Policy Briefs

Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 6, January 2019

Illicit Financial Flows: Conceptual and Practical Issues

The issue of illicit financial flows (IFFs) is of great significance for many countries looking to mobilize domestic resources for achieving their development goals. The High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, led by H.E. Thabo Mbeki, brought the issue into the global spotlight, notably since the release of exposés like the ‘Panama Papers’. This policy brief elaborates on the conceptual underpinnings of IFFs, its sources and the development costs they generate. Building on the report of the High Level Panel, it provides recommendations to stem IFFs from developing countries.

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Policy Brief 57, January 2019

Will the Amendment to the TRIPS Agreement Enhance Access to Medicines?

An amendment to the TRIPS Agreement by incorporation of the text of the decision of the WTO General Council on 30 August 2003 (as article 31bis) has been made in response to the problem identified in paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. This paragraph sought a solution to situations where patented pharmaceuticals which are not available in a country with no or insufficient manufacturing capacity can be supplied by a foreign provider. As originally adopted, the TRIPS Agreement did not allow the grant of compulsory licenses for exports only, thereby preventing generic manufacturers from exporting the required products to countries unable to produce them. While the new article 31bis is a step forward as it reflects public health concerns, it would be necessary to streamline the procedures to effectively ensure broader access to pharmaceutical products at low cost and in a timely manner.

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Investment Policy Brief 13, December 2018

IP Licence, Trademarks and ISDS: Bridgestone v. Panama

Can an intellectual property right or a license authorizing its use be deemed an ‘investment’ under bilateral investment treaties? This policy brief discusses the arguments submitted by the parties in the Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. and  Bridgestone Americas, Inc. v. Republic of Panama case on questions regarding a trademark license agreement. Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. (BSLS) and Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) together initiated arbitration proceedings on the grounds that Panama’s Supreme Court decision was unjust and arbitrary, violated Panama’s obligations under the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA),  expropriated their investments, and violated the requirement of fair and equitable treatment (FET) to BSLS’s and BSAM’s investments.

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Investment Policy Brief 12, December 2018

Investor-State Dispute Settlement: An Anachronism Whose Time Has Gone

Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – a mechanism that allows foreign investors to bring claims against host governments to an international arbitral tribunal – is a relic that should be abolished. Its alleged benefits have not materialized and its costs – monetary and other – can represent a formidable obstacle to good economic governance. We recommend policymakers to terminate ISDS provisions in existing agreements and eschew them in future trade and investment treaties.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 5, December 2018

The Definition and Treatment of Tax Havens in Brazilian Tax  Law between 1995 and 2015

Over the years, a number of ‘tax haven lists’ have been created at the national and international level, with varying definitions and criteria used to identify jurisdictions falling under their scope. This policy brief presents the experience of Brazil in compiling their national list of tax havens, the road map they followed for its implementation, and the impact that it has had on their foreign investment flows. It also provides the lessons learnt from this experience, which can be positively utilized by other developing countries.

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Policy Brief 56, October 2018

Setting the pillars to enforce corporate human rights obligations stemming from international law

The release of the Zero Draft of the Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, the Activities of Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises by the Chairperson of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Business and Human Rights (OEIGWG), is likely to revive discussions on the recognition of corporate entities as subjects of international law. The present brief examines corporate entities’ human rights obligations in the context of the Zero Draft, taking into account the views and comments presented during the first three sessions of the OEIGWG and the need to advance the discussion on those entities’ obligations under international law.

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Policy Brief 55, October 2018

Advancing international cooperation in the service of victims of human rights violations in the context of business activities

A zero draft of a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, is the subject of discussions in an inter-governmental open ended working group under the auspices of the Human Rights Council (15-19 October 2018). The draft aims at harnessing international cooperation among home and host states of business enterprises in order to address barriers  to get remedies to victims of human rights violations  in the context of business activities of transnational character. This brief discusses the approach to States’ role and obligations as proposed under the zero draft.

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Policy Brief 54, October 2018

The Use of TRIPS Flexibilities for the Access to Hepatitis C Treatment

In late 2013, a new Hepatitis C treatment called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) was introduced in the market at unaffordable prices. The eradication of the disease is possible if medicines can be purchased at AFFORDABLE prices within health budgets. IF THIS IS NOT THE CASE, governments should consider the use of the TRIPS flexibilities to facilitate access to the treatment.

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Policy Brief 53, September 2018

Considerations for the Effective Implementation of National Action Plans on Antimicrobial Resistance

Effective design and implementation of national action plans (NAPs) is critical for the response to the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).  This policy brief describes the messages that the South Centre has transmitted to the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG) on AMR in the context of its public consultation, towards shaping its recommendations that will be submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General in the second half of 2019.

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Policy Brief 52, September 2018

The Causes of Currency Turmoil in the Emerging Economies

Many emerging economies and developing countries are facing strong economic headwinds. Currency depreciation pressure is mounting for some countries. Argentina and Turkey are coping with currency crises, massive capital outflows and hyperinflation. To say their crises are completely self-inflicted is not correct. The exogenous shocks have played an important role.  Other emerging economies and developing countries as a whole should be vigilant and try to defend their currencies and maintain financial stability. It is also high time to try to fix the flaws in the international financial system.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 4, September 2018

Exchange of Information: Indian Experience, Developing Country Implications

Exchange of tax-related information between countries is a critical tool for addressing information asymmetries between governments and taxpayers that facilitate tax evasion/avoidance. However, the existing system of information exchange has been essentially designed and implemented by the OECD, without the participation of developing countries. This policy brief thus discusses India’s experience with implementing information exchange for tax and other purposes, with lessons being drawn for other developing countries grappling with base erosion and profit shifting.

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Policy Brief 51, September 2018

US Claims under Special Section 301 against China Undermine the Credibility of the WTO

The US action to place China in the Special 301 ‘Priority Watch List’ is unjustified and in contravention to the WTO rules. The claims made against China are based on standards self-determined by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), not on international standards. This is an example of a systemic problem that requires a concerted response. WTO members should unite to firmly oppose the imposition of unilateral measures that undermine the multilateral trading system and the credibility of WTO as a ruled-based institution.

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