Category Archives: Trade

Dancing on Quicksand

Source: James M. Cypher and Mateo Crossa, Dollars & Sense, no. 341, March/April 2019
(subscription required)

A retrospective on NAFTA on the eve on its replacement. ….

…. NAFTA, signed in late 1993, was essentially an investment project for the United States, falsely portrayed as a “free” trade deal. ….. What the United States wanted was not more trade, but eh end to Mexico’s nationalist investment laws that had restricted here and how U.S. transnational companies could own plants beyond the border region. ….

Made for Next to Nothing. Worn by You?

Source: Elizabeth Paton, New York Times, February 6, 2019

A new report shows the depth of the fashion industry’s exploitation of female home workers in India. Ever since the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, Western fashion brands have been under pressure to investigate and police their own supply chains. Now, a new report from the University of California, Berkeley, shows just how shadowy those supply lines are, as scores of labels rely not just on factories in India but also on exploited home workers…..

Related:
Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India’s Home-Based Garment Sector
Source: Siddharth Kara, University of California, Berkeley – Blum Center for Developing Economies, January 2019

This report offers the most wide-reaching and comprehensive investigation yet into the conditions of work for women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector. Women and girls tend to constitute a majority of home-based work across numerous informal sectors, along with the exploitative conditions that come with them, which in turn perpetuates the subordinated and oppressed status of women and girls. Due to the lack of transparency and the informal nature of home-based work, wages are almost always suppressed, conditions can be harsh and hazardous, and the worker has virtually no avenue to seek redress for abusive or unfair conditions. Power imbalances relating to gender further perpetuate the exploitation of female home-based workers, as their liaisons (i.e., labor subcontractors) are typically male and can often be verbally abusive or intimidating in order to secure compliance. The situation of the home-based workers is worsened by the fact that there is little to no regulation or enforcement from the state regarding their conditions of work. Indeed, the researchers found that home-based garment workers in India consist almost entirely of women and girls from historically oppressed ethnic communities who scarcely manage to earn $0.15 per hour…..

DELTA 8.7 – New data dashboards launched to inform policymaking on modern slavery and child labor

Source: United Nations University – Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), 2018

What does delta mean?
The Greek letter delta—Δ—is used in mathematics and science to signify the amount of change in a particular variable.

What is 8.7?
In Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, States committed to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour.

What do they mean together?
Delta + 8.7 = Measuring the change towards Target 8.7.

On any given day in 2016, the latest year for which we have a reliable estimate, 40.3 million people were in situations of modern slavery or forced labour—or one in every 174 people alive —and 152 million children were victims of child labour. Urgent action is needed to address these problems. With Target 8.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 193 countries pledged their commitment to take effective measures to eradicate modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour.

But what are effective measures? What works to address these problems?

To answer these questions, the United Nations University – Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) created Delta 8.7—an innovative project that helps policy actors understand and use data responsibly to inform policies that contribute to achieving Target 8.7. Delta 8.7 brings together the most useful data, evidence, research and news, analyses cutting-edge data, and helps people understand that data so it can be translated it into effective policy.

Resources
Dive deeper into Thematic Overviews, online and offline Learning Opportunities, original Research by the Delta 8.7 team, or explore the site Glossary.

Data and Measurement
Visit the Data Dashboards to explore evidence at the national, regional and global levels, or learn How to Measure the Change through our introductory materials on data science and measurement.

Forum
The Forum is the world’s leading venue for discussion of the latest data and evidence about forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, and what it means for policy to achieve Target 8.7.

Call to Action
Explore the efforts of countries that have endorsed the UK’s Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.

FAQ: US state and local government exposure to rising trade tension

Source: Sunny Zhu, Patrick Liberatore, Ted Hampton, Denise Rappmund, Eric Hoffmann, Leonard Jones, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, May 24, 2018
(subscription required)

Rising trade tension represents a major risk to the US and global economic outlook. Since 2017, the United States (Aaa stable) has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and imposed tariffs on washing machines, solar panels, steel, and aluminum. The US continues to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada (Aaa stable) and Mexico (A3 stable), and has threatened substantial tariffs against China (A1 stable) following a US Trade Representative investigation. Despite the recent softening of the trade rhetoric between the US and China, risks of recurring trade tension remain as negotiations on specific measures proceed. ….

