A group of 12 researchers from Vi Brazilian member, the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), including Carlos Lampert, Deputy Director of International Studies, and Ivan Oliveira, coordinator of International Economic Issues, took part in a Vi videoconference with Guillermo Valles, Director of UNCTAD's Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities (DITC), December 5.
The idea of the videoconference originated from the sabbatical stay at IPEA of DITC’s Ana Maria Alvarez.
Focusing on trade issues relevant for policymaking, Valles introduced the focus and orientations of UNCTAD's research work.
"Our research goes beyond the division's well-known analysis of trends in international trade," he said, stressing the importance of looking at new phenomena, including non-tariff measures (NTMs) and private standards. NTMs include a wide category of instruments such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, quotas, anti-competitive measures, import or export licenses, export restrictions, custom surcharges, financial measures, antidumping measures, etc.
"Higher transparency regarding the use of NTMs will allow a better measurement of their impact," he explained.
With this aim, a classification of NTMs was prepared by a group of technical experts from UNCTAD and other international organizations.
"This classification shall be used as the basis to collect, classify and disseminate information on non-tariff regulations applied by a country,” he said. “However, what really counts is to analyze the impact of these measures on trade and development, and seek alternatives and, where appropriate, harmonization."
The presentation was followed by a brainstorming session about possible research cooperation on trade issues of interest to both UNCTAD and IPEA.
The impact of global value chains on trade was one of such issues. There is a concern that the wish of developing countries to integrate into value chains may be used as an instrument for reduction of tariffs on intermediate and capital goods and the protection of intellectual property rights in WTO negotiations.
"UNCTAD's position is that the participation in global value chains should trigger technology improvement and upgrade of productive capacities, and be integrated with targeted industrial policies," Valles explained.
Other topics discussed include the impact of monetary policies, especially exchange rate policy, on trade; regional trade agreements concluded by BRICS countries; and the role of BRICS in fostering South-South cooperation.