It has become consensus to argue that we have approached ‘peak trade’ or the ‘end of globalisation’: that the past five years of stagnant global trade growth are not temporary, but instead reflect persistent forces that are likely to drive a continued stagnation in global trade over the long run. Though this view preceded the Brexit referendum, this column argues that it has now been amplified by the UK’s vote to leave the EU and the prospect that, potentially, US President-elect Trump and other leaders across developed markets will implement protectionist trade policies. The authors consider the arguments for ‘peak trade’, and conclude that, though downside risks to the trade outlook are prominent, there is little evidence – yet – that the current stagnation in global trade is predestined to extend far into the future.
Ian Tomb, Kamakshya Trivedi, 06 January 2017
Fabio Ghironi, 03 July 2016
Debate surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is raging. Economists on different sides of the debate have used different arguments and tools to support their positions. This column surveys several recent studies and the strategies they employ in modelling the potential effects of TPP. It argues that structural models need to start from micro foundations, and need to incorporate trade and macro dynamics. The general results of these studies lend support to those who think that TPP will be beneficial.
Yasuyuki Todo, 24 December 2015
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was reached in October following seven years of negotiations. This column examines how Japan can maximise the TPP’s effect on its economy, identifying several additional policies that will be necessary. These include support for Japanese small and medium enterprises seeking to expand operations overseas, and policies that encourage and ease incoming foreign direct investment.
Gary Hufbauer, 24 June 2015
The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would be the largest single trade agreement concluded worldwide for more than a decade. It would transform world trade governance in ways that are hard to predict. This column discusses the machinations inside the US Congress that gave US negotiators the green light to wrap up the TPP talks. If all goes well, the deal may happen just prior to the APEC Summit in the Philippines in November 2015.
Gary Hufbauer, 15 June 2015
The Trans-Pacific Partnership – a trade deal involving the US and 11 partners – has been imperilled by parliamentarian manoeuvres in the US Congress. This column explains the complex links between the trade deal and the Congressional vote and discusses the next steps.
Jayant Menon, 09 June 2014
With the rise of mega-regional trade agreements, the world trade system resembles a jigsaw puzzle. This column discusses the difficulties involved in consolidating free trade agreements at the regional level, and argues that piecing together the blocs around the world will be even more challenging. A potential way forward is to return to the most widely used modality of trade liberalisation – unilateral actions – but this time involving the multilateralisation of preferences rather than unreciprocated reductions in tariff rates.
Gary Hufbauer, Cathleen Cimino, 17 March 2014
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Paul Krugman calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “No big deal”. This column looks at Krugman’s main arguments against the TPP. First, Krugman suggests spending political capital on domestic initiatives, and not on the TPP. Second, he argues that the pay-off from TPP will be trivial since tariffs are already low. The column points to a larger message in Krugman’s op-ed, namely that the era of globalization and policy-driven liberalisation is over.
Richard Baldwin, 12 December 2013
The WTO signed a mini-package of trade initiatives in Bali last week. This column argues that the ‘Bali package’ is welcome but not enough. Without some new initiative or direction, the WTO looks set to drift for the next few years. The WTO cannot move ahead until the trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic ‘mega-regionals’ are done or dead. In the meantime, the WTO should promote research and discussion on how 21st-century trade issues could be brought into the WTO when the time is ripe.
Yasuyuki Todo, 11 May 2013
Japan looks set to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Reflecting the current debate in Japan, this column assesses what effect the Partnership will have on Japan’s growth. Evidence suggests that the economic effects may be far bigger than the current consensus suggests.
Kati Suominen, 20 December 2012
Free trade agreements are now the centre of gravity in global commerce. This column says they are also the likeliest pathway to multilateral trade liberalisation. With the US negotiating two mega deals – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a US-EU free-trade agreement – China and other emerging economies will have no choice but to play by common rules of the game. It concludes that with all heavyweights joining the charmed circle, multilateral talks in Geneva will no longer be needed.
Claude Barfield, 01 August 2012
Canada and Mexico have recently been invited to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This column argues that this is a big deal. It could produce a domino effect, beginning with the addition of Japan and Korea and leading to a model 21st century trade area encompassing over 700 million people with a combined GDP of some $26 trillion.
Florian Mölders, Ulrich Volz, 23 March 2012
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back on course having received interest from the Canada, Japan, and Mexico in recent months. This column argues that as changes to the TPP start to seem more likely, there may be trade effects in anticipation. In the face of potential trade diversion, the column urges European trade policymakers to strengthen the EU’s trading ties with the Asia-Pacific region, preferably by reviving global trade talks.