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Open Data in the G8

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Open Data in the G8
Source: Center for Data Innovation

In 2013, the leaders of the G8 signed an agreement committing to advance open data in their respective countries. This report assesses the current state of open data efforts in these countries and finds substantial variation in their progress. Moving forward, countries have many opportunities to enhance their open data capabilities, such as by increasing international collaboration, better educating policymakers about the benefits of open data, and working closely with civil society on open data initiatives.

Protection in Crisis: Forced Migration and Protection in a Global Era

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Protection in Crisis: Forced Migration and Protection in a Global Era
Source: Migration Policy Institute

More than 51 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced today as refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced persons. According to the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to be recognized legally as a refugee, an individual must be fleeing persecution on the basis of religion, race, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group, and must be outside the country of nationality. However, the contemporary drivers of displacement are complex and multilayered, making protection based on a strict definition of persecution increasingly problematic and challenging to implement.

Many forced migrants now fall outside the recognized refugee and asylum apparatus. Much displacement today is driven by a combination of intrastate conflict, poor governance and political instability, environmental change, and resource scarcity. These conditions, while falling outside traditionally defined persecution, leave individuals highly vulnerable to danger and uncertain of the future, compelling them to leave their homes in search of greater security. In addition, the blurring of lines between voluntary and forced migration, as seen in mixed migration flows, together with the expansion of irregular migration, further complicates today’s global displacement picture.

This report details the increasing mismatch between the legal and normative frameworks that define the existing protection regime and the contemporary patterns of forced displacement. It analyzes contemporary drivers and emerging trends of population displacement, noting that the majority of forcibly displaced people—some 33.3 million—remain within their own countries, and that more than 50 percent of the displaced live in urban areas. The author then outlines and assesses key areas where the international protection system is under the most pressure, and finally examines the key implications of these trends for policymakers and the international community, outlining some possible policy directions for reform.

Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: A Global Epidemic

March 20, 2015 Comments off

Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: A Global Epidemic
Source: Tobacco Control

The story has been told many times: waterpipe, a centuries-old tobacco use method in which smoke is passed through water before being inhaled, probably originated on the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia. Over the years, it spread and became popular in the Middle East. During most of the 20th century, it seemed that waterpipe’s heyday had passed, in favour of easy-to-use types of tobacco such as cigarettes. Its use was not even registered in the expanding body of global tobacco surveillance systems. The medical and public health literatures made little note of it: Rakower and Fatal’s examination of lung cancer mortality rates by ethnic groups in Jerusalem that differed in their use of waterpipe, appearing in the British Journal of Cancer, was the first notice of waterpipe in Medline in 1962, and almost 20 years were to pass before any additional studies were to appear. But things suddenly changed in the 1990s: upticks in use were observed in the Middle East, especially among teenagers and young adults. This was mostly fuelled by the invention of flavoured and easier-to-use tobacco, a growing café culture in the Middle East, and expanding internet availability and globalisation. As a result, waterpipe use has snowballed globally at the start of the 21st century.

Lessons the United States Can Learn From Other Countries’ Territorial Systems for Taxing Income of Multinational Corporations

March 16, 2015 Comments off

Lessons the United States Can Learn From Other Countries’ Territorial Systems for Taxing Income of Multinational Corporations
Source: Urban Institute

The United States has a worldwide system that taxes the dividends its resident multinational corporations receive from their foreign affiliates, while most other countries have territorial systems that exempt these dividends. This report examines the experience of four countries – two with long-standing territorial systems and two that have recently eliminated taxation of repatriated dividends. We find that the reasons for maintaining or introducing dividend exemption systems varied greatly among them and do not necessarily apply to the United States. Moreover, classification of tax systems as worldwide or territorial does not adequately capture differences in how countries tax foreign-source income.

Buying and Selling: Cross-border mergers and acquisitions and the US corporate income tax

March 16, 2015 Comments off

Buying and Selling: Cross-border mergers and acquisitions and the US corporate income tax (PDF)
Source: Business Roundtable

The United States has the highest statutory corporate income tax rate among developed nations and is the only developed country with both a high statutory corporate income tax rate and a worldwide system of taxation. These features of the US corporate income tax have disadvantaged US businesses in the global market for cross-border M&A.

