Multilateralising 21st-century regionalism
Richard Baldwin 20 January 2014
The global value chain revolution has changed trade and trade agreements. Trade now matters for making goods as well as selling them. Trade governance has shifted away from the WTO towards megaregional agreements. This column argues that 21st-century regionalism is not fundamentally about discrimination, and that its benefits and costs are best thought of as network externalities and harmonisation costs respectively. More research is needed to determine how the megaregional trade agreements across the Pacific and Atlantic will fit with the WTO.
Trade and trade agreements used to be relatively simple. Trade primarily meant trade in ‘made-here-sold-there’ goods, so 20th-century regional and multilateral trade agreements dealt primarily with barriers to goods crossing borders – especially tariffs. For governments, the key purpose of trade and trade agreements was to help their firms sell things.
Global governance International trade
WTO, trade, regional trade agreements, supply chains, harmonisation, global value chain, megaregionals, network effects
An EU-US trade deal: Good or bad for the rest of the world?
Aaditya Mattoo 10 October 2013
The recent launch of negotiations on a transatlantic trade and investment deal has been widely welcomed by policymakers. This column warns that the aspect of the deal that provokes the greatest excitement – its focus on regulatory barriers like mandatory product standards– should evoke the greatest concern. Regional harmonisation may increase intra-regional trade yet exports from excluded developing countries could be hurt.
The recent launch of negotiations on a transatlantic trade and investment deal has been widely welcomed. The prime minister of the UK, David Cameron, called it a “once-in-a-generation prize” and produced numbers on why everyone should be happy; gains of £100 billion for the EU, £80 billion for the US and £85 billion to the rest of the world.
free trade agreements, harmonisation, standards
European data protection: Impact of the EU data-protection regulation
Laurits R. Christensen, Federico Etro 24 March 2013
The EU is planning to harmonise data protection. This column balances the benefits of harmonisation against the estimated costs to business – especially small and medium-sized enterprises – and the macroeconomic costs more generally. The net compliance costs will perhaps be larger than the EU predicts.
Policymaking and regulation at the centralised level in a union of countries such as the EU require care. Policymakers must strike a careful balance between the benefits of the harmonisation of policies and the costs of accounting for the differing preferences of individual countries (see Dewatripont et al. 1995).
This trade-off is at the basis of any cost-benefit analysis concerning decisions centralised at a union level.
EU policies Europe's nations and regions
technology, data protection, harmonisation