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EU — Customs action to tackle goods infringing Intellectual Property Rights – Frequently Asked Questions

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Customs action to tackle goods infringing Intellectual Property Rights – Frequently Asked Questions
Source: European Commission

As the EU’s 2020 Strategy underlines, the protection of IPRs is key to the EU economy. By giving people the incentive to be creative and innovative, IPRs foster economic growth, creating and protecting millions of jobs.

Right-holders can ask for customs action to protect their rights at the border. When they have a suspicion of an infringement, customs can detain the goods or suspend their release and inform the right-holder accordingly. The right-holder is given the opportunity to initiate court proceedings to determine the infringement, while the goods remain under customs control.

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Beyond Sectarianism: The New Middle East Cold War

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Beyond Sectarianism: The New Middle East Cold War
Source: Brookings Institution

From Syria and Iraq to Libya and Yemen, the Middle East is once again rife with conflict. Much of the fighting is along sectarian lines, but can it really be explained simply as a “Sunni versus Shia” battle? What explains this upsurge in violence across the region? And what role can or should the United States play?

In a new Analysis Paper, F. Gregory Gause, III frames Middle East politics in terms of a new, regional cold war in which Iran and Saudi Arabia compete for power and influence. Rather than stemming from sectarian rivalry, this new Middle East cold war results from the weakening of Arab states and the creation of domestic political vacuums into which local actors invite external support.

OECD releases full version of global standard for automatic exchange of information

July 24, 2014 Comments off

OECD releases full version of global standard for automatic exchange of information
Source: OECD

Taking an important step towards greater transparency and putting an end to banking secrecy in tax matters, the OECD today released the full version of a new global standard for the exchange of information between jurisdictions.

The Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters calls on governments to obtain detailed account information from their financial institutions and exchange that information automatically with other jurisdictions on an annual basis. The Standard, developed at the OECD under a mandate from the G20, endorsed by G20 Finance Ministers in February 2014, and approved by the OECD Council.

The Standard provides for annual automatic exchange between governments of financial account information, including balances, interest, dividends, and sales proceeds from financial assets, reported to governments by financial institutions and covering accounts held by individuals and entities, including trusts and foundations. The new consolidated version includes commentary and guidance for implementation by governments and financial institutions, detailed model agreements, as well as standards for harmonised technical and information technology solutions, notably a standard format and requirements for secure transmission of data.

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released its annual Enterprising States study, offering an in-depth look at the free enterprise policies being implemented to promote economic growth at the state and local levels.

Now in its fifth edition, the Enterprising States study measures state performance overall and across five policy areas important for job growth and economic prosperity. Those five areas include:

  • Talent Pipeline
  • Exports and International Trade
  • Technology and Entrepreneurship
  • Business Climate
  • Infrastructure

The 2014 report relates these policies and practices to the need for collaboration between education, workforce development, and economic development to positively combat the nation’s growing skills gap.

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The goal behind this report is not to present the authors’ view of the balance, but rather to provide the basis for an unclassified dialogue on the military developments in China, including the size and structure of the country’s current and planned military forces. It draws on official US, Chinese, and other Asian official reporting, as well as the work of other scholars and the data bases developed by the IISS and Jane’s in an effort to compare different views of Chinese strategy and military developments, and is meant to provide US, Chinese, and other analysts with a better basis for understanding Western estimates of the changes in Chinese force strength and force quality.

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) face a critical need to improve their understanding of how each is developing its military power and how to avoid forms of military competition that could lead to rising tension or conflict between the two states. This report focuses on China’s military developments and modernization and how they are perceived in the UIS, the West, and Asia. It utilizes the unclassified data available in the West on the trends in Chinese military forces. It relies heavily on the data in the US Department of Defense (DoD) Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, particularly the 2013 and 2014 editions.

It relies heavily on the annual military balances compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), though a range of sources are included. It should be noted that this report focuses on Chinese forces, and therefore presents only one side of the US and Chinese balance and the security situation in Asia. It also draws upon a Burke Chair report entitled The Evolving Military Balance in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, looking at the bilateral US-Chinese balance in more detail.

Accordingly, it focuses on the actual changes taking place in Chinese forces, and it provides a detailed analysis detailed analysis of the trends in Chinese military forces since 1985, examining how the often-conflicting trends in outside sources interact with reporting on Chinese military spending and strategy. It also shows that important changes are taking place in US strategy and that these changes must be considered when evaluating Chinese actions.

Defense offsets: From ‘contractual burden’ to competitive weapon

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Defense offsets: From ‘contractual burden’ to competitive weapon
Source: McKinsey & Company

Western defense companies now need to look outside their core markets for growth. In the aftermath of the global economic crisis and over a decade of engagement in southwest Asia, many Western countries have scaled back their defense budgets, favoring instead more targeted spending and austerity plans. In Europe, ministries of defense are downsizing their military operations and procurement programs, and in the United States, the effects of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration will restrict defense spending through 2021 absent congressional action. By contrast, many countries representing addressable markets in Asia, the Middle East, and South America are investing in defense-modernization programs and over the past few years have increased their defense spending at compound annual growth rates of between 5 and 10 percent.

