Is Geopolitics Changing Trade Policy Today? — Yes, Absolutely (More from Business to National Interest Concerns).

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      Excellent piece in this morning’s Financia Times discussing trade policy and geopolitics, neoliberal globalism and global inequality, and global trade and peace. Here are some excerpts also discussing the WTO, China, and worker-based trade policies. I’m particularly interested in the rise of geopolitics and the role of law (and values) in global trade relations today.


  • The fact that both Republicans and Democrats are rethinking trade policy says something important about our geopolitics.


  • The idea that trade was primarily a pathway to global peace and unity, rather than a necessary way of balancing both domestic and global concerns, is over. We are entering a new era, in which concepts such as Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” or Thomas Friedman’s “Golden Arches” theory are no longer relevant.



  • Workers in our democracies have long understood that global trade without values-based rules to govern it made our people poorer and our countries more vulnerable. They have long known that it enriched the plutocrats, but not the people.


  • Our system of neoliberal globalisation has created more wealth at a global scale over the past half-century than ever before. But there has also been huge growth in inequality within many countries.


  • And there is research to show that the entities that have benefited most from the past several decades of globalisation have been multinational companies and the Chinese state — or more particularly, the people running them. Autocrats have done well too, often by using trade and commerce as weapons in geopolitical conflicts.



  • And the west is certainly guilty of its own historical mercantilism and transnationalism. I’ve always thought that America’s embrace of China’s entry into the WTO had more to do with US corporate lobbying than any real belief in the possibility of political change.


  • The point here is that the current system of economic globalisation isn’t going to magically dissolve political differences. We are heading towards a new, post-neoliberal paradigm in which values, rather than just “everyday low prices” as the Walmart retail slogan goes, become a more important consideration in economic policy decisions. 

            “Free Trade Has Not Made Us Free.” (Oct. 2022)

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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