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CRS — The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (updated)

February 19, 2014 Comments off

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.

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OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013

January 13, 2014 Comments off

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Fisheries (capture fisheries and aquaculture) supply the world each year with millions of tonnes of fish (including, notably, fish, molluscs and crustaceans). Fisheries as well as ancillary activities also provide livelihoods and income. The fishery sector contributes to development and growth in many countries, playing an important role for food security, poverty reduction, employment and trade.

This publication contains statistics on fisheries from 2005 to 2012. Data provided concern fishing fleet capacity, employment in fisheries, fish landings, aquaculture production, recreational fisheries, government financial transfers, and imports and exports of fish.

OECD countries covered

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

Non-member economies covered

Argentina, Chinese Taipei, Thailand

Connecting people for development: Why public access ICTs matter

July 17, 2013 Comments off

Connecting people for development: Why public access ICTs matter
Source: Technology and Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School

Libraries, telecenters, and cybercafés play a critical role in extending the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to a diverse range of people worldwide. However, their ability to contribute to development agendas has come into question in recent times. The Global Impact Study was designed to address this debate by generating evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access ICTs in eight countries: Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, the Philippines, and South Africa. This report summarizes the study’s key findings, situating public access in the context of national development, discussing some disputed issues, and providing recommendations for policymakers, public access practitioners and researchers. The results show that a central impact of public access is the promotion of digital inclusion through technology access, information access, and development of ICT skills. Both users and non-users report positive impacts in various social and economic areas of their lives.

CRS — The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Issues for Congress

April 1, 2013 Comments off

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Issues for Congress (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. On March 15, 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan would seek to participate in the TPP negotiations. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.

The 16th round of negotiations concluded in Singapore on March 14, 2013, and the 17th round is scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru in May 2013. The current goal is to reach an agreement in time for the October 2013 APEC summit in Indonesia. For this deadline to be achieved, outstanding negotiating positions may need to be tabled soon in order for political decisions to be made. The negotiating dynamic itself is complex: decisions on key market access issues such as dairy, sugar, and textiles and apparel may be dependent on the outcome of controversial rules negotiations such as intellectual property rights or state-owned enterprises.

Twenty-nine chapters in the agreement are under discussion. The United States is negotiating market access for goods, services, and agriculture with countries with which it does not currently have FTAs: Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Negotiations are also being conducted on disciplines to intellectual property rights, trade in services, government procurement, investment, rules of origin, competition, labor, and environmental standards and other issues. In many cases, the rules being negotiated are intended to be more rigorous than comparable rules found in the WTO. Some topics, such as state-owned enterprises, regulatory coherence, and supply chain competitiveness, break new ground in FTA negotiations. As the countries that make up the TPP negotiating partners include advanced industrialized, middle income, and developing economies, the TPP, if implemented, may involve substantial restructuring of the economies of some participants.

The TPP serves several strategic goals in U.S. trade policy. First, it is the leading trade policy initiative of the Obama Administration, and is a manifestation of the Administration’s “pivot” to Asia. If concluded, it may serve to shape the economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region by harmonizing existing agreements with U.S. FTA partners, attracting new participants, and establishing regional rules on new policy issues facing the global economy—possibly providing impetus to future multilateral liberalization under the WTO.

As the negotiations proceed, a number of issues important to Congress are emerging. One is whether the United States can balance its vision of creating a “comprehensive and high standard” agreement with a large and expanding group of countries, while not insisting on terms that other countries will reject. Another issue is how Congress will consider the TPP, if concluded. The present negotiations are not being conducted under the auspices of formal trade promotion authority (TPA)—the latest TPA expired on July 1, 2007—although the Administration informally

Uncovering the Hidden Poor: The Importance of Time Deficits

October 18, 2012 Comments off

Uncovering the Hidden Poor: The Importance of Time Deficits
Source: Levy Economics Institute at Bard College

Standard poverty measurements assume that all households and individuals have enough time to engage in the unpaid cooking, cleaning, and caregiving that are essential to attaining a bare-bones standard of living. But this assumption is false. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organization, Senior Scholars Rania Antonopoulos and Ajit Zacharias and Research Scholar Thomas Masterson have constructed an alternative measure of poverty that, when applied to the cases of Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, reveals significant blind spots in the official numbers.

