Regional Trading Blocs and Economic Integration

Regional Trading Blocs and Economic Integration

 

 

From Asia’s Rise in the New World Trade Order

Asia Rising

RTA5

 

 

From What is Regional Trade Blocs or Free Trade Agreements?

As trade integration across countries is intensifying, we hear more and more about Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Regional Trade Blocs (RTBs). As their name suggests these RTBs/FTAs are arrangements aimed for faster trade liberalisation at regional levels.

Countries are convinced that trade is an engine of growth and they are searching for arrangements that promote trade.

The WTO that contains 162 countries is the most popular one; a truly multilateral forum for trade liberalisation. But the history of WTO led trade liberalisation shows that the organisation is facing difficulty in bringing further trade liberalisation because of conflicting interest among large number of countries.

This has led to interest in trade liberalisation within a limited number of countries that may be regionally close together. These regional trade promoting arrangements advocate more tariff cuts and removal of other restrictions within the group while maintaining restrictions against the rest of the world.

Though many regional trade agreements like the EU, NAFTA and ASEAN were established before or around the time of WTO’s formation, there is mushrooming of RTBs in recent years. Recently formed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) shows this increasing affinity towards RTBs. Many RTBs like the TPP would like to make advanced level trade liberalisation and hence they are not satisfied with the slow pace of trade liberalisation within the WTO.

What are Regional Trade Blocs (RTBs)?

Regional Trade Blocs or Regional Trade Agreements (or Free Trade Agreements) are a type of regional intergovernmental arrangement, where the participating countries agree to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade like tariffs and non-tariff barriers.  The RTBs are thus historically known for promoting trade within a region by reducing or eliminating tariff among the member countries.

Over the last few decades, international trade liberalisations are taking place in a serious manner through the formation of RTBs. They are getting wide attention because of many important international developments. First, now the world is trying hard to escape from the ongoing great recession phase. Second is the failure of the WTO to take further liberalisation measures on the trade liberalisation front.

The EU, NAFTA, ASEAN, SAFTA etc are all examples for regional integration. The triad of North America, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific have the most successful trade blocs. Recently signed Trans Pacific Partnership is a powerful RTB. Similarly, another one called RCEP is in negotiation round. India has signed an FTA with the ASEAN in 2009. Simultaneously, the country has signed many bilateral FTAs.

Different types of RTBs

All regional trade blocs don’t have the same degree of trade liberalisation. They may differ in terms of the extent of tariff cutting, coverage of goods and services, treatment of cross border investment among them, agreement on movement of labour etc.

The simple form of regional trade bloc is the Free Trade Area. The Free Trade Area is a type of trade bloc, a designated group of countries that have agreed to eliminate tariffs, quotas and preferences on most (if not all)goods and services traded between them.

From the lowest to the highest, regional trade integration may vary from just tariff reduction arrangement to adoption of a single currency. The most common type of regional trade bloc is the free trade agreement where the members abolish tariffs within the region. Following are the main types of regional economic integrations.

Classification of RTBs

Preferential trading union: Here, two or more countries form a trading club or a union and reduce tariffs on imports of each other ie, when they exchange tariff preferences and concessions.

Free trade union or association: Member countries abolish all tariffs within the union, but maintain their individual tariffs against the rest of the world.

Customs union: countries abolish all tariffs within and adopt a common external tariff against the rest of the world.

Common market: in addition to the customs union, unrestricted movement of all factors of production including labour between the member countries. In the case of European Common Market, once a visa is obtained one can get employed in France or Germany or in any other member country with limited restrictions.

Economic union: The Economic Union is the highest form of economic co-operation. In addition to the common market, there is common currency, common fiscal and monetary policies and exchange rate policies etc. European Union is the example for an Economic Union. Under the European Monetary Union, there is only one currency- the Euro.

At present, out of the total regional trade arrangements FTAs are the most common, accounting for nearly 90 per cent.

 

From Regionalism in a globalizing world: an Asia-Pacific perspective

RTA7

From Asia’s Rise in the New World Trade Order

RTA4

 

From The world’s free trade areas – and all you need to know about them

International trade is a driving force behind economic growth, and two so-called “mega-regional” trade deals are dominating public debate on the issue: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

But there are around 420 regional trade agreements already in force around the world, according to the World Trade Organization. Although not all are free trade agreements (FTAs), they still shape global trade as we know it.

 Global exports and trade agreements

Image: The Economist

 

What exactly are free trade areas?

The OECD defines a free trade area as a group of “countries within which tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers between the members are generally abolished but with no common trade policy toward non-members”.

The free movement of goods and services, both in the sense of geography and price, is the foundation of these trading agreements. However, tariffs are not necessarily completely abolished for all products.

 

Which are the world’s major free trade areas?

 

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

 

Free trade between the three member nations, Canada, the US and Mexico, has been in place since January 1994. Although tariffs weren’t fully abolished until 2008, by 2014 total trilateral merchandise trade exceeded US$1.12 trillion.

According to the US government, trade with Canada and Mexico supports more than 140,000 small and medium-size businesses and over 3 million jobs in the US. Gains in Canada are reportedly even higher, with 4.7 million new jobs added since 1993. The country is also the largest exporter of goods to the US.

 US Trade with NAFTA Partner 1993-2012

Image: Congressional Research Service

 

However, the Council on Foreign Relations suggests that the impact on Mexico is harder to assess. Per capita income has not risen as fast as expected; nor has it slowed Mexican emigration to the US. However, farm exports to the US have tripled since 1994, and the cost of goods in Mexico has declined. The cost of basic household goods has halved since NAFTA came into force, according to estimates by GEA, a Mexican economic consulting firm.

