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Global Trade Data
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World Economics, December 2019
There are serious problems with official trade statistics since according to the IMF in 2016 the world imported US$339 billion more than it exported. The Ricardian concept of comparative advantage in final goods is no longer fully relevant to explain trade between countries and the solution is to operate a paradigm shift in the packaging and interpretation of trade data. The accuracy and reliability of data is affected by a number of key biases separate from data quality issues and misreporting. The main problems are trade data asymmetries; the Rotterdam Effect and the impact of global value chains. Until this happens international trade statistics will be used as evidence of global trade imbalances and form the basis of potentially misguided policies aimed at their correction.
Thrown Away Thrice: The global second-hand clothes trade expires on the beaches of Africa
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Lionel Stanbrook, World Economics, December 2019
Thousands of garment-making businesses throughout West Africa have been destroyed over the past few generations by his shabby international exploitation which was been hand in glove with the elimination of traditional garment-making businesses by aggressive European, US, and Chinese clothes manufacturing in factories located in Africa over the same period. The grim result is that Africans have fewer choices in domestically made clothes now than twenty, thirty, or even fifty years ago. Even the famous waxed cloth pagnes (kaftans or bou-bous) which seem quintessentially West African, are very largely imported from Europe (the largest production company is the Dutch VLISCO) although there remain important pockets of original African textile production, although unfortunately with products that are beyond the economic means of ordinary Africans. The shabby value chain in second-hand clothes starts in glitzy shopping malls in the most developed countries, with excessive and unnecessary purchases of clothes by consumers hungry for a new look.
The Alarming Problems Caused By Misleading Trade Data
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World Economics, March 2020
The fact that world exports do not match world imports indicates that there are serious problems with official trade statistics. Far too few economists and politicians will try to understand the murky reality behind these increasingly unreliable data.
How Accurate are Global Trade-Finance Data?
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2019
Over 80% of international trade is financed by some form of credit, but the size of the trade finance market has received little attention by economists. It has been estimated that there is currently a world trade finance gap of around US$1.5 trillion acting as a drag on international trade and GDP growth. Survey-based estimates of traditional trade finance provided by banks at US$4.6 trillion in 2017 are highly inconsistent and are based on flawed data and opaque methodologies. The problem of collecting reliable data needed to promote trade growth and to monitor financial stability is being exacerbated as the trade finance sector is undergoing rapid structural change.
Trade Data: Use with Care
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, December 2017
Politicians focus on trade deficits and surpluses between countries and threaten trade wars and retaliatory actions, but the conventional international trade statistics used by many commentators are inaccurate. World exports and imports do not balance, but asymmetries are also found in the balance of trade statistics between countries and regions and these discrepancies can be very large in emerging markets. The ‘Rotterdam effect’ distorts the measurement of trade flows and balances where goods are recorded as imports into one country, which subsequently re-exports them to third countries without taking note of the country of origin. The Apple ‘Made in China’ question, or the existence of global value chains where much trade is in intermediate inputs, indicates that conventional trade statistics involve double-counting and misallocated trade balances.
Editorial: Official Trade Data: Still Fit for Purpose?
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World Economics, December 2012
There is no summary available for this paper.
Global Value Chains, International Trade Statistics and Policymaking in a Flattening World
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Alejandro Jara & Hubert Escaith, World Economics, December 2012
The raise of global production networks since the 1980s changed the way we understand international trade and has profound repercussions on development policies and the conduct of global governance. New comparative advantages allow large developing countries to leap-frog through their industrialization process while smaller economies without large internal market or mining resources are now able to build an industrial base. Offshoring also gave the possibility to firms from industrialised countries to remain competitive in front of fast-expanding firms from emerging countries. But in the process, the relative demand for low and medium skilled workers in industrialised countries contracted, and this employment and income effect became a political issue and fuelled demand for protectionism. Unfortunately, the debate lacks accurate data as traditional statistics give only a blurred picture of what is known as ‘trade in tasks’. Before revising the trade and governance implications, the article calls for a new measurement of international trade based on its value-added content in order to have a better understanding of the actual issues.
Measuring Global Drug Markets
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Peter Reuter & Victoria Greenfield , World Economics, December 2001
The continuing demand for measures of the size of global drug revenues has produced a supply of numbers that consistently overstate international financial flows. This paper shows that, rather than $500 billion, the annual figure in trade terms may be about $25 billion. As with many refined agricultural products, most of the revenues go to distributors rather than to primary producing countries. The authors explore the need for estimates of the global drug markets, address the difficulties of obtaining ‘good’ numbers, and describe opportunities for developing better estimates of flows and revenues. There are at least three reasons for caring about the numbers: they can help to improve understanding of the drug production and consumption problem and identify appropriate policy responses.

Displaying: 1-8 of 8