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New lines of research at CEI

Thursday 23 May 2013

In the framework of the presentation of the Argentine Journal of International Economics, the new lines of research that are being pursued by CEI in relation to Argentina's agenda of trade negotiations were commented on. Among these lines of research, the analysis of global value chains, multipolarity and power in international economic negotiations, and the study of the new issues found in the debate on trade and environment are of utmost importance.

Global value chains (GVC) are being given unusual prominence both in the research agendas of trade-related international organisations –WTO, OECD, UNCTAD– and in that of academics and institutes specialized in international economy and trade. The aim of this line of research is to provide a critical overview on this issue, especially with respect to the prescriptions that only seem to seek new grounds for moving ahead with the trade liberalisation agenda, showing a complete disregard for the consequences that this may have on development. We will try to contribute new elements to the debate, mainly from the perspective of developing countries, in general, and from that of Argentina, in particular.

In turn, the studies that participate in the debate on the “polarity” characterising the current world usually assume that the global power structure has changed significantly or they usually adopt a purely conceptual and descriptive approach to the changes that have taken place over the last years. A limited number of studies have attempted to empirically verify the process of global power redistribution, and those studies which have tried to do so have restricted their analysis to only very few indicators in order to show trends in a reduced group of countries. Thus, this line of research intends to provide some quantitative elements that should be useful to contrast, in a more rigorous way, the proposition that the world is heading towards a multipolar configuration and to measure the evolution of the so-called bargaining power.

With regard to the research studies on trade and environment, it is worth highlighting that the environment is increasingly being used to justify protectionist measures that enjoy greater social legitimacy. In the last years new issues have been included. In particular, what we have started to analyse as part of this line of research are the so-called payments for environmental services, their relation with agricultural and environmental policies adopted by developed economies, and their potential use as a disguised justification for agricultural subsidies. We will also examine the debates that are taking place in the different research and negotiation fora in which this topic is being discussed, paying special attention to the different strategies used for raising the issue in several fora, among which “forum shopping” stands out.