 

Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Area (AFTA)

 

The AFTA was signed in January 1992 in Singapore. The original members were Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Four countries have subsequently joined: Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The bloc has largely removed all export and import duties on items traded between the nations. It has also entered into agreements with a number of other nations, including China, eliminating tariffs on around 90% of imported goods.

 The ASEAN AFTA

Image: ASEAN Briefing

 

The AFTA nations had a combined GDP of US$2.3 trillion in 2012, and they’re home to 600 million people. The agreement has therefore helped to dramatically reduce the cost of trade for a huge number of businesses and people.

 

Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)

 

Although MERCOSUR was envisaged as a Latin American single market, enabling the free movement of people, goods, capitals and services, this vision is yet to become reality. Internal disputes have slowed progress towards removing tariffs and the free movement of people and goods.

But MERCOSUR is still one of the world’s leading economic blocs, and has a major influence on South American trade and the global economy.

 

Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

 

Formed in December 1994, the organization aims to develop natural and human resources to benefit the region’s population. Its primary focus, according to the United Nations, is to establish a large economic and unit to overcome barriers to trade.

With 19 member states, and an annual export bill in excess of $80 billion, the organization is a significant market place, both within Africa and globally.

 COMESA Member States

Image: United Nations

 

COMESA utlimately aims to remove all barriers to intra-regional trade, starting with preferential tariffs and working towards a tariff-free common market and economic union.

 

What about the European Union?

 

The EU is a single market, which is similar to a free trade area in that it has no tariffs, quotas or taxes on trade; but a single market allows the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

The EU strives to remove non-tariff barriers to trade by applying the same rules and regulations to all of its member states. The region-wide regulations on everything from working hours to packaging are an attempt to create a level playing field. This is not necessarily the case in a free trade area.

 The European Union

Image: BBC

 

The creation of the single market was a slow process. In 1957, the Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community (EEC) or Common Market. However, it was not until 1986 that the Single European Act was signed. This treaty formed the basis of the single market as we know it, as it aimed to establish the free-flow of trade across EU borders. By 1993 this process was largely complete, although work on a single market for services is still ongoing.

Today, the EU is the world’s largest economy, and the biggest exporter and importer. The EU itself has free trade agreements with other nations, including South Korea, Mexico and South Africa.

 The State of EU Trade

Image: European Union

 

What about the TPP and TTIP?

 

Once fully ratified, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is set to become the world’s largest trade agreement. The TPP already covers 40% of global GDP, and trade between member nations is already significant.

However, by removing tariffs and other barriers to trade, the agreement hopes to further develop economic ties and boost economic growth.

 The Trans-Pacific Trade Deal

Image: Reuters

 

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a deal currently being negotiated between the EU and the US. If reached, it would itself become the world’s largest trade agreement – covering 45% of global GDP.

Like the TPP, it aims to cut tariffs and regulatory barriers to trade. Among these is the removal of customs duties, according to the EU’s negotiation factsheet.

The Center for Economic Policy Research has estimated that the deal would be worth $134 billion a year for the EU and $107 billion for the US – although opponents have disputed these figures.

 Transatlantic Negotiations

Image: Brookings

As the World Economic Forum’s E15 Initiative has highlighted, effective global trade is central to economic growth and development. Trade agreements are an integral part of making this a reality.

From Regional Trade Agreements and the Multi-polar Global Order:
Implications for South Korea’s Economy

RTA2RTA3

From Regional Trade Agreements and the Multi-polar Global Order:
Implications for South Korea’s Economy

RTA

From Regional Trade Agreements: Promoting conflict or building peace?

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Key Terms:

  • Rising Powers
  • Global Economic Governance
  • Mega-Regionals
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
  • Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnership (TPP)
  • MFN (Most Favored Nation)
  • PTA (Preferred Trading Agreement)
  • FTA (Free Trade Agreement)
  • RTA (Regional Trade Agreement)
  • MTS (Multi Lateral Trade System)
  • BTA (Bilateral Trade Agreement)
  • Belt and Road Initiative
  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
  • ASEAN
  • AEC
  • APEC
  • BRICS
  • EU
  • SAARC
  • MERCOSUR
  • Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)
  • NAFTA
  • ASEAN+3
  • ASEAN+6
  • Custom Unions
  • Common Markets
  • Economic Unions
  • GATT
  • WTO
  • SADC
  • COMESA
  • ECOWAS
  • ECCAS/CEEAC
  • SACU
  • AFTA
  • SAPTA/SAFTA

Key Sources of Research:

 

 

What is Regional Trade Blocs or Free Trade Agreements?

http://www.indianeconomy.net/splclassroom/107/what-is-regional-trade-blocs-or-free-trade-agreements/

 

 

 

The world’s free trade areas – and all you need to know about them

2016

WEF

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/05/world-free-trade-areas-everything-you-need-to-know/

 

Regional trade agreements: Blessing or burden?

Caroline Freund, Emanuel Ornelas

02 June 2010

http://voxeu.org/article/regional-trade-agreements-blessing-or-burden

 

 

 

Regional Trade Agreements: Promoting conflict or building peace?

Oli Brown
Faisal Haq Shaheen
Shaheen Rafi Khan
Moeed Yusuf

October 2005

Click to access security_rta_conflict.pdf

 

 

 

Regional trade agreements

WTO

https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/region_e/region_e.htm

 

A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC

WRITTEN BY TIM MARTYN
MARCH 2001

Click to access martyn.pdf

 

 

 

Globalization and the Growth in Free Trade Agreements

SHUJIRO URATA

2002

Click to access Globalization_and_FTA.pdf

 

 

 

Regional trade agreements: blessing or burden?