New From the GAO

July 21, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Consumer Finance: Credit Cards Designed for Medical Services Not Covered by Insurance. GAO-14-570, June 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-570
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664256.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664738

2. State Department: Implementation of Grants Policies Needs Better Oversight. GAO-14-635, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-635
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664905.pdf

3. African Growth and Opportunity Act: Observations on Competitiveness and Diversification of U.S. Imports from Beneficiary Countries. GAO-14-722R, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-722R

CRS — U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians

July 18, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed approximately $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid. Successive Administrations have requested aid for the Palestinians in apparent support of at least three major U.S. policy priorities of interest to Congress:

• Preventing terrorism against Israel from Hamas and other militant organizations.
• Fostering stability, prosperity, and self-governance in the West Bank that inclines Palestinians toward peaceful coexistence with Israel and a “two-state solution.”
• Meeting humanitarian needs.

Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown
Source: RAND Corporation

This study explores Iranian influence in Afghanistan and the implications for the United States after the departure of most American forces from Afghanistan. Iran has substantial economic, political, cultural, and religious leverage in Afghanistan. Kabul faces an obdurate insurgency that is likely to exploit the U.S. and international drawdown. The Afghan government will also face many economic difficulties in future years, and Afghanistan is highly dependent on international economic aid. Additionally, the biggest problem facing Afghanistan may be political corruption. Iranian influence in Afghanistan following the drawdown of international forces need not necessarily be a cause of concern for the United States though. Although Tehran will use its cultural, political, and economic sway in an attempt to shape a post-2016 Afghanistan, Iran and the United States share core interests there: to prevent the country from again becoming dominated by the Taliban and a safe haven for al Qaeda.

This study examines Iran’s historic interests in Afghanistan and its current policies in that country, and explores the potential implications for U.S. policy. The research is based on field interviews in Afghanistan, the use of primary sources in Dari and Persian, and scholarly research in English.

Brazil’s Economic Identity

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Brazil’s Economic Identity
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

As the sixth BRICS summit comes to a close on July 16, this paper brings clarity to Brazil’s role in the global economy—its identity, its self-perception, and what can be expected of it. Though Brazil is no longer an “optional market” for the world’s major players, Brazil’s economic identity is ill-understood—and leans heavily on the country’s development agenda. For Brazil, this agenda informs its global strategy, demanding cautious involvement in global markets and new strategic partnerships in technology and manufacturing.

Global Cybercrime: The Interplay of Politics and Law

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Global Cybercrime: The Interplay of Politics and Law
Source: Centre for International Governance Innovation

Examining global cybercrime as solely a legal issue misses an important facet of the problem. Understanding the applicable legal rules, both domestically and internationally, is important. However, major state actors are using concerted efforts to engage in nefarious cyber activities with the intention of advancing their economic and geostrategic interests. This paper explores the recent unsealing of a 31-count indictment against five Chinese government officials and a significant cyber breach, perpetrated by Chinese actors against Western oil, energy and petrochemical companies. The paper concludes by noting that increased cooperation among governments is necessary, but unlikely to occur as long as the discourse surrounding cybercrime remains so heavily politicized and securitized. If governments coalesced around the notion of trying to prevent the long-term degradation of trust in the online economy, they may profitably advance the dialogue away from mutual suspicion and toward mutual cooperation.

Global Opposition to U.S. Surveillance and Drones, but Limited Harm to America’s Image

July 16, 2014 Comments off

Global Opposition to U.S. Surveillance and Drones, but Limited Harm to America’s Image
Source: Pew Research Global Attitudes Project

Revelations about the scope of American electronic surveillance efforts have generated headlines around the world over the past year. And a new Pew Research Center survey finds widespread global opposition to U.S. eavesdropping and a decline in the view that the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its people. But in most countries there is little evidence this opposition has severely harmed America’s overall image.

CRS — The United Kingdom and U.S.-UK Relations (updated)

July 16, 2014 Comments off

The United Kingdom and U.S.-UK Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

Many U.S. officials and Members of Congress view the United Kingdom (UK) as the United States’ closest and most reliable ally. This perception stems from a combination of factors, including a sense of shared history, values, and culture, as well as extensive and long-established cooperation on a wide range of foreign policy and security issues. In the minds of many Americans, the UK’s strong role in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade reinforced an impression of closeness and solidarity.

The Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA): Third Edition

July 14, 2014 Comments off

The Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA): Third Edition
Source: Brookings Institution

This is the third edition of our effort to measure the quality of official development assistance (QuODA). Since the first edition, much has changed in the world of aid. Most significantly, the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness was replaced in 2012 with a new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. This multi-stakeholder group is charged with building a better understanding of how all development partners—official, business and in civil society—can work together to improve impact. The Global Partnership has a stronger representation of emerging economies, civil society and of the business sector, and is starting to debate how to leverage and coordinate the growing diversity of financial flows, knowledge and practical experiences to strengthen development impact.

The Global Partnership has already discussed and determined a new set of indicators of aid effectiveness that it will monitor, and has conducted a base-line survey in 2012 from which we draw. But in this paper, we continue to use our previous methodology focused on indicators that were agreed upon as part of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action in order to monitor the progress donors have made towards their initial commitments.