Chile: A Growing Destination Country in Search of a Coherent Approach to Migration

July 10, 2012 Comments off

Chile: A Growing Destination Country in Search of a Coherent Approach to Migration
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Cornered in the southeast extreme of the Americas, Chile developed as a socially and culturally insular country unaccustomed to the presence of large numbers of foreigners. Its geographic isolation between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean set up early European immigrants as arbiters of who could arrive next, engendering early discriminatory migration policies. The desire by established immigrants to encourage other white Europeans to populate the country and “improve the race” was evident in policies that resulted in the influx of European immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although the overall number of immigrants during this early period was relatively small compared to other countries in the Southern Cone, their presence transformed the country technologically, economically, and culturally.

Chile is mostly known as an immigrant-sending country, as throughout much of its history, the foreign born have remained a tiny share (1 percent to 2 percent) of the total population. Between 750,000 and 1 million Chileans live abroad (about 6 percent of the country’s population), according to the latest governmental estimates in 2005.

Today, continuing economic growth and reconsolidated political stability have positioned Chile as an emerging country of destination. Over the past three decades, Chile has experienced a steady increase in its foreign-born population. But because of its isolation and history of emigration, Chile has few formally established migration policies, and the ones in force are outdated. With a large community abroad and the increase in intra- and extra-regional immigration during the past decade, the country has shown the need for a modernized and coherent migration policy. However, governmental efforts toward achieving comprehensive migration policy have been mostly piecemeal, making this goal elusive.

Women’s Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: A Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007

May 20, 2012 Comments off
Source:  PLoS ONE
Background
The aim of this study was to assess the main factors related to maternal mortality reduction in large time series available in Chile in context of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Methods
Time series of maternal mortality ratio (MMR) from official data (National Institute of Statistics, 1957–2007) along with parallel time series of education years, income per capita, fertility rate (TFR), birth order, clean water, sanitary sewer, and delivery by skilled attendants were analysed using autoregressive models (ARIMA). Historical changes on the mortality trend including the effect of different educational and maternal health policies implemented in 1965, and legislation that prohibited abortion in 1989 were assessed utilizing segmented regression techniques.
Results
During the 50-year study period, the MMR decreased from 293.7 to 18.2/100,000 live births, a decrease of 93.8%. Women’s education level modulated the effects of TFR, birth order, delivery by skilled attendants, clean water, and sanitary sewer access. In the fully adjusted model, for every additional year of maternal education there was a corresponding decrease in the MMR of 29.3/100,000 live births. A rapid phase of decline between 1965 and 1981 (−13.29/100,000 live births each year) and a slow phase between 1981 and 2007 (−1.59/100,000 live births each year) were identified. After abortion was prohibited, the MMR decreased from 41.3 to 12.7 per 100,000 live births (−69.2%). The slope of the MMR did not appear to be altered by the change in abortion law.
Conclusion
Increasing education level appears to favourably impact the downward trend in the MMR, modulating other key factors such as access and utilization of maternal health facilities, changes in women’s reproductive behaviour and improvements of the sanitary system. Consequently, different MDGs can act synergistically to improve maternal health. The reduction in the MMR is not related to the legal status of abortion.

Ecological Implications of Extreme Events: Footprints of the 2010 Earthquake along the Chilean Coast