 

Click to access cp313.pdf

 

 

 

Mexico’s Free Trade Agreements

M. Angeles Villarreal
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

April 25, 2017

Click to access R40784.pdf

 

 

Regional Trade Agreements in a Multilateral Trade Regime: An Overview

Parthapratim Pal

Click to access survey_paper_RTA.pdf

 

 

 

REGIONAL TRADE INTEGRATIONS: A Comparative Study of African RTAs

Sannassee R., Boopendra S and Tandrayen Verena

Click to access 15.pdf

 

 

 

Trade Blocks and the Gravity Model: A Study of Economic Integration among Asian
Developing Countries

E. M. Ekanayake

Amit Mukherjee

Bala Veeramacheneni

Click to access 9180KU76078V3656.pdf

 

 

Free Trade Agreements, the World Trade Organization and Open Trade

Michael SUTTON

Click to access 04sutton.pdf

 

 

 

REGIONAL TRADE BLOCS THE WAY TO THE FUTURE?

ALEJANDRO FOXLEY

Click to access regional_trade_blocs.pdf

 

 

 

Regional Trade Agreements and the WTO

Ildikó Virág-Neumann

2009

Click to access 32_Neumann-Virag.pdf

 

 

 

PREFERENTIAL TRADE AGREEMENTS AND THE WTO: IMPETUS OR IMPEDIMENT?

Committee on International Trade

Principal Drafters:
Helena Sullivan, Chair
Stuart Shroff
Mark Du
Albert Bloomsbury

THE ASSOCIATION OF THE BAR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
42 WEST 44TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10036

Click to access 20071935-PreferentialTradeAgreementsandtheWTO.pdf

 

 

 

Regional Trade Agreements and the Multi-polar Global Order:
Implications for South Korea’s Economy

Dr. Mi Park

Click to access 84.full.pdf

 

 

 

Rising Powers in the Global Trading System – China and Mega-Regional Trade Negotiations

Clara Brandi

2016

Click to access vol1.1.Clara-Brandi.pdf

 

Asia’s Rise in the New World Trade Order

The Effects of Mega-Regional Trade Agreements on Asian Countries

Part 2 of the GED Study Series:

Effects of Mega-Regional Trade Agreements

Click to access NW_Asia_s_Rise_in_the_New_World_Trade_Order.pdf

 

 

 

 

Regional Trade Agreements: Development Challenges and Policy Options

By Antoni Estevadeordal, Kati Suominen, Christian Volpe Martinicus,
December 2013

 

http://e15initiative.org/publications/regional-trade-agreements-development-challenges-and-policy-options/

http://e15initiative.org/themes/regional-trade-agreements/

 

 

 

Regional Trade Agreements

https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/wto-multilateral-affairs/wto-issues/regional-trade-agreements

 

 

 

What are mega-regional trade agreements?

WEF

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2014/07/trade-what-are-megaregionals/

 

Regional trade agreements, integration and development

2017

 

Click to access ser_rp2017d1_en.pdf

 

Mega-Regional Trade Agreements and the Future of the WTO

Chad Brown
PIIE

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12391/epdf

https://piie.com/commentary/speeches-papers/mega-regional-trade-agreements-and-future-wto

 

 

CHINA’S NEW REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS

Agata Antkiewicz

John Whalley

December 2004

 

Click to access w10992.pdf

 

 

CHINA’S REGIONAL AND BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENTS

Chunding Li Jing

Wang John Whalley

January 2014

 

Click to access pt.pdf

 

 

Currency Unions and Regional Trade Agreements: EMU and EU Effects on Trade

Reuven Glick

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

October 2016

Click to access wp2016-27.pdf

 

Regionalism in a globalizing world: an Asia-Pacific perspective

Dilip Das

2001

http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/2038/

 

Economics of Digital Globalization and Information Data Flows

Economics of Digital Globalization and Information Data Flows

 

Please see this link below for changes in global data flows between 2005 and 2014.

Source: McKinsey & Company.

McKinsey Global Flows of Data

 

digitalglobal

 

 

People and Businesses are using internet and other data and communications technologies in variety of ways.  Some are listed below.

  • e-commerce
  • Social networking
  • Digital media
  • Blogging
  • Online eduction
  • Online entertainment
  • Business Communications
  • Online Capital
  • Online Organizing
  • Online Markets (Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba)

 

Governments and Trade organizations are catching up to these trends. Several research reports have been published recently.  Trade agreements are being negotiated which include means to reduce barriers to digital trade.

 

From DIGITAL GLOBALIZATION: THE NEW ERA OF GLOBAL FLOWS

Conventional wisdom says that globalization has stalled. But although the global goods trade has flattened and cross-border capital flows have declined sharply since 2008, globalization is not heading into reverse. Rather, it is entering a new phase defined by soaring flows of data and information.

Remarkably, digital flows—which were practically nonexistent just 15 years ago—now exert a larger impact on GDP growth than the centuries-old trade in goods, according to a new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, Digital globalization: The new era of global flows. And although this shift makes it possible for companies to reach international markets with less capital-intensive business models, it poses new risks and policy challenges as well.

The world is more connected than ever, but the nature of its connections has changed in a fundamental way. The amount of cross-border bandwidth that is used has grown 45 times larger since 2005. It is projected to increase by an additional nine times over the next five years as flows of information, searches, communication, video, transactions, and intracompany traffic continue to surge. In addition to transmitting valuable streams of information and ideas in their own right, data flows enable the movement of goods, services, finance, and people. Virtually every type of cross-border transaction now has a digital component.

