Consultants decipher the hyperlinks between the multilateral commerce regime and globalization | Information | SDG data heart
A discussion entitled “The Multilateral Trade Regime in Contending Narratives about Economic Globalization”, organized by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Queen’s University and the Australian National University, discussed how globalization narratives are developing and international trade policy have influenced. The panel also looked at the potential of multilateralism in the future and discussed how countries will reconcile competing globalization narratives while addressing inequality and global sustainability goals.
This event took place as part of the IISD’s first TRADE + SUSTAINABILITY HUB. The hub took place from 1-3. December 2021 and gathered over 50 partners, 150 speakers and 1,800 registered participants from civil society, government, business and international organizations to discuss how trade policy can contribute to sustainable development. The hub was supposed to coincide with the twelfth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and took place virtually despite the short-term postponement of MC12.
Nathalie Bernasconi, Executive Director of IISD Europe, underlined the importance of discussing and understanding different narratives. She also highlighted how understanding the underlying conflicting values and disagreements can help foster a more collaborative and holistic approach to negotiation and global causal policymaking.
Nicolas Lamp, Associate Professor in Queen’s University Law School, noted the immense backlash against economic globalization and how it has dramatically expanded the scope of trade and trade negotiation. In his remarks, he also highlighted the importance of incorporating different perspectives in line with different narratives of international trade legislation.
Anthea Roberts, professor at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University, sketched six faces of globalization that were discussed in her book “Six Faces of Globalization: Who wins, who lost, and why it matters” Nicolas Lamp. The six faces of globalization that are addressed are: (i) the establishment narrative; (ii) the left-wing populist narrative; (iii) the right-wing populist narrative; (iv) the geo-economic narrative; (v) the business power narrative; and (vi) the global threat narratives. These six competing narratives give place to each of these viewpoints and demonstrate how each uses complex reasoning and compelling evidence. Roberts and Lamp present a holistic framework for understanding current disputes by distinguishing between the fundamental value conflicts – growth vs. sustainability, efficiency vs.
Abhijit Das, professor and head of the Center for Studies of the World Trade Organization (WTO), discussed five dimensions of India’s perception of globalization. First, the rules of the multilateral trading system are seen by some as restricting the political leeway of governments in developing countries. Second, views have been expressed that some developed countries are not strictly adhering to the rules-based system of the multilateral trade regime. Third, the asymmetries in some WTO agreements have contributed to negative perceptions of trade, globalization and the multilateral trading system. Fourth, according to Professor Das, the negotiation process is perceived as intransparent and directed against the interests of the developing countries. Fifth, a one-sided discourse on international trade and WTO issues in international media has contributed to a negative perception of trade and globalization in India.
Petina Gappah, chief legal advisor to the African Continental Free Trade Association (AFCFTA) secretariat, said the pandemic had exposed the injustice of the global economic order, such as the refusal to issue patent waivers that allow countries to expand vaccine manufacturing capacities and store vaccines . Gappah also warned that countries would increasingly focus on regional and free trade deals if disillusionment with multilateralism persists. Finally, she stressed the need for inclusivity and for countries to integrate into the world economy at their own pace.
Joost Pauwelyn, professor at the Geneva University Institute, emphasized the need to differentiate between globalization and backlash. According to him, the world has moved from a consensus world to a fragmented one where everyone prioritizes their interests, making it difficult to reach agreements. He stressed the need to find a new common narrative that brings everyone together, along the lines of the European Union (EU), which has established sustainability as a common narrative. In order to ensure the conclusion of agreements in the WTO, he suggested that an evidence-based approach should be followed and that the circle of actors involved in the WTO, such as
This article was written by Hiral Ramesh Hirani, CUTS International