May 14, 2012 Comments off
Source:  PLoS ONE

Deciphering ecological effects of major catastrophic events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, storms and fires, requires rapid interdisciplinary efforts often hampered by a lack of pre-event data. Using results of intertidal surveys conducted shortly before and immediately after Chile’s 2010 Mw 8.8 earthquake along the entire rupture zone (ca. 34–38°S), we provide the first quantification of earthquake and tsunami effects on sandy beach ecosystems. Our study incorporated anthropogenic coastal development as a key design factor. Ecological responses of beach ecosystems were strongly affected by the magnitude of land-level change. Subsidence along the northern rupture segment combined with tsunami-associated disturbance and drowned beaches. In contrast, along the co-seismically uplifted southern rupture, beaches widened and flattened increasing habitat availability. Post-event changes in abundance and distribution of mobile intertidal invertebrates were not uniform, varying with land-level change, tsunami height and coastal development. On beaches where subsidence occurred, intertidal zones and their associated species disappeared. On some beaches, uplift of rocky sub-tidal substrate eliminated low intertidal sand beach habitat for ecologically important species. On others, unexpected interactions of uplift with man-made coastal armouring included restoration of upper and mid-intertidal habitat seaward of armouring followed by rapid colonization of mobile crustaceans typical of these zones formerly excluded by constraints imposed by the armouring structures. Responses of coastal ecosystems to major earthquakes appear to vary strongly with land-level change, the mobility of the biota and shore type. Our results show that interactions of extreme events with human-altered shorelines can produce surprising ecological outcomes, and suggest these complex responses to landscape alteration can leave lasting footprints in coastal ecosystems.

CRS — Chile: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations

May 10, 2012 Comments off

Chile: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since its transition back to democracy in 1990, Chile has consistently maintained friendly relations with the United States. Serving as a reliable but independent ally, Chile has worked with the United States to advance democracy, human rights, and trade in the Western Hemisphere. Chile and the United States also maintain strong bilateral commercial ties. Total trade has grown 290% to $24.9 billion since the implementation of a free trade agreement in 2004, and the countries signed an income tax treaty designed to boost private sector investment in February 2010. Additional areas of cooperation between the United States and Chile include promoting clean energy development, supporting regional security and stability, and investigating dictatorship-era human rights abuses.

Sebastian Pinera of the center-right “Coalition for Change” was inaugurated to a four-year presidential term in March 2010. Pinera’s electoral victory was the first for the Chilean right since 1958, and brought an end to 20 years of governance by a center-left coalition of parties known as the Concertacion. Since taking office, Pinera has largely maintained the open economic policies and moderate social welfare policies of his Concertacion predecessors while proposing reforms designed to boost economic growth and reduce poverty. Although his political coalition lacks majorities in both houses of the Chilean Congress, Pinera has been able to implement portions of his policy agenda. He has struggled, however, in dealing with a series of large-scale protests over issues ranging from energy policy to the education system. The Chilean populace has resorted to such tactics to demonstrate its increasing dissatisfaction with the country’s political system, which it views as unresponsive to citizen demands. As the generalized sense of discontent has spread, Pinera’s approval rating has steadily declined. Halfway through his term, 29% of Chileans approve of Pinera and 64% disapprove. The political opposition has not benefitted from Pinera’s unpopularity; just 21% of the public approves of the Concertacion.

With a gross national income of $173.2 billion and a per capita income of $10,120, Chile is classified by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income developing country. Successive governments have pursued market-oriented economic policies that have contributed to the development of what many analysts consider the most competitive and fundamentally sound economy in Latin America. This solid economic framework has helped the country weather recent shocks, such as the global financial crisis and a massive February 2010 earthquake. After a 1.7% contraction in 2009, the Chilean economy grew by 5.2% in 2010 and 6.2% in 2011. Strong economic growth–paired with targeted social assistance programs–has also contributed to a significant decline in the poverty rate, which fell from 38.8% in 1989 to 15.1% in 2009.

Congress has expressed interest in a number of issues in U.S.-Chilean relations in recent years. During the 111 th Congress, both houses passed resolutions (S.Res. 431 and H.Res. 1144) expressing sympathy for the victims of the Chilean earthquake, and the House passed a resolution (H.Res. 1662) commending the country’s rescue of 33 trapped miners. The 112 th Congress could take up issues such as the U.S.-Chile bilateral income tax treaty that was signed in 2010 and is awaiting submission to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

This report provides a brief historical background of Chile, examines recent political and economic developments, and considers current issues in U.S.-Chilean relations.

Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device

April 27, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Columbia Business School
While commitment devices such as defaults and direct deposits from wages have been found to be highly effective to increase savings, they are unavailable to the millions of people worldwide who do not have a formal wage bill. Self-help peer groups are an alternative commitment device that is widespread and highly accessible, but there is little empirical evidence evaluating their effectiveness. We conduct two randomized field experiments among low-income micro-entrepreneurs in Chile. The first experiment finds that self-help peer groups are very potent at increasing savings. In contrast, a more classical measure, a substantially increased interest rate, has no effect on the vast majority of participants. A second experiment is designed to unbundle the key elements of peer groups as a commitment device, through the use of regular text messages. It finds that surprisingly, actual meetings and peer pressure do not seem to be crucial in making self-help peer groups an effective tool to encourage savings.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

CRS — Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Countries: Comparative Trade and Economic Analysis

February 21, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) currently under negotiation between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The negotiating partners have expressed an interest in allowing this proposed “living agreement” to cover new trade topics and to include new members that are willing to adopt the proposed agreement’s high standards. To that end, Canada, Japan, and Mexico recently stated that they would seek consultations with the partner countries about the possibility of joining the negotiations.
The TPP negotiations are of significant interest to Congress. Congressional involvement includes consultations with U.S. negotiators on and oversight of the details of the negotiations, and eventual consideration of legislation to implement the final trade agreement. In assessing the TPP negotiations, Members may be interested in understanding the potential economic impact and significance of TPP and the economic characteristics of the other TPP countries as they evaluate the potential impact of the proposed TPP on the U.S. economy and the commercial opportunities for expansion into TPP markets.
This report provides a comparative economic analysis of the TPP countries and their economic relations with the United States. It suggests that the TPP negotiating partners encompass great diversity in population, economic development, and trade and investment patterns with the United States. This economic diversity and inclusion of fast-growing emerging markets presents both opportunities and challenges for the United States in achieving a comprehensive and high standard regional FTA among TPP countries.
The proposed TPP and its potential expansion are important due to the economic significance of the Asia-Pacific region for both the United States and the world. The region is home to 40% of the world’s population, produces over 50% of global GDP, and includes some of the fastest growing economies in the world. While current TPP negotiating partners made up about 5% of U.S. trade in 2010, Asia-Pacific economies as a whole, made up over 60%.
The United States is the largest TPP market in terms of both GDP and population. In 2010, nonU.S. TPP partners collectively had a GDP of $2.3 trillion, 16% of the U.S. level, and a population of 195 million, 63% of the U.S. level. Entry of Canada, Japan, and/or Mexico would increase the economic significance of the agreement on both these metrics. Among the TPP partners, the majority of overall U.S. trade and investment flows are with Australia and Singapore. In merchandise trade, however, the United States imports more from Malaysia than any other TPP country. Considering the TPP region collectively, over 25% of all U.S.-TPP imports and exports are in computers/electronic components. At the bilateral level, top U.S. exports are largely in the same major product categories, but top U.S. imports vary considerably by country.
There are four U.S. bilateral FTAs in place with current TPP partners: Australia, Chile, Peru, and Singapore. All other TPP partners except Peru, have agreements in place with five or more of the other TPP partners. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam are members, accounts for much of this existing interconnectedness. Moreover, ASEAN agreements with larger regional economies (e.g., China, Japan, and Korea), present a second possible avenue for Asia-Pacific economic integration, albeit one that currently excludes the United States.

A vulnerability approach to the definition of the middle class

January 1, 2012 Comments off
Source:  World Bank (working paper)
Measurement of the middle class has recently come to the center of policy debate in middle-income countries as they search for the potential engines of growth and good governance. This debate assumes, first, that there is a meaningful definition of class, and second, that thresholds that define relatively homogeneous groups in terms of pre-determined sociological characteristics can be found empirically. This paper aims at proposing a view of the middle class based on vulnerability to poverty. Following this approach the paper exploits panel data to determine the amount of comparable income — associated with a low probability of falling into poverty — which could define the lower bound of the middle class. The paper looks at absolute thresholds, challenging the view that people above the poverty line are actually part of the middle class. The estimated lower threshold is used in cross-section surveys to quantify the size and the evolution of middle classes in Chile, Mexico, and Peru over the past two decades. The first relevant feature relates to the fact that the proposed thresholds lie around the 60th percentile of the distribution. The evidence also shows that the middle class has increased significantly in all three countries, suggesting that a higher number of households face lower probabilities of falling into poverty than they did in the 1990s. There is an important group of people, however, which cannot be defined as middle class from this perspective, but are not eligible for poverty programs according to traditional definitions of poverty.

