Friday, October 29, 2010
Yesterday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures announced its decision to give 19 developing countries a bit more time to eliminate their prohibited export subsidies. Under the WTO Subsidies Agreement, export subsidies are defined as financial contributions made by governments to specific industries that confer benefits contingent upon export performance. The Committee extended by one year (until the end of 2011) the requirement under WTO rules that all export subsidies be eliminated.
The beneficiary countries are the following: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Jamaica, Jordan, Mauritius, Panama, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Uruguay. The export subsidy programs primarily relate to free trade zones and tax incentives for exporters.
More information about WTO subsidy and CVD measures can be found here.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
If you teach Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in your international law, international business, or trade class, you will be happy to see a useful, four-page publication that describes the most recent global investment trends. I think it would be a good handout (or link) for students. It is published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Click here to see the latest issue.
Among the highlights of the latest issue: FDI flows to the United Kingdom and United States were hit especially hard in the second quarter of 2010. Developing and transistion economies experienced similar decreases in FDI inflows. But during the same period FDI flows to China increased by 20 percent. The Russian Federation saw an increase of 30 percent.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Yesterday, the nonprofit organization, Transparency International (TI), released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2010. The CPI is a measure of domestic, public sector corruption defined by TI as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain." According to a TI press release, the "2010 CPI show that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale of from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption), indicating a serious corruption problem." Somalia was rated as the most corrupt country with Afghanistan and Myanmar tying for second-to-last place. On a more positive note, three countries, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore, tied for the top spot as the least corrupt countries. The United States fell from 19 (2009) to 22 (2010) in the CPI.
The CPI is created using different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent institutions. Broadly speaking, the questions asked in these assessments and surveys relate to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in government procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and questions regarding the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.
TI recommends greater government commitment to anti-corruption, transparency and accountability. As part of that effort, TI advocates stricter implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption. That Convention entered into force in 2005 and already has 148 States Parties. For more information about the UN Convention Against Corruption, click here.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Transnational bribery enforcement under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has increased significantly since the last OECD evaluation of the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention by the United States, according to a new OECD report. But effectiveness could also be enhanced, including by taking into consideration private sector views in the United States’ periodic review of its policies and approach on facilitation payments.
Since 2002, 71 individuals and 88 enterprises have been held accountable, criminally and civilly, for transnational bribery. The U.S. has also achieved record penalties for FCPA violations during this period, including, in one case, USD 800 million against a single company.
In the context of its regular cycle of reviews, the 38-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed the first review of a new phase of peer review mechanism, evaluating the United States enforcement of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
In its report, the Working Group commended the United States for its engagement with the private sector, substantial enforcement, and commitment from the highest levels of the U.S. Government. In addition to the recommendation on facilitation payments, it also made recommendations that include the following on ways to improve U.S. enforcement:
Consolidating publicly available information on the application of the FCPA, including the affirmative defence for reasonable and bona fide expenses;
To increase transparency, making public, where appropriate, more information on the use of Non-Prosecution Agreements (NPAs) and Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) in specific cases; and
Ensure that the overall limitation period applicable to the foreign bribery offence is sufficient to allow adequate investigation and prosecution.
The Working Group also highlighted good practices developed within the U.S. legal and policy framework that helped it achieve such a high level of enforcement, including the creation of specialised enforcement units dedicated to foreign bribery, and the use of plea agreements, DPAs and NPAs and the appointment of corporate monitors. These efforts have also encouraged the establishment of robust compliance programmes and measures among companies subject to U.S. anti-bribery law. The Working Group also welcomed the United States’ efforts to encourage close co-operation between the United States and foreign authorities.
The report, available at www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption, lists all of the recommendations adopted by the Working Group on Bribery, and includes an overview of enforcement actions and specific legal and policy features in the United States for combating the bribery of foreign public officials. The United States will make an oral follow-up report on its actions to implement certain key recommendations of the Working Group after one year. The United States will further submit a written report to the Working Group within two years, which will be the basis of a publicly available evaluation by the Working Group of the United States’ implementation of the recommendations.
(From the OECD)
Monday, October 25, 2010
The Council for American Students in International Negotiations (CASIN) invites student applications to attend the 9th Session of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court a the United Nations Headquarters New York, NY, from December 6th 2010- December 10th 2010.
The Council for American Students in International Negotiations (CASIN) strives to deepen the commitment of American students to multilateral institutions through scholarship, discourse, and engagement in international policy. One of our key initiatives is to expose students to international diplomacy in action on a number of topics. At this conference, students will have the opportunity to observe proceedings of the Assembly of States Parties, the governing body of the International Criminal Court.
If you are interested in attending please contact Anna Sandor at anna.sandor [at] americanstudents.us or tanya [at] americanstudents.us> for further information and for the conference application, which is due on November 1, 2010.
The organization has other events during the year (not just at exam time!). Students who are interested in attending future delegations should sign up to be a member of CASIN on our website (membership is free).
Hat tip to Anna Sandor
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Today, Sunday, October 24, 2010, marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter by 50 member states. Since 1945, UN membership has grown to 192 states. President Truman issued the first UN Day Proclamation in 1947 asking Americans to spend time on UN Day reflecting on the importance of the UN to U.S. national security and to individuals. While the UN is sometimes criticized for its inability to prevent or stop armed conflict, it carries out important work on many fronts on a daily basis, including coordination of international travel, mail and telecommunications, promotion of international trade and development, protection of refugees, and development of international rules to protect individuals and the environment, among many other activities.
The theme of this year's UN Day is "Engaging America with the Millennium Development Goals." The MDGs were adopted in 1990 and include the following goals:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat disease
7. Ensure environmental stability
8. Develop a global partnership for development
More details regarding the MDGs and the progress that has been made can be found here.