Missing Dollars

Illicit Financial Flows from Commodity Trade


Illicit financial flows (IFFs) associated with commodity trade erode the tax base of resource-rich developing countries. Efforts to curb IFFs and reform taxation stumble over enhanced North–South tensions but remain crucial to helping poorer countries mobilise domestic resources for development. The 17th volume of International Development Policy examines this key part of the wider agenda to restore trust in the multilateral system, calling for a more transparent, effective and equitable trade and tax framework. Based on a six-year multidisciplinary research project encompassing academic institutions in commodity exporting and trading countries, its 24 authors offer a mix of theoretical and empirical contributions and discuss findings of macro- and micro-level studies. The book sheds new light on issues such as addressing push and pull factors through domestic and international policy measures, the preferences of key stakeholders for short-term fixes versus long-term policy reforms, and prescriptive approaches and other options to address tax base erosion in resource-rich developing countries.

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Gilles Carbonnier is professor of Development Economics at Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (since 2007). Since 2018 he has been the vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Prof. Carbonnier has been president of the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action and the director of studies of the Graduate Institute and has served on numerous boards. Previously he worked as a field delegate with the ICRC and conducted international trade negotiations under the GATT/WTO.

Fritz Brugger is co-director of the centre for Global Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NADEL) at the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences at ETH Zurich. He holds a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi (Dr. iur. and Attorney at Law) leads the research area Sustainability Governance at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern. She lectures on Law and Sustainability at both the CDE and the University’s Law Faculty.

Fred M. Dzanku is senior research fellow at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research of the University of Ghana.

Sthabandith Insisienmay is vice minister of the Lao PDR Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), where he supervises investment promotion, real estate development and research. Previously, he worked for the then MPI’s National Economic Research Institute (NERI), now the Lao Academy of Social and Economic Science.

Contributors include: Ama A. Ahene-Codjoe, Angela A. Alu, Latdaphone Banchongphanith, Humberto Campodónico, Christian von Haldenwang, Adubea J. Hall, Philippe Le Billon, Victor S. Mariottini de Oliveira, Rahul Mehrotra, Armando Mendoza, Lucas Millán-Narotzky, Irene Musselli, Irma Mosquera Valderrama, Ekpen J. Omonbude, Agustin Redonda, Viriyasack Sisouphanthong, Latdavanh Songvilay and Abigail A. Tetteh.


List of Figures and Tables


Notes on Contributors

Part 1
Introducing the Thematic Volume: Key Findings and Recommendations
1 Curbing Illicit Financial Flows in Commodity Trade and Beyond
  Gilles Carbonnier, Fritz Brugger, Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi, Fred M. Dzanku, Stabandith Insisienmay

Part 2
Definition, Measurement, and Drivers of Trade-Related  iff  s
2 Measuring Illicit Financial Flows: New Data and Methods
  Gilles Carbonnier and Rahul Mehrotra

3 Trade-Related Illicit Financial Flows in Southeast Asia: Evidence from Extractive and Agricultural Commodities in Laos
  Viriyasack Sisouphanthong, Latdaphone Banchongphanith, Sthabandith Insisienmay and Latdavanh Songvilay

4 Metals Streaming and Royalty Financing: A Framework for Assessing Mining Sector Financial Benefit–Sharing Implications for Governments
  Ekpen J. Omonbude

5 The Role of Tax Expenditures in Enabling Illicit Financial Flows
  Christian von Haldenwang, Lucas Millán-Narotzky, Irma Mosquera Valderrama and Agustín Redonda

Part 3
Policy Responses across Space and Time
6 The Battle Over Policies to Curb Trade-Related Illicit Financial Flows: Findings from a Q-methodology Study
  Fritz Brugger and Joschka J. Proksik

7 Prescriptive Pricing and Stabilisation Clauses in Investment Agreements
  Irene Musselli and Victor S. Mariottini de Oliveira

8 Tax Reforms in Hydrocarbons and Mining in Chile, Colombia and Peru 2021–2023
  Humberto Campodónico and Armando Mendoza

9 Potential Illicit Financial Flow Risks in Ghana’s Gold-for-Oil Transaction
  Fred M. Dzanku, Adubea J. Hall, Ama A. Ahene-Codjoe, Abigail A. Tetteh and Angela A. Alu

Part 4
Looking Forward: Energy Transition and Resource Mobilization
10 Illicit Financial Flows, Extractive Sectors, and the Energy Transition: Building State Capacity to Finance the sdg  s
  Philippe Le Billon


Academic scholars and researchers, policymakers and development practitioners interested in international development policy, extraction, enterprises and their effects on development, economic and political trends, and local development issues.
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