Tuesday, 29 November 2016

New Report | Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016: Recent Trends and Developments | by UN-ESCAP

Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016: Recent Trends and Developments

by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, UN-ESCAP, November 2016, ISBN: 9789211207323.



The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes international trade as a generator of inclusive economic growth. It adds value to economies, provides foreign exchange earnings to help finance development and enables job creation, all of which contribute to poverty reduction. Taking advantage of its dynamism, diversity and labor markets has enabled Asia and the Pacific to be competitive in international markets. This is evidenced by the rise in the region's share of global trade and participation in associated value chains.

Like elsewhere, however, the Asia and Pacific region has faced protracted global headwinds since 2007, which has impacted the trade sector and its prospects. This latest Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016 highlights that the region's trade flows are wavering amid continued sluggish global economic and trade growth, downward movement of world commodity prices and an uncertain policy environment. These outcomes come at a time when the need for trade growth to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is critical.

Even though regional trade did gain some momentum during 2010-2014, the nominal value of Asia and Pacific exports and imports in 2015 experienced a major slump of 9.7 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. Sluggish growth in trade is expected to continue through to the end of 2016. Forecasts, presented in this Report, do offer hope for a rebound in trade, more so in value, but growth in exports and imports in volume terms will be around 2.2 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively.

To its credit, most of Asia's exporting economies have decoupled from the economic cycles in traditional exports markets, like the United States and the European Union, by not only diversifying their export markets but also through boosting domestic consumption and the services sector. Notwithstanding, the region has the potential to lead by example and revitalize its trade momentum, which will be critical to ensuring our future is sustainable and that our societies are more equal.

Concurrent to trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to developing countries have also slowed. FDI flows and regional integration policies have been adversely affected by populist sentiments which have been growing globally. In Asia and the Pacific, growing discontentment with liberalization has to a certain extent been influenced by the inequitable distribution of the benefits of liberalization and rising inequalities. In this context, it is of little surprise that a number of new restrictive trade measures, particularly in G20 countries, were implemented in 2016.

This year's edition of the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR) does, however, reveal positive news. With a share of 40%, the Asia-Pacific region is still the largest goods exporting region globally. The region's share in commercial services trade continues to strengthen and restrictiveness of services trade has not increased in the region's economies. Furthermore, the region's active actions towards international investment liberalization helped greenfield FDI inflows grow much faster than the global average. Significant progress was also witnessed in the region's efforts to decrease trade costs, illustrated by the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific. A significant number of economies in our region have also already ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, with the 12 remaining Asia-Pacific economies on track to ratify the Agreement soon.

In addition to these developments, Asia and the Pacific also witnessed the first signs of some consolidation among the preferential trade activities in the region. Nevertheless, after the results of the recent United States election, it appears that at least one of the mega-regional agreements signed in 2016, has an uncertain future. This is disappointing, and represents a considerable loss in terms of time and costs for the countries that were involved in negotiating this agreement. Moving forward, these developments may, however, allow the region's economies to focus more on South-South integration and enable them to promote trade and investment linkages suited to their development aspirations.

I recommend the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016: Recent Trends and Developments to all Governments, development partners and other stakeholders. Together with 5 sub-regional and almost 30 country trade briefs, this Report offers comprehensive evidence that will help in the introduction of well-informed trade and investment trends and policies across the region. Given that the short-term prospects for international trade are not promising, the changing patterns and prospects outlined in this Report highlight that achieving the 2030 Agenda will require the continued and dedicated efforts of our region's economies to create a strong, vibrant and enabling environment for international trade and investment.

 Shamshad Akhtar | Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations | Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Merchandise Trade Still in Trouble?

Chapter 2. Trade in Commercial Services Sliding Downhill

Chapter 3. Foreign Direct Investment Makes a Modest Come-Back

Chapter 4. Trade Facilitation in Asia and the Pacific: An Update

Chapter 5. Regional Trends in Trade Policies: Building Taller Fences?

Chapter 6. Preferential Trade and Agreements: An Update

Chapter 7. International Trade in a Digital Age

Monday, 28 November 2016

CfPs: International Conference on "Knowing Nature: The Changing Foundations of Environmental Knowledge"| 25-27 May 2017 | Renmin University of China, Beijing

International Conference on "Knowing Nature: The Changing Foundations of Environmental Knowledge"

25th to 27th May 2017

Renmin University of China, Beijing, China

Co-sponsored by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, and the Center for Ecological History, Renmin University of China, Beijing, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.

