The Politics of Trade in the Era of Hyperglobalisation: A Southern African Perspective
About the Book:
Matters of international trade are increasingly widely recognised as major shapers of global politics. News bulletins are giving more and more coverage to matters like the so-called “trade wars” between the United States and China. These are, indeed, increasingly defining relations between the two largest economies in the world and could well underpin a multi-dimensional rivalry that could be a central feature of international relations for many years to come. Brexit is dominating and indeed re-shaping politics in the United Kingdom. By definition a rejection of a regional integration arrangement, Brexit has also revealed under-currents profoundly shaped by the outcome of a broader trade-driven process called “globalisation”. Just as regional integration is weakening in Europe, African countries have taken decisions that could lead to the most profound and ambitious step forward in African regional integration – the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This study seeks to present an analysis of the political economy of trade negotiations over the past quarter century on two main fronts: the multi-lateral and those pertaining to regional integration on the African continent.
Author: Rob Davies is former South African Minister of Trade and Industry.
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.
Renewed crises in emerging economies and the IMF ‒ Muddling through again?
As recognised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global financial safety net including international reserves, Fund resources, bilateral swap arrangements, regional financing arrangements is “fragmented with uneven coverage” and “too costly, unreliable and conducive to moral hazard”. Given the aversion of emerging economies to the IMF and unilateral debt standstills and exchange controls, the next crisis is likely to be even messier than the previous ones. Some countries may seek and succeed in getting bilateral support from China or some reserve-currency countries according to their political stance and affiliation. In such cases, crisis intervention would become even more politicised than in the past and a lot less reliant on multilateral arrangements. By failing to establish an orderly and equitable system of crisis resolution, the IMF may very well find its role significantly diminished in the management of the next bout of crises in emerging economies. In other words, multilateralism, however imperfect, could face another blow in the sphere of finance after trade.
How international investment agreements have made debt restructuring even more difficult and costly
International investment and trade agreements are legally binding international treaties which give investors an additional layer of legal protection on top of the host country law and contract law. However, little efforts have been made in ironing out the interface between these different laws and treaties. Inconsistencies and even contradictions have emerged in dispute settlement decisions, sometimes at the expense of public good, sovereignty and financial and economic stability. An asymmetry seems to exist in the allocation of risks and benefits between investors and recipients of investments. (more…)
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.
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…)
South Centre Statement to the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 24
Below is the statement by the South Centre’s Executive Director Mr. Martin Khor which was distributed during the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Twenty-four held in Washington DC on 12 October 2017.