Trade was once largely confined to advanced economies and their large multinational companies. Today, a more digital form of globalization has opened the door to developing countries, to small companies and start-ups, and to billions of individuals. Tens of millions of small and midsize enterprises worldwide have turned themselves into exporters by joining e-commerce marketplaces such as Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Flipkart, and Rakuten. Approximately 12 percent of the global goods trade is conducted via international e-commerce. Even the smallest enterprises can be born global: 86 percent of tech-based start-ups surveyed by MGI report some type of cross-border activity. Today, even the smallest firms can compete with the largest multinationals.

Individuals are using global digital platforms to learn, find work, showcase their talent, and build personal networks. Some 900 million people have international connections on social media, and 360 million take part in cross-border e-commerce. Digital platforms for both traditional employment and freelance assignments are beginning to create a more global labor market.

In this increasingly digital era of globalization, large companies can manage their international operations in a leaner, more efficient ways. Using digital platforms and tools, they can sell in fast-growing markets while keeping virtual teams connected in real time. This is a moment for companies to rethink their organizational structures, products, assets, and competitors.

Global flows of all types support growth by raising productivity, and data flows are amplifying this effect by broadening participation and creating more efficient markets. MGI’s analysis finds that over a decade, all types of flows acting together have raised world GDP by 10.1 percent over what would have resulted in a world without any cross-border flows. This value amounted to some $7.8 trillion in 2014 alone, and data flows account for $2.8 trillion of this impact. Both inflows and outflows matter for growth, as they expose economies to ideas, research, technologies, talent, and best practices from around the world.

Although there is substantial value at stake, not all countries are making the most of this potential. The latest MGI Connectedness Index—which ranks 139 countries on inflows and outflows of goods, services, finance, people, and data—finds large gaps between a handful of leading countries and the rest of the world. Singapore tops the latest rankings, followed by the Netherlands, the United States, and Germany. China has grown more connected, reaching number seven, but advanced economies in general remain more connected than developing countries. In fact, each type of flow is concentrated among a small set of highly connected countries.

Lagging countries are closing the gaps with the leaders at a very slow pace, and their limited participation has had a real cost to the world economy. If the rest of the world had increased its participation in global flows at the same rate as the top quartile over the past decade, world GDP would be $10 trillion, or 13 percent, higher today. For countries that have been slow to participate, the opportunities for catch-up growth are too substantial to ignore.

 

 

From Why globalization isn’t it in retreat, it’s gone digital

A hand is silhouetted in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. The Financial Times’ website and Twitter feeds were hacked May 17, 2013, renewing questions about whether the popular social media service has done enough to tighten security as cyber-attacks on the news media intensify. The attack is the latest in which hackers commandeered the Twitter account of a prominent news organization to push their agenda. Twitter’s 200 million users worldwide send out more than 400 million tweets a day, making it a potent distributor of news.

Around the world, countries are rethinking the terms of engagement in global trade. This is not all bad; in fact, acknowledgement of globalization’s disruptive effects on millions of advanced-economy workers is long overdue. But new trade policies must be based on a clear-eyed understanding of how globalization is evolving, not on a backward-looking vision based on the last 30 years.

Globalization has done the world a lot of good. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute shows that, thanks to global flows of goods, services, finance, data, and people, world GDP is more than 10% higher – some $7.8 trillion in 2014 alone – than it would have been had economies remained closed.

More interconnected countries capture the largest share of this added value. For example, the United States, which ranks third among 195 countries on MGI’s Connectedness Index, has done rather well. Emerging-market economies have also reaped major gains, using export-oriented industrialization as a springboard for rapid growth.

Yet, even as globalization has narrowed inequality among countries, it has aggravated income inequality within them. From 1998 to 2008, the middle class in advanced economies experienced no income growth, while incomes soared by nearly 70% for those at the top of the global income distribution. Top earners in the US, accounting for half of the global top 1%, reaped a significant share of globalization’s benefits.

To be sure, this isn’t all, or even mostly, a result of globalization. The main culprit is technological change that automates routine manual and cognitive tasks, while increasing demand (and wages) for highly skilled workers. But import competition and labor arbitrage from emerging economies have also played a role. Perhaps more important, they have proved more salient targets of voters’ fear and resentment.

Indeed, in the industries and regions hit hardest by import competition, years of simmering discontent have now boiled over, fueling support for populists promising to roll back globalization. But, as the advanced economies reformulate trade policy, it is critical that they understand that globalization was already undergoing a major structural transformation.

Since the global financial crisis, cross-border capital flows have plummeted, with banks pulling back in response to new regulation. From 1990 to 2007, global trade grew twice as fast as global GDP; since 2010, GDP growth has outpaced that of trade.

Both cyclical and secular forces are behind the trade slowdown. Investment has been anemic for years. China’s growth has slowed – a secular trend that is unlikely to be reversed. And the expansion of global supply chains seems to have reached the frontier of efficiency. In short, slower global trade is likely to be the new normal.

None of this is to say that globalization is in retreat. Rather, it is becoming a more digital phenomenon. Just 15 years ago, cross-border digital flows were almost non-existent; today, they have a larger impact on global economic growth than traditional flows of traded goods.

The volume of cross-border data flows has soared 45-fold since 2005, and is expected to grow another nine-fold over the next five years. Users worldwide can stream Beyoncé’s latest single immediately upon its release. A manufacturer in South Carolina can use the e-commerce platform Alibaba to buy components from a Chinese supplier. A young girl in Kenya can learn math through Khan Academy. Eighty percent of students taking Coursera’s online courses live outside the US.

This new form of digital globalization is more knowledge-intensive than capital- or labor-intensive. It requires broadband connections, rather than shipping lanes. It reduces barriers to entry, strengthens competition, and changes the rules governing how business is done.