Call for Papers
Who knows nature best? Over the past 10,000 years competing communities of knowledge have evolved, each with formalized standards and processes.  Peasants have competed against craftsmen, religious leaders, and urban experts. In modern societies based on science and technology, the claims to knowledge have changed even more dramatically, although scientific knowledge still competes with other bodies of knowledge. And always, who gets to define knowledge can have profound consequences for the natural world. 
For our conference we seek proposals that examine what has been seen and understood as measurable, speculative, safe or unsafe and how scale (of landscapes, research projects etc.) can affect knowledge production. We welcome proposals on the rise of new fields of knowledge about nature and the environment and their search for disciplinary and institutional stability. Our conference will seek to move beyond simple dichotomies (modernity vs. tradition, science vs. religion, folk wisdom vs. urban ignorance), to develop comparisons that cross national boundaries, and to bring neglected parts of the globe and time into view.
Our keynote speaker will be Dagmar Schäfer, managing director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and author of The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China (University of Chicago Press, 2011).
This conference is open to all ranks of scholars, from graduate students to senior professors. Paper proposals should be one-page long (or about 300 words) and include a title and a one- or two-page CV. 
Send proposals to conference secretary Agnes Kneitz, Assistant Professor of History at Renmin University at this address: a.kneitz[at]ruc.edu.cn.  The deadline for consideration is 1st January 2017
Successful proposals will be announced around 1st February, and complete drafts of papers (minimum of 5,000 words in English or the equivalent in Chinese characters) will be required by 1st May 2017. All papers will be circulated to the participants in advance and will not be orally presented during the conference. 
The members of the selection committee include Mingfang Xia, Director of the Center for Ecological History and Senior Professor in the School of History, Renmin University of China; Helmuth Trischler, Head of Research at the Deutsches Museum, Munich, and Co-Director of the Rachel Carson Center; and Donald Worster, Hall Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, University of Kansas, and Distinguished Foreign Expert, Renmin University.
The organizing chairperson for the conference is Professor Shen Hou, Deputy Director of the Center for Ecological History and Associate Professor of history at Renmin University.
Travel expenses for scholars living outside of China will be reimbursed by the Rachel Carson Center. Scholars living within China should depend on their own universities for covering travel expenses. For all participants, hotel accommodations for four nights and all meals will be covered by Renmin University of China.
Following the conference we will organize a group field trip to the Great Wall as a site and symbol of what Joseph Needham called "science and civilization in China."

Sunday, 27 November 2016

New Book | A Voice for Science in the South | edited by Daniel Schaffer

A Voice for Science in the South
Edited by Daniel Schaffer. World Scientific Publishing, 2015, hardcover, 252 pages, ISBN: 9789814740425.

About the Book
Science in the developing world has experienced historic change over the past 30 years. Nations that lacked resources for even basic science have since developed world-class research centres. Men and women who previously had no chance of pursuing scientific careers in their own countries now thrive in home-grown universities and laboratories dedicated to scientific excellence.
The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) has been front and centre during this remarkable transformation. A Voice for Science in the South tells the story of TWAS through the eyes of 11 eminent scientists associated with the Academy. They speak of the organization's challenges and triumphs, and describe what TWAS has meant for their careers and the careers of thousands of scientists in the developing world. They also explore the challenges that lie ahead for TWAS and, more generally, for science in the South. It is a story of unprecedented global change and an account of what must be done to ensure that all nations can share in the benefits that emerge when science is woven into the fabric of society.

