A broad range of trade issues have continued to be raised in different international forums including the TPP, TTIP, World Bank and the WTO. They include among others Doha Lite, Currency Manipulation, Investor Litigation, Corruption, Tobacco Controls, Sovereign Debt, Foreign Taxation. Here is some additional information concerning international activity over the last few weeks ………………
The new Director-General of the WTO Roberto Azevedo is renewing the push for the conclusion of the Doha Round at Bali this December. He does not see an increase in regional or inter-regional arrangements as a threat to the multilateral system. “Roberto Azevedo Urges WTO to Reach $1tn global trade Deal in Bali.“Financial Times (Sept. 10, 2013).
France has raised legal issues concerning TTIP negotiations concerning “Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism” and government procurement restrictions in the U.S. This reflects the traditional French positions and is mostly unwarranted. “Trade Talks Leave States at Risk from U.S. Lawyers.” Financial Times (Sept. 11, 2013).
World Bank sanctions are at a seven-year high after efforts by the bank to clamp down on fraud and corruption in the projects it funds. The World Bank blacklisted 250 entities and individuals in the first seven months of 2013. “World Bank Sanctions for Corruption.” Financial Times (9.16.13).
The issue of precluding tobacco controls from the free-trade provisions of the TPP is now a contentious issue within the U.S. Negotiations seem to be moving from a “safe-harbor exemption” (to allow state controls with no right of challenge) to only a presumptive or a voidable one (allowing states to contest controls and requiring consultation prior to litigation). “Snuffing out Tobacco Exemption in the TPP.” Washington Post (Sept. 18, 2013).
The Financial Times in an editorial declared “It is time (for Argentina) to grow up” concerning its international bond restructurings and nationalizations. “Argentina Bondage.” Financial Times (Sept. 19, 2013).
Momentous changes are set to start in July concerning U.S. taxation of foreign income that imposes new requirements on foreign financial institutions. FACTA is the most recent development in the U.S. tax policy that started in 2009 against UBS of aggressively enforcing U.S. laws concerning foreign tax havens and bank accounts. “Offshore Accounts: No Pace to Hide.” Wall Street Journal (Sept. 21, 2013).
Statement by the new Director-General of the WTO on the Bali Ministerial (as to the Doha Round) concerning three potential deliverables (“Doha Lite”). “Statement by Azevedo as to Bali Ministerial.”WTO News (Sept. 23, 2013). His concern about becoming irrelevant in light of the WTO’s failure to complete the Doha Round and negotiations of the TPP and TTIP. “TPP & Ocean’s Twelve (and WTO).” Financial Times (Sept. 24, 2013).
The U.S. Senate along with the House have been pressuring the Obama administration to include currency manipulation in the TPP talks. This is aimed primarily at Japan (“Abenomics”) but raises issues of U.S. Quantitative Easing also. “Currency Manipulation Should be Part of Trade Talks.” Financial Times (Sept. 25, 2013).