In Focus

Research Paper 187, 4 December 2023

The Global Digital Compact: opportunities and challenges for developing countries in a fragmented digital space

By Carlos Correa, Danish, Vitor Ido, Jacquelene Mwangi and Daniel Uribe

The adoption of a Global Digital Compact (GDC) as one of the outcomes of the Summit of the Future opens up the opportunity to address in a systematic manner issues that are of critical importance for the digital global governance. It also poses a challenge to developing countries, as most of them lack the infrastructure and capabilities to fully participate in the digital transformation. Many inequalities, including a deep digital divide, do exist and would need to be addressed by the GDC for it to become a real instrument of change and improvement in the living conditions and the prospects of a better future for most of the world population. This paper examines the current fragmentation in the digital governance and some of the issues raised by the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General for adoption of the GDC.

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Policy Brief 122, 30 November 2023

Data Access and the EU Data Strategy: Implications for the Global South

By Marc Stuhldreier

This study explores the value of data in the digital economy and the challenges surrounding data ownership, access rights, and equitable distribution of the value. It examines the European Data Strategy and highlights its shortcomings as well as its implications for the Global South. This contribution emphasises the need for unlocking the potential of collected data by enhancing accessibility and challenging protectionist measures and discusses the importance of fair competition and innovation. It also discusses the importance of balancing access rights with legitimate privacy concerns, trade secrets, and intellectual property rights. The paper concludes by highlighting the importance for developing countries to introduce tailored regulations that suit their specific needs, empowering them to seize opportunities and navigate the digital economy effectively.

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SC Statement on COP28, 30 November 2023

THE WORLD EXPECTS COP28 TO AGREE ON CONCRETE CLIMATE ACTION

COP28 has raised expectations around the world that concrete actions will be taken to address the climate crisis, which is having devastating effects notably in developing countries. Read our statement:

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SC Statement – Conference on SSC in International Tax Matters, 27 November 2023

Opening Remarks by Dr. Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, at the “Conference on South-South Cooperation in International Tax Matters: Don’t cede your taxing rights by signing a blank cheque”, co-organized with the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (27 November 2023)

The Conference is taking place at a time of severe challenges to the global economy and, particularly, for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Rising borrowing costs, tight global financial conditions and high debt burdens are constraining the fiscal space of many developing countries. These conditions make domestic resource mobilization through tax collection more important than ever. The taxation of foreign multinational corporations in the digital economy, in particular the Big Tech firms, has now become imperative both for providing much-needed revenues and for levelling the playing field of domestic companies in our countries.

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SC Statement – UN Resolution on UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation, 23 November 2023

Statement by the South Centre on the Historic UN Resolution Calling for a UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation

 23 November 2023

 The South Centre strongly welcomes the adoption on 22 November 2023 of the historic resolution in the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly on the “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations”. The resolution calls for establishing a “Member State-led, open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee for the purpose of drafting terms of reference for a United Nations framework convention on international tax cooperation” and is arguably the most significant development in international taxation in the modern era. The South Centre has been actively engaged in supporting these negotiations, in partnership with various institutions from the Global South and allies from the Global North, and commends the African Group in the UN in New York for their leadership of the developing world in steering through this momentous resolution.

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SC Statement on USTR JSI E-Commerce Decision, 15 November 2023

U-turn by the U.S. Trade Representative to rein in the Big Tech Digital Trade Agenda

15 November 2023

The landmark shift by the U.S. Trade Rrepresentative to set aside four proposals to ensure “policy space” for the U.S. is a welcomed development under the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) negotiations on E-commerce on the side lines of the WTO. This decision validates the positions taken by governments in the Global South for the last seven years. There remain several provisions in the negotiating text that will be detrimental to the development of domestic digital industries in developing countries.

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Documento de investigación 186, 14 de noviembre de 2023

Patentamiento de anticuerpos monoclonales. El caso de Argentina 

Por Juan Correa, Catalina de la Puente, Ramiro Picasso y Constanza Silvestrini

Este documento de investigación tiene como objeto identificar, describir y analizar las patentes concedidas por el Instituto Nacional de la Propiedad Industrial (INPI) de Argentina, en materia de anticuerpos monoclonales desde el año 2010 al 2020 inclusive. La investigación incluye la materia protegida y el universo de solicitantes, entre otros aspectos. Para ello, se procedió a construir una base de datos de patentes y solicitudes, donde se examinan las características de las patentes solicitadas y concedidas, titularidad y nacionalidad de los solicitantes, estado de las solicitudes, tiempo que demora la resolución de una patente solicitada y patentes divisionales. El documento presenta también recomendaciones de política pública aplicables a las patentes sobre anticuerpos monoclonales.

