new deals?

Don’t Cry Over Dead Trade Agreements

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Lobbying-driven trade agreements often aggravate domestic policy failings. Better domestic governance would lessen the appeal of such deals, the author writes.

  • Facts


    • U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to cancel the trans-Pacific trade deal known as TPP, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s trade policy.
    • He has also committed to renegotiating the trans-Atlantic trade agreement, TTIP.
    • Trade partnerships have been opposed by populist and even some mainstream parties from right to left in Europe and the United States.
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Thousand of people demonstrate against TTIP and CETA in the centre of Brussels
If done right, trade can be a good thing, even without new free-trade deals. Source: Reuters

The seven decades since the end of World War II were an era of trade agreements. The world’s major economies were in a perpetual state of trade negotiations, including two major global multilateral deals: the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the treaty establishing the World Trade Organization. In addition, more than 500 bilateral and regional trade agreements were signed – the vast majority of them since the WTO replaced the GATT in 1995.

The populist revolts of 2016 will almost certainly put an end to this hectic deal-making. While developing countries may pursue smaller trade agreements, the two major deals on the table, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), are as good as dead after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

We should not mourn their passing.

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