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Ratifying and Implementing Trade and Investment Treaties in Canada

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Ratifying and Implementing Trade and Investment Treaties in Canada
Source: Parliamentary Library of Canada

Under Canada’s constitutional system, the conduct of foreign affairs is a royal prerogative power of the federal Crown.

Consequently, the Executive Branch has the exclusive power to negotiate and conclude international treaties. Parliament has the exclusive power to enact legislation to implement those treaties.

As Canada continues to enter into such treaties, a number of important questions arise:

  • What is the interaction between Canadian and international law in the treaty-making and implementation processes, particularly in relation to trade and investment?
  • What measures must the Executive and Legislative branches take so that these treaties can come into force?
  • What formal role do the provinces and territories play in the negotiation, ratification and implementation of trade and investment treaties?
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Ethical pharmaceutical promotion and communications worldwide: codes and regulations

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Ethical pharmaceutical promotion and communications worldwide: codes and regulations
Source: Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine

The international pharmaceutical industry has made significant efforts towards ensuring compliant and ethical communication and interaction with physicians and patients. This article presents the current status of the worldwide governance of communication practices by pharmaceutical companies, concentrating on prescription-only medicines. It analyzes legislative, regulatory, and code-based compliance control mechanisms and highlights significant developments, including the 2006 and 2012 revisions of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) Code of Practice.

Developments in international controls, largely built upon long-established rules relating to the quality of advertising material, have contributed to clarifying the scope of acceptable company interactions with healthcare professionals. This article aims to provide policy makers, particularly in developing countries, with an overview of the evolution of mechanisms governing the communication practices, such as the distribution of promotional or scientific material and interactions with healthcare stakeholders, relating to prescription-only medicines.

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.
Source: Brookings Institution

The Arctic is changing and increasingly drawing the world’s interest, with the potential for vast reserves of offshore oil and gas constituting arguably the most attractive, yet challenging prospect in the region.

As the U.S. prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this policy brief is designed to inform the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government of the current state of oil and gas governance in the Arctic, and to address the following questions:

  • How can the U.S. elevate the Arctic region as a priority national interest?
  • How can the U.S. lead in strengthening offshore oil and gas governance in the Arctic?

Tech Trade in the States: A State by State Overview of International Trade in Tech Goods

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Tech Trade in the States: A State by State Overview of International Trade in Tech Goods (PDF)
Source: Tech America Foundation

TechAmerica Foundation proudly presents our 2014 edition of Tech Trade in the States: A State-by-State Overview of International Trade of Tech Goods. It provides 2012 data on tech trade at the national level and export data for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The report also provides an estimate as to the number of jobs that are supported by export activities.

2013 Open Doors Report

April 14, 2014 Comments off

2013 Open Doors Report
Source: Institute of International Education
From press release:

The 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released today, finds the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by seven percent to a record high of 819,644 students in the 2012/13 academic year, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by three percent to an all-time high of more than 283,000.

In 2012/13, 55,000 more international students enrolled in U.S. higher education compared to 2011/12, with most of the growth driven by China and Saudi Arabia. This marks the seventh consecutive year that Open Doors reported expansion in the total number of international students in U.S. higher education. There are now 40 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than a decade ago, and the rate of increase has risen steadily for the past three years. International students make up slightly under four percent of total student enrollment at the graduate and undergraduate level combined. International students’ spending in all 50 states contributed approximately $24 billion to the U.S. economy.

The number of U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit increased by three percent to 283,332 students in 2011/12, a higher rate of growth than the one percent increase the previous year. More U.S. students went to Latin America and China, and there was a rebound in those going to Japan as programs reopened in Fall 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. Study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades, from approximately 71,000 students in 1991/92 to the record number in 2011/12. Despite these increases, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years.

New From the GAO

April 11, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Ballistic Missile Defense: Actions Needed to Address Implementation Issues and Estimate Long-Term Costs for European Capabilities. GAO-14-314, April 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-314
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662493.pdf

AON 2014 Political Risk Map

April 11, 2014 Comments off

AON 2014 Political Risk Map
Source: AON

Political strains and focus on geopolitical issues have exacerbated an already weak operating environment for business and exchange transfer risks have increased following the risk of new capital controls. Russia’s economy continues to be dominated by the government, so economic policy deadlock has brought growth to a standstill and with it an increase in the risk of political violence.”

