Decades of growth in trade and foreign investment have seen the economies around the world become more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. The production of goods and, increasingly, the provision of services have become fractured across borders as corporations create and integrate into regional and global value chains. These trends have been reinforced by the steady liberalisation of international trade and investment regimes, at the bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral levels. National economic specialisation in areas of comparative advantage, and regional economic and political integration, have proceeded in a single direction, broadly speaking, since the 1980s. On aggregate, advanced economies have benefitted from and have championed these developments, while emerging markets have become the main drivers of growth around the world.
Despite the apparent success of trade and investment liberalisation, multilateral negotiations aiming for further openness have had limited success in the 21st century. Launched in late 2001, the Doha Round of talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) finally ended in 2015 due to lack of sufficient progress.
In the intervening years trade negotiators had in any case shifted focus to bilateral and plurilateral deals, while efforts at the multilateral level targeted more limited goals, such as the trade facilitation package agreed by the WTO in 2013, and the phasing out of agriculture subsidies agreed in 2015. Fisheries subsidies and e-commerce were front and centre when the WTO last met at the ministerial level in Buenos Aires from December 10 to 13, 2017.
Read the full Global Perspective in The Report: Cote d’Ivoire 2018