Table of Contents
Present in the World (José I Vargas)
A Centre for Excellence (C N R Rao)
Fulfilling the Promise (Jacob Palis)
Making It Happen (Mohamed H A Hassan)
Minding the Gaps (Ana María Cetto Kramis)
Opening Doors (Adnan Badran)
Full Engagement (Zakri Abdul Hamid)
The Odds of Success (Keto Mshigeni)
A Life of Change (Yu Lu)
Moving Ahead Together (Roseanne Diab)
For Generations to Come (Maria Corazon A De Ungria)

More About this Book | by Edward W. Lempinen | TWAS Newsletter
Key TWAS leaders reflect on the history of science in the developing world – and the history and future of TWAS – in a new book. In 11 inspiring essays, TWAS leaders detail the Academy's triumphs and challenges in advancing science for the developing world.
Thirty years after the first TWAS General Meeting, a new book explores the Academy's past and future in a series of essays by TWAS leaders and prominent Fellows from the developing world. "A Voice for Science in the South" serves as window into one of the most significant changes of our era: how nations once trapped in poverty have invested in science, technology and education to drive development and improve human conditions. The book "will serve as a lasting reminder of the commitment that motivated Abdus Salam, Paolo Budinich and the others who founded the Academy and guided its work for the first 30 years," writes TWAS President Bai Chunli in the Foreword. "Though the world may change, their ideals remain constant. At the same time, this volume reminds us of the hard work and creativity that will be required to build on their legacy, so that TWAS remains an effective leader and advocate for science in the service of human progress."
"A Voice for Science in the South" was edited by Daniel Schaffer, the former TWAS public information officer, and published by Singapore-based World Scientific. In an introductory essay, Schaffer reflects on the vision and commitment of Salam, the Pakistani physicist who founded the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in 1964 and won the Nobel Prize in 1979. Following that reflection are essays by four pioneering TWAS leaders: former Presidents José I. Vargas of Brazil; C.N.R. Rao of India; and Jacob Palis of Brazil; and longtime Executive Director Mohamed H.A. Hassan of Sudan. "A Voice for Science in the South" also features essays by:
  • TWAS Fellow Ana María Cetto Kramis of Mexico, who has played a globally influential role in supporting women in science;
  • TWAS Fellow Adnan Badran, who served as prime minister of Jordan during a distinguished career of scholarship, political engagement and diplomacy;
  • Zakri Abdul Hamid, a TWAS Fellow who serves as science adviser to the government of Malaysia, a member of the UN Secretary-General's Science Advisory Board, and founding chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services;
  • Keto Mshigeni, a TWAS Council vice president and one of Africa's preeminent natural scientists, known for his research into seaweed and mushrooms as food sources; 
  • TWAS Fellow Yu Lu, a renowned Chinese physicist who served as the first permanent member of the ICTP scientific staff;
  • Roseanne Diab, a TWAS Fellow and executive director of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa; and 
  • TWAS Young Affiliate Maria Corazon A. De Ungria of the Philippines, head of the DNA Analysis Laboratory at the University of the Philippines.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

New Book | Modi Doctrine: The Foreign Policy of India's Prime Minister | by Sreeram Chaulia, Bloomsbury, 2016

Modi Doctrine: The Foreign Policy of India's Prime Minister
by Sreeram Chaulia. Bloomsbury India, 2016, Hardcover, 268 pages, ISBN: 9789386141156.

About the Book
Since becoming India's prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi has been a tour de force in foreign policymaking. A vastly experienced administrator who has held key public positions as chief minister of an Indian state for more than a decade and now as prime minister, he has always seen value in foreign affairs and devoted special attention to it with his unique entrepreneurial flair and coherent set of ideas. Every realm of Indian foreign policy commercial diplomacy, defence diplomacy, diaspora outreach, cultural diplomacy, geostrategy and soft power has been transformed by him with a sense of destiny not witnessed in recent memory. Indians and people the world over have noticed his star presence and are asking questions like:
  • 'Why is he investing so much time and energy into promoting India's international relations and global image?
  • What are his vision and goals for India's role in the world'?
  • What kind of distinct techniques define his approach to foreign policy?
  • How is he changing India's self-understanding and preparing it for world affairs?'
This book provides the answers by delving into the mind and method behind Narendra Modi's avatar as India's diplomat-in-chief. It argues that under his able watch, India is heading toward great power status in the international order.