UK — Policy Paper: International classified information

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Policy Paper: International classified information
Source: Cabinet Office

This document sets out:

  • how the UK protects international classified information provided to government
  • how the government can exchange UK classified information with international partners
  • the various roles and responsibilities of UK government departments, agencies and contractors

Preventing a Nuclear-Armed Iran: Requirements for a Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Preventing a Nuclear-Armed Iran: Requirements for a Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement
Source: Brookings Institution

After a dozen-year standoff between Iran and the international community over the Iranian nuclear program, negotiations are underway between representatives of Iran, on the one hand, and the P5+1 countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China) and the European Union, on the other, on a comprehensive agreement aimed at ensuring that an Iranian nuclear program declared to be devoted to peaceful purposes will not be turned into a program for producing nuclear weapons.

However, key differences exist on the requirements of an acceptable deal, not just among negotiators at the table but also among key players outside the negotiations. Israeli officials and a number of members of Congress are demanding the elimination of key elements of Iran’s nuclear program, and the Obama administration and its supporters counter that several of those demands are neither achievable nor necessary for a sound agreement.

CRS — Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On May 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released a national strategy document for the Arctic region. On January 30, 2014, the Obama Administration released an implementation plan for this strategy.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks

April 8, 2014 Comments off

China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks (PDF)
Source: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

The U.S. trade deficit with China continues to grow but at a slower rate. A key reason for this is the boom in U.S. automotive and aerospace shipments to China. As China becomes more affluent and urbanized, ordinary Chinese are driving more cars and traveling more by frequently by air. China’s future demand, however, could be affected by pollution, traffic bottlenecks, and other factors. U.S. companies must also contend with China’s industrial policy, which tilts the playing field toward domestic industry. In the long run, technology transfer and off-shoring could erode U.S. competitiveness and take business away from U.S. plants.

CRS — Foreign Assistance to North Korea

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Foreign Assistance to North Korea (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Between 1995 and 2008, the United States provided North Korea with over $1.3 billion in assistance: slightly more than 50% for food aid and about 40% for energy assistance. Since early 2009, the United States has provided virtually no aid to North Korea, though episodically there have been discussions about resuming large-scale food aid. Additionally, the Obama Administration officials have said that they would be willing to consider other types of aid if North Korea takes steps indicating that it will dismantle its nuclear program, a prospect that most analysts view as increasingly remote. As of March 2014, barring an unexpected breakthrough, there appears little likelihood the Obama Administration will provide large-scale assistance of any type to North Korea in the near future. Members of Congress have a number of tools they could use to influence the development and implementation of aid programs with North Korea.

CRS — Overview of Constitutional Challenges to NSA Collection Activities and Recent Developments

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Overview of Constitutional Challenges to NSA Collection Activities and Recent Developments (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Beginning in the summer of 2013, media reports of foreign intelligence activities conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) have been widely published. The reports have focused on two main NSA collection activities approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. The first is the bulk collection of telephony metadata for domestic and international telephone calls. The second involves the interception of Internet-based communications and is targeted at foreigners who are not within the United States, but may also inadvertently acquire the communications of U.S. persons. As public awareness of these programs grew, questions about the constitutionality of these programs were increasingly raised by Members of Congress and others. This report provides a brief overview of these two programs and the various constitutional challenges that have arisen in judicial forums with respect to each.

The Trade Deficit: The Biggest Obstacle to Full Employment

April 7, 2014 Comments off

The Trade Deficit: The Biggest Obstacle to Full Employment
Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research

Dean Baker argues that taking aim at the persistent trade deficit, through which the United States exports labor demand, would help a great deal in moving the job market toward full employment. Moreover, he argues that trade is a “policy variable,” amenable to interventions that push back against competitors who place a fat thumb on the exchange-rate scale to keep their imports cheap and our exports expensive.

Baker notes various ideas that could counter currency management. First, the US could pass legislation that gave the government the right to treat currency management as a violation of international trading rules, leading to offsetting tariffs. Second, we could also tax foreign holdings of United States Treasuries, making the usual tactic of currency managers more expensive. Third, we could institute reciprocity into the process of currency management: If a country wants to buy our Treasuries, we must be able to buy theirs.

CRS — Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit (updated)

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The U.S. merchandise trade deficit is a part of the overall U.S. balance of payments, a summary statement of all economic transactions between the residents of the United States and the rest of the world, during a given period of time. Some Members of Congress and other observers have grown concerned over the magnitude of the U.S. merchandise trade deficit and the associated increase in U.S. dollar-denominated assets owned by foreigners. International trade recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the subsequent slowdown in global economic activity that reduced global trade flows and, consequently, reduced the size of the U.S. trade deficit. Now, however, U.S. exporters face new challenges with economies in Europe and Asia confronting increased risks of a second phase of slow growth. This report provides an overview of the U.S. balance of payments, an explanation of the broader role of capital flows in the U.S. economy, an explanation of how the country finances its trade deficit or a trade surplus, and the implications for Congress and the country of the large inflows of capital from abroad.

