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Trade and Connectivity in the Post-COVID-19 World

Pascal Lamy
President of the Paris Peace Forum of the French Committee of the PECC
Former Director General of the WTO
&
Eduardo Pedrosa
Secretary-General, Pacific Economic Cooperation Council*

 

Even as some economies begin to relax their lockdowns, it is too early and too much is unknown to realistically assess the economic impact. The consequences of this crisis have been and will be felt across every aspect of human life. Although many uncertainties remain, whether sanitary, economic, social or political, we must make our best efforts to figure out what a post-crisis life might look like and prepare for it.

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The small virus

Diego Solis Rodriguez
Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, Young Associate.
Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales
a Next Generation Delegate to the XXII PECC General Meeting.


The coronavirus has prompted an unintended global experiment. The pandemic has turned international affairs into a vast laboratory. Today, we can identify some of its experiments: the global response to the pandemic; multilateralism and international cooperation; American leadership; the influence of China; the "purpose" of the European Union; climate change and the urgency of "green transition"; digital trade; and the return of the state towards democracy and freedom, to name a few.

To say that the virus is a failure of globalization is a simplistic statement. Globalization is a rather complex phenomenon for which it cannot be entirely blamed. In short, it is a multi-sectorial process that can be shaped in different ways.

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Lessons from Kronavirus: Is Sweden’s anti-lockdown approach more strategic than it seems?

Scott Young
Former director of ideas and insights at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship
Next Generation Delegate to the XX PECC General Meeting.

 

Scott Young: Sweden's unorthodox strategy has been rightly criticized, but it's too early to condemn an approach that's focused on the long game and public trust

 

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Digital Technologies, Services and the Fourth Industrial Revolutions

Submitted by Jane Drake-Brockman, Christopher Findlay, Yose Rizal Damuri and Sherry Stephenson

 

From 3D printing (3DP) and artificial intelligence (AI), to cloud computing, 5G, and the Internet-of-Things (IoT), digital technologies are prompting radical new business models offered through digital platforms, that promise unparalled productivity gains and global increases in standard-of-living.

Adoption of new technologies is also impacting traditional demand and employment patterns in highly disruptive ways and radically altering the nature of consumer and business transactions. The changes underway raise major questions for traditional domestic regulatory settings and for trade, investment, innovation and industry policies for the digital age. They point to an urgent need for reform of international trade governance especially at multilateral level. Digitally-enabled trade - lets call it e-commerce - is the big global trade growth story. We are on the cusp of a structural revolution, which ushers in the digital age. The trading system needs to get ready fast.

Services are integral to the industry transformations underway and their cross-border tradability is growing as a result. Recent estimates suggest 50% of traded services are already digitally-enabled compared with 15% of traded goods. Just as services are critical inputs into production of both manufactures and services, trade in digitally-enabled services (digitised services or e-services) is dependent on and underpinned by cross-border data flows. These are growing exponentially, now contributing more to global GDP than traded goods flows1.

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COVID-19 has Exposed Major Gaps in our Social Safety Nets: In a Post-COVID World Will these Gaps be Closed?

Hugh Stephens
Vice Chair, Canadian National Committee on Pacific Economic Cooperation (CANCPEC)
Distinguished Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
Executive Fellow, School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary

 

The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic has brought into question many long-held assumptions about how we interact socially, conduct business and deal with marginalized segments of our society. Policy makers have faced a series of challenges from first trying to ensure the health and safety of citizens to then dealing with the economic fallout of the social distancing and self-isolation measures that have been widely imposed to fight the pandemic. There has been much speculation on how COVID-19 will impact our policy settings as the world emerges from total lockdown and moves into what may the first of several post-COVID phases. While much of the focus has been on economic measures, in Canada the sudden arrival of COVID-19 has exposed holes that already existed in our social safety net. Governments in Canada1 have moved to deal with these gaps out of necessity as part of the requirement to contain the epidemic, but the real question will be the extent to which these interim response measures will remain in place once the threat of COVID-19 subsides.

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COVID-19: Experiences from best practices in Asia show a path forward in the fight against the coronavirus

Jeffrey Reeves
Vice-President of Research for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

 

Zodov Dolgor has been in self-quarantine since January.

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Wuhan Dispatch: Part 2: Sharing Best Practices Around Testing and Treatment

Jeffrey Reeves
Vice-President of Research for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

 

On April 8th, more than 50 physicians, logisticians, and head administration officials from Vancouver Coastal Health and from across British Columbia had a conference call with doctors and nurses from Central Hospital in Wuhan, China – arguably the first responders on the front line of the global war against COVID-19.