About the Author
Sreeram Chaulia is Professor and Dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University, in Sonipat, India. He is an eclectic political scientist specialising in both international security and international political economy. He is a contributing editor of People Who Influenced the World (Murray Books, Adelaide, 2005) and the sole author of International Organizations and Civilian Protection: Power, Ideas and Humanitarian Aid in Conflict Zones (I.B. Tauris, London, 2011) and of Politics of the Global Economic Crisis: Regulation, Responsibility and Radicalism (Routledge, New Delhi, London and New York, 2013). He received education from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University; University College, Oxford University; The London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. He is a leading opinion columnist for Indian newspapers- the Economic Times and the Asian Age- on world affairs and a commentator on international current issues on radio and television in India and abroad. He has worked as an international civilian peacekeeper in the warzones of Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Related Books 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Bill Gates on Technology and Transformation | in "NITI Lecture Series - Transforming India"

NITI Lecture Series - Transforming India : Transforming Ideas to Transforming India

Bill Gates on "Technology and Transformation"

NITI Aayog aims to build strong States that will come together to build a strong India. As the government's premier think-tank, we view knowledge building & transfer as the enabler of real transformation in the States. To build knowledge systems for the States and the Centre, NITI is pleased to announce the launch of "NITI Lectures: Transforming India".
The second lecture in the high-powered NITI Lecture series was delivered by Bill Gates, Co-Founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the November 16th, 2016. The theme of the lecture was 'Technology and Transformation'. Outlining the global shifts that impact the nation's development, the lecture discusses India's many advantages, its potential to address existing challenges and the opportunities that lay ahead by using technology and innovation as levers for transformation.
Through this lecture series, NITI Aayog aims to bring policy makers, academics, experts and administrators of global repute to India, for the benefit of policy makers in States and the Centre. This is aimed at learning from global experience in development and good governance. The Transforming India Lecture Series was inaugurated on August 26th, 2016 by the Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The first keynote address - India and the Global Economy - was delivered by the Hon'ble Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Shri Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

CfP: International Conference & One Day Methodology Workshop on Scenarios & Models in Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services | 14-16 February | Hyderabad, India

International Conference and One Day Methodology Workshop on Scenarios and Models in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
14-16 February 2017
Organized by Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad, India

Call for Papers

The Division for Sustainable Development Studies (DSDS) at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies is organizing an international conference on Scenarios and Models in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services jointly with the Centre for Economics, Environment, and Society (CEES) Bangalore, as part of the project on "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Scenarios Network (ScenNet)" supported by the Belmont Forum through the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India during 15th to 16th February 2017. The conference shall address scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services with special reference to drivers of change. The plenary speakers of the conference include renowned scientists and co-chairs of the methodological assessment of scenarios and models of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Bonn, Germany. Sub themes of the conference are related to scenarios and models pertaining to marine and terrestrial ecosystems with a focus on (a) direct and indirect drivers including climate change, invasive species, institutional and demographic issues etc.; (b) values covering economic and non-economic benefits of ecosystems and biodiversity; (c) impact of ecosystem services on good quality of human life and (d) national policies and sustainable development goals. Abstracts of papers (250 words) have to be submitted before 30th November 2016 and full paper (maximum 8000 words) before 30th December 2016 to the conference committee convenor, Dr Jeena T Srinivasan (jeena@cess.ac.in). Approximately 35 papers will be selected for oral presentation in the conference after peer review. A maximum of 100 participants are expected to participate in the conference. Registration form for the conference can be downloaded from CESS website www.cess.ac.in.
A pre-conference Methodology Workshop on the same topic will be organized in collaboration with the Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE) for building capacity of early career researchers/teachers/ M.Phil/Ph.D students on 14th February 2017. The workshop aims to carry out a systematic review methodological tools used in Indian and international contexts to quantify or qualify scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services according to different environmental and societal driving forces. The workshop is co-ordinated by Dr Jyothis Sathyapalan and Prof M Gopinath Reddy. A maximum of 25 conference participants whose papers are accepted for oral presentation will be selected for the workshop. All participants who are interested to join the workshop must mention it separately in the conference registration form. In addition, limited seats will be available for MPhil/Ph.D. scholars working on both natural and social sciences who are in early stages of their work. Such students are encouraged to apply with a concept note and curriculum vitae on or before 30th December 2016. Academic competence and potential of the concept note will form the basis of selection in this case. All selected outstation candidates will be provided with travel support and local hospitality during the event. Researches are also encouraged to contact the Principal Investigator of the ScenNet project Dr Jyothis Sathyapalan (sjyothis@cess.ac.in) and contribute to the database on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Scenarios in India.