CRS — Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (updated)

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. This report provides background information on Turkey and discusses possible policy options for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration. U.S. relations with Turkey—a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally—have evolved over time. Turkey’s economic dynamism and geopolitical importance have increased its influence regionally and globally. Although Turkey still depends on the United States and other NATO allies for political and strategic support, its increased economic and military self-reliance since the Cold War allows Turkey relatively greater opportunity for an assertive role in foreign policy. Greater Turkish independence of action and continuing political transformation appear to have been mutually reinforcing—with both led for more than a decade by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, it remains unclear how Turkey might reconcile majoritarian views favoring Turkish nationalism and Sunni Muslim values with secular governance and protection of individual freedoms and minority rights, including with regard to Turkey’s Kurdish citizens.

USITC — Trade Barriers that U.S. SMEs Perceive as Affecting Exports to the EU

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Trade Barriers that U.S. SMEs Perceive as Affecting Exports to the EU
Source: U.S. International Trade Commission

Standards and a variety of other trade barriers in the European Union disproportionately affect the exports of U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises more than those of large firms, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in its new publication Trade Barriers that U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive as Affecting Exports to the European Union.

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, completed the report for the U.S. Trade Representative.

As requested, the report catalogs trade-related barriers that U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and related industry associations reported as limiting their exports to the European Union (EU). Highlights of the report follow.

SMEs explained that many EU trade barriers, particularly those related to standards and regulations, affect their exports. They stated that complying with EU regulations and procedures are costly for all firms, but potentially prohibit SMEs from exporting to the EU because such costs are often the same regardless of a firm’s size or export revenue. Other difficulties that were cited include protection of trade secrets, high patenting costs, and logistics challenges, especially customs requirements, inconsistent Harmonized System classifications, and the EU’s value-added tax system.

  • SMEs and related industry associations described many industry-specific barriers. For example:
  • SMEs in the chemical industry frequently cited the high cost of complying with the EU chemical regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals or REACH).
  • SMEs exporting cosmetics expressed difficulties meeting the EU’s cosmetics directive.
  • SME clothing exporters said that they were disproportionately affected by the recent EU retaliatory additional duties on U.S. exports of women’s denim jeans.
  • SMEs producing machinery, electronic, transportation, and other goods cited a lack of harmonized international standards and mutual recognition for conformity assessment, as well as problems complying with technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures.

A number of barriers reportedly constrain U.S. exports of agricultural products. SMEs and industry groups in the corn, dried fruit, animal feed, cheese, and wheat industries cited high tariffs, stringent and inconsistent EU rules and testing mandates, lack of a science-based regulatory focus (especially for genetically modified traits), lack of harmonization between U.S. and EU standards, and the EU’s protected designations of origin (PDOs). The U.S. poultry and lamb industries reported that they are effectively banned from exporting to the EU.
U.S. services SMEs in the healthcare, engineering, testing, and audiovisual industries highlighted a lack of mutual recognition of licensing, credentials, and standards, as well as issues with broadcasting and film quotas, language dubbing requirements, government subsidies, and safeguarding intellectual property.
In certain industries, SMEs or industry associations also provided suggestions for increasing U.S. SME transatlantic trade with the EU and, at times, stories of successfully exporting to the EU.

FY 2014-2017 Department of State and USAID Strategic Plan

April 4, 2014 Comments off

FY 2014-2017 Department of State and USAID Strategic Plan
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2014 to 2017 sets forth the Secretary of State’s direction and priorities for both organizations. The Strategic Plan presents how the Department and USAID will implement U.S. foreign policy and development assistance.

New From the GAO

April 3, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. International Financial Reforms: U.S. and Other Jurisdictions’ Efforts to Develop and Implement Reforms. GAO-14-261, April 3.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-261
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662259.pdf

2. Defense Infrastructure: Army Has a Process to Manage Litigation Costs for the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. GAO-14-327, April 3.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-327
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662264.pdf

3. 2020 Census: Prioritized Information Technology Research and Testing Is Needed for Census Design Decisions. GAO-14-389, April 3.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-389
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662279.pdf

Department of State by State

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Department of State by State
Source: U.S. Department of State

For about a 1% investment of the Federal budget, the State Department yields a large return for the American people by protecting U.S. national security, promoting our economic interests, providing services, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world. The map below represents just some of the direct effects State Department programs have in American communities.

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