Center of Concern and Institute for Applied Economic Research Convene International Seminar to Analyze Macroeconomic Impacts of Global Value Chains

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Thu, Feb 27, 2014

Rio de Janeiro—International seminar participants evaluate global value chain trading trends of developing countries and alert economic communities to the impact of inaccurate data reporting of domestic imports and exports. Click here for full press release. 

In Brazil, at a recent seminar co-convened by the Center of Concern (Center) and the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), international policymakers, academics, officials from intergovernmental organizations examined the increasingly prevalent modality of production, global value chains, by which multi-national corporate networks can blur the line between imports and exports and distort trade results. Participants queried the accuracy of both the data production model and the data used to report value of trade, noting the difficulty of assessing value added from country to country.

The Center’s Director of Rethinking Bretton Woods ProjectAldo Caliari opened the seminar by challenging participants to analyze the impact of global value chains on international trade negotiations and on trade and development. Caliari says, “The major trade barrier faced by a company in a developing country may no longer be associated with tariffs or quotas that are typically negotiated in trade treaties but with whether the company can fulfill tight standards established by a private buyer with presence in the market for the final goods.”

Seminar participants shared observations about decades of economic reporting trends of developing countries. Caliari says, “Global value chains are not a new phenomenon. In fact, a 2002 United Nations report noted that developing countries, after introducing many trade liberalization reforms in the 1980s and 1990s were, in the aggregate, trading more and earning less.” The discrepancy in data measuring trade volume and data measuring trade value added requires more relevance in international economic thinking.

Participants raised questions across many concerns, including: how human development was considered in economic reporting; what are the implications of global value chains for industrial and investment policies; what are the trade-offs for regional firms participating in chains; and what are the challenges that power dynamics pose within value chains. “One thing is clear,” says Caliari, “as the economic community analyzes value chains, we should not forget the lessons learned through previous experiences regarding openness, growth, and development.”

Center of Concern’s Rethinking Bretton Woods (RBW) project was founded in 1995 to promote reforms of international financial institutions—such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Over time, its focus has evolved to promote reform of the international financial system, its rules and institutions, with the purpose of democratizing economic policy-making, achieving human rights and sustainable development.

The project carries out advocacy-oriented research, popular education and coalition-building engaging government and intergovernmental officials, policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics, grassroots activists, social movements and the public. It works closely with partner organizations in the U.S., Europe, and all the regions of the Global South.

Founded in 1971, the Center of Concern researches, educates, and advocates from Catholic social tradition in order to create a world where economic, political, and cultural systems promote sustainable flourishing of the global community.