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Chapter

Cover Global Political Economy

6. Regional Trade Agreements  

John Ravenhill

This chapter assesses regional trade agreements (RTAs). The number of RTAs has grown rapidly since the World Trade Organization (WTO) came into existence in 1995. Roughly one-half of world trade is now conducted within these preferential trade arrangements, the most significant exception to the WTO's principle of non-discrimination. Governments have entered regional economic agreements motivated by a variety of political and economic considerations. They may prefer trade liberalization on a regional rather than a global basis for several reasons. The chapter then reviews the political economy of regionalism: why RTAs are established; which actors are likely to support regional rather than global trade liberalization; the effects that regionalism has had on the trade and welfare of members and non-members; and the relationship between liberalization at the regional and global levels.

Chapter

Cover Policy-Making in the European Union

16. Trade Policy  

Making Policy in Turbulent Times

Alasdair R. Young

This chapter introduces the importance of EU trade policy both to the European integration project and to the EU’s role in the world. It explains how different aspects of trade policy are made. The chapter also charts how the emphasis of EU trade policy has shifted from prioritizing multilateral negotiations to pursuing bilateral agreements. It considers how the EU has responded to the apparent politicization of trade policy within Europe and to the United States’ more protectionist and unilateral trade policy. It also considers Brexit EU trade policy and how trade policy complicated Brexit. It argues that there has been considerable continuity in EU trade policy despite these challenges.

Chapter

Cover Global Political Economy

5. The Evolution of the Global Trade Regime  

Silke Trommer

This chapter details the history, politics, and recent trends and challenges of the multilateral trade system. The twentieth century witnessed a remarkable emergence of international institutions, and nowhere was their impact greater than in international trade. Following decades of depression and war, a global trading regime was initiated with the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947, which expanded steadily in both scope and membership through the twentieth century and culminated in the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Underpinned by the philosophy that open markets and non-discriminatory trade policies promote the prosperity of all countries, and issued with a powerful dispute settlement mechanism, the WTO has been hailed as the most prominent example of cooperation between countries. At the same time, however, the WTO has been subject to internal and external criticism and now faces a number of difficulties.

Chapter

Cover Global Environmental Politics

10. Trade and the environment  

This chapter explores the complex and multifaceted relationship between international trade and environmental protection. The global trade regime's normative principles, legal rules, and real-world consequences often contradict environmental governance. For example, there is tension between trade and environmental governance with respect to the commercialisation of endangered species, export of hazardous wastes, emissions involved in transporting goods, and patentability of living organisms. However, there are also synergies, which enable trade liberalisation and environmental protection to reinforce one another. For example, trade forces were key drivers in the reduction of ozone-depleting substances and the affordability of pollution abatement technologies. The chapter explores these conflicts and synergies by first discussing the literature that examines the positive and negative impacts that trade has on the environment. It goes on to look at the trade dimensions of various environmental regimes, and then environmental dimensions of the trade regime, within both the World Trade Organization and preferential trade agreements.

Chapter

Cover Global Political Economy

6. Trade  

Erin Hannah and James Scott

This chapter assesses the global trade system. It begins by looking at the debate over free trade and protectionism. The chapter explores the evolution of the multilateral trade system, with particular emphasis on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), highlighting the centrality of trade liberalization and non-discrimination in contemporary trade relations. It then considers the debates surrounding the relationship between trade and development, particularly around how multilateral trade rules reflect unequal power relations, and the social consequences of liberalized trade. The chapter also reflects on the recent backlash against neoliberal trade and the ostensible turn towards protectionism in some parts of the world. Finally, it highlights the gendered nature of trade and how it affects gender equality.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

5. Neoliberalism  

Jennifer Sterling-Folker

This chapter examines the neoliberalist argument that international institutions promote international cooperation. While neoliberalism acknowledges that cooperation can be difficult to achieve in anarchic conditions, it insists that institutions allow states to overcome a variety of collective action impediments. The central concern of neoliberal analysis is how institutions do so, and how they might be redesigned to more efficiently obtain cooperative outcomes. This chapter considers three questions that are relevant for understanding neoliberal contributions: How did neoliberalism emerge? What are the barriers to international cooperation? How does neoliberalism study international institutions? The chapter uses the World Trade Organization as a case study to illustrate the importance of institutional design for international free trade cooperation. Along the way, various concepts such as interdependence, hegemonic stability, hegemon, bargaining, defection, compliance, autonomy, and principal–agent theory are discussed, along with the game known as Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Chapter

Cover Foreign Policy

18. India and the World Trade Organization  

Amrita Narlikar

This chapter examines India’s emergence as a key player in the World Trade Organization (WTO) within the context of its foreign policy. It considers plausible mainstream explanations for India’s apparent rise to power, including growing market size, changing ideology, and the role of domestic interest groups in influencing foreign economic policy. It suggests that India’s emergence as a major player in the WTO can be explained by its negotiation behaviour. More specifically, it shows that India’s rise in the WTO is a product of decades of learning to negotiate within the specific multilateral rules of the organization (as well as its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)). The chapter also considers some of the problems that India’s WTO diplomacy raises within the trade context as well as its broader foreign policy goals.

Chapter

Cover The Politics of International Law

7. Global economic and trade governance  

This chapter addresses the intersection of international law and international politics as it relates to global trade. To study global economic governance is to study international law, international relations, and international political economy (IPE) all at once. The chapter begins with a brief introduction to IPE, a discipline which seeks to understand the workings of the global economy in its political context. It examines the relationship between economic globalization and state sovereignty, before turning to the construction of the postwar global economic order, with a focus on the Bretton Woods institutions. The postwar global economic order has often been described as ‘liberal’ by virtue of its underlying assumptions and the ideological convictions of its framers. Importantly, the postwar liberal order was built by, and for, the developed countries of the Global North-a fact that has informed critiques emanating from the developing countries of the Global South. The chapter then assesses global trade governance, analysing the structure, powers, and role of the World Trade Organization.