Research Papers

Research Paper 185, 13 October 2023

Foreign Investment Flows in a Shifting Geoeconomic Landscape

By Danish

The economic shocks from the pandemic and rising geoeconomic tensions have triggered an accelerated restructuring of foreign investment flows in global value chains. As the previous determinants of foreign investment are rapidly changing, many new risks and opportunities abound for developing countries looking to attract FDI into their economies. This paper therefore looks at some of the important issues affecting foreign investment flows to developing countries both now and in the future. It then lays out some policy imperatives which can help countries ensure that the inbound foreign investment is responsible, sustainable and contributes to achieving the national development priorities.

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Research Paper 184, 15 September 2023

Promoting Jordan’s Use of Compulsory Licensing During the Pandemic

By Laila Barqawi  

This paper addresses the difficulties in utilizing Article 31 bis of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) on compulsory licensing for the export of pharmaceuticals during the pandemic through the case study of Jordan. This paper also recommends that Jordanian officials seek to capitalize on the pandemic whilst the Jordanian Defense Law and Orders are in effect to include Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as a direct ground for applying compulsory licensing, introduce clauses similar to those introduced by countries who have signed FTAs with the US, as well as deactivate harmful clauses within its national laws that prevent the application and utilization of a compulsory license. Further, Jordanian officials should seek the opportunity, considering the change of stance of the Biden administration towards compulsory licensing, to re-negotiate favourable terms in the Jordanian – US Free Trade Agreement (JUSFTA). Moreover, Jordanian officials should also form a syndicate that calls for the overhauling of TRIPS at Article 31 bis when an EUA is invoked in any country.

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Research Paper 183, 15 September 2023

Least Developed Countries and Their Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals

By Peter Lunenborg

This Research Paper reviews Least Developed Countries’ (LDCs) collective progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the available data on the indicators for the 169 SDG targets. It makes recommendations for LDCs and other States to consider advancing in relevant UN processes as well as the WTO’s.

LDCs made progress on 28% of the SDGs. This collective progress shows that these countries are far from achieving what were deemed achievable goals in 2015. With respect to trade-related SDGs, LDCs have not made progress on any of the five trade-related SDGs that mention LDCs specifically.

This paper does not delve into the causes of this gap, but it suggests that international cooperation and, particularly, the developed countries’ assistance, has been insufficient to address the needs of a large part of the world population that still lives in poverty and without hope of a better future. However, the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA), a development framework with targets specifically for LDCs -which overlap with SDG targets- appears to dilute several original SDG targets, in particular those in SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

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Research Paper 181, 14 August 2023

Trends, Reasons and Prospects of De-dollarization

By Yuefen Li

The 1944 “Bretton Woods Agreement” gave birth to the new international financial system marked by the centrality of the US dollar which is a crucial pillar of the global power of the United States. Over the past eight decades, the asymmetry of the shrinking US economic weight in the world economy and growing dominant role of the dollar has become more and more glaring. The disadvantages of overreliance on the dollar have been keenly felt, especially by developing countries. The recent moves to weaponize the dollar and the payment clearance system have triggered another wave of reassessment by national states and enterprises of the role of the dollar and led to the hitherto most broad-based de-dollarization process covering from Southeast Asia to Latin America and the Middle East. De-dollarization has been incrementally taking place in different forms and led by BRICS and some commodity exporting countries. However, there are many challenges to meaningful de-dollarization. Overall, de-dollarization efforts, despite important progress, have been limited and partial. There has been progress in reducing overreliance on the dollar through foreign exchange reserve diversification and trade invoicing as evidenced by the decline in the dollar’s share of allocated foreign exchange reserves and the increase of trade invoiced and transacted in currencies other than the dollar. However, on aspects requiring the deep financial market and wide network such as foreign exchange transactions, issuance of debt and payment clearance, the dollar’s share has not suffered a decline. To reform the international financial system, the BRICS in particular should continue to take the lead in furthering the de-dollarization efforts.

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Research Paper 180, 9 August 2023

Neglected Dimension of the Inventive Step as Applied to Pharmaceutical and Biotechnological Products: The case of Sri Lanka’s patent law

By Ruwan Fernando

Apart from the basic statutory definition in section 65 of the Intellectual Property Act of Sri Lanka, there do not appear to be any detailed statutory guidelines or judicial decisions to provide any framework for the assessment of inventive step in Sri Lanka. The current statutory definition is highly insufficient to evaluate the standard of obviousness in relation to biotechnological and pharmaceutical claims based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference.

The Courts in both developed and developing countries have adopted a variety of tests to evaluate the obviousness standard of a claimed invention based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference. Sri Lanka, as a developing country, should look at the development that has taken place in other jurisdictions and adapt the patent law to local conditions when developing tests or guidelines in a manner that is compatible with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and its biotechnology/pharmaceutical policy guidelines.

This approach that is appropriate to Sri Lanka is twofold. First, it is most likely to prevent the issuance of patents on trivial or incremental inventions that do not provide any technical advance to the existing prior art and are a mere extension of what is already known in the prior art. Second, it is most likely to protect genuine technical advances to the existing prior art while at the same time enhancing competition and promoting local innovations so that the local researchers will be able to draw on the existing knowledge for the purpose of follow-on innovations.

