A technical assistance (TA) mission was conducted by IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Center for Southern Africa (AFS)1 during June 8–12, 2020 to assist Statistics Botswana (SB) in improving the quality of the national accounts statistics. The mission was conducted remotely respecting the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Reliable national accounts are essential for informed economic policymaking by the authorities. It also provides the private sector, foreign investors, rating agencies, donors and the public in general with important inputs in their decision-making, while informing economic analysis and IMF surveillance. Rebasing the national accounts is recommended every five years. Rebasing requires comprehensive surveys and ideally, supply and use tables (SUT) to support coherence checking of data.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Marco Marini, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello
Vessel traffic data based on the Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a big data source for nowcasting trade activity in real time. Using Malta as a benchmark, we develop indicators of trade and maritime activity based on AIS-based port calls. We test the quality of these indicators by comparing them with official statistics on trade and maritime statistics. If the challenges associated with port call data are overcome through appropriate filtering techniques, we show that these emerging “big data” on vessel traffic could allow statistical agencies to complement existing data sources on trade and introduce new statistics that are more timely (real time), offering an innovative way to measure trade activity. That, in turn, could facilitate faster detection of turning points in economic activity. The approach could be extended to create a real-time worldwide indicator of global trade activity.
"Trade integration can play a much larger role in boosting shared prosperity. The current focus on trade tensions threatens to obscure the great untapped benefits possible from further trade reform. The opportunities provided by information technology and other fundamental changes in the global economy are yet to be reflected in modern areas of trade policy, such as services and electronic commerce. Greater openness in these areas would promote competition, lift productivity, and raise living standards. In many other areas, such as the rural economy, smaller enterprises, and women’s economic empowerment, trade-related reforms are important particularly to foster more inclusive growth.
Harnessing flexible approaches to WTO negotiations may be the key to reinvigorating global trade reform. Despite the benefits at stake—and with important exceptions such as the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement—trade reform has lagged since the early 2000s. For much of this period, governments focused their efforts in the WTO on a single negotiating approach. Now, as groups of WTO members pursue joint initiatives in several areas, attention is turning to how other negotiating approaches—including some used effectively in the past—can be leveraged so that trade once again plays its full role in driving increased global economic prosperity.
Building greater, more durable openness—this paper’s focus—should be part of a broader effort to strengthen and reinvest in the global trading system. The system of global trade rules that has nurtured unprecedented economic growth across multiple generations faces tensions. Though only recently brought to the fore, those tensions are rooted in issues that have been left unresolved for too long. Governments need to promptly address outstanding questions involving, for example, the WTO dispute system and the reach of subsidy disciplines. Cooperative action to secure greater openness—an imperative in its own right—could also help to resolve these"
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.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Trade policy occupies an unusual and at times problematic place in the work of the IMF. Though trade policies of IMF members have strong influences on macroeconomic stability, they are often seen as peripheral to the IMF’s core competency. This evaluation, which examines the IMF’s involvement in trade policy issues during 1996–2007, addresses five questions. What is the nature of the IMF’s mandate to cover trade policy? Did the IMF work effectively with other international organizations on trade policy issues? Did the Executive Board provide clear guidance to staff on the IMF’s role and approach to trade policy? How well did the IMF address trade policy issues through lending arrangements and surveillance? Was IMF advice effective? The evaluation finds that the IMF’s role in trade policy has evolved in some desirable and some less desirable ways and recommends how to use the limited resources the IMF can devote to trade policy to fill these gaps.
The paper finds that simple econometric specifications yield surprising rich and complex dynamics -- relative prices respond to the nominal exchange rate and pass-through effects, import and export volumes respond to relative price changes, and the trade balance responds to changes in import and export values.
The data module of this Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) of Tanzania provides a summary assessment of practices on the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of the data categories against the IMF’s General Data Dissemination System (GDDS). It is complemented by an assessment of the quality of national accounts, consumer and producer price indices, and government finance, monetary, and balance-of-payments statistics, using the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) developed by the IMF’s Statistics Department (STA).
The Manual sets out an internationally agreed framework for the compilation and reporting of statistics on international trade in services in the broad sense. It addresses the growing need, including in international trade negotiations and agreements, for more detailed, comparable, and comprehensive statistics on this type of trade in its various forms. The recommendations will enable countries to progressively expand and structure the information they compile in an internationally comparable way. The Manual conforms with and explicitly relates to the System of National Accounts 1993 and the fifth edition of the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual. It is published jointly by the United Nations, European Union, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, and World Trade Organization.
The paper seeks to establish a link between the liberalization of trade in financial services undertaken by countries under the WTO and the stability of their financial systems. The paper concludes that liberalization has generally been conducive to stability because of the mutually reinforcing nature of existing international rules and practices. Financial stability and efficiency, which should be ultimate goals of further liberalization, can be ensured by taking advantage of coherent policy advice and the application of existing multilateral mechanisms-in particular, the WTO negotiations and the IMF/World Bank financial sector assessment program.
The substantial increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) in recent years has triggered a discussion of a uniform treatment of investment in international law. Most contributions to the multilateral investment framework derive from the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements on trade liberalization. The resulting framework is incomplete, as the WTO agreements restrict their focus on investment to aspects related to international trade and often apply to selected sectors only. A broader investment regime is needed to provide a more neutral incentive framework for investment liberalization and to promote efficient international investment flows.