Consider export activities, which once seemed out of reach for small businesses lacking the resources to scout out international prospects or navigate cross-border paperwork. Now, digital platforms like Alibaba and Amazon enable even small-scale entrepreneurs to connect directly with customers and suppliers around the world, transforming themselves into “micro multinationals.” Facebook estimates that 50 million small businesses are on its platform, up from 25 million in 2013; 30% of these companies’ Facebook fans, on average, are from other countries.

While digital technologies open the door for small companies and individuals to participate in the global economy, there is no guarantee that sufficient numbers will walk through it. That will require policies that help them take advantage of new global market opportunities.

The US has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, but many of the issues it addressed still require global rules. Data localization requirements and protectionism are on the rise, and data privacy and cyber-security are pressing concerns. In the absence of the TPP, it will be critical to find some other vehicle for establishing new principles for digital trade in the twenty-first century, with a greater emphasis on intellectual property protection, cross-border data flows, and trade in services.

At the same time, advanced economies must help workers acquire the skills needed to fill high-quality jobs in the digital economy. Lifelong learning cannot just be a slogan; it must become a reality. Mid-career retraining must be made available not only to those who have lost their jobs to foreign competition, but also to those facing disruption from the continuing march of automation. Training programs should be able to impart new skills in a matter of months, not years, and they should be complemented by programs that support workers’ incomes during retraining, and that help them relocate for more productive work.

Most of the advanced economies, including the US, have not adequately responded to the needs of the communities and individuals left behind by globalization. Addressing these needs is now of paramount importance. Effective responses will require policies that help people adapt to the present and take advantage of future opportunities in the next phase of digital globalization.

 

From The ascendancy of international data flows

We compiled data for more than 150 countries for 20 years regarding six types of cross-border flows: physical flows of goods and services, FDI flows, financial flows, labour migration flows, and data flows measured in bits. As flows are most likely correlated to each other, we first resorted to a principal component analysis of flows and found that the largest factor accounted for up to 60% of the variance among flows, with all flows being positively correlated to the factor. Among the factors, this primary factor was also the only one to be statistically (and, as expected, positively) associated with a country’s economic growth.

Estimating a pooled cross-section, time series co-integration model of country GDP growth, we find that, together, global flows of goods, services, finance, people, and data have raised world GDP by at least 10% in the past decade, adding US$8 trillion of GDP by 2015. More crucially, and in part driven by the material growth in cross-border data bits internationally, the value of data flows has nearly matched the value of global trade in physical goods. By 2014, cross-border data flows accounted for $2.3 trillion of this value, or roughly 3.5% of total world GDP.

This estimate is only a first benchmark which will require further verification. But it underscores the importance of global data flows for economies at large. It also highlights new elements of consideration for economists, for policymakers, and for business. Given the significant contribution to GDP, governments must address pending issues such as free flows of data, cybersecurity, and privacy. They must also harness flows better through international standardisation of single payment systems, standardisation of internet of things protocols, coordination of tax issues, and integrated logistics. On the business side, the world’s biggest digital platforms – from e-commerce marketplaces to social media network – have become global in a matter of a few years, but though their concentration may be a concern, they have also amassed hundreds of millions of companies that can benefit from improved export opportunities and achieve major productivity gains.

Furthermore, the international flow of information facilitated by these digital technologies is a powerful driver of new performance for global firms, for example in optimising distributed R&D and innovation. Ultimately, everyone will need to go with the flow.

 

Key Terms:

 

  • GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services)
  • ICT (information and communications technology)
  • IPR (intellectual property rights)
  • ITA (International Technology Agreement)
  • NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration)
  • OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)
  • TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)
  • TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)
  • TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement)
  • USITC (United States International Trade Commission)
  • USTR (United States Trade Representative)
  • WTO (World Trade Organization)
  • Digital Trade

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

DIGITAL GLOBALIZATION: THE NEW ERA OF GLOBAL FLOWS

2016

MGI

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/digital-globalization-the-new-era-of-global-flows

 

 

Global flows in a digital age

How trade, finance, people, and data connect the world economy

By James Manyika, Jacques Bughin, Susan Lund, Olivia Nottebohm, David Poulter, Sebastian Jauch, and Sree Ramaswamy

McKinsey 2014

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/global-flows-in-a-digital-age

 

 

Harnessing the power of shifting global flows

By Jacques Bughin, Susan Lund, and James Manyika

McKinsey

2015

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/harnessing-the-power-of-shifting-global-flows

 

 

Internet matters: The Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity

By Matthieu Pélissié du Rausas, James Manyika, Eric Hazan, Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, Rémi Said

McKinsey 2011

http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/internet-matters

 

 

Online and Upcoming:  Internet’s Impact on India

McKinsey 2012

Click to access Internets%20impact%20on%20India.pdf

 

 

Online and upcoming: The Internet’s impact on aspiring countries

January 2012

Olivia Nottebohm James Manyika Jacques Bughin Michael Chui Abdur-Rahim Syed

Click to access Internet.pdf

 

 

The Importance of The Internet and Transatlantic data flows for U.S. and EU Trade and Investment

Joshua p. meltzer

2014

Brookings

Click to access internet-transatlantic-data-flows-version-2.pdf

 

 

ASEF OUTLOOK REPORT 2016/2017

 

Asia Europe Foundation

Click to access 1.%20Measuring%20Connectivity.pdf

Click to access ASEF%20Outlook%20Report%202016-2017%20Vol2.pdf

Click to access ASEF%20Outlook%20Report%202016-2017%20Vol1.pdf

 

 

Mega-trends 2015 Making sense of a world in motion

EY

Click to access ey-megatrends-report-2015.pdf

Click to access ey-making-sense-of-a-world-in-motion.pdf

 

 

Cross-Border Data Flows, Digital Innovation, and Economic Growth

Robert Pepper John Garrity Connie LaSalle

2016

WEF

 