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Research Paper 179, 14 July 2023

Reinvigorating the Non-Aligned Movement for the Post-COVID-19 Era

By Yuefen Li, Daniel Uribe and Danish

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was born out of the need felt by newly emerging post-colonial nations not to be compelled to be part of any single political or military bloc during the Cold War. As the international community finds itself once again in the midst of heightened geo-political tensions, the principles of non-alignment have seen a resurgence in the Global South, providing NAM with the potential to become a major force in the configuration of a new international order.

Over six decades after its inception, the NAM stands at a crucial juncture, where consolidating non-alignment among developing countries can help build solidarity, promote collaboration and defend the interest of developing countries in the reconfiguration of global governance. Dealing with these challenges requires unprecedented levels of international cooperation, both North-South and South-South. As the grouping of non-aligned countries, the NAM could play an important role against global fragmentation, build solidarity, and strengthen multilateralism.

This paper therefore looks at the role and position of the NAM at this time, and how it can be reinvigorated to address the most critical challenges facing its Member States and other developing countries today. Considering the history, evolution and important achievements of the NAM, the paper provides some proposals that can support NAM Member States in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and make progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Research Paper 178, 22 May 2023

A Response to COVID-19 and Beyond: Expanding African Capacity in Vaccine Production

By Carlos M. Correa

The unequal global distribution of vaccines against the deadly COVID-19 virus has cast a spotlight on the lack of access to vaccines on the African continent, and the vulnerability that such a lack places on both the economies of African nations and the health of their people. Various initiatives have been launched to overcome the dependence of African nations on vaccines produced elsewhere. If implemented in timely and effective ways, those initiatives will contribute to the diversification of African economies and strengthen the capacity of nations on the continent to address their public health needs during pandemics and at other times. While establishing a viable vaccine industry on the continent presents serious challenges, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can provide the framework for leveraging economies of scale to stimulate the production of needed vaccines across the region.

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Research Paper 177, 18 May 2023

Policy Dilemmas for ASEAN Developing Countries Arising from the Tariff Moratorium on Electronically Transmitted Goods

By Manuel F. Montes and Peter Lunenborg

This paper examines the policy dilemmas facing developing countries in ASEAN in working within, and participating in, international negotiations toward making permanent the WTO tariff moratorium on duties applicable to electronically transmitted goods. In the context of ASEAN’s countries’ trade-oriented development strategies, the analysis considers the moratorium’s impact on tariff revenues, economic performance, and industrial development prospects. The paper presents estimates of tariff impacts and studies the national policy implications of the moratorium. An extension of the moratorium would establish a special regime for a class of goods whose components are contentiously defined but with a potential of being an important source of tariff revenue and of having an impact on industrial development in the future for developing ASEAN countries. This special regime for electronically transmitted goods cannot be justified as a global public good and is unnecessary. The removal of the regime would restore national space in developing ASEAN countries and allow them to obtain tariff revenues from the trade of these goods and to upgrade domestic capabilities in participating in the digital economy.

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Research Paper 176, 29 March 2023

Where Does Global Health Funding Come From and Where Does It Go? 

By Germán Velásquez

In theory, the World Health Organization (WHO) is the coordinating agency for global health. Influential private and public actors have claimed the relevance and central role of this United Nations (UN) agency. In practice, paradoxically, the money budgeted for health goes largely to other institutions and not to the WHO. New institutions and mechanisms have been created to which funds are channeled (GAVI, The Global Fund, Act-A, CEPI, COVAX, etc.). These institutions or mechanisms are, in most cases, public-private partnerships where the pharmaceutical industry is usually present. Official Development Assistance is important but represents only 1 per cent of what developing countries’ expenditure on health. How much is spent to promote global health and where this money goes is the subject of this paper. After the experience with COVID-19, a fundamental question that must be addressed is how the global public interest can be preserved by creating common public goods and protecting human rights in the prevention, preparedness, and response to present and future pandemics.

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Documento de Investigación 176, 29 de marzo de 2023

De dónde viene y a dónde va el financiamiento para la salud mundial  

Por Germán Velásquez

En teoría la OMS es la agencia coordinadora de la salud mundial, y los grandes actores, privados y públicos, revindican la relevancia y el rol central de esta agencia de Naciones Unidas. En la práctica, paradójicamente, los dineros para la salud van en gran parte a otras instituciones y no a la OMS o incluso se crean nuevas instituciones o mecanismos donde se canalizan los nuevos fondos (GAVI, Fondo Mundial, Act-A, CEPI, COVAX etc.) Estas instituciones o mecanismos son, en la mayoría de los casos,  partenariados público-privados donde está presente la industria farmacéutica. La Ayuda Oficial para el Desarrollo es importante pero sólo representa el 1% de lo que invierten los países en desarrollo en salud. En qué se gasta para promover la salud global y a dónde va este dinero es el objeto de este documento. Una de las preguntas que debemos hacernos tras la experiencia con COVID-19 es cómo vamos a preservar el interés público global mediante la creación de bienes públicos comunes y la protección de los derechos humanos en las actividades de prevención, preparación y respuesta a las pandemias presentes y futuras.

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