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).
Value Addition or Trade Misinvoicing: Coal Trading in the Asia-Pacific
By Manuel F. Montes and Peter Lunenborg
Statistics on coal trade between India, Singapore and Indonesia suggest that trade misinvoicing is used as a vehicle for illicit financial flows. At present this practice is not well addressed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s tax standards. Asia-Pacific countries should intensify cooperation on this issue. Other international organizations with a mandate in this area could also play a role, for instance the World Trade Organization. Ultimately, increased cooperation would help to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16.4 which inter alia aims, by 2030, to significantly reduce illicit financial flows.
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.
Policy responses for fostering South-South and Triangular Cooperation in response to the food crisis in the area of trade
By Peter Lunenborg
The Russia-Ukraine conflict since 24 February 2022 and the various sanctions imposed on Russia are having tremendous global repercussions, including on developing countries. This world is already experiencing multiple crises such as COVID-19 and measures in response to the virus including lockdowns, money printing and increases in government debts, conflicts and tensions in other parts of the world as well as climate change and extreme weather events such as extreme flooding or droughts. The conflict is compounding and aggravating these shocks.
In the short to medium term, prices in particular for energy (oil, gas), derived products (fertilizers) and food (in particular cereals) will remain elevated. Availability might also suffer. As a result, food insecurity is and will remain a serious concern in the near and medium term. Policy actions are required to mitigate any potential famine(s) which may arise and to build resilience for the future.
This paper explores concrete options for developing countries to address food insecurity in the short, medium and long term, including purchase policies, better implementation of WTO rules and increase in domestic investment in wheat and fertilizers production.
While global inequality continues to grow, developing and least developed countries face multiple crises in the context of a weak recovery from COVID-19, massive outflows of capital, decline of Official Development Assistance, monetary policy tightening, increase in food and energy prices and the impact of climate change. This document presents a brief analysis of the situation faced by South Centre’s members and other developing and least developed countries and provides a summary of the activities undertaken by the Centre in the period January – June 2022.
WTO Public Forum 2022 Working Session: Mainstreaming Development in the WTO
30 September 2022
WTO Room E
Time: 11:30-12:45 CEST
The Global South has a fundamental interest in the WTO. In framing the future of trade, reforming and strengthening the organisation requires mainstreaming development in the WTO. The primary question is how to ensure that the broader development dimension of the multilateral trading system is advanced and not simply relegated to polarising conversations about special and differential treatment. This session explores ways in which the multilateral trading system can meaningfully address the needs of developing countries including LDCs. These include assessing different approaches to build greater equity in the trading regime, considering ways to improve the capacity for developing countries to benefit from trade, establishing a deeper role and voice for developing countries including LDCs in developing balanced trade rules, and examining how they can exercise their right to fully participate in the consensus-based decision-making processes of the WTO.
IPR-related Statistics in WTO Trade Policy Reviews
By Peter Lunenborg
The WTO Secretariat Trade Policy Review (TPR) report is an important tool for a WTO Member which synthesizes objective trade-related information in a single document and enables the monitoring of developments in trade. Relevant statistics are therefore an important element of a TPR report.
Currently the practice of using statistical information on intellectual property rights (IPRs) across TPRs is not uniform. This Policy Brief surveys the use of IPR-related statistics in WTO TPRs with a view to exploring possible harmonization and inclusion of common information elements in future TPRs. Harmonized information would provide a baseline for comparison between countries and across time for a single country with respect to the level of IPR protection and immediate benefits derived from the creation of and trade in IPRs.
Climate change and trade: what policies for environmental goods and services?
Carlos Correa, Executive Director, South Centre
International conference on “Climate Change and Sustainable Development”
26-27 March 2022, Cairo, Egypt
While the importance of protecting the environment in the context of trade policies is firmly recognized, a key question is the extent to which trade disciplines aimed at protecting the environment can reach their intended or declared objectives and affect the trade interests and economic growth prospects of developing countries. Developing countries are also among the most affected by climate change and, hence, they have a major interest in international action to address it. However, the intensification of environmental threats faced by developing countries is not of their making, and advancing an agenda -with no evidence that it would lead to reduced emissions- is likely to just disadvantage the developing world which has the least responsibility historically for today’s climate-related damages. Given this history, as well as the tight external constraints imposed on their efforts to mobilize resources, developing countries cannot be expected to either successfully mitigate climate change or adapt to climate change, without significant financial and technological support. The South Centre has been assessing the policy implications that the initiatives on trade and environmental sustainability will have for the Global South.
In October of 2020, when India and South Africa proposed a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement, it was meant to increase local manufacturing capacity in these countries. The waiver was proposed as a tool to kick-start prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. While there is an imminent need to meet a growing supply-demand gap for all medical products, COVID-19 related products are urgently required in poorer nations to contain the pandemic. The waiver has an additional role to play in the larger trade schema. In enabling vaccination of populations across the globe, the waiver would be critical to normalize global trade. The paper below captures the benefits of the waiver and compares it with the existing flexibilities under the trade regime, being compulsory licensing.
The Ocean Economy: trends, impacts and opportunities for a post COVID-19 Blue Recovery in developing countries
by David Vivas Eugui, Diana Barrowclough and Claudia Contreras
This paper discusses preliminary and still quite unknown trends on trade, finance, and technology of the ocean economy, outlines key impacts and measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and raises awareness about the potential of the ocean economy to contribute to a sustainable and resilient recovery. Based on these findings, the paper argues that sustainability and resilience considerations should be more highly prioritized in ocean-based value chains in a post COVID-19 recovery. To support this, the paper highlights the importance of securing sufficient and reliable long-term investment and the creation of capacities to develop new and adapt existing service innovations. It calls for a global trade, investment and innovationBlue Deal as sister to the Green New Deal already gaining support around the world, particularly for developing countries.
Contribution of the South Centre to the Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution A/75/L.97 dated 9 June 2021 on the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”
This input by the South Centre is prepared in response to the UN Secretary-General’s request as a contribution to the report of the Secretary-General as per resolution A/75/L.97, with respect to the imposition of unilateral economic, financial and trade measures against Cuba, in violation of basic principles of the UN Charter.
The Proposed Pandemic Treaty and the Challenge of the South for a Robust Diplomacy
By Obijiofor Aginam
The motivation for a pandemic treaty is infallible because of the ‘globalization of public health’ in a rapidly evolving interdependence of nations, societies, and peoples. Notwithstanding the lofty purposes of the proposed pandemic treaty as a tool for effective cooperation by member-states of the WHO to address emerging and re-emerging disease pandemics in an inter-dependent world, the proposal nonetheless raises some structural and procedural conundrums for the Global South. The negotiation of a pandemic treaty should, as a matter of necessity, take into account the asymmetries of World Health Organization member-states and the interests of the Global South.