PREM Notes

176 items available

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This note series is intended to summarize good practices and key policy findings on poverty reduction and economic management (PREM) topics.

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    Leveling or Mining the Playing Field? Implementation Problems of Carbon-Motivated Border Adjustment Taxes
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-12) Jensen, Michael Friis
    Climate change policies and trade policy are on a collision course. Border tax adjustments are at the center of the debate and are being considered in many Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, notably the United States and the European Union (EU). They will tax carbon emissions at the border with the aim of leveling the playing field between countries with different carbon emission limits. Border tax adjustments may be justified theoretically, but the challenges of implementation and its associated costs and incentives are a key determinant of the outcome. Implementation depends on complex administrative arrangements and controversial calculations of the embedded carbon in imported goods. Border tax adjustment schemes might mine rather than level the playing field. Implementation problems invite vested interests to influence the policy process and divert border adjustment taxes towards protectionist uses. Decision makers and academics alike have produced little evidence on implementation problems but appear to discuss the very complex border tax adjustment scheme with the implicit assumption that implementation problems can be solved if the need arises. The implementation problems are linked to the difficulties of calculating embedded carbon. This paper discusses a key question: how accurately can we measure embedded carbon and what will the inherent uncertainty do to trade policy when it triggers political economy forces?
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    The Pattern of Antidumping and Other Types of Contingent Protection
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-10) Bown, Chad P.
    Many of the major economies in the multilateral, rules-based trading system find themselves in a situation in which their applied tariff rates are quite close to the tariff binding levels that form their legal commitments at the World Trade Organization (WTO). This implies that they cannot simply raise applied tariff rates to respond to domestic industry demands for additional trade barriers to protect them from imports. One of the fundamental and potentially WTO-legal ways in which national governments can respond to domestic industry calls for additional protection from imports is by resorting to trade 'remedy' policy instruments such as antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duty (anti-subsidy) policies. This note, which describes newly collected data made available through the World Bank-sponsored global antidumping database, reports on the combined use of such policies, comprehensively collected across the major WTO member economies.
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    Breaking into New Markets, Raising Quality, and Improving Services : Neglected Avenues for Export Diversification
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-09) Brenton, Paul ; Walkenhorst, Peter
    Expanding international trade is an important avenue for growth and development in low-income countries. In addition to increasing the quantity of existing export flows, many countries seek to diversify into production and export activities that provide a higher return to the labor and capital resources employed. Export diversity also reduces a country's vulnerability to pronounced price swings in international markets. This note reviews the findings of a series of papers on the diversification process contained in Newfarmer, Shaw, and Walkenhorst (2009). The analysis suggests that there has been too much focus on simply adding new products to export portfolios, which often underscores the use of industrial policies. While such actions are important, a more comprehensive view of diversification, and hence a more comprehensive trade policy, is needed that improves the quality of existing exports, breaks into new geographic markets, and increases services exports.
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    The Global Financial Crisis : Comparisons with the Great Depression and Scenarios for Recovery
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-08) Brahmbhatt, Milan ; Da Silva, Luiz Pereira
    A recent paper has highlighted some close correspondences between economic performance during the present world recession and that during the early months of the great depression that began in late 1929. World industrial production from April 2008 to April 2009 fell as rapidly as during the first year of the great depression, while stock market prices and world trade volumes have fallen more rapidly than in the comparable period. These comparisons lead Eichengreen and O'Rourke to draw the alarming conclusion that 'it's a depression alright.' They note, however, that fiscal and monetary policies are likely to be much more supportive of economic activity in the next 1-2 years than they were during the first few years of the great depression. The first part of this note outlines some other important structural differences between the world economy today and in the 1930s that are likely to affect how the present recession plays out relative to the great depression. The second part of the note discusses possible recovery paths out of the current crisis.
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    Managing Trade Policy During the Economic Crisis
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-07) Saez, Sebastian
    The global economic crisis has triggered rapid responses by governments worldwide to counteract its domestic effects, through fiscal stimulus packages, expansionary monetary policies, and financial bailouts. Ad hoc trade policy measures are increasingly being put in place. All countries share the responsibility of preserving a stable and predictable trade policy environment. To this end, trade policies must contribute to maintaining an open trading system consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) principles. With the sharp decline in global merchandise trade volumes, expected to fall by 9 percent in 2009, countries have resorted to an array of measures to counter the detrimental effects of the crisis on their respective economies. Because this decline is a consequence of a deterioration of global demand, trade measures are not an effective response to this problem. On the contrary, policies that contribute to an open and stable trading system are the best policy option for the world community, especially in the current context.
