Leveraging ESG for promoting Responsible Investment and Human Rights
By Danish and Daniel Uribe
The growing integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles into investment frameworks and corporate reporting reflects a heightened recognition of the interplay between business operations and human rights. This Policy Brief examines the evolution of ESG investing, particularly its role in promoting responsible investment and embedding human rights considerations throughout business practices and supply chains. While ESG frameworks hold promise for enhancing corporate accountability and sustainability, challenges persist in effectively linking ESG criteria with human rights standards. It also shows that disparities in ESG reporting criteria and methodologies, compounded by a lack of shared understanding, pose obstacles to meaningful engagement with human rights responsibilities. The Policy Brief also delineates between ESG investing and reporting, highlighting distinct objectives and practices. While ESG investing aims to mitigate financial risks associated with environmental, social, and governance factors, ESG reporting focuses on evaluating firms’ exposure to ESG risks. The Policy Brief underscores the limitations of ESG frameworks in identifying and preventing human rights impacts comprehensively, emphasising the need for complementary measures such as mandatory human rights due diligence. Finally, the paper considers the need for greater coherence and consistency in ESG frameworks to foster responsible investment, promote human rights, and advance sustainable development goals.
This Policy Brief discusses issues concerning trade, intellectual property, and technology transfer that are most relevant for consideration at the 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024 and inclusion in its outcomes.
The following recommendations are proposed:
TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints: MC13 Decision on the scope and modalities of non-violation and situation complaints under the Agreement on Trade related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). A second option is to extend the moratorium.
TRIPS, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19: MC13 Decision that extends the MC12 TRIPS waiver Decision (only applicable to vaccines) to diagnostics and therapeutics
Relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
Follow up to the MC12 Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
Relationship of trade and technology transfer: include in the MC13 Outcome Document to reinvigorate and give direction to the Working Group on Trade and Technology Transfer (WGTTT) and increase attention in all relevant bodies on how the WTO can promote technology transfer
How the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism discriminates against foreign producers
By Peter Lunenborg and Vahini Naidu
In April 2023, the European Parliament adopted the final text of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and revisions to the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading System (ETS). One of the stated objectives of CBAM is to create a level playing field for selected sectors in the EU market and to protect against the risk of ‘carbon leakage’. Based on an analysis and comparison between the legal texts of CBAM and ETS, this paper finds that CBAM discriminates against foreign producers in favour of EU domestic producers in many areas including with regard to the scope and type of emissions covered, free allocation of allowances, exemptions under EU ETS not mirrored in CBAM, buying and selling of ETS allowances in comparison with CBAM certificates, verification, penalties, authorization, use of credits from the Carbon Development Mechanism (CDM) and guarantees.
The paper also provides a brief overview of how the CBAM and ETS align with WTO rules, highlighting the potential discrepancies in the implementation as they apply to foreign and EU producers respectively. The paper provides several suggestions on how to make EU’s CBAM more WTO-compatible and a recommendation for further legal research.
A Decade of the Indian Advance Pricing Agreement Programme: Achievements and Challenges
By Priyanka Mashelkar and Apoorv Tiwari
India’s Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) programme was introduced in 2012 with the objective of reducing transfer pricing disputes and providing certainty to taxpayers on their international transactions. In the last decade or so, the programme has proven to be a successful dispute mitigation and resolution mechanism. The authors use data and statistics from a recently released report by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in India to highlight the success of the programme, while also acknowledging the challenges ahead, especially as taxpayers’ expectations from the programme continue to rise.
The WHO CA+ Discussions on Pathogen Access and Benefit Sharing: State of Play
By Nirmalya Syam
This brief explores the scope of a World Health Organization (WHO) pathogen access and benefit-sharing (PABS) mechanism as a possible outcome of the negotiations ongoing in the WHO Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) for a WHO Convention, Agreement or other Instrument (WHO CA+) for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR). After seven sessions of the INB, substantial differences remain between developed and developing countries on the PABS system. While the text contains specific obligations on rapid sharing of pathogen material and genetic sequence information reflective of the primary interest of developed countries to get such access outside the framework of the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity through a specialized WHO instrument such as the PABS system under the WHO CA+, the current text continues to be weak in terms of effectively operationalizing fair and equitable-benefit sharing. To that end, it is critical that detailed provisions on standard material transfer agreements, data access relating to their genomic sequence information and specific obligations on monetary and non-monetary benefit-sharing by recipients of pathogen material and sequence information are included in the provisions establishing the PABS system. Therefore, it is important that the proposals that have been made in this regard by developing countries are incorporated in the draft negotiating text.
