A new paper* on the implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement for New Zealand examines key economic issues likely to be impacted by this trade agreement. It is remarkable how little TPP brings to the table. NZ’s gross domestic product will grow by 47 per cent by 2030 without the TPP, or by 47.9 per cent with the TPP. Even that small benefit is an exaggeration, as the modelling makes dubious assumptions, and the real benefits will be even smaller. If the full costs are included, net economic benefits to the NZ economy are doubtful. The gains from tariff reductions are less than a quarter of the projected benefits according to official NZ government modelling. Although most of the projected benefits result from reducing non-tariff barriers (NTBs), the projections rely on inadequate and dubious information that does not even identify the NTBs that would be reduced by the TPP!
The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), negotiated in Atlanta in October 2015 and to be signed in Auckland in February 2016, privileges foreign investors while imposing substantial costs on partner countries. Touted as a ‘gold standard’ 21st century trade deal, it is critical to ascertain what gains can really be expected and whether these exceed costs.
With the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events adversely affecting agricultural outputs and farmers’ incomes, commercial crop insurance has been touted as the solution for vulnerable farmers all over the world. Financial and farm interests have been promoting US crop insurance as the solution. It is instructive to consider lessons from the 2012 drought.
The US once led the post-war global effort against hunger and food insecurity, but corporate influence on government trade negotiators now seek to prevent other countries from using some of the very measures it pioneered.
The latest estimates are that over two billion people in the world suffer some micronutrient deficiencies, often referred to as “hidden hunger.” The main sustainable solution is to ensure adequate public health interventions, including clean water, sanitation and hygiene as well as healthy, diverse diets for all.
The world today faces a crisis of climate and a crisis of development. Both are consequences of the nature of growth of the world economy over the last two centuries, especially during the recent period.
Investing in a low carbon infrastructure, particularly renewable energy, is key to addressing climate change. The really big investment challenges are in the developing world where access to modern energy services is far below what is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals; indeed, almost two billion people still lack access to electricity.
Climate change impacts are already upon us. Sea levels are rising, glaciers and ice are melting. People in poor countries are struggling to cope and adapt. Even developed countries are facing adverse consequences, taxing their own adaptive capacities to increased flooding, drought and fires. We cannot afford to wait.
Food systems are increasingly challenged to ensure food security and balanced diets for all, around the world. Almost 800 million people are chronically hungry, while over two billion people suffer from “hidden hunger,” with one or more micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile, over two billion people are overweight, with a third of them clinically obese, and hence more vulnerable to non-communicable diseases.
At the end of 2014, an estimated 795 million people – one in nine people worldwide – were estimated to be chronically hungry. All but 15 million of the world’s hungry live in developing countries, i.e., 780 million are in developing countries, where the share of the hungry has declined by less than half – from 23.4 per cent in 1991 to 12.9 per cent.
Slower economic growth since 2008, and especially with the commodity price collapse since the end of last year, threatens to reverse the exceptional half-decade before the financial crash when growth in the South stayed ahead of the North. From 2002, many developing countries – including some of the poorest– had been growing much faster after a quarter century of stagnation in Africa, for example.
Over the eight years since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the ranks of the unemployed have swollen to over 200 million worldwide. That number captures only a fraction of those who remain vulnerable and insecure, since more than four-fifths of the global workforce is outside the formal sector, with poor access to unemployment or other traditional social security benefits.
In recent decades, many developing countries have experienced declines in fiscal revenue as a share of national income. There is an urgent need to reverse this trend, with greater revenue collection to finance the realization of developing countries’ developmental aspirations.
It has become clear that the South, including the least developed countries, has little reason to expect any real progress to the almost half century old commitment to transfer 0.7 percent of developed countries’ income to developing countries. But to add insult to injury, developing countries have, once again, been denied full participation in inter-governmental discussions to enhance overall as well as national tax capacities.
Over three quarters of the extreme poor in the world live in the countryside. Reducing rural poverty will therefore require significantly higher rural incomes. Since most rural incomes are related to agriculture, raising agricultural productivity can help raise rural incomes all round.