Friday, August 31, 2007

Study on National Revenue Funds: Their efficacy for fiscal stability and inter-generational equity

De-linking government expenditure from revenue in natural resource-rich countries has been widely seen as critical for prudent management natural resource revenues, and the National revenue funds (NRFs) are a viable mechanism to do so, reports a study conducted by Samuel Asfaha, Programme Officer of the Trade for Development Programme at the South Centre on the behalf of IISD, Canada.

In this study, Mr. Asfaha explains that in countries where the political-economic incentives that governments face does not foster prudent revenue management, NRFs should not be used to impose optimal expenditure paths. In such countries, NRFs should instead be used as policy tools for re-aligning the diverging interests of governments, influential groups and society at large, and nation-wide multi-stakeholder consultations are the way to go about it. He argues that the recent advancements in democratization in several countries and increased internal and external pressures are among the reasons why multi-stakeholder consultations on resource management are feasible. Further, the nation-wide multi-stakeholder consultations may pave the way for revisiting earmarked distribution patterns.

Any multi-stakeholder consultation should target three important issues: establishing a national revenue management law which is acceptable to all stakeholders; establishing a multi-stakeholder independent oversight and monitoring committee to ensure checks-and-balances and compliance with the national revenue law; and giving the law constitutional status, to protect it from amendment or override by a single entity.

The complete study is available at:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Climate Change and Development Linkages

On August 27, an informal working lunch was co-hosted by the South Centre and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva (and the President for the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD).

The meeting sought to promote the inclusion and reflection of developing countries’ development concerns in climate change negotiations and the mainstreaming of climate change concerns into sustainable development strategies. There was a convergence among the international community that in Bali there should be an "agreement" about the basic elements, principles, areas of concern, common areas, and resources needed for the materialization of an effective post Kyoto regime.

The participants agreed that the development dimension has been put aside in the climate change context. For instance while the Annex I countries discuss the aspect of mitigation, the real concerns of developing countries are adaptation, technology transfer, additional resources, and capacity building. There is a need to address this issue in the negotiation processes, including those beyond the UNFCCC itself.

South Centre assistance to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) retreat on the WTO Doha Round negotiations

As part of the capacity building efforts of the South Centre, the Trade for Development Programme has participated to a retreat of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on 24 and 25 August in Jongny, Switzerland. During the retreat, the LDC Group discussed the recently proposed Agriculture and NAMA draft modalities texts with a view to updating the Group’s negotiating positions on the various negotiating areas under Agriculture and NAMA.

During the retreat, the Trade for Development Programme made presentations highlighting main points of interest to the LDCs in the Agriculture and NAMA draft modalities papers. Darlan F. Martí highlighted the fact that in the draft NAMA text, the Chair of NAMA did not propose any solution to the LDC request to make rules of origin that apply to preferential trade agreements simpler and more transparent.

Similarly on the decision to grant duty and quota free access for LDC products, the text of the Chairman did not propose anything new, and merely suggested a timeline for the continuation of these negotiations. It was also mentioned that the solution proposed for the problem of preference erosion would leave many LDCs unsatisfied (the Chair suggested two additional years for the implementation of tariff reductions on a short list of products of high importance for preference-receiving countries in the US and EU markets coupled with vague language on capacity building and assistance).

South Centre participates in Information sharing workshop with Cabinet and Parliament of Uganda

At the request of Uganda’s Minister of Tourism Trade and Industry through their Permanent Mission in Geneva, Joy Kategekwa the inhouse trade expert within South Centre, participated as a technical resource person in the national information sharing seminar with the Cabinet and Parliament of Uganda held from 13-16 August.

South Centre was asked to deal with trade in services and assess whether there are any benefits for Uganda in the WTO. In this context, Ms. Kategewka made a presentation on the GATS, general rules and principles, the positioning of Uganda in the GATS, its schedule of commitments and implications thereof, challenges faced in the negotiations, the potentiality of negotiations achieving an outcome that can deliver on the aspirations of Uganda’s services sector export strategy and some thoughts as to what can be done to achieve Uganda’s ambitions in these negotiations.

Some of the key questions posed in the area of services related to how Uganda can use the WTO to open markets for semi-skilled workers, how better information on the market specifics in key markets can be obtained, how Uganda can build capacity to supply services in niche sectors, and how flexibilities in the GATS relate to the EPAs?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Demystifying Explosion in Patenting Growth Rate

The 2007 WIPO Patent released in August 2007 highlights the changing geography of innovation with highest patenting growth rates in North East Asia, with an emphasis on sharp rise in patent filings in China. From 2004 to 2005, there was steady growth in patent filings by applicants in their country of residence (+6.6%), but patent filings by non-residents have grown at a faster rate (+7.6%). During the same period, the most notable increases can be seen at patent offices of emerging States. The patent office of China has the highest growth rate for resident (+42.1%) and non-resident (+23.6%) filings.

Dr. Xuan Li, Lead Economist and Acting Coordinator of Innovations and Access to Knowledge Programme (IAKP), South Centre however comments that it may be too early to draw a definite conclusion on the changing geography of innovation since the link between sharp rise in patent filings and innovations capacity may not be so straightforward. Listen to her commentary on "Demystifying Explosion in Patenting Growth Rate."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

EPA negotiations in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA): Way Forward for Market Access negotiations

Market access, both for agricultural and for industrial products, is the core of the EPA agenda and in that sense is at the front stage of current negotiating efforts. In fact, one of the topmost motivations for concluding an EPA, from the viewpoint of ACP governments, is to lock Cotonou preferential conditions of market access into a new trade arrangement, reports back Darlan Marti, Expert on Trade in Industrial Goods in South Centre, from the round table dialogue on "EPA market access negotiations in Eastern and Southern Africa: what options for the way forward?" organized in Mauritius on 3 August 2007.

The round table was organized by South Centre in the margins of the 12th Regional Negotiating Forum of the EPA ESA region.

The EPAs provide a WTO-compatible framework, in the form of a reciprocal Free Trade Agreement, which guarantees the continuation of exports from ACP countries to the European Union under preferential conditions. For this reason, the conclusion of the market access aspect of EPAs is a sine qua non precondition to the finalization of EPAs.

Click here to read the complete report

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Selecting the IMF’s Next Managing Director in an Open, Transparent, and Merit-Based Process

Benjamin Mkapa, the former Tanzanian president and the Chairperson of the South Centre board makes a call for selecting the IMF’s Next Managing Director through an Open, Transparent, and Merit-Based Process. According to Mr. Mkapa:

The decision of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Managing Director, Rodrigo de Rato, to resign in October 2007 opens up an opportunity for change to occur in the selection process for his successor. The opportunity for change in the governance of the Bretton Woods Institutions that was missed by the recently continued practice of selecting the World Bank President on the basis of a nomination by the United States must not be missed by the IMF in its selection of the next IMF Managing Director.

This change should reflect the principles of openness, consensus, transparency, and merit-based selection of the heads of both the World Bank and the IMF.

Click here to read the complete text on the South Centre website