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    Trade-Related Policy Responses to the Crisis : A Stock Taking
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-07) Evenett, Simon ; Hoekman, Bernard ; Cattaneo, Olivier
    The world is facing the most severe global economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930s. For the first time since World War two, World Bank projections for annual economic growth show that world gross domestic product (GDP) will decline 2.9 percent in 2009 and growth in developing countries will fall to 1.2 percent from 5.9 percent in 2008. Excluding China and India, other developing nations' economies will shrink on average by 1.6 percent. Net private capital flows to developing countries will likely turn negative in 2009 a more than $800 billion drop from the 2007 peak. The decline in global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows that started in 2008 will deepen and spread to the developing world, with overall inflows projected to fall some 30 percent compared to 2008, the first time FDI has fallen more than 10 percent in a year since 1986. The value of remittances, perhaps the most stable source of external financing for developing countries, is expected to drop by at least 5 percent this year.
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    Taxing Business
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-06) Bird, Richard M.
    Economists are sometimes accused of agreeing on almost nothing. An important policy question on which many economists appear to agree, however, is that there is not much to be said in favor of taxing business and especially not internationally mobile corporations. The reason for such unanimity is primarily the substantial economic costs associated with business taxes, although the uncertainty as to whom really 'pays' such taxes in terms of their final incidence may also contribute to the disdain in which they are generally held by economists. But the world largely ignores conventional economic wisdom: people everywhere seems delighted to load as much of their tax burden as possible on "business" and particularly on large impersonal corporations.
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    The Personal Income Tax
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-06) Bird, Richard M.
    A recent paper argues persuasively that the two basic pillars of taxation in most countries are the income tax and the VAT (Barreix and Roca 2007). The authors argue that the VAT is excellent as a revenue raiser and works best if it is applied in the simplest and most neutral fashion possible that is, on as broad a base as possible and preferably at a uniform rate. Given the relative unimportance of personal income taxes in most developing countries this argument is at first sight perhaps somewhat surprising. Personal income tax (PIT) revenues are often three to four times corporate tax revenues in developed countries, but in developing countries corporate tax revenues usually substantially exceed PIT revenues. As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), PIT revenues in developed countries average about seven percent of GDP as compared to about two percent for developing countries. Moreover, as Bird and Zolt (2005) note, in many developing countries personal income taxes often amount to little more than taxes on labor income. At the same time, although little revenue is received from capital income, income taxes often impose high marginal effective rates on investment and hence discourage growth.
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    Taxing Consumption
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-06) Bird, Richard M.
    Domestic consumption in most countries is taxed through general sales taxes, excise taxes on specific commodities, and a variety of miscellaneous taxes on such services as hotels and transfers of property. This note considers only the first two of these categories, with particular attention to general sales taxes. Consumption taxes are obviously related both to customs duties and other taxes on imports and also to production taxes like those often imposed on agricultural output. In some countries elements of both import and production taxation remains. These aspects are not further explored in this note other than to note that the original form of general sales taxes often consisted of a sales tax imposed on imported and domestic manufactured goods. Most countries have now replaced such 'pre-retail' sales taxes by taxes that fall primarily on consumption rather than on production and, both more responsive to revenue needs and easier to collect effectively and efficiently. However, excise taxes on specific commodities are often still imposed at the production stage.
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    Global Economic Crisis and Vertical Specialization in Developing Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-04) Pitigala, Nihal
    The world has witnessed an impressive increase in trade over the past four decades. World merchandise trade increased from US$217 billion in 1962 to US$22.8 trillion in 2006. While industrialized countries accounted for the vast majority of this growth, between 1985 and 2006, developing countries' total trade increased from US$1.1 trillion to US$8.4 trillion, growing at an average annual rate of 9.8 percent, outpacing the world trade growth of 8.7 percent over this period. As the current economic and financial crisis unfolds, the world is now witnessing a dramatic and unexpectedly rapid contraction of trade, far beyond what would be expected in a typical Keynesian-style contraction (Baldwin, 2009). Developing countries are expected to be adversely affected as the volume of world trade is expected to decline by more than 2 percent in 2009, the first such decline since 1982 (World Bank, 2009). The emergence of vertical specialization has allowed a large number of developing countries to exploit their comparative advantages at a much finer level of specialization in global production chains, enabling them to both boost their exports and diversify away from traditional, commodity-based exports.