Diana Hochraich

Since their economic development got under way, the ASEAN countries – which essentially manufacture labour-intensive products – have been marked by strong regional integration brought about by the segmentation of the production process engaged in by Japanese companies. In these countries, successive relocations resulted in de facto economic integration at a time when various political groupings intent on blocking the development of communism were also emerging. Since joining the WTO, China – the world’s workshop – has become the hub for trade with the developed countries. In the face of such competition, the ASEAN countries will have to show their capacity to maintain their position in the value chain represented by the production of all of the Asian countries. While a number of econometric studies seem to indicate that the ASEAN countries will succeed in this undertaking thanks to the specific nature of their production apparatus, it is important neither to underestimate China’s ability to learn quickly and its determination to move further up the production chain nor to overlook the total absence of industrial policy on the part of governments in these countries which follow the advice of international organisations. It would seem that the ASEAN countries, faced solely with market forces, cannot hope to enhance their limited ability to move up the production chain.

Caroline Dufy

Barter was a prominent issue in public debate during the 1990s in Russia: it prompted a more overall reflection on the nature of the Russian economy and the aim pursued by economic reforms. These major issues shaped a number of divisions: the government opposition portrayed barter as one of the pernicious effects of economic policies that gave priority to finance to the detriment of the national productive sphere. For others, it was to be interpreted as the legacy of the Soviet industrial sector and its lack of competitiveness. The ruble crisis in 1998 paved the way for a reverse trend leading to the sudden decline of barter. Unlike the initial growth phase, the decrease in barter gave rise to little comment. Yet these two colliding changes provide an opportunity to review the relevance of the various interpretations offered. Furthermore, the effort to recontextualizing barter in an historic perspective provides keys to understanding the immense changes that occurred in Russia in the 1990s. The statistical indicator of barter will serve as a basis to formulate a central question: how should this swift decline of barter, offer a long, sustained increase, be interpreted: is it an adaptation in trade behavior to the new economic conditions or the effect of more restrictive legal standards? In the latter case, does this official decrease mask economic practices that are moving toward the informal sector? To understand the barter trade requires looking beyond stylized facts. By nature, statistics tend to objectify multifaceted phenomena. Our analysis fits within the anthropology of economic exchanges, striving to reconstitute the dynamic and subjective dimension that the actors’ practices and discourses give to barter. From this standpoint, we show that barter is the product of constant interactions between legal processes, economic context and socio-cultural context. The statistical decline of the barter indicator in that case seems to be one of the visible effects of deep-seated changes that have marked the new working environment for Russian business.

Olivier Cattaneo

This study aims to provide all the necessary keys to understanding the new round of multilateral trade negotiations set off by the World Trade Organization members in Doha on November 14, 2001. It first presents the circumstances that framed the conference, enabling a new round of talks to begin. After the failure of the Ministerial Conference in Seattle, serious doubts indeed hovered as to whether new multilateral trade talks could be launched. Nevertheless, various factors, such as improved transatlantic relations, consideration of the demands of developing countries and civil society, better Conference preparation and the events of September 11 all created a favorable context for Doha. The study then proceeds to describe the characteristics of the new negotiation round and the stakes involved. In drafting the Doha Declaration, so many last-minute diplomatic compromises were made that the document is complex to interpret, even for the negotiators themselves. How the negotiations will be organized from a practical standpoint is also unclear, and warrants clarification. This study thus summarizes the various issues slated for negotiation and what is at stake, as well as the organization and main deadlines for negotiation. Lastly, it analyzes the current state of negotiations and perspectives in view, without going into detail or predicting the future. At a time when WTO members are in the process of negotiation, any conclusion in this regard would quickly be outdated. However, this study reveals that the context that prevailed at Doha no longer exists, and that today the progress of negotiations has run up against several obstacles, as can be seen in the difficulties they are encountering at this early stage.

Luisa Palacios

This paper studies the institutional transformation of Latin America’s oil sector. It discusses specific policy choices and the timing of reforms in this industry. Latin American countries present different models of openness and energy-sector dynamics, and allow for an analysis of the liberalization process from a range of points of view: that of an importer (Brazil), of a historically self-sufficient country (Argentina) and of oil exporters (Mexico and Venezuela). The degree of dependence on oil revenues has proven in general to be negatively correlated with the level of openness of the oil sector. That is, countries more dependent on their oil sector for foreign and fiscal revenues tend to be less liberalized and open to private investment. This principle also holds true in Latin America: oil importers and self-sufficient countries like Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil indeed have oil industries that are relatively more open to private sector participation than those of the oil exporters in the region (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico). However, different levels of openness exist within these general categories of importers and exporters. This paper will further argue that differences among countries in the same category are a function of the strategic and financial position prior to reform of their respective National Oil Companies (NOC), which is in turn related to the institutional evolution of the oil industries in these countries.