Events & Conferences
The research programme of RIS in this area largely focuses on developments in various multilateral forums, in particular on the World Trade Organization. With the growing importance of the plurilateral forums like the G-20, issues being discussed in these forums are also included. Some of the major themes of research include:
|Trade and Investment|
|Non-agricultural Market Access|
|Trade in Services|
|Intellectual Property Rights|
|Transfer of Technology|
|Trade and Environment|
|Monitoring and Reform of International Financial Architecture|
|Global Framework Governing Climate Change|
RIS has a large programme for assisting developing countries in WTO negotiations and in their preparations for the WTO Ministerial Conference with analytical studies and policy dialogue. The work programme covered overall process as well as the sectoral negotiations as summarized below:
World Trade and Development Report 2003: Cancun and Beyond
Research Team: Dr. Nagesh Kumar, Dr. Rajesh Mehta, Dr. S.K. Mohanty Dr. Ram Upendra Das and Dr. Sachin Chaturvedi
This Report was prepared and launched as a part of a new series of biennial reports. The first report was prepared on the eve of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of WTO held in Cancun in September 2003 and was presented in New Delhi and Cancun on the sidelines of the Ministerial. The RIS Report was hailed as a pioneering publication presenting a developing country perspective on the agenda of multilateral trade negotiations. The Report discusses some emerging trends in protectionism in the developed countries and other asymmetries in the world trading system; examines their implications; and proposes an agenda for reform to improve the development friendliness, and hence the sustainability, of the system. It also reflects on the agenda for negotiation in specific areas such as Singapore Issues, agriculture, non-agriculture market access, IPRs, implementation-related concerns, special and differential treatment, and dispute settlement.
A set of four policy briefs on the specific items of the Cancun Agenda were issued on the eve of the Ministerial to provide inputs to negotiators besides a book on Investment in WTO and several discussion papers. A special issue of the South Asia Economic Journal (June 2003) was also devoted to WTO issues.
The Policy Briefs brought out by RIS on the Cancun Agenda were:
- Cancun Agenda: Trade and Investment – The Way Forward for Developing Countries (PB #4);
- Cancun Agenda: Environmental Requirements and Developing Countries Exports – Lessons for National, International and Regional Action (PB #5);
- Cancun Agenda: TRIPs and Development Implications and an Agenda for Action (PB #6); and
- Cancun Agenda: Geographical Indications and Developing Countries (PB #7).
The discussion papers that emanated from RIS in this regard were: Investment on the WTO Agenda: A Developing Country Perspective and the Way Forward for the Cancun Ministerial Conference (DP #56); WTO Negotiations Towards Cancun: Implication on Indian Paper and Newsprint Industry (DP #57); Implementation Issues in SPS: A developing Country Perspective for Development Agenda on the Meandering Pathways from Doha to Cancun (DP #58); and WTO Non-Agriculture Market Access Modalities: A Case Study of Impact on a Developing Country (DP #59).
RIS also organized a series of seminars in New Delhi, Chandigarh and in Vishakapatnam on WTO issues, as listed later. In addition a number of other events too were organized on the sidelines of the Ministerial Conference in Cancun jointly with other partners to disseminate our work and the view point. RIS also set up a special webpage at its website on Doha Agenda.
This project, sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce in May 2002, involved preparation of a number of analytical studies on issues concerning possible multilateral framework on investment and its implications for developing countries. As part of the project, RIS provided inputs for India’s submissions at the WGTI Meetings. Among the papers prepared include ‘Investors’ and Home Country Obligations’ (which formed the basis of India’s submission on the subject that has been co-sponsored by China, Cuba, Kenya, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, WT/WGTI/W/152, dated November 19, 2002), ‘Types of Foreign Investment and their Developmental Impact’, ‘Performance Requirements as Tools of Development Policy’, and ‘Investment on the WTO Agenda: A Developing Country Perspective and the Way Forward’ and were submitted to the Ministry. A paper on “Performance Requirements as Tools of Development Policy: Lessons from Experiences of Developed and Developing Countries” was presented at the Intergovernmental Conference on Trade, Investment and Development, organized by the Ministry of Commerce and UNCTAD in New Delhi on 8-10 April 2003. The material prepared under the framework of the project, among other on related issues, was also consolidated in a book Protecting Foreign Investment: Implications of a WTO Regime and Policy Options, and published in collaboration with the Zed Press, London and New York and Academic Foundation, New Delhi for worldwide reach. Consultations were also provided to the Ministry on the agenda of various meetings of the WTO’s WGTI, the Committee on TRIMs, and for preparations towards the Fifth Ministerial Conference at Cancun. The project was completed in December 2003.
This project has been sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is a follow-up of an earlier RIS study on the subject. The main objective of this project is to understand the implications of negotiations to further liberalize trade of non-agriculture goods for developing countries like India to assist in the ongoing negotiations at the WTO’s Negotiation Group on Market Access (NGMA) and take note of the concerns of India and other developing countries in its work. As a part of this the database created at RIS on the industrial tariffs is kept updated and employed for simulations of implications of various proposals and modalities of tariff reduction that are being proposed in the WTO negotiations. A number of specific simulations were prepared at the specific requests of the Ministry in the preparatory process leading to Cancun and afterwards. Implications of proposals made by the Chairman, Negotiating Group on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NGMA), and one jointly by Canada, EU and the US in run up to the Cancun Ministerial were analyzed and supplied to the Ministry, among other simulations. As a part of the project, a series of analytical studies have been conducted to assist in formulation of India’s position for the ongoing NGMA process. In addition, RIS has been regularly providing consultations and comments to the Ministry on the documents and proposals made at the NGMA.
