Pleased to share my new article with @martinhearson on The Neoliberal Turn to International Tax Arbitration, out now from @PoPpublicsphere. Post on what this piece is and why it matters.

International corporate tax policy is incredibly arcane, but it’s hugely consequential. Recent estimates by @TaxJusticeNet find that governments lose out on $245 billion Every. Single. Year. From abusive profit-shifting to tax havens. (taxjustice.net/2020/11/20/427…) That’s revenue governments could spend on priorities like boosting workers, ending poverty, and decarbonizing our economies, as @JosephEStiglitz @gabriel_zucman and I write here @ForeignAffairs.

Obviously, multinational corporations like this outcome. Indeed, if governments let them get away…


I just finished “The Ministry for the Future” — the speculative sci fi novel by Kim Stanley Robinson from last year. It should be required reading for anyone that writes white papers for a living.

A few reflections and (potential) spoilers.

Like Black Mirror, it’s the latest in a wave of artwork that envisions a very near term reality — in this case, the mid 2020s. Unlike Black Mirror, it is utopian, not dystopian, so you don’t want to claw your eyes out and actually walk away somewhat inspired.

The titular Ministry is the Subsidiary Body for Implementation of the…


The Trump and Biden administrations have significantly expanded export controls, which prohibit the unlicensed export of certain products or information.

Biden has also called for modernization of international trade rules.

These could be connected. (bloomberg.com/news/articles/…) The 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade has a pretty sweeping obligation for countries to not restrict exports. (wto.org/english/docs_e…)

But the GATT also has a pretty sweeping national security exception.


Helpful @climatestrat study on the WTO implications of fossil fuel subsidies from 2017 by @cleoverk @harrovanasselt Tom Moerenhout @Liesbeth_C87 @PWooders. Thread (climatestrategies.org/publication/ta…)

The tl;dr is that the WTO is generally an anti-subsidy machine, there are a bunch of types of fossil fuel subsidies, but it is not a slam dunk that any of them violate WTO rules. This is because schemes subsidize consumption rather than production, and all else equal the WTO rules are more concerned with the latter.

The report goes through the WTO’s Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM) case law, and offers this handy road map…


Yesterday, Biden issued an executive order on America’s Supply Chains. What’s in it? Thread: (whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/…)

It announces it’s US policy “to strengthen the resilience of America’s supply chains,” citing as benefits rebuilt domestic manufacturing capacity, competitiveness, good jobs, fighting climate change, and helping racial justice and underserved communities. Here are the costs👇

By June 4 of this year, NEC and NSC are instructed to coordinate supply chain reviews in four industries, with four agencies writing them up:

DOC: chips, advanced packaging
DOE: high-capacity batteries, including for EVs
DOD: critical minerals
HHS: pharmaceuticals,. API

Note that this leapfrogs Biden’s 1/20 EO…


Investment law Twitter (yes, such a thing exists) has lit up over a recent video from the annual conference in January from the European Federation for Investment Law and Arbitration (EFILA). Thread…

Due to the pandemic, this conference, like many, went virtual this year. You can find the presentations here. The keynote speech was delivered by Gary Born, a prominent arbitrator in investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). (efila.org/annual-confere…) As @goodhouses describes here, ISDS is a parallel legal system where multinational corporations can challenge host state governments over regulatory treatment, outside of national court systems. (themonkeycage.org/2015/11/invest…) According to data from @PluriCourts, Born…


(Adapted from this thread, added to over several days.)

Joe Biden wants to replace the US federal vehicle fleet with electric vehicles Made in America. How will we know if an EV counts as “American” under our procurement laws? A thread (pcmag.com/news/president…)

It turns out that this is far from a straightforward question, as two statutes called the Buy American Act of 1933 (BAA) and Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (TAA) interact in complicated ways.

Depending on the country of origin of the components of the vehicle, how much the vehicle costs, and which country the final assembly is in…


With this new Executive Order on Buy American, the Biden-Harris Administration will fulfil a core campaign promise. A few thoughts… (whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/…)

To take the first order question first: why would the US want to give preference to domestic production? There are both normative and policy reasons.

On the normative front, it signals that there is something special about the money that we collectively put into the common coffer. That collective fund goes back to the collective. …


The Senate will vote later today to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as the sixth right-wing justice on a Supreme Court that is already historically pro-corporate. This is just the latest in a crisis of democracy fed by and feeding multiple crises. Mega Thread (cnn.com/2020/10/26/pol…)

American government has become increasingly counter-majoritarian. The Republican Party is on track by the end of 2020 to pick 67 percent of the life-tenured justices but only win the popular vote in 12 percent of the last eight presidential elections. (rooseveltinstitute.org/2020/09/23/his…)

Further, 18 percent of the population picks a majority of the Senate that will confirm…


A recent report by the Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition identified five major design choices that could affect whether and how a European border carbon adjustment could survive World Trade Organization (WTO) scrutiny. They are worth exploring in some detail, as policymakers in the US could soon confront similar questions.

1. Coverage of trade flows. A BCA could apply to just imports, or alternatively also apply to exports. In the latter scenario, European exporters would get a rebate to compensate them for their higher cost of production relative to countries that don’t de-carbonize. A two-sided adjustment would be…

Todd Tucker

I write about democracy, political economy, and trade. Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Roosevelt Forward.

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