International trade agreements have brought undoubted benefits to the world economy and society. But they have also wrought substantial harm, both in developed and developing countries. Even if the aggregate benefits outweigh the harms, those harms tend to be very visible. They rightly attract condemnation from across the political spectrum, leading to increasing scepticism of free trade. There is also a growing sense that certain trade agreements are being used as a vehicle for the pursuit of special interests – further eroding the case for free trade in the public’s mind.
These issues cannot be ignored. Left unchecked, popular pressure may lead to a partial or complete collapse of the liberal trading order – harming both developed and developing countries in the process.
A new approach is needed. One that leads to an international trading order firmly grounded in the concept of justice.Journal of World Trade