RIS was invited by the Hanoi based Asia Trade Initiative of UNDP (UNDP/ATI) to contribute to their programme on trade and investment designed to provide guidance to the developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region for the WTO Ministerial conference. As a part of this, RIS participated in the Meeting on Trade and Investment organized by UNDP/ATI, and the Institute of International Economics, Nankai University, Tianjin, China on April 1-2, 2003. The study discusses the experience of India in mobilizing and employing FDI inflows (and outflows) in its process of development. It summarizes the evolution of India’s FDI policy. It also examines the role of government policy in determining the contribution of FDI to human development. Finally it summarizes the implications of the ongoing debate on the relevance of a multilateral framework on investment under WTO from a human development perspective. The project was completed with the submission of the final version of the paper to UNDP/ATI.
The Draft Cancun Ministerial Text, or Derbez Text, leaned heavily on the joint EC-US framework paper on Agriculture which argued for a formula approach with respect to market access pillar. The main objective of this study is to simulate results based on alternate formula submitted to the WTO. Our results show that the developing countries are being squeezed to provide better market access to the developed countries’ agricultural produce. For example, India will have to reduce her average bound tariff in agriculture anywhere in the range 45-83 per cent depending on the blended combination of the formula (suggested for core modality) and the chosen value of “B” coefficient (for the Swiss element) in the blend formula. A draft paper was first presented at a conference organized by Centre for SAARC Studies, Andhra University, on 27-28 March 2004 in Vishakapatnam in collaboration with RIS. A revised version will be issued in Discussion Paper Series.
RIS has initiated a major work programme on various dimensions of standards especially in context of global value chains. This would largely look into the broad debate on SPS/TBT in agriculture as well as in manufacturing and other sectors. The idea is to develop analytical framework for looking into the wider implications of standards on production, process and international trade specifically with perspective of developing countries. As part of this programme two major initiatives have been taken. One was the study of environmental issues in FTAs across Asia. At the various multilateral fora, including WTO, consideration of environmental issues in international trade, is no more a matter of choice and the linkage is widely being recognized at the normative level as well. There are several economic studies, which acknowledge the possibility of adverse impact of trade liberalization on environment. However, the emergence of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the various other variants of preferential trade agreements, in Asia, pose several challenges for environment management. The problem is that the FTAs are being perceived as quicker mechanism for bypassing the complicated multilateral negotiations. The US-Singapore FTA poses several challenges in this regard. This paper attempted to look into some of these issues. This paper has been issued as a RIS Discussion Paper # 67.
The other initiative as part of this work programme was to launch a network of research institutes and think tanks on standard related issues. This network is being called as Standards and Rules of Trade (START). RIS along with Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Copenhagen, Denmark and Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK are the founder members of the network.
Following the launch of RIS Report World Trade and Development Report 2003 (WTDR03) it the occasion of Cancun Ministerial, RIS has continued to follow the emerging developments in the multilateral trade negotiations. RIS emphasized on the need for reform of decision-making process in the multilateral trading system for its long term sustainability as well as issues for mutual cooperation among developing countries in these negotiations, among other issues for reform to address asymmetries in its presentations at the Preparatory Committee for UNCTAD XI and subsequently at the WTO Public Symposium, organized by the WTO Secretariat in May 2004. RIS followed the negotiations leading to adoption of the July Framework, besides assisting the Ministry of Commerce, where required, and organized a seminar to discuss its implications for developing countries soon after its completion. The preparations for the WTDR05, which will focus on issues on the agenda of Sixth Ministerial Conference of WTO, have also started in right earnestness besides ongoing work on sectoral issues such as industrial tariffs, SPS and other issues. See RIS Diary April 2005.
The economies of developing countries have become highly vulnerable to speculative capital movements in and out of the country with the growing integration of financial markets. The recent economic crises beginning with Mexico in 1994, East Asian crisis of 1997, the Russian crisis of 1998, the Brazilian crisis of 1999 and the Argentinian crisis of 2001 have highlighted the role played by speculative capital movements in triggering off the crisis situations. The frequency of crisis has sparked of a debate on the reform of international financial architecture. In this regard, RIS came out with Policy Brief on (#10) on International Financial Architecture: An Agenda for Reform. RIS also issued the Policy Brief #11 on Managing Global Macroeconomic Imbalances in the early part of 2004.
The Eleventh Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XI) took place in Sao Paulo on 13-18 June 2004. RIS has a consultative status with UNCTAD. RIS participated in the preparatory process of UNCTAD XI and addressed the PrepCom in Geneva held in February 2004. RIS also took the initiative to prepare a study on the UNCTAD XI’s agenda to assist the developing country policy makers in their preparations.