This third edition of QuODA focuses on changes over time in donor performance. In the first edition of QuODA, we used 2008 data for aid flows and Paris Monitoring Survey indicators for donor compliance with commitments. In this edition, we use 2012 data for aid, 2013 data from the new Global Partnership Monitoring Framework, and 2011 data for Paris indicators that are no longer measured in the new monitoring framework. The mix of years is not ideal, but for all indicators it provides us an opportunity to see whether there has been progress or not over a span of at least 3 to 4 years.

Another major change in the aid environment is the larger number of development partners that now report on their aid activities to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Fourteen countries provide substantial information, and although the largest emerging economies like China and India are not included, there is the beginning of a more comprehensive data base on aid that permits examination of whether these donors behave differently from DAC donors in important ways. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation now also reports on its activities, so it can be analyzed in the same framework. Of course, the non-DAC donors and the Gates Foundation are not systematically included in the Paris Monitoring Survey or the Global Partnership Monitoring Framework, so the range of indicators across which they can be compared to DAC donors is more limited than the full QuODA framework. Nevertheless, we believe it is useful to start to ask questions about the revealed characteristics of non-DAC development partners, official and philanthropic. It is our hope that data on additional donors will become more comprehensive over time.

Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview, 2014

July 14, 2014 Comments off

Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview, 2014
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Provides a statistical overview of culture in Australia. Contains information on a range of topics including employment in culture, time spent on cultural activities, attendances at cultural venues and events, expenditure on culture, and imports and exports of cultural goods and services. Also provides profiles of the cultural sectors, grouped according to the Australian Culture and Leisure Industry Classification.

Tipping the Scale: An Analysis of Global Swing States in the Internet Governance Debate

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Tipping the Scale: An Analysis of Global Swing States in the Internet Governance Debate
Source: Centre for International Governance Innovation

In December 2012, numerous news outlets reported on the debate over Internet governance that took place at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. It was the first time in nearly a decade that the topic attracted major international media attention. A key aspect of the post-WCIT discussion has centred on the role of “swing states” in this global debate. So far, most of this work has been based on predefined groups of countries or focused on countries based on anecdotal evidence of a vibrant tech community or existing relationships. The study discussed in this paper applied a more systematic approach. The research revealed some interesting patterns among certain groups of states. A core group of potential swing states — a total of 30 countries — are identified based on their voting behaviour at the WCIT, their various memberships and a range of relevant indicators. This list offers a road map for future in-depth studies. Ideally, it will also serve as a resource for practitioners and academics alike for comparison with current efforts and for future strategic planning that focuses on engaging other actors internationally.

Repatriation Tax Holiday Would Lose Revenue And Is a Proven Policy Failure

July 9, 2014 Comments off

Repatriation Tax Holiday Would Lose Revenue And Is a Proven Policy Failure
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Some policymakers are promoting another “repatriation tax holiday” to encourage multinational corporations to bring overseas profits back to the United States by offering them a temporary, very low tax rate on those profits. In particular, some have described a repatriation holiday as a “win-win” that would boost corporate investment and create jobs in the United States and also generate a tax windfall to help finance needed infrastructure spending. In reality, a repatriation tax holiday would accomplish neither goal and instead would worsen the nation’s fiscal and economic problems over time.

Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security

July 9, 2014 Comments off

Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security
Source: RAND Corporation

Armed drones are making the headlines, especially in their role in targeted killings. In this report, RAND researchers stepped back and asked whether these weapons are transformative. The answer is no, though they offer significant capabilities to their users, especially in counterterrorism operations as has been the case for the United States. Will they proliferate? Yes, but upon a closer look at the types of systems, only a few rich countries will be in a position to develop the higher technology and longer range systems. U.S. adversaries and others will likely find weapons such as aircraft and air defenses more cost and militarily effective. Their proliferation will not create the kinds of global dangers that call for new arms control efforts, but the risks to regional stability cannot be dismissed entirely, as is the case of any conventional weapon. How the United States will use these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.

The Effects of Phytosanitary Regulations on U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

July 9, 2014 Comments off

The Effects of Phytosanitary Regulations on U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Trade agreements have reduced tariff rates and worked to restrain the arbitrary use of nontariff measures, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures, since the 1980s. U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables have risen steadily during this period as more country-commodity combinations have been approved for importation to the United States.

CRS — Domestic Federal Law Enforcement Coordination: Through the Lens of the Southwest Border

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Domestic Federal Law Enforcement Coordination: Through the Lens of the Southwest Border (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Federally led law enforcement task forces and intelligence information sharing centers are ubiquitous in domestic policing. They are launched at the local, state, and national levels and respond to a variety of challenges such as violent crime, criminal gangs, terrorism, white-collar crime, public corruption, even intelligence sharing. This report focuses on those task forces and information sharing efforts that respond to federal counterdrug and counterterrorism priorities in the Southwest border region. More generally, the report also offers context for examining law enforcement coordination. It delineates how this coordination is vital to 21st century federal policing and traces some of the roots of recent cooperative police endeavors.

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