Click to access WEF_GITR_Chapter1.2_2016.pdf

Click to access PDF_Notas_Prensa_Int_Gen_07_Jul_2016.pdf

 

 

Business Without Borders: The Importance of Cross-Border Data Transfers to Global Prosperity

US Chamber of Commerce

2014

Click to access Business_without_Borders.pdf

Click to access 021384_BusinessWOBorders_final.pdf

 

 

The Digital Revolution in Banking

Gail Kelly

Group of Thirty

 

Click to access OP89.pdf

 

 

Digital Trade and U.S. Trade Policy

Rachel F. Fefer

Shayerah Ilias Akhtar

Wayne M. Morrison

US Congress Research

January 13, 2017

Click to access R44565.pdf

 

 

Measuring the Value of Cross-Border Data Flows

US Deptt of Commerce

2016

Click to access measuring_cross_border_data_flows.pdf

 

Transatlantic Digital Economy and Data Protection: State-of-Play and Future Implications for the EU’s External Policies

EU Parliament

 

Click to access EXPO_STU(2016)535006_EN.pdf

 

 

Why globalization isn’t it in retreat, it’s gone digital

WEF

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/02/why-globalization-isnt-it-in-retreat-its-gone-digital

 

 

The ascendancy of international data flows

Jacques Bughin, Susan Lund

09 January 2017

http://voxeu.org/article/ascendancy-international-data-flows

 

 

DIGITAL TRADE AND THE TPP HOW ASIA-PACIFIC BENEFITS

 

Click to access digital+trade+and+the+TPP_v2_DIGITAL.pdf

 

 

The Digital Trade Imbalance and Its Implications for Internet Governance

Susan Ariel Aaronson

2016

 

Click to access gcig_no25_web_0.pdf

Click to access AaronsonIIEPWP2016-7.pdf

 

 

Solutions to the digital trade imbalance

Susan Ariel Aaronson

07 March 2016

http://voxeu.org/article/solutions-digital-trade-imbalance

http://www.worldcommercereview.com/publications/article_pdf/1049

 

 

Digital Trade in the U.S. and Global Economies, Part 2

USITC

2014

 

Click to access pub4485.pdf

 

 

Digital Trade in the U.S. and Global Economies, Part 1

USITC

2013

Click to access pub4415.pdf

 

 

Enter the Data Economy : EU Policies for a Thriving Data Ecosystem

European Commission

2017

 

Click to access strategic_note_issue_21.pdf

 

 

Data, Trade and Growth

BY DR. MICHAEL MANDEL

2014

Click to access 2014.04-Mandel_Data-Trade-and-Growth.pdf

 

 

Bridging the Data Gap How Digital Innovation Can Drive Growth and Create Jobs

By Paul Hofheinz and Michael Mandel

2014

 

Click to access LISBON_COUNCIL_PPI_Bridging_the_Data_Gap2.pdf

 

 

Measuring the Economic Value of Cross-Border Data Flows

April 22, 2016

Jessica R. Nicholson

UNCTAD

 

Click to access dtl_eweek2016_JNicholson_en.pdf

 

 

Trends in Digitally-Enabled Trade in Services

by Maria Borga and Jennifer Koncz-Bruner

 

Click to access trends_in_digitally_enabled_services.pdf

 

 

Digital Economy and Cross-Border Trade: The Value of Digitally-Deliverable Services

Jessica R. Nicholson and Ryan Noonan

2014

U.S. Department of Commerce / Economics and Statistics Administration

 

Click to access digitaleconomyandtrade2014-1-27final.pdf

 

 

World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends

World Bank 2016

http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2016

 

 

Cross-Border Data Flows Enable Growth in All Industries

BY DANIEL CASTRO AND ALAN MCQUINN

| FEBRUARY 2015

 

http://www2.itif.org/2015-cross-border-data-flows.pdf?_ga=1.64526831.1959464330.1454009762

 

 

Addressing Barriers to Digital Trade

Usman Ahmed and Grant Aldonas

WEF

E15 Initiative

December 2015

http://e15initiative.org/publications/addressing-barriers-to-digital-trade/

 

 

The Internet Economy in the G-20

The $4.2 Trillion Growth Opportunity

 

Click to access file100409.pdf

Business Investments and Low Interest Rates

Business Investments and Low Interest Rates

 

Longstanding IS-LM macroeconomic framework says that low interest rates should result in higher investment (as the cost of capital for investments declines).  However, in practice it is not true.  Business Investment also depends on many other factors such as profitability and projections for economic growth, market growth,  and Industry/sector growth (in which a company operates).  Low Interest rates also indicate low economic growth environment.  In a low growth environment, having poor projections of future cash flows from new investments, companies can not justify domestic Investments if financial hurdle rates are not met.

Corporations also may have attractive options for investment outside the country.  Free Trade agreements allow for business investments to move overseas for getting access to growing markets or for cost cutting reasons such as labor costs.

Instead of Investing in new capacity, companies are paying dividends, and buying back shares to boost share prices and doing acquisitions. Companies are using their own cash retained from earnings to pay dividends, buyback shares, and in some cases doing acquisitions. Debt-financed acquisitions are done through raising capital from capital markets.

Companies do not need to grow by new fixed investments when they can grow by acquiring other companies. Organic growth is the process of business expansion by increased output, customer base expansion, or new product development, as opposed to mergers and acquisitions, which is inorganic growth. Organic growth typically excludes the impact of foreign exchange.

There has been spectacular M&A activity in 2014, 2015 and is continuing in 2016.

In low economic growth and low interest rate environment, it may make more sense to grow by inorganic growth.  The justification for M&A is usually the combination of reduced costs of doing business and increased revenue from greater market share.   After completion of acquisition, acquiring company management may decide to rationalize business units – closing inefficient plants, laying off employees, combining overlapping internal corporate services departments.  These decisions depend on the type of M&A strategy.

