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Volume 53, September/October 2018, Number 5 · pp. 249-253

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Revitalising Multilateral Trade Governance

Bernard Hoekman

The global trade regime is a major success story of multilateral cooperation. It has helped to enable a large number of countries to expand their participation in world trade, with associated reductions in prices, increased consumer choice and higher productivity. Rising average per capita incomes and lower poverty rates in many developing economies are in part the result of greater trade integration. The concomitant rebalancing of global income shares and competitive pressures emanating from emerging economies, especially China, is generating challenges for the trading system. In part, this is reflected in a broader ‘backlash against globalisation’ in high income countries. More specifically, it has fed perceptions that success is based in part on unfair trade practices. Competition between governments to attract investment and technologies is feeding trade tensions. The recent unilateral imposition of trade restrictions by the US on the steel and aluminium imports of many countries and retaliatory responses is a notable example of these tensions resulting in trade conflict.

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