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Wuhan Dispatch: Part 1: Establishing a Dialogue Between Canadian and Chinese Health-care Professionals

Jeffrey Reeves
Vice-President of Research for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

 

On March 26, more than 25 physicians from Vancouver Coastal Health had a conference call with doctors and nurses in Wuhan, China – arguably the first responders on the frontline of the global war against COVID-19. The call was the first of several designed for Vancouver health-care professionals to learn from China’s experience around pandemic response and mitigation. Over the course of 45 minutes, China’s doctors and nurses spoke about the challenges, best practices, and experiences they have had in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

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Multilateral Cooperation is a Safeguard against Pandemics

Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria
Executive Director, APEC Secretariat

 

Last month, G20 leaders released a statement advocating for a spirit of solidarity in the global response against COVID-19. In these dire times, it is a call that should be heeded well beyond their membership.

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International cooperation during COVID-19

Sungbae An
Senior Research Fellow
Department of International Macroeconomics and Finance
Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)

 

The rapidly evolving risks posed by the coronavirus outbreak are likely to reactivate cross-border coordination on macroeconomic policies.

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G20 comes to the fore again

Jorge Heine
Research Professor, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University
Non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing

The current COVID-19 is the worst global pandemic to hit the world in a century, only surpassed by the 1918 influenza virus that killed 50 million people. As of this writing, the virus has been found in 175 economies and regions, with 471,000 cases and 21,000 deaths worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the epidemic is still accelerating. And it will not abate any time soon. While some specialists speak of a time horizon of three to four months, others predict waves of cases that may last for two years.

Vaccines may take anywhere from a year to 18 months to develop and be ready to go to market. Even relatively remote and isolated places like Puerto Williams in Chile, the world's southern most human settlement, and Nantucket Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, have reported cases of coronavirus. You can run, but you can't hide.

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Tackling COVID-19 Together: A Bottom-Up Approach to Trade Policy

Simon J. Evenett
Economics Professor at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and Global Trade Alert1

There is growing interest in the positive contribution trade policy could make in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. In part, this reflects the well-founded concern that the effectiveness of health policy responses is being diminished by existing trade barriers and new curbs on the export of medical supplies.


Well-founded—given the resort to trade restrictions on medical supplies and soap summarised here. As of 27 March 2020, 64 export curbs on medical supplies have been introduced by 60 governments since the beginning of the year. Forty-nine of those export curbs have been announced since the beginning of this month, an indication of just how quickly new trade limits are spreading across the globe.

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Drastic measures to stop spread of COVID-19 are necessary

Charles E. Morrison
Adjunct Fellow and Former President of the East-West Center 
&
Former Co-Chair, PECC

Despite the current media and political glare, coronavirus is a silent killer. Since one neither sees the virus nor knows who may be spreading it unaware, perhaps even oneself, life appears normal on the surface. For many, it is hard to accept the preventive measures that would be draconian in normal times, and easy to believe that government, the media and businesses are overreacting when, in fact, these measures are typically too little, too late.


The key preventive concepts are to “flatten the curve,” through “social distancing,” that is, strategies to try to spread out the rate of infection over a longer period. This reduces the peak burden on overstretched medical institutions, saves lives, and buys time to produce vital medical equipment and develop vaccines.

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International Trade at a Time of Covid-19

Roy Santana
Expert on tariffs and customs issues at the WTO; occasional lecturer
(the views expressed in this article are those of the author in his personal capacity and should not be attributed to the WTO or its members)

Like many of you, I am currently in full "lockdown mode" and impatiently waiting for the COVID-19 crisis to get under control. And, like half of Europe's population, I am working from home while trying to convince my kids that they have to keep studying!

But, being a #tradenerd, every piece of news that I read or meme that I receive sparks a trade-related question, and the list is getting longer by the minute. I imagine that some of you may have similar questions so, during the weekend and over the past few nights, I have put my anxiety to good use and prepared this post with the 4 things you probably don't know about #internationaltrade and the coronavirus. The usual caveats apply: these are my own personal opinions and they do not reflect in any way the views of the #WTO Secretariat or its Members. 

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ASEAN-China cooperation in time of COVID-19 pandemic

Jusuf Wanandi
Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, CSIS Foundation and
Former Co-Chair of PECC

The year had just begun when news of the coronavirus outbreak shook the world. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic when the new virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, crossed international borders and spread rapidly into many countries of different continents.

Over two months later, another bombshell hit the already shaken world: a drastic drop in oil prices as a result of strong disagreements between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

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Preferential Trade Agreements Vs. Multilateralism: In The New Trump-World, Does Canada Face An Impossible Choice?