Economists need to pay attention to these trends as well.  At present, there is no discussion of M&A activity in Economic Policy discourse among Economists and Policy makers.

 

Wall street data charts showing trends in Business Investments

na-cm077_resear_16u_20161026161806na-ck534_bizinv_16u_20160615183306

 

From  Jeff Cox / CNBC.com November 17 2016

Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues for quite some time have been bemoaning the low levels of business investment.

Pressed Thursday to explain why this has been the case, the central bank chief told Congress she wasn’t sure, but she denied it had anything to do with the Fed’s cheap-money policies of the past eight years.

“It’s not clear in my mind why it is that investment spending has been as weak as it is,” she told the Joint Economic Committee. “Initially, we had an economy with a lot of excess capacity. Firms were clearly operating without enough sales to justify a need to invest in additional capacity, and more recently with the economy moving toward full employment, we would expect to see investment spending pick up, and it’s not obvious exactly why it hasn’t picked up.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., suggested that the fault may lie in what the Fed has done. Specifically, he pointed to the central bank’s quantitative easing measures that saw the Fed’s balance sheet surge to $4.5 trillion largely on three rounds of bond buying.

Faced with the uncertainty of returns from capital expenditures and the near-certainty of returns on assets like stocks and bonds during what Cassidy called “easy money” QE programs, businesses opted for the latter, he said.

“I wouldn’t agree that the Fed’s monetary policy has hampered business investment or been a negative factor,” Yellen responded. “I’m not aware of any evidence that suggests that it is.”

She explained that productivity has been on the decline since companies started reversing bare-bones employment levels during the financial crisis. However, that has not been met with business investment, in part because companies don’t believe it “will produce returns that justify those investments,” Yellen said.

 

From Moody.com

Moody’s: US non-financial corporates’ cash pile increases to $1.68 trillion, tech holding the lead

Global Credit Research – 20 May 2016

New York, May 20, 2016 — US non-financial companies rated by Moody’s held $1.68 trillion in cash at the end of 2015, up 1.8% from $1.65 trillion the year prior, Moody’s Investors Services says in a new report. The top 50 holders of cash account for $1.14 trillion of the total cash pile, and entry to the top 50 list now requires $6.12 billion in cash.

“The top four cash-heavy US industries remain technology, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and energy,” says Richard Lane, a Moody’s Senior Vice President. These four industries currently hold a record $1.3 trillion, or 77% of total corporate cash and have accounted for more than 72% of the total every year since 2007.

The top five cash holders are Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco Systems and Oracle, Moody’s says in “US Non-Financial Companies: Cash Pile Grows 1.8% to $1.68 Trillion; Tech Extends Lead Over Other Sectors.”

Apple held $215.7 billion in total cash for the period. The company has held the top spot as cash king since 2009.

“While the concentration of cash among the top-rated cash holders continues to grow, so too has the portion held by the technology sector, which accounted for a record 46% of total cash in 2015, up from 41% in 2014,” Lane says.

Moody’s expects the technology sector cash concentration will grind higher over the next year because of the sector’s strong cash flow generation and despite stronger returns of capital to shareholders. The technology sector generated 63% of the total rated non-financial free cash flow in 2015, up from 37% in 2007.

For the top 50, capital spending fell by 3% to $885 billion, and net share buybacks fell 7% to $269 billion. Dividends increased by 4% to a record high of $404 billion, while acquisition spending increased 43%, to a record $401 billion.

For the first time since 2012, cash coverage of aggregate debt maturities over the next five years fell below 100% to 93% at the end of 2015.

In 2016, Moody’s expects aggregate spending on capital investments, dividends, acquisitions and share buybacks to again approximate $1.9 trillion.

 

From Wall Street Journal

mi-cp973_divide_16u_20160603184210

 

From DealLogic

mw-dn118_ma_acq_20150602090958_mg

 

From M&A experts weigh in on deals for 2017

manda3manda2017

 

From  US M&A market on a high

us-ma-2015

From IMAA

usmabestusmabest2

 

Key ideas/issues for M & A:

Why grow through M & A activities ?

  • Limited organic growth options
  • Need to address the transformation in the marketplace/existing business models
  • Availability of credit on favorable terms
  • Large Cash reserves/commitments
  • Shifting consumer demands
  • Improving Equity markets
  • Opportunities in emerging markets

What are concerns?

  • Slow growth environment
  • Lack of suitable targets
  • Record stock prices
  • Geopolitical risks
  • Others
  • Constrained Consumer Demand
  • Regulatory Considerations
  • Rising Interest Rates

 

 

Key terms:

  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Return on Invested Capital ( ROIC)
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
  • Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC)
  • Economic Value added (EVA)
  • Return on Assets (ROA)
  • Return on Equity (ROE)
  • Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
  • Capital Expenditures ( CAPEX)
  • Corporate Savings Glut
  • Business Fixed Investments
  • Share Buybacks
  • DIvidends
  • Acquisitions
  • NAFTA
  • TPP
  • TTIP
  • International Investment Position (IIP)
  • Free Trade
  • Direct Investment Position (FDI)
  • Trade Flows
  • Current Account
  • Capital Account
  • Organic Growth
  • Inorganic Growth

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

Business Investment in the United States: Facts, Explanations, Puzzles, and Policies

Remarks by Jason Furman Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers

September 30, 2015

 

Click to access 20150930_business_investment_in_the_united_states.pdf

Click to access 2015.09.30-Jason-Furman_Business-Investment-in-US-Facts-Explanations-Puzzles-Policies.pdf

 

 

Firms’ Investment Decisions and Interest Rates

Kevin Lane and Tom Rosewall

Click to access bu-0615-1.pdf

 

 

Investing when interest rates are low

By Timothy M. Koller, Jiri Maly, and Robert N. Palter

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/investing-when-interest-rates-are-low

 

 

Are low-interest rates contributing to low business investment?

