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27 January 2022

Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex and Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO.

The crisis between Ukraine and Russia is deeply concerning – for the people of Ukraine, but also in terms of broader ramifications for world order and stability. NATO’s strategy to avoid direct military action against Russia points at diplomacy and economic sanctions. It is therefore useful to consider the possible role of these in the realm of international trade.

As we show below, Russian trade is highly dependent on the EU and NATO member states. Hence, the scope for the use of such policy is there. This is not an argument, however, for so doing – as that involves complex political trade-offs (which are beyond the scope of this blog). The importance of Russia as a supplier in particular sectors, notably energy, and hence the dependence of the EU and NATO member states on Russia is also a factor in those trade-offs.

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January 27th, 2022

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13 January 2022

Image of Alan WintersL. Alan Winters is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of UK Trade Policy Observatory and Bernard Hoekman is Professor of Global Economics, European University Institute and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

It is widely accepted that international economic relations depend upon a smoothly functioning multilateral trading system. That trading system, institutionally underpinned by the World Trade Organization (WTO), can both stimulate economic activity and help to promote international cooperation in spheres such as climate change and migration. However, the WTO is becoming less relevant to a world in which services account for a growing share of trade, interest in environmental regulation (notably on CO2 emissions) is growing, and digital technology is reshaping our lives.

These issues impinge directly on international trade and thus fall within the broad remit of international rulemaking in the WTO. However, decision making in the WTO typically requires consensus from all the Members, which is difficult to achieve when Members have different ideas about what the appropriate rules for dealing with such challenges are. Thus, not only has it become difficult for countries to agree on how to move forward, but these differences are creating new tensions in the global trading system.

One solution that would help to overcome the impasse is to facilitate those within the WTO who want to change particular rules to proceed among themselves by signing so-called ‘plurilateral’ agreements. The WTO foresees two types of plurilateral agreements, depending on whether what is agreed applies on a discriminatory or non-discriminatory basis. (more…)

January 13th, 2022

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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