Sunday 19 April 2015

China-Russia cross-border trade: podcast with Caroline Humphrey and Sayana Namsaraeva

At a workshop on Law and Finance in Rising Powers, held at the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Caroline Humphrey, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, and Sayana Namsaraeva, Research Associate Department of Anthropology, University of Cambridge, presented their insights into trade across the Chinese-Russian border. In a podcast interview following the presentation, they give an overview of their research findings.

Summarising her research on 'Cross-Border E-trade and is Vicissitudes', Humphrey said: 
 “My paper was called e-trade between China and Russia and it was about the objective facts of how e-trade is taking place these days. One the one hand it is greatly encouraged and the relationships between China and Russia are getting much closer and this is a lovely high tech thing that could develop but on the other, in practice it has all sorts of problems.

“The problem is the big Chinese internet firms don’t accept payment from Russian banks and cards, and also the cheapest and best sites are in the Chinese language so they need interpreters to find out what the information is on those sites. They use mediators, middle men firms that have mushroomed up in Russia, and that helps them get access to the goods but it means that it is much more expensive for them and rather slow and cumbersome.

“I think there are some perils of trading. There are perils that the goods may be incorrectly described or that they arrive in the wrong quantity, that kind of thing, but there isn’t much come-back for the Russian consumer, the legal situation is not good at all. Deliveries from China to Russia have to go through several complicated ways of crossing the border and they have to pay big customs duties.

“You can send goods back if they are absolutely wrong in relation to what you ordered but if it is a minor issue, or it doesn’t look like it did in the catalogue, you certainly couldn’t. There is a certain amount of muddle, particularly in the Russian postal service that is coping with a gigantic numbers of parcels from all over the place, and things do often seem to get lost in there. Bribery is absolutely very common indeed particularly when crossing the borders.

“At the moment it is a punt if you want to buy something online and whether and how fast that will change is very difficult to say. But it is also exciting, because with the internet you have access to this huge range of goods and almost all of it produced in China.”

Namsaraeva described her work on 'The Effect of Exchange Rate Changes Post-Ukraine on Trans-border Trade between China and Russia':
“My research is on women border traders who do regular shuttle trade between Russia and China to buy things cheap and to sell dear on the Russian side.

“I think this kind of shuttle trade is very important for the local economies both for Russia and for China but at the same time, the border economy exists in the shadow economy of both countries.

“Border traders work in the professions in the week, they may be nurses, doctors, teachers but at the weekend they go to China and become shuttle traders to resell it. This is how they survive and how they support their families.

“The younger generation can go online and do this click and delivery thing but the elder generation that is not familiar with the internet still prefer to go to the real shop and touch and feel the real thing.
“Until recently border trade was also associated with tourism from Asia because as well as buying things they also spent quite a lot of time enjoying life in China, going shopping, eating out, visiting parks and saloons, and learning more about Chinese culture.

“Now there is a growing economic disparity between Russia and China, because once the Soviet Union was a very powerful regional super power State, but recently with China’s economic growth, the power balance has changed, and Russia has moved from being an older brother to the position of the younger sister.

“Nowadays people are really in an uncertain financial situation and with the devaluation of the Ruble they can’t plan their futures and because of this 40 per cent devaluation crossing border points are half empty. People need to save money in order to survive.“

Listen to the full interview with Caroline Humphrey and Sayana Namsaraeva

More podcasts from the workshop on Law and Finance in Rising Powers,
Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, December 9th 2014

Monday 13 April 2015

Shareholder rights in Rising Powers: podcast interview with Gregory James and Mathias Siems

At a workshop on Law and Finance in Rising Powers, held at the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Gregory James, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Loughborough University, and Mathias Siems, Professor of Commercial Law at Durham University, presented work on shareholder rights in developed and developing countries. In a podcast interview following the presentation, they summarize their findings.

James said: “We looked at 30 Countries, both developed and developing economies, and the convergence of legal rights in these economies. Does convergence in company law lead to some convergence in legal systems, towards best practice?

“Interestingly, we found that in countries where you wouldn’t really expect it like Russia and China shareholder protection is good, at least on the books, compared to somewhere like Germany.

“We are using the CBR shareholder protection index and other research methods, and the interesting finding we have from the legal data was that all the countries were keen on improvement for shareholder protection. There seems to be a global trend in terms of fads and fashions for global rules protecting shareholders – that is interesting from a political economy perspective. We also found that while similar legal rules may flow across borders the operation of those rules is often quite different in practice. “

Siems said: “Rather than shareholder protection always being a good thing, it could be the other way round, it could be that legal systems that are less protective maybe advantageous - because you don’t need to be bothered by too much red tape. We could ask, do we really need to protect shareholders to the maximum? Is shareholder protection always good or may it be counter-productive in some circumstances?

“We don’t have a global law maker, we don’t have the UN regulating corporate governance or company law so we have to look to country level. Do we need global rules or will we see national standards becoming more uniform?”

Listen to the full interview with Gregory James and Mathias Siems

More podcasts from the workshop on Law and Finance in Rising Powers,
Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, December 9th 2014