CSOs Demand a Complete Overhaul of the ISDS System

By CSOs | Letter | October 30, 2018

More than 300 civil society groups and trade unions from 73 countries – including Madhyam – have urged governments participating in United Nations meetings in Vienna this week to completely overhaul the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system contained within many international trade and investment agreements. Released on October 30, their public letter is addressed to member governments attending meetings of the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), which provides one set of rules under which many ISDS cases are litigated. After years of public outcry against ISDS, UNCITRAL has decided to convene a working group to engage in a discussion about the…

Investment Facilitation: Another Fad in the Offing?

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | August 14, 2018

While nearly 90 members did not support discussions on investment facilitation at the WTO’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires in December 2017, a group of 70 members decided to launch a plurilateral initiative. Broadly speaking, investment facilitation refers to measures aimed at helping investors to start, operate and exit their businesses. Aimed at removing ground-level obstacles, it seeks to enhance the investment environment by improving transparency and predictability of investment policies, streamlining administrative procedures and adopting tools to handle inquiries or complaints by investors. Such measures are often seen as a means to attract FDI and maximize its contribution to development.

Notwithstanding that investment…

Why India should say ‘Sayonara RCEP’!

By Shalini Bhutani | Commentary | July 24, 2018

Japan has been in the news as the flag bearer of free trade in current times. This is particularly so after the USA under President Trump has been questioning international trade rules, be it the multilateral WTO or the regional NAFTA and the withdrawal from TPP. This, however, does not mean that the USA is withdrawing from trade liberalisation. It will pursue that through bilateral FTAs (free trade agreements). It only wants a better deal for American interests.

USA and Japan each have their ambitions for the Asia Pacific region. Japan is a big market for US goods, including for agricultural products and pharmaceuticals. While…

Rupee Depreciation: Causes and Consequences

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | July 9, 2018

On June 28, 2018, the Indian rupee plunged to an all-time low of 69.10 against the US dollar amid growing concerns over tightening of global financial conditions and higher crude oil prices coupled with the worsening of domestic macroeconomic variables especially the current account balance and inflation.

The mad rush for dollar by importers and currency speculators was halted temporarily after the central bank, Reserve Bank of India, aggressively intervened in the currency markets by selling dollars in both spot and forward markets to arrest the slide in the rupee. If the RBI had not intervened in the currency markets on that day, the rupee…

Argentina’s Peso Crisis, Capital Flows and Financial Fragility in Emerging Markets

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | May 11, 2018

On May 4, the Banco Central de la Republica Argentina, the country’s central bank, raised policy interest rates to a whopping 40 percent to stem the rapid depreciation of the national currency, the peso. The surprise rate increase was the third in a week after the central bank failed to halt the decline in the peso by spending $4.3 billion of foreign exchange reserves in just one week. In addition, the Argentine authorities reduced fiscal deficit target and announced new measures to calm the markets.

Market observers were confident that rapid-fire rate hikes and other measures will restore currency stability, but the Argentine peso plunged…