Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
4-SP132: Developing Countries and the Future of the Multilateral Order
Tuesday, 06/July/2021:
3:30pm - 4:45pm

Session Chair: Prof. Wil Hout, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, The

Session Abstract

The panel focuses on the contemporary pressure on the multilateral (“liberal”) international order and the consequences for developing countries. The objective of the workshop is to bring together a group of development studies experts who reflect on the impact of changes in the multilateral order for developing countries. The aim is to attract draft papers that are comparative in nature, and focus on comparisons of developing countries in particular regions (for instance, Africa versus Asia or Latin America) or relate to specific categories of developing countries (such as least developed countries, landlocked or small-island developing countries).

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Fostering Regional Experimentalist Governance in an Age of “Productive Incoherence”: The Case of the Social and Solidarity Economy in MERCOSUR and ASEAN

Manuel Mejido Costoya

University of Geneva, Switzerland

It has been convincingly argued that the multilateral international order is increasingly characterized by “productive incoherence,” that is, that the multilayered, polycentric complex, messy, and redundant aspects of the global financial architecture, in particular, opens space for forms of pragmatic strategies and experiments that are conducive to autonomy-promoting development and social learning. Developing countries have recently undertaken uncoordinated innovation by establishing new sub-regional, regional, and trans-regional institutions, as well as increasing the capacity of existing institutions. These dynamics do not displace a coherent global architecture (e.g., the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Bretton Woods Institutions [BWIs]), but are complementary to this architecture and offer developing countries new opportunities to achieve development goals (Grabel).

Global experimentalist governance (GXG) is a pathway of productive incoherence. Evolving from comprehensive, integrated international regimes, like the BWIs, and regime complexes, like regional trade agreements, in our age of post-Westaphalian or disaggregated sovereignty, GXG refers to the gradual institutionalization of a recursive process of provisional goal-setting and revision, involving open participation by a variety of stakeholders, lack of formal hierarchy within governance arrangements, and extensive deliberation in decision making and implementation. Examples of GXG include, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Montreal Protocol on Substances Depleting the Ozone Layer (Búrca, Sabel and Zeitlin).

This paper will argue that one strategy that countries across the Global South can deploy to leverage productive incoherence is to scale up the social and solidarity economy (SSE) by applying the logic of GXG to south-south cooperation and regional integration.

There has been an increasing interest in SSE, that constellation of economic activity that gives pride of place to social and environmental objectives, involving producers, workers, consumers and citizens acting collectively and in solidarity through, for example, cooperatives, philanthropic foundations, NGOs, FBOs, public-private partnerships, fair trade networks, social enterprises and micro-financing schemes.

Given its potential to expand socioeconomic opportunities, protect the planet, and increase civic participation, development scholars and practitioners alike have been puzzling over how to scale up SSE as a strategy for implementing frameworks like the SDGs as well as more heterodox development projects, like the Buen Vivir paradigm in the Andean region. Toward this end, research and technical assistance initiatives have focused on how south-south and triangular cooperation and regional integration could support SSE.

The problem with these efforts to scale up SSE is that they tend to be comprehensive and top-down strategies that assume to know, ex ante, where the sector should be headed and how best to get there. Indeed, these efforts have not been able to unleash SSE’s potential for generating collective problem solving and social learning about how to achieve more legitimate and effective shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability to the extent that they have failed to adequately address the challenges associated with the fragmentation of power and authority, on the one hand, and the uncertainty about achieving certain outcomes, the costs involved and the design of optimal institutional arrangements, on the other.

I will make the case that, given its characteristics, SSE is conducive to experimentalist strategies, and that, in effect, aspects of experimentalist governance can already be identified—albeit inchoately—in certain sub-regional and regional expressions of SSE across the Global South. Through comparative case studies of MERCOSUR and ASEAN, I will also make the case that SSE can function as a corrective to reductionistic (neoliberal) approaches to regional integration. Oriented by the scale up of SSE, countries in Latin America and Asia can accept the reality of conventional trade agreements, but also look to alternative institutional arrangements to minimize the contradictory effects of economic liberalization.

