International Economic Cooperation in Troubled Times: A Call for Strong Action by the G20


The leaders of the G20 will meet on 30 November and 1 December in Buenos Aires for their annual summit. They need to acknowledge that the last two years have been characterized by strong headwinds for the world economy. This time, however, it is not a mixture of poor macroeconomic policies and bad business decisions – as in 2008 when they met in Washington for their first summit – that endangers the well-being of billions of citizens around the globe. This time the threat stems from deliberate political decisions, in particular on trade.

EU to the rescue: Priorities for a positive multilateralism

Photo: EU FlagsWe are a long way from 2015. That year, the world committed to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate – promising to end extreme poverty, address corrosive inequality, boost peace and prosperity, and stop climate change.

Now in 2018, we already look back at 2015 with nostalgia. This was the high water mark of multilateralism, brought low by the rise of populism and ‘illiberal democracy’. Suddenly, it seems, we are forced to find ways of rescuing the global rules-based order.

Where is global trade and investment governance headed? A Tour d’Horizon

Photo: Trump Towers

Since the US created the post-World War Two liberal international order and is still the pre-eminent global power notwithstanding the growing Chinese challenge, it is uniquely placed to determine the trade and investment system’s fortunes. The answer to the question posed in the title, therefore, depends fundamentally on the medium-term trajectory of US politics, and the resultant US position in the world. Accordingly, in this blog I put forward my analysis of where the US political system is headed under President Donald J. Trump, how key countries are responding, and the ensuing implications for the global trade and investment system.

The ‘China Shock’ : Three Phases of China-enhanced Globalization

The rising living standards that have come with China’s opening in the 1980s initially lent widespread support to the view of trade as a key engine of economic growth, North and South. For low- and middle-income countries, the rise of China has been shown to be a boon during the 2000s. As a result, the impact of China on both the low- and middle-income countries has grown significantly, while the impact of OECD countries has significantly declined.

Bringing positive energy to the trading system: EU, Japan and Africa move to sign mega-trade deals

Photo: Containers in HamburgTrade policy headlines are dominated today by the ups and downs of the United States-China relationship, the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Brexit process. There is concern on the effects that disintegrating closely linked economic partners could have on growth, jobs, supply chains, and consumers. The perils of a return to unilateralism and power-based mechanisms threaten the relevance of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Among the challenges confronting global trade governance, however, there is positive energy coming from several regions of the world in the form of renewed and pro-active leadership on preferential trade agreements (PTAs) on the part of the European Union (EU), Japan and Africa. This energy is welcome as it is a source of global cooperation, but more is needed to make sure it complements the multilateral trading system.