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.
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.
The GloBE Rules: Challenges for Developing Countries and Smart Policy Options to Protect Their Tax Base
By Emmanuel Eze, Sol Picciotto, Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Abdul Muheet Chowdhary, Bob Michel and Tommaso Faccio
The OECD global minimum tax of 15%, known as the Global Anti-Base Erosion (GloBE) Rules, have meant that developing countries need to consider what policy responses to take to ensure they collect the minimum tax and not cede it to developed countries. One option being promoted by the OECD is the “Qualified Domestic Minimum Top Up Tax” (QDMTT), with the claim that it will help developing countries collect the minimum tax of 15%. This Policy Brief points out that under the QDMTT MNEs can still pay zero taxes, it does not guarantee tax collection, it is complex to administer, it curtails national sovereignty in the form of the “peer review” mechanism and it is relevant mainly for tax havens which are destinations of profit shifting. The Brief then outlines policy options relevant for developing countries, namely Alternative Minimum Taxes (AMTs) and reform of tax incentives.
Hacia una Agencia Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Medicamentos (AMLAC)
Por Germán Velásquez
El 26 de abril de 2023 en Acapulco, México, las Autoridades Reguladoras de Medicamentos de Colombia (INVIMA), Cuba (CECMED) y México (COFEPRIS) firmaron la “Declaración de Acapulco” para la creación de la Agencia Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Regulación de Medicamentos y Dispositivos Médicos (AMLAC). Esta declaración fué confirmada en Bogotá, Colombia el 16 de junio de 2023 en una reunión titulada “Convergencia regulatoria” por los responsables de las agencias reguladoras de medicamentos de Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba y México que acordaron la creación progresiva de una Agencia Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Medicamentos -AMLAC-.
La AMLAC fué creada para contribuir a la integración regional a través de la armonización y convergencia en materia de regulación sanitaria, la creación de un mercado regional de medicamentos en busca del acceso a medicamentos y dispositivos médicos seguros, eficaces y de calidad.
COVID-19 impacted humanity in many ways and one such impact is wide acceptance of the concept of Work From Home (WFH) by the corporate sector. Previously, WFH did exist in some countries, perhaps at a much smaller scale, but compulsions of COVID-19 have made WFH a new normal. This new normal also creates new tax challenges for the Multinational Enterprises (MNEs). Does the employee create a taxable presence in the countries where they are working remotely through a ”permanent establishment” and if yes what are the profits attributable to such permanent establishment?
The existing treaty provisions are likely to result in widespread litigation on these issues. It is desirable that a new provision is introduced in the tax treaties to tackle these issues. The suggested remote worker permanent establishment provision adopts a very simple measurable threshold for determination of permanent establishment and also attempts to balance taxing rights of the country of source as well as residence. A simple standardised approach could be adopted for determining the profits attributable to such permanent establishment.
Assessing the State of Play in the WHO Pandemic Instrument Negotiations
By Viviana Muñoz Tellez
This Policy Brief discusses the state of play of the negotiations of the pandemic instrument at the World Health Organization. The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) is increasing its meetings as the target deadline for completion in the first half of 2024 draws closer. To advance, the political will needs to be scaled up in the next months. The expectations should not be lowered to focus on the lowest common denominator. Real progress needs to be made in priority areas of concern for developing countries to keep momentum.
Towards A Latin American and Caribbean Medicines Agency (AMLAC)
By Germán Velásquez
On 26 April 2023 in Acapulco, Mexico, the Medicines Regulatory Authorities of Colombia (INVIMA), Cuba (CECMED) and Mexico (COFEPRIS) signed the “Declaration of Acapulco” for the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Medicines and Medical Devices Regulatory Agency (AMLAC). This declaration was confirmed in Bogota, Colombia on 16 June 2023 in a meeting called “Regulatory convergence” by the heads of the medicines regulatory agencies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Mexico who agreed on the progressive creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Medicines Agency (AMLAC).
AMLAC was created to contribute to regional integration through harmonisation and convergence in health regulation, the creation of a regional medicines market in pursuit of access to safe, effective and quality medicines and medical devices.