With the rise of mega-regional trade agreements, the world trade system resembles a jigsaw puzzle. This column discusses the difficulties involved in consolidating free trade agreements at the regional level, and argues that piecing together the blocs around the world will be even more challenging. A potential way forward is to return to the most widely used modality of trade liberalisation – unilateral actions – but this time involving the multilateralisation of preferences rather than unreciprocated reductions in tariff rates.
Jayant Menon, Monday, June 9, 2014
Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Cathleen Cimino, Monday, March 17, 2014
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Paul Krugman calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “No big deal”. This column looks at Krugman’s main arguments against the TPP. First, Krugman suggests spending political capital on domestic initiatives, and not on the TPP. Second, he argues that the pay-off from TPP will be trivial since tariffs are already low. The column points to a larger message in Krugman’s op-ed, namely that the era of globalization and policy-driven liberalisation is over.
Richard Baldwin, Thursday, December 12, 2013
The WTO signed a mini-package of trade initiatives in Bali last week. This column argues that the ‘Bali package’ is welcome but not enough. Without some new initiative or direction, the WTO looks set to drift for the next few years. The WTO cannot move ahead until the trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic ‘mega-regionals’ are done or dead. In the meantime, the WTO should promote research and discussion on how 21st-century trade issues could be brought into the WTO when the time is ripe.
Yasuyuki Todo, Saturday, May 11, 2013
Japan looks set to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Reflecting the current debate in Japan, this column assesses what effect the Partnership will have on Japan’s growth. Evidence suggests that the economic effects may be far bigger than the current consensus suggests.
Kati Suominen, Thursday, December 20, 2012
Free trade agreements are now the centre of gravity in global commerce. This column says they are also the likeliest pathway to multilateral trade liberalisation. With the US negotiating two mega deals – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a US-EU free-trade agreement – China and other emerging economies will have no choice but to play by common rules of the game. It concludes that with all heavyweights joining the charmed circle, multilateral talks in Geneva will no longer be needed.
Claude Barfield, Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Canada and Mexico have recently been invited to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This column argues that this is a big deal. It could produce a domino effect, beginning with the addition of Japan and Korea and leading to a model 21st century trade area encompassing over 700 million people with a combined GDP of some $26 trillion.
Florian Mölders, Ulrich Volz, Friday, March 23, 2012
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back on course having received interest from the Canada, Japan, and Mexico in recent months. This column argues that as changes to the TPP start to seem more likely, there may be trade effects in anticipation. In the face of potential trade diversion, the column urges European trade policymakers to strengthen the EU’s trading ties with the Asia-Pacific region, preferably by reviving global trade talks.