EI Education and Trade Update – March 2018 – Unions For Trade Justice

EI Education and Trade Update – March 2018

International trade developments have been characterised by rupture, adjustment and continuity. The rupture comes from the international trade policy of the Trump Administration in the US. Most remarkable, is the current lack of American leadership within international trade policy. Previously, the US was one of the key protagonists, but it is now conspicuous in its absence. The change in US policy has meant that issues that previously were launched within the World
Trade Organisation (WTO) and then taken to either bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations because of the stalemate in the WTO, are being brought back to the WTO arena. However, the 11 th WTO Ministerial Conference of 2017 did not result in any concrete multilateral outcomes.

While there has been a freeze in several major international trade negotiations that include the US, there is still no clear indication from the US Administration whether it will still engage at a later stage or withdraw from those negotiations. Nevertheless, in the case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the US withdrew from the agreement in January 2017. One year after the withdrawal of the US, the remaining 12 countries in the TPP announced that they agreed to a revised TPP. The official signing of the agreement is expected to take place in early March 2018. In the case of the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), its renegotiation was initiated on 16 th August 2017 under the threat that the US would otherwise withdraw from the 23-year-old agreement. So far 6 rounds of negotiations have taken place with limited progress.

While many major international trade agreements involve the US, there has nevertheless also been adjustment and continuity in international trade policy in the sense that the EU has intensified and expanded on already ongoing international trade negotiations and initiated new trade negotiations. The European Commission is regularly updating the current status of its international trade negotiations.