The Anatomy of a NAFTA Deal

Source: Mark Zandi, Regional Financial Review, November 2017
(subscription required)

Though the talks have hit a stumbling block, a new NAFTA agreement with only small changes is likely. Dissolving the pact would result in significant near-term economic costs and risk diminishing North America’s long-term economic growth prospects. This paper assesses the economic impact of a new NAFTA and the potential economic fallout if the negotiations and NAFTA fail.

The fall of the US middle class and the hair-raising ascent of Donald Trump

Source: Steven Pressman, Real-World Economics Review, no. 78, March 2017

…. This paper focuses on one particular political consequence of a shrinking middle class. It contends that this was a key factor in Donald Trump becoming President of the United States. Then it argues that the policies promulgated by Trump will not help the US middle class but will exacerbate recent inequality trends. The paper concludes with some suggestions for reviving the middle class. ….
Related:
Trumponomics: causes and consequences – Part I
Source: Real-World Economics Review, Issue no. 78, March 22, 2017

Articles include:
Trump through a Polanyi lens: considering community well-being
Anne Mayhew

Trump is Obama’s legacy. Will this break up the Democratic Party?
Michael Hudson

Causes and consequences of President Donald Trump
Ann Pettifor

Explaining the rise of Donald Trump
Marshall Auerback

Class and Trumponomics
David F. Ruccio

Trump`s bait and switch: job creation in the midst of welfare state sabotage
Pavlina R. Tcherneva

Trumponomics: causes and consequences – Part II
Source: Real-World Economics Review, Issue no. 79, March 30, 2017

Articles include:
Economic policy in the Trump Era
Dean Baker

Major miscalculations: globalization, economic pain, social dislocation and the rise of Trump
William Neil

Is Trump wrong on trade? A partial defense based on production and employment
Robert H. Wade

President Trump and free-trade
Jacques Sapir

U.S. private capital accumulation and Trump`s economic program
Jim Stanford

Trump` s contradictions and the future of the Left
Boris Kagarlitsky

Trumponomics, firm governance and US prosperity
Robert R Locke

Three big problems with Trump’s new NAFTA plan

Source: Iván Farías Pelcastre, Scott Lucas, The Conversation, July 25, 2017

The Trump administration has outlined its plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It says the US will seek a “much better” agreement that reduces the trade deficit between the US and its partners, Canada and Mexico. In response, the two countries released brief statements welcoming the proposal. They say they consider a possible renegotiation as a step towards modernising NAFTA to address the new realities and challenges of the 21st century.

Despite these good intentions and purported goodwill, the US objectives for a revised NAFTA are unachievable. Three problems with the US negotiating position reveal the limited understanding of Donald Trump, the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer (who will lead the negotiations), and their advisers about NAFTA and its side agreements…..

The United States Withdraws from the TPP

Source: Brock R. Williams, Ian F. Fergusson, Congressional Research Service. CRS Insight, IN10646, May 23, 2017

On January 23, President Trump directed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement; the acting USTR gave notification to that effect on January 30. The TPP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA), signed by the United States and 11 Asia-Pacific countries on February 4, 2016. The agreement requires ratification by the member countries before it can become effective. Implementing legislation, the vehicle for U.S. ratification, was not submitted by the President or considered by Congress, in part due to the contentious debate over the agreement. Because the TPP had not taken effect, U.S. withdrawal does not immediately affect U.S. tariffs or other trade commitments. The United States also has existing FTAs with six of the TPP countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Singapore), which this announcement does not affect.

TPP supporters argue that the withdrawal could damage U.S. negotiating credibility, undermine U.S. economic leadership in the region, hurt U.S. firms’ competitiveness abroad, and give China greater leverage to set regional trade rules. TPP opponents see the withdrawal as preventing greater U.S. import competition and potential job losses. Beyond the trade realm, some analysts also argue the withdrawal may signal declining U.S. engagement in the region and inability to assert leadership at a time when China’s rise and North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities are testing the U.S.-led rules system and challenging U.S. influence….