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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Updated Look at Trade in the Commitment to Development Index

After some modest tweaks over the years, the trade component of the Commitment to Development Index got a makeover in 2013—not a new face, but a nip and tuck here and there. The latest CDI includes a more direct measure of tacit barriers to trade from the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators on the time and cost to import, exclusive of tariffs. The trade component also now recognizes the growing importance of trade in services—and barriers to it—thanks to another team of World Bank economists that developed the Services Trade Restrictiveness Index.

Comment on USTR Speech Is Hobbled by Government Shutdown

Compared to my husband and other federal workers that suddenly find themselves with lots of free time but no pay, my problem is trivial. Nevertheless, it is hard for me to do my job if I can’t get data! After reading US Trade Representative Froman’s speech at the World Trade Organization’s public forum yesterday, I wanted to look at data on US trade with poor Asian countries.

Brookings-UN Report Gets It Wrong on AGOA

The Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative, in conjunction with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, recently released an important report on possibilities for renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The report uses a standard trade model to explore the impact of various scenarios. It has the imprimatur of two prestigious institutions and was launched at a high-profile event with US Trade Representative Michael Froman as featured speaker, so it could be an important contribution to the debate over the future of AGOA.

Suspending Trade Privileges a Tiny Twig to Push Worker Rights in Bangladesh

The Obama administration has announced the suspension of Bangladesh’s trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) over the country’s failure to improve working conditions and protect worker rights. The decision is not surprising given the problems in Bangladesh, but, as I noted here in January, it is purely symbolic. First, GSP does not include clothing. Second, it accounts for a trivial $35 million of duty-free exports, or less than 1 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports to the United States, most of which (90 percent) is clothing. Meanwhile, most Bangladeshi exports face an average duty of 15 percent, one of the highest rates in the US market.

Two Challenges for New US Trade Rep Michael Froman

First, congratulations. In a rare show of bipartisanship, the US Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Michael Froman, previously the president’s top international economic adviser in the White House, as the new US Trade Representative (93-4). Ambassador Froman will have his plate full, with the “mega-regional” negotiations in the Pacific and with the European Union. But I also hope he won’t forget “working to foster development through trade,” as he pledged at his swearing-in.

A To Do List for Brazil’s Azevedo at the WTO

Congratulations to Ambassador Roberto Azevedo from Brazil, who will be the next Director-General of the WTO. Ambassador Azevedo campaigned for the WTO position as an insider who could hit the ground running and that is exactly what he will need to do. He also said that being an insider would help him in rebuilding trust among the members and he will need to get started on that immediately—even before he takes over on September 1.

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