How did the rise of multinational enterprises (MNEs) put pressure on the prevailing international corporate tax framework? MNEs, and firms with market power, are not new phenomena, nor is the corporate income tax, which dates to the early 20th century. This prompts the question, what is distinctly new (about multinational enterprises)—if anything—that has triggered unprecedented recent concerns about vulnerabilities in international tax arrangements and the taxation of MNEs? This paper presents a set of empirical observations and a synthesis of strands of the literature to answer this question. A key message is that MNEs of the 21st century operate differently from prior periods and have evolved to become global firms—with important tax ramifications. The fragility of international tax arrangements was present at the outset of designing international tax rules, but the challenges have drastically intensified with the global integration of business, the increased trade in hard-to-price services and intangibles, and the rapid growth of the digital economy.
We present and discuss a set of indicators to help assess countries’ trade policies. The indicators relate to three policy areas – trade in goods, trade in services, and FDI. Given concerns about the direction of global trade policy, we also consider a set of more granular measures that reflect the evolution of countries’ policies since the 2008 financial crisis. We propose a simple approach to present the multidimensional aspects of trade policy that, by shedding light on relative openness across areas, can facilitate policy discussions. In the cross-section of countries, we find a diversity in the type of measures adopted, both between and (since the 2008 financial crisis) within policy areas, lending support to the approach based on multiple indicators. The indicators’ time series suggest that advanced and, especially, emerging economies are moving toward more open regimes over time, although recently progress has, with some exceptions, slowed across the board. Lastly, our findings also call for stronger efforts to objectively quantify the different aspects of countries’ trade regimes. More data, both across countries and in terms of policy areas that significantly affect trade, are needed for better-informed policy discussions.
This paper aims to provide European Union (EU), while recognizing that the choice of whether to remain in the EU is for U.K. voters to make and that their decisions will reflect both economic and noneconomic factors. The question of EU membership is both a political and an economic issue, and the referendum has sparked a wide-ranging debate on the United Kingdom’s role in the EU. Given the range of plausible alternative arrangements with the EU, the number of channels by which countries could be affected and the range of possible effects on the United Kingdom and other economies are broad.