International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
If the world wants to distribute aid more effectively, pursue the Agenda for Sustainable Development, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the international architecture for development and environment must be reformed, according to a recent study commissioned by Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation. It argues that the current international structure is fragmented and dysfunctional, dominated by institutional and national interests, and characterized by overlapping responsibilities.
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Reinvigorating trade integration should be a key component of the global policy agenda to boost growth. Trade policy’s new frontiers such as services, regulatory cooperation, and trade and investment complementarities carry high potential to bolster efficiency and productivity. But with governments differing on whether to continue the WTO Doha Round, there is an urgent need to identify a path for the global trading system in today’s more complex trade policy landscape. A long interregnum without a path forward would risk fragmenting the global trade system and undermining its governance.
Tackling trade policy issues important to the global economy may require flexible approaches to multilateral negotiations, including modalities such as plurilaterals.
Enhanced coherence efforts are also needed to ensure that regional trade agreements and multilateralism coexist productively.
This paper explores the role of trade instruments in globally efficient climate policies, focusing on the central issue of whether some form of border tax adjustment (BTA) is warranted when carbon prices differ internationally. It shows that tariff policy has a role in easing cross-country distributional concerns that can make non-uniform carbon pricing efficient and, more particularly, that Pareto-efficiency requires a form of BTA when carbon taxes in some countries are constrained, a special case being identified in which this has the simple structure envisaged in practical policy discusions. It also stresses—a point that has been overlooked in the policy debate—that the efficiency case for BTA depends critically on whether climate policies are pursued by carbon taxation or by cap-and-trade.