Navigating the Evolving E-commerce Sector - The Challenges Before Developing Economies

Dipinder Singh Randhawa

National University of Singapore, Singapore

On the side-lines of the annual World Economic Forum gathering of political and economic leaders at Davos on 25 January 2019, a group of 75 countries announced their intention to initiate negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce (e-commerce). The talks will seek an internationally-agreed framework "to make it easier and safer to buy, sell and do business online.”

The signatories to the agreement include nearly all the OECD members, Singapore, China, Russia, and other developing nations. These states together account for 90 per cent of world trade. Notable absentees from the list are developing economies such as India, South Africa and others. Despite having some of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world and attracting record volumes of foreign investment, why have several developing economies chosen stay away from discussions that could eventually lay the platform for norms, rules and regulations governing trade in e-commerce? This paper assesses the risks and benefits of engagement in E-commerce rules talks at the WTO at a time when the global trading order is riven with challenges emanating from the US-China trade war.

The WTO still lacks specific rules governing e-commerce trade. In the absence of a global consensus, trading rules are increasingly being defined by regional and bilateral trade agreements. There is broad consensus that WTO rules on e-commerce will impart confidence and resilience to trade, further boosting the sector. A multilateral accord will help consumers and businesses, especially small businesses, making it easier and safer to trade and do business online. That the talks are being launched by the WTO during a trade conflict between the two largest trading economies, the US and China, lends added significance to the initiative.

The significance of the e-tail sector in large open developing economies extends far beyond overall retail. A growing number of enterprises are using online portals to sell their merchandise in the national market and beyond. E-commerce, specifically B2C, is transforming how people shop, what they shop, where they shop, and how e-commerce can catalyse growth in hitherto neglected geographical areas and among marginalised demographic groups

WTO members seeking a rules-based e-commerce trade regime can be grouped along two opposing paradigms. The first, advocated by India, South Africa, and other developing economies believes existing WTO agreements should be adapted to e-commerce, with a focus on the basic building blocks of an E-commerce trade regime. The second paradigm supported by the US, EU and Japan, contends that existing rules on e-commerce are outdated and argues for rules on free data flows, no data localisation requirements, and no disclosure of source – issues at the frontier of e-commerce today. Implementation of these rules would require a comprehensive opening of digital economies. There is of course a vast space between these two positions, where an eventual consensus is likely to be found.

The gist of developing economies position is that they need time to acquire digital capabilities and develop a domestic regulatory framework that covers gaps in data localisation, restrictions on the flow of data, intellectual property rights (IPR), data security, and for policymakers to understand the landscape, prior to opening up the sector. Accession to a WTO e-commerce accord without sorting out the basics and allowing developing economies to build capabilities, will impair the country’s ability to avail of the broader benefits of e-commerce.

Developing economies in the formative stages of adopting new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, risk being swamped by global tech behemoths if they open their markets. Studies indicate that commitments to the WTO may constrain government’s policy options to promote domestic industry.

Dimensions and Cartography of Dirty Money in Developing Countries. Addressing the Complexity and Failures in Global Governance

Rogelio Madrueño1,2, Magdalene Silberberger3

1University of Göttingen; 2University of Bonn; 3Witten/Herdecke University

The aim of this paper is to analyze the challenges of the multilateral order through the lens of global financial governance. The idea is to show the dimensions behind Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), which affect the quality of the multilateral order and promotes new relations of dependence between the Global North and the Global South. We argue that IFFs are a subproduct of inefficient international policies and multilateral regulatory frameworks that have decreased the scope of action of nation-states and reduce their incentives for coordination in certain areas of financial markets and global governance, such as international cooperation on tax and IFFs. The paper examines the multidimensionality of IFFs through multivariate techniques: the complementary use of factor and cluster analysis methods, based on the most recent information available. Factor analysis revealed four main components behind this global problem: governance issues, risks associated with foreign direct investment and trade, bank stability, and taxation. Clustering hierarchical solution provides four clusters of developing countries, revealing the heterogeneous composition of the Global South, and similar shortcomings provided by the contemporary global financial order. These results may be used for the purpose of understanding the complexities behind IFFs and highlight the relevance of tailored actions to promote a more effective system of global governance.

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