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Edited by John Ravenhill

This introduction to Global Political Economy offers a comprehensive introduction to global political economy, combining history, theory, and contemporary issues and debates. With a careful balance of empirical material and critical analysis, the chapters introduce readers to the diversity of perspectives in GPE, and encourage readers to unpack claims and challenge explanations. This new edition features a brand new chapter on the global trade regimes and thorough updates throughout to reflect the rise of new actors, especially the BRICs, and the role of developing economies in global governance. The second section of the text gives emphasis to questions of global trade and production.


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.


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.


Ann Capling and Silke Trommer

This chapter focuses on the evolution of the global trade regime, with particular emphasis on how it has been established through the actions of trading countries over the past 150 years, how it became institutionalized in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and why it is facing difficulties now. It first considers the historical antecedents of the global trade regime from 1860 to 1945, focusing on the golden age of liberalism and the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934. It then looks at the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), the Uruguay Round, the WTO, and the Doha Round, along with the WTO's relationship with civil society. It concludes by outlining the range of challenges to the multilateral trade system.


This chapter assesses the global political economy of the environment. The growth of the world economy is transforming the Earth's environment. Nothing is particularly controversial about this statement. Yet, sharp disagreements arise over the nature of this transformation. Is the globalization of capitalism a force of progress and environmental solutions? Or is it a cause of the current global environmental crisis? The chapter addresses these questions by examining the debates around some of the most contentious issues at the core of economic globalization and the environment: economic growth, production, and consumption; trade; and transnational investment. It begins with a glance at the general arguments about how the global political economy affects the global environment. The chapter then traces the history of global environmentalism — in particular, the emergence of international environmental institutions with the norm of sustainable development. It also evaluates the effectiveness of North–South environmental financing and international environmental regimes.