The COVID19 pandemic has shown that, while physical presence-based commerce was suffering the consequences of social isolation, with many businesses going into bankruptcy, the e-commerce increased. With millions of new customers - lots of those who had never bought anything on the internet before - the sector experienced unprecedented growth, despite the Pandemic, despite the crisis.
Development, particularly in developing countries, in the current context requires thinking about how multiple global crises are interlinked, their impact on development prospects, and the narrative framing needed to generate positive and progressive systemic policy change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the current patterns of production and consumption, exemplified by GVCs and the global trade and investment order in which they operate. These fragilities have resulted in the aforementioned social, economic and financial crises but what they represent most of all, is a crisis of responsibility in which powerful actors, state and private, that have been the main beneficiaries of GVCs, have failed to discharge their ethical and normative obligations to those most vulnerable within their production and supply chains. To this end, a new approach is sorely needed to address the vulnerabilities of a global economy built on fragile GVC governance that serves as new nodes of global inequality and precarity.
This paper engages in a critical legal analysis of Professor Ian Taylor’s article, Sixty Years Later: Africa’s Stalled Decolonization. It is not meant to be an exhaustive analysis but will provide a limited legal perspective of the article’s foundational arguments on the underlying causes of Africa’s economic underdevelopment, through a legal lens rooted in intellectual property (IP) law and international investment law (IIL).
The most glaring gap in global economic governance is the lack of an orderly and fair sovereign debt restructuring arrangement. Annamaria Viterbo’s new volume, Sovereign Debt Restructuring: the Role and Limits of Public International Law, helps us understand why this is so and how we might move forward.
As a preliminary matter, based on the research that has been done so far to address the primary question as to whether there is an Asian approach to international law that is distinct from international law that was derived from the West, it is too early at this point to make a substantive conclusion that there is a unique perspective to international law that emanates from Asia.
In the tax world, this is significant because businesses react to tax policy. Tax policy, in turn, stimulates the interest of both local and international investors who are the key drivers of economic growth. Therefore, the challenges of the economic downturn will be more glaring and significant for African countries, who have a greater reliance on tax revenue from large taxpayers than more advanced economies.
Rwanda envisions itself as the next Luxembourg or the next Singapore; a new financial center that will turn East Africa into an international power player and will service financial transactions throughout the African continent and beyond. While other financial centers are often accused of being tax havens, Rwanda is determined to avoid that label. It says the new hub, the Kigali International Financial Center (KIFC), will not allow business activity designed to avoid taxation. Details are forthcoming but Rwanda Finance Limited, the government entity that is developing the project, says all investments at KIFC must have a substantive business and economic purpose.
As evidence shows that tax incentives are not key drivers of investment and the opportunity cost of the incentives are high with dire implications for the health sector in Africa, it becomes pertinent for African countries to re-evaluate and reform their tax incentives frameworks. To achieve this, African countries need to ensure that all tax incentives are only considered after conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the potential impact of the incentives.
There is no room for experts from affluent countries to swoop in and tell less affluent countries what they ought to do to reform their tax systems. Instead, experts from wealthy countries need to take tax policy spillovers seriously and correct the systemic flaws in the international tax regime that make it hard for some countries to tax effectively. This is, in my view, crucial to forming an acceptable international social contract going forward.