By Nick Bunker

http://equitablegrowth.org/equitablog/are-low-interest-rates-contributing-to-low-business-investment/

 

 

Why isn’t Investment More Sensitive to Interest Rates: Evidence from Surveys

Steve A. Sharpe and Gustavo A. Suarez

2014

Click to access 201402r.pdf

 

 

Why Aren’t Low Rates Working? Blame Dividends

Since the Federal Reserve took rates to near zero, companies have boosted buybacks 194%

http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-arent-low-rates-working-blame-dividends-1465119005

 

 

Low Interest Rates Are Hurting Growth

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2016/10/04/low-interest-rates-are-hurting-growth/#5e9ccf813a2b

 

 

Secular Stagnation and Returns on Capital

Paul Gomme,  B. Ravikumar, Peter Rupert,

Click to access ES_19_2015-08-18.pdf

 

 

The Return to Capital and the Business Cycle

Gomme, Paul, B. Ravikumar, and Peter C. Rupert, 2006.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper no. 06-03.

https://www.clevelandfed.org/en/newsroom-and-events/publications/working-papers/working-papers-archives/2006-working-papers/wp-0603-the-return-to-capital-and-the-business-cycle.aspx

 

 

Long-term investment, the cost of capital and the dividend and buyback puzzle

Adrian Blundell-Wignall and Caroline Roulet

Click to access Long-term-investment_CapitalCost-dividend-buyback.pdf

 

 

The “Search for Yield” and Business Investment

By Jason M. Thomas

Click to access productivity_slowdown_may2016_final.pdf

 

 

Infrastructure versus other investments in the global economy and stagnation hypotheses: What do company data tell us?

Adrian Blundell-Wignall and Caroline Roulet*

Click to access Infrastructure-versus-other-investments-Global-economy-Stagnation-hypotheses.pdf

 

 

(Why) Is investment weak?

Ryan Banerjee Jonathan Kearns Marco Lombardi

Click to access r_qt1503g.pdf

 

 

The Fed Has Hurt Business Investment

by Michael Spence, Kevin Warsh

http://www.hoover.org/research/fed-has-hurt-business-investment

 

 

FRED data series on Savings and Investments

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/categories/112

 

 

Weak Business Investment, Lower Neutral Rate Impacting Each Other

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2160321-weak-business-investment-lower-neutral-rate-impacting-each-other/

 

 

The Corporate Saving Glut in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis

Joseph W. Gruber and Steven B. Kamin

Click to access ifdp1150.pdf

 

 

Rising Intangible Capital, Shrinking Debt Capacity, and the US Corporate Savings Glut

Antonio Falato Dalida Kadyrzhanova Jae W. Sim

November 2012. This version: June 2013

Click to access 5599_KADYRZHANOVA_Cover%20-%20Rising%20Intangible%20Capital,%20Shrinking%20Debt%20Capacity%20and%20the%20US%20Corporate%20Savings%20Glut.pdf

 

 

Corporate Profits and Business Fixed Investment: Why are Firms So Cautious about Investment?

Naoya Kato and Takuji Kawamoto

April 2016

Click to access rev16e02.pdf

 

 

The Evolution of Corporate Cash

John R. Graham
Mark T. Leary

Draft: February 2015

Click to access graham.pdf

 

 

Adverse Effects of Ultra-Loose Monetary Policies on Investment, Growth and Income Distribution

Andreas Hoffmann & Gunther Schnabl

Click to access Savings%20and%20Investment%20During%20the%20Great%20Depression%20and%20the%20Recent%20Global%20Crisis.pdf

 

 

NAFTA at 20

AFL-CIO

Click to access March2014_NAFTA20_nb.pdf

 

 

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

 

M. Angeles Villarreal

Ian F. Fergusson

April 16, 2015

Click to access R42965.pdf

 

 

 

NAFTA Revisited

PIIE

Click to access NAFTA_Revisited_Text.pdf

 

Direct Investment Positions for 2015 Country and Industry Detail

 

By Derrick T. Jenniges and James J. Fetzer

July 2016

 

Click to access 0716_direct_investment_positions.pdf

 

 

Activities of U.S. Multinational Enterprises in the United States and Abroad

Preliminary Results From the 2014 Benchmark Survey

 

Click to access 1216_activities_of_us_multinational_enterprises.pdf

 

 

2015: A Merger Bonanza
Nearly $5 trillion worth of deals were announced last year. Why do so many big companies want team up?

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/01/2015-mergers-acquisitions/423096/

 

 

M&A experts weigh in on deals for 2017

https://info.kpmg.us/ma-survey-2017.html?gclid=Cj0KEQiAkO7CBRDeqJ_ahuiPrtEBEiQAbYupJaJUqUI61s1m-kFVDnT112-3ocH1SdVfcCxiBiNX614aAuvj8P8HAQ

 

 

 

The Federal Reserve’s Impact on the US M&A Market: An Empirical Examination

Sebastian v. Boetticher

Spring 2015

 

Click to access Boetticher.pdf

 

 

M&A Statistics

IMAA offers extensive and up-to-date information, data, research on M&A and Mergers & Acquisitions statistics

https://imaa-institute.org/mergers-and-acquisitions-statistics/

 

 

Hearing: The Economic Outlook

Janet Yellen on November 16 2016 speaking at Joint Economic Committee

Listen/view at 1:33:00 her comments on Business Investments