Full Paper (PDF)

Country Specific Information: Chile

August 28, 2011 Comments off

Country Specific Information: Chile
Source: U.S. Department of State

August 26, 2011

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: In addition to its stunning natural beauty, the Republic of Chile has a large, educated middle class and a robust free-market economy. Santiago and other large cities have well-developed tourist facilities and services, although the quality of tourist facilities may vary outside major populated areas. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Chile for information about Chile’s geography, history, economy, and government.

Rebound from steep drop in demand amid simmering global trade issues : markets for paper, paperboard and woodpulp, 2009-2010

July 26, 2011 Comments off

Rebound from steep drop in demand amid simmering global trade issues : markets for paper, paperboard and woodpulp, 2009-2010
Source: U.S Forest Service

Paper and paperboard consumption declined sharply in 2009 by 9% in Europe and 10% in the United States relative to 2008; just a fraction of that decline was recovered by early 2010. Pulp and paper commodity prices fell in 2009, dropping well below 2008 price levels, but prices began to stabilize by mid-year, and in some cases fully recovered by early 2010. A wave of capacity withdrawals in the form of mill downtime and shutdowns helped stabilize the market balance between product supply and demand. Pulp prices were boosted also by shutdowns of Chilean pulp capacity due to the devastating earthquake in February 2010, and by expanding woodpulp demand in Asia, particularly in China. Global market trends point to a secular shift of growth in paper and paperboard output to Asia, while production has levelled out and declined in Europe and North America. Global trade issues were simmering in 2010: the European Union launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes in 2010 concerning coated paper imports from China; the US imposed preliminary countervailing duties on coated paper imports from China and Indonesia. In 2009, Russian Federation exports of market pulp and packaging paper products to China declined as China’s export demand shrank with the global economic crisis. In central and eastern Europe, reduced production due to the downturn in demand from the global economic crisis in early 2009, with production returning to normal levels later in the year. Central and eastern Europe increasingly is becoming incorporated into EU procedures and policies and therefore developments, e.g. costs are similar to the rest of Europe. Green energy production subsidies are a serious threat for the pulp and paper industry in Europe due to strong competition for raw materials.

Chile: One Year On

March 2, 2011 Comments off

Chile: One Year On (PDF)
Source: Aon

The Maulé earthquake was the event of the decade for insured natural catastrophes in Latin America. Ultimate insured losses are expected to settle at USD8.5 billion making Maule the costliest insured earthquake since the 1994 Northridge event in California.

The event served as a test of the Chilean insurance market, throwing into the spotlight its contingency plans, the regulatory framework, construction codes and ultimately the effectiveness of the reinsurance market. Overall, the system designed to protect the public and insurance companies proved effective.

From a reinsurance perspective, insurance companies were able to see that their cover not only provided an accretive form of capital, but that they had purchased sufficient limits to protect their balance sheets and meet their obligations to the insureds of Chile. The majority of the insured losses were reinsured in the international market; roughly 95% of which were ceded via reinsurance.

This report examines the science behind the event, lessons learnt for the insurance industry and future expectations. Aon Benfield’s goal is to deliver relevant research to insurers and reinsurers underwriting risks in both Chile and some of the world’s most earthquake prone areas. We aim to create a more risk aware world so clients, governments and non-governmental groups are better able to protect and grow their organizations in the face of natural hazards and accompanying socio-economic risks.

Expertise is drawn from Aon Benfield’s broking and Analytics teams, including onsite visits, coupled with scientific knowledge from the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Centre.

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