Judit Fabian
Visiting Researcher, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

International trade is often framed in starkly divergent terms: either economies choose multilateral trade agreements (MTAs) and advance the cause of global economic liberalization, or they choose preferential trade agreements (PTAs) and put the entire system at risk. Canada has a long track record of pursuing PTAs and with the Trump administration’s opposition to multilateralism, and longstanding opposition in elements of the Republican and Democratic parties, this trend will likely continue. The question is whether progress will come at the expense of the global trade system.

Some economists believe PTAs to be trade-diverting, reducing trade with more efficient producers outside the agreement. Others insist that PTAs can create trade by shifting production to lower-cost producers in one of the participating economies. One prominent contrary argument holds that PTAs lead to discontinuities in tariff regimes between economies and regions, increasing transaction costs, disrupting supply chains, creating opportunities for corruption and harming global welfare, especially in developing economies.

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The Case for Strengthening PECC

Christopher Findlay 
Vice-Chair, Australian National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation and
Honorary Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University
[1]

 

Background & Objectives

PECC is a unique not-for-profit multi-stakeholder partnership of thought-leaders from business, industry, government, academia, and civil society from 24 economies.

PECC’s origins can be traced to a seminar in Canberra in 1980 co-hosted by Australia & Japan. PECC emerged as a trusted, independent & a-political source of expert advice & support for Pacific Rim Nations seeking to accelerate economic growth by greater integration into a Rules-based Global trading system.  In addition to funding & disseminating independent research, the PECC and APEC secretariats are co-located in Singapore & maintain close links, while PECC works closely with APEC leaders.

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APEC Post 2020

Brian Lynch*
Chair, New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Wellington Branch;
Chair, New Zealand Committee of PECC; 
Former alternate New Zealand member of the APEC Business Council.

 

The swirls and eddies currently sweeping across the Asia–Pacific region's geopolitical and economic landscape do not offer a promising setting for the review of any regional agency, even one as long-established, and soon to enter its fourth decade, as the institution known as 'Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation'. APEC has recently been described as the 'premier economic forum'1 for promoting regional growth and integration and 'a global leader in addressing pressing problems'. The 21 APEC member economies, including New Zealand, are home to 40 per cent of the world's population and account for around 60 per cent of global production.

Seemingly undeterred by the regional volatility, APEC leaders have launched a major project to chart APEC's forward path and identify its place in regional economic architecture beyond 2020. The 30th anniversary will be a significant one for APEC; 2020 will be notable, too, because it was the target date which APEC set, in 1994 in the 'Bogor Goals', for full realisation throughout the region of the vision of 'free and open trade and investment'.

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Global Value Chains for an Asian Century

John West
Adjunct Professor
Sophia University, Tokyo

In my recent book on the Asian Century, I argue that Asia is sitting on a knife edge. The potential of the region to generate good and happy lives for its citizens is enormous. But the requirements of success and the risks of failure are equally enormous.

Asia's stunted economic and social development

It is true of course that most Asian economies have achieved stunning development over the past decades. But despite the region's rapid rise, Asia is suffering from stunted economic development. No major Asian economy has caught up with global leaders like the US and Germany in terms of GDP per capita and living standards, and there is little likelihood of such catch-up occurring over the foreseeable future.

It is also true that China, India and Indonesia are becoming major economic and political powers. But their huge economic weight is due to their large populations, more than their levels of economic, business and technological sophistication which remain modest overall.

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Canada's "Progressive" Trade Agenda: Let's be careful how far we push it

Hugh Stephens
Distinguished Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
Vice-Chair of the Canadian National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation (CANCPEC)

 

Back in October of 2016 when the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, (CETA) was on the cusp of closure, the negotiations hit a roadblock when the Belgian region of Wallonia blocked the necessary consensus for the EU to conclude with Canada. Chrystia Freeland, who was then the minister of international trade, walked out of the negotiations in Brussels and packed her bags to return to Canada. She lamented that “… it is now evident to me, evident to Canada, that the European Union is incapable of reaching an agreement – even with a country with European values such as Canada, even with a country as nice and as patient as Canada.” A core element of her argument was that Canada and Europe shared common values, and therefore the path to an agreement should have been open. As we know, a compromise satisfied Wallonia’s concerns, mainly regarding the so-called investor-state dispute settlement process which allows foreign invested companies to sue governments for alleged discriminatory practices that negatively impact their investments. Canada and the EU went on to sign the agreement, most of whose provisions came into effect on Sept. 21, 2017. The government of Canada has cranked up its communications machine and is touting CETA as “a progressive trade agreement for a strong middle class”.

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