US pluriteral trade agreements carry significant risks

Since the failure of the “Doha round”, the focus has shifted to exclusive agreements

Protesters, many against the so-called fast track trade authority of the TTP trade agreement, rally outside a hotel where US President Barack Obama held a meeting in Portland, Oregon last week. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Protesters, many against the so-called fast track trade authority of the TTP trade agreement, rally outside a hotel where US President Barack Obama held a meeting in Portland, Oregon last week. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Should proposed US plurilateral trade agreements be welcomed? This is a big question, not least for those who consider the liberalisation of world trade to be a signal achievement. It is also highly controversial.

Since the failure of the “Doha round” of multilateral negotiations – launched shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 – the focus of global trade policy has shifted towards plurilateral agreements restricted to a limited subgroup of partners. The most significant are US-led: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

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