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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.