions built in the past decades to withstand a higher debt level have also been weakened. (more…)


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