World Trade Organisation

WTO not dead yet: alternative appeals body set up, but fundamental change needed

December 18, 2019: For the past two years the US Trump administration has imposed unilateral tariffs outside of the rules of the 164-member World Trade Organisation. The WTO, although it has many flaws, is the only multilaterally-agreed rules-based trading system. WTO rules are enforceable through government-to-government disputes, heard by disputes panels whose initial decisions can be appealed to ensure they conform with WTO rules.

New article says e-commerce rules could reduce corporate tax, undermining efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals

October 3, 2019: A new article by Deborah James from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows how e-commerce rules in the WTO and other trade deals could limit developing countries’ ability to tax the business activities of transnational corporations, reducing much needed revenue for public services and the development of decent employment and to fund their digital industrialisation.

Trump intellectual property demands on China based on distorted system says expert

August 8. 2019: Stephen Grenville from the Lowy Institute, formerly with the OECD, argues in The Interpreter that Australia should not uncritically join US attacks on Chinese theft of intellectual property (IP) on patents and copyright. He says that the current system is “so distorted by vested interests that the main beneficiary may be the army of patent lawyers and the legal process which support them.”

Report says regulate tech giants but Australian govt leading deregulation push at WTO

July 29, 2019: After an 18-month inquiry, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which is independent of government, has produced a Report on Digital Platforms with 23 recommendations for regulation to protect consumer privacy, prevent extremist and misleading digital content, address the market dominance of Facebook and Google and support public interest journalism.

UNCTAD calls for a new multilateralism and a global green new deal

April 16, 2019: A New report from UNCTAD critiques the failings of the existing multilateral order to establish a stable global economy that facilitates prosperity for all. Against the backdrop of persistent global poverty, rising inequality, the imminent climate crisis, and a global economy that remains inherently unstable 10 years after the 2008 financial crisis, the report calls for a new approach to multilateralism that is genuinely democratic and works towards the realisation of “shared prosperity and a healthy planet”.

Parliamentary Committee says Australia should join the WTO Procurement Agreement

April 1, 2019: The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has produced Report 185 recommending that Australia accede to the revised WTO Procurement Agreement (GPA). There is no implementing legislation because the only required legislation for accession was the Government Procurement (Judicial Review) Act which was passed in October 2018 with other implementing legislation for the TPP 11.

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