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SouthViews No. 254, 10 November 2023

Digital Health Challenges in the South: Towards Better Integration of Digital Health Practices

By Dr. Azeema Fareed and Ms. Farhana Saleem (COMSATS)

Much like any innovation, diffusion of digital health technologies in different countries depends on their level of development, availability of infrastructure, socio-economic conditions and indigenous strengths and weaknesses, political will and stability, demographics as well as social norms. Naturally for developing countries, social, economic, and technological set-backs make digital health adoption, implementation and mainstreaming more challenging. Using WHO’s e-Health components, this article highlights key challenges impacting digital health adoption in developing countries in the light of COMSATS’ experience.

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SC Statement to INB 7, 6 November 2023

Statement by the South Centre to the INB 7

6 November 2023

As the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries, we are pleased to provide our support to these negotiations.

The current negotiating text is not yet fit for purpose.

We encourage the INB this week to reflect on and improve the negotiating text…

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SC & IHEID Report, October 2023

Taxation of the Digital Economy 

by Adnan Sose, Nicolás Tascon and Anders Viemose

As globalisation has pushed through complex inter-State trade in goods and services, in parallel there is a growing complexity in determining the taxation of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) in an increasingly digitalized economy. This report reviews existing bilateral tax treaties between South Centre’s Member States and States where most digitalised MNEs are headquartered, using a threshold of EUR 750 million in annual turnover to limit the number of in-scope MNEs in the study. This analysis produced primary data on South Centre Member States’ source taxing rights scores and the implications of this on tax treaty negotiations to enable effective taxation in the digital economy through the inclusion of the United Nations (UN) solution for digital taxation, Article 12B of the UN Model Tax Convention. Further, the study sought to identify ‘weak’ tax treaties with low source taxing rights which merited a comprehensive renegotiation beyond the inclusion of Article 12B. Furthermore, the reports examined the treatment of “Computer Software” in the tax treaties under study, and concluded with recommendations going forward.

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SouthViews No. 253, 27 October 2023

Harnessing Digital Technologies for Education in Developing Countries: Need for a Judicious Approach

By Kishore Singh

Digital technologies are transforming the landscape of education. New models and ways of learning, digitally supported and virtual, are emerging with rapid pace, multiplying learning pathways and diversifying learning approaches. Digital technologies are impacting education at all levels and in all its forms, and renewal of education by dint of what is termed ‘edu-tech’ has become a buzz word. Harnessing digital technologies for education is enticing for developing countries.

However, the gaze on the dazzles of digitalization must not lose sight of their down side. Considering what has been termed as ‘platform imperialism’, a cautious and critical approach is needed. “Digital divide’ is a crushing blow to the fundamental principle of equality of opportunity in education. Safeguarding education from forces of privatization and ‘edu-business’, fortified by digitalization in education, is also a daunting challenge. We must ward off against deleterious, even dehumanizing effect of digital technologies, as they can be pernicious if they are not properly controlled and regulated.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief No. 36, 26 October 2023

Beyond the Two Pillar Proposals

A Simplified Approach for Taxing Multinationals

By Sol Picciotto, Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Alex Cobham, Rasmi Ranjan Das, Emmanuel Eze, Bob Michel

This paper puts forward an alternative to the proposed multilateral convention under Pillar One of the BEPS project, by building on and going beyond the progress made so far. A new direction was signalled in 2019 by the G-24 paper proposing a taxable nexus based on significant economic presence, combined with fractional apportionment. The resulting measures agreed under the two Pillars entail acceptance in principle of this approach, and also provide detailed technical standards for its implementation. These include: (i) a taxable nexus based on a quantitative threshold of sales revenues; (ii) a methodology for defining the global consolidated profits of MNEs for tax purposes, and (iii) detailed technical standards for defining and quantifying the factors that reflect the real activities of MNEs in a jurisdiction (sales, assets and employees).

The time is now right to take up the roadmap outlined by the G-24. The work done shows that technical obstacles can be overcome, the challenge is essentially political. This paper aims to provide a blueprint for immediate measures that States can take, while engaging in deliberation at national, regional and international levels for a global drive towards practical and equitable reforms. Unitary taxation with formulary apportionment is the only fair and effective way to ensure taxation of MNEs where economic activities occur, as mandated by the G20. It can ensure that MNE profits are taxed once and only once, provide stability and certainty for business, and establish a basis for international tax rules fit for the 21st century.

* Also available in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.

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