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The World Trading System at a Turning Point

In­ter­na­tion­al trade has al­ways gen­er­at­ed a great deal of con­tro­ver­sy, par­tic­u­lar­ly in ad­vanced economies. This con­tro­ver­sial na­ture of trade is not par­tic­u­lar­ly sur­pris­ing, giv­en that it is one of the key dri­vers of change in mod­ern economies. It af­fects which in­dus­tries ex­pand and con­tract, which firms suc­ceed and fail, and which em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties ap­pear and dis­ap­pear and there­fore di­rect­ly changes the lives of many peo­ple.

How­ev­er, this con­tin­ued con­tro­ver­sy has now turned into ex­treme hos­til­i­ty, which threat­ens the es­tab­lished world trad­ing sys­tem. This is most ob­vi­ous in the Unit­ed States, which has rad­i­cal­ly changed its trade pol­i­cy stance un­der Pres­i­dent Trump and now en­gages in a full-scale trade war with Chi­na. But it is also ap­par­ent in Eu­rope, where hun­dreds of thou­sands of cit­i­zens demon­strate against new trade agree­ments, even if they are with close al­lies such as Cana­da.

Informing the Globalization Debate
At the Kühne Center for Sustainable Trade and Logistics, we believe that this globalization backlash is more than a return of old-fashioned protectionism and requires fresh thinking if it is to be overcome. If we want to achieve a truly sustainable globalization, we instead have to carefully evaluate our current world trading system and identify what works and what needs to be improved.

For ex­am­ple, what­ev­er one thinks of Pres­i­dent Trump’s rad­i­cal trade poli­cies, it is rea­son­able to ask if the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion is able to ef­fec­tive­ly pre­vent abus­es by large non-mar­ket economies. And what­ev­er one thinks of the mas­sive protests against the CETA agree­ment be­tween the Eu­ro­pean Union and Cana­da, it is rea­son­able to ask whether pri­vate in­vestors should get the right to di­rect­ly sue de­mo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments. These are the kinds of ques­tions we ask at the Kühne Cen­ter, with the aim of mak­ing glob­al­iza­tion work again.

Impact Series

The Kühne Center aims to establish itself as a thought leader on issues surrounding economic globalization – by conducting relevant research and making its insights available to a broad audience.

The Kühne Cen­ter Im­pact Se­ries high­lights re­search-based in­sights that help to eval­u­ate the cur­rent world trad­ing sys­tem and to iden­ti­fy what works and what needs to be im­proved to achieve a tru­ly sus­tain­able glob­al­iza­tion. Cur­rent eco­nom­ic is­sues, par­tic­u­lar­ly those per­tain­ing to eco­nom­ic glob­al­iza­tion, are a theme through­out. The se­ries has an over­ar­ch­ing fo­cus on the im­por­tance of in­ter­na­tion­al trade and ef­fec­tive glob­al eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy-mak­ing. The main tar­get au­di­ence con­sists of de­ci­sion-mak­ers in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor, econ­o­mists with­in and out­side acad­e­mia, jour­nal­ists, as well as the in­ter­est­ed pub­lic.

Here you can find all previous Impact Series

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