Most developed countries impose little or no additional tax on the active foreign income of multinational companies. Today the United States is the only developed country with a worldwide system and a corporate income tax rate above 30%. Consequently, foreign companies can afford to bid more for acquisitions in the United States and abroad as compared to US companies.

This report analyzes the cross-border M&A market and how the US corporate income tax has disadvantaged US companies in this market. Differences in statutory corporate income tax rates and the over 25,000 cross-border M&A transactions among the 34 OECD countries are examined in a statistical model over the 2004-2013 period. Transactions with both US and nonUS targets and US or non-US acquirers are included.

The EY report finds that a US corporate income tax rate of 25% would have significantly reduced the disadvantages of US companies and would likely have resulted in the United States being a net acquirer in the cross-border M&A market.

EU — Massive changes in the criminal landscape

March 16, 2015 Comments off

Massive changes in the criminal landscape
Source: Europol (European Law Enforcement Agency)

Key drivers for future change

  • Innovation in transportation and logistics will enable organised crime groups to increasingly commit crime anonymously over the Internet, anywhere and anytime, without being physically present.
  • Nanotechnology and robotics will open up new markets for organised crime and deliver new tools for sophisticated criminal schemes.
  • The increasing exploitation of Big Data and personal data will enable criminal groups to carry out complex and sophisticated identity frauds on previously unprecedented levels.
  • E-waste is emerging as a key illicit commodity for organised crime groups operating in Europe.
  • Economic disparity across Europe is making organised crime more socially acceptable as organised crime groups will increasingly infiltrate economically weakened communities, portraying themselves as providers of work and services.
  • Organised crime groups will increasingly attempt to infiltrate industries that depend on natural resources, to act as brokers or agents in the trade.
  • Virtual currencies increasingly enable individuals to act as freelance criminal entrepreneurs operating on a crime-as-a-service business model without the need for a sophisticated criminal infrastructure to receive and launder money.
  • Organised criminal groups will increasingly target, but also provide illicit services and goods to, a growing population of elderly people exploiting new markets and opportunities.

Cross-Border Data Flows Enable Growth in All Industries

March 14, 2015 Comments off

Cross-Border Data Flows Enable Growth in All Industries
Source: Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

The importance of cross-border data flows is not confined to high-tech industries. Increasingly, firms in a wide array of industries, from mining and retail to finance and manufacturing, have operations, suppliers, or customers in more than one country and rely on the data that come from these other countries. The benefits of sharing data across borders are realized by consumers in a myriad of ways: from cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly products to personalized services. Unfortunately, many countries have begun creating policies that impede cross-border data flows. Such policies are likely to backfire and hurt these nations’ own domestic firms.

This report offers several examples of how cross-border data flows are vital to not only technical industries, but traditional industries as well. It argues that countries should avoid protectionist rules that limit data exchange across borders, such as data residency requirements that confine data to a nation’s borders. This report explains why protectionist data policies—whether they are intended to enhance security or privacy, or foster economic activity—tend to backfire in the long run.

Finally, this report recommends six ways to roll back anti-competitive trade practices for data:

  1. International organizations should develop mechanisms to track data-related localized barriers to trade, making it easier to quantify the economic impact of those measures.
  2. International organizations, such as the World Bank, should push pack against countries that create barriers to cross-border data flows.
  3. The United States could negotiate its trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, to eliminate these barriers.
  4. The United States should use international forums, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), to propose a treaty to reduce member states’ incentives to pursue data-related localized barriers to trade. This agreement could be called a “Data Services Agreement”.
  5. All future U.S. trade promotion authority legislation that the U.S. Congress produces should push back on data protectionism by directing U.S. negotiators to do so.
  6. The United States should engage its trading partners in a “Geneva Convention on the Status of Data” to resolve international questions of jurisdiction and transparency regarding the exchange of data.
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