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International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
This report summarizes key findings and recommendations from a remote technical assistance (TA) assignment performed by a short-term expert (STX), Mr. Djamel Bouhabel, from January 17 to February 4, 2021, to the General Customs Authority of Iraq (GCA). The main objective of the TA was to advise GCA on the development and effective application of customs assessment processes based on international standards and best practices.
Mr. Brad J. McDonald, Rob Gregory, and Ms. Katrin Elborgh-Woytek
The actions proposed here focus on trade integration, substantially increasing exports of the poorest countries and helping them to meet the Millennium Development Goals. As the foundation for these ambitions, we emphasize the role of a secure, open global trading environment—strengthened further by concluding the WTO Doha Round. From this base, the poorest countries also need better trade preferences from the advanced and major emerging market countries (EMs). Building the capacity to take advantage of trade opportunities will require support from the international community and policy reforms—such as to trade regimes—by the poorest countries themselves. The Fifteen Point Action Plan proposed here could increase annual exports of the least-developed countries (LDCs) by $10 billion or more, with additional benefits for other Low-Income Countries (LICs).
Mr. Rabah Arezki, Mr. Daniel Lederman, and Mr. Hongyan Zhao
This paper studies the volatility of commodity prices on the basis of a large dataset of monthly prices observed in international trade data from the United States over the period 2002 to 2011. The conventional wisdom in academia and policy circles is that primary commodity prices are more volatile than those of manufactured products, even though most of the existing evidence does not actually attempt to measure the volatility of prices of individual goods or commodities. Rather the literature tends to focus on trends in the evolution and volatility of ratios of price indexes composed of multiple commodities and products. This approach can be misleading. Indeed, the evidence presented in this paper suggests that on average prices of individual primary commodities may be less volatile than those of individual manufactured goods.
Mr. Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo, and Mr. Devesh Roy
This paper describes the United States recently enacted Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and assesses its quantitative impact on African exports. The AGOA expands the scope of preferential access of Africa's exports to the United States in key areas such as clothing. However, its medium term benefits estimated at about US$100-$140 million, an 8 11 percent addition to current non-oil exports would have been nearly five times greater (US$540 million) if no restrictive conditions had been imposed on the terms of market access. The most important of these conditions are the rules of origin with which African exporters of clothing must comply to benefit from duty-free access.
Mary E. Burfisher, Frederic Lambert, and Mr. Troy D Matheson
The United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed on November 30, 2018 and aims to replace and modernize the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This paper uses a global, multisector, computable-general-equilibrium model to provide an analytical assessment of five key provisions in the new agreement, including tighter rules of origin in the automotive, textiles and apparel sectors, more liberalized agricultural trade, and other trade facilitation measures. The results show that together these provisions would adversely affect trade in the automotive, textiles and apparel sectors, while generating modest aggregate gains in terms of welfare, mostly driven by improved goods market access, with a negligible effect on real GDP. The welfare benefits from USMCA would be greatly enhanced with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico and the elimination of the Canadian and Mexican import surtaxes imposed after the U.S. tariffs were put in place.
Mr. Gilles Montagnat-Rentier
This note discusses administrative measures that can be implemented by customs administrations of low-income and fragile countries in a short period (about a year) to improve traders’ compliance and improve revenue collection. These suggested actions have been identified based on the experience acquired through the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Fiscal Affairs Department’s (FAD) technical assistance (TA), particularly the findings and recommendations of TA missions to sub-Saharan African countries. Strengthening low-capacity customs administrations requires structural reforms to support the effective implementation of defined strategies. Developing core operational functions such as risk management, audit, investigation and intelligence are good examples of such reforms. Modernizing human resource management policies or achieving a fully automated environment in a customs administration are longer-term reform projects. Long-term reforms are not addressed here. The note focuses on targeted actions with a potential to increase trade revenue in the short term, and which can be taken without mobilizing large resources or engaging in a broad reorganization. It is hoped that the suggestions in this note will help stakeholders, including country authorities, customs management, donors and TA partners, area departments of the IMF, FAD, and the IMF regional TA centers, identify, design, and implement short-term changes in customs administrations. If implemented effectively, these changes should contribute to a noticeable improvement of revenue performance.
ISHER J. AHLUWALIA and Mr. Ernesto Hernández-Catá

Econometric models of U. S. imports have usually emphasized the estimation of import demand relationships while paying little attention to the behavior of foreign suppliers and to the impact of this behavior on import prices.1 In forecasting import values, these models were generally not equipped to distinguish between volume and price changes. This was a relatively minor limitation under the conditions of substantial price and exchange rate stability which prevailed during the 1950s and 1960s, but it has become a major drawback in the more recent period.

Erich Spitäller

The persistence of large payments imbalances in the face of considerable swings in exchange rates has imparted new urgency to questions about the functioning of the adjustment process under floating exchange rates. This paper addresses one particular aspect of adjustment, namely, the magnitude and short-run time path of the effects of exchange rate changes on export and import unit values. In the process, analysis turns to the associated terms of trade effect on the trade balance. Thus, some evidence is presented regarding the shape of the first segment of the J-curve—the initial deterioration in the trade balance following a devaluation—assuming the volumes of exports and imports to be constant during the twelve months following an exchange rate change.