Trade & Globalisation

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    When firms have asymmetric market power, stronger multilateral cooperation is needed

When firms have asymmetric market power, stronger multilateral cooperation is needed

The opinion on the benefits of free trade, and of multilateral agreements, which are free trade’s preferred policy companion, has changed through history. After having enjoyed some decades of favour, the support to multilateralism (and free trade) seems to be declining. The theoretical premise that the free market equilibrium is efficient is the basis for multilateralism. Economists learn in […]

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    Industrial robots are bringing jobs back home, but not for low-skilled workers

Industrial robots are bringing jobs back home, but not for low-skilled workers

An immense rise in automation by means of industrial robots has taken place. Figures from the International Federation of Robotics reveal that while automation was almost an unkown phenomenon in the 1970s, with fewer than 3000 industrial robots installed worldwide, the operational stock of robots is nowadays already approaching 2.5 million.

At the same time, nations tend to apply more […]

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    Many Brexiteers see the WTO as a suitable framework for the UK’s trade, but is it?

Many Brexiteers see the WTO as a suitable framework for the UK’s trade, but is it?

Two developments are seen as evidence of the rise of populist opposition to the established liberal order: Brexit and Donald Trump. While similar in many respects, they have very different views on the World Trade Organisation. Brexiteers see the WTO as an acceptable – if not preferable – alternative to an agreement with the EU, and presumably a suitable […]

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    Africa’s continental free trade area: progress and challenges

Africa’s continental free trade area: progress and challenges

The African continental free trade area (AfCFTA) was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on 18 March 2018. With Egypt’s parliamentary ratification, three weeks from the anniversary of the signing, 19 out of the required 22 ratifications are in hand, signalling that meeting the objective of ‘entry into force’ (30 days later) is within reach.

This is no mean feat given that […]

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    What explains the contemporary geographic distribution of Islam?

What explains the contemporary geographic distribution of Islam?

What explains the contemporary spatial distribution of Muslim communities worldwide? Our study’s contribution is twofold.

First, we investigate the role that ancient trade routes have played in facilitating the spread of Islam. Motivated by numerous case studies on the historical relationship between trade and Islam, we construct detailed data on pre-Islamic trade routes, ports and harbours, and establish that proximity […]

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    Robotisation could help ‘reshore’ manufacturing jobs back to Europe

Robotisation could help ‘reshore’ manufacturing jobs back to Europe

One would be hard-pressed to find many commentators ready to say Europe’s manufacturing industry is coasting. Rather, the last decades have been quite competent at throwing several challenges towards our economic model. The 2018 European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) Conference “The World(s) of Work in Transition” managed to name a few: Climate change, demographic transitions, digitalisation, automation and finally the nexus […]

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    Why new tariff codes are necessary to improve trade and combat climate change

Why new tariff codes are necessary to improve trade and combat climate change

A key issue in the fight against climate change and for environmental protection is how to facilitate market access to environmental products (agricultural and non-agricultural ones). The world trading system has an alternative mechanism that can be very useful in that respect: the Harmonysed System (HS), which establishes common classification for goods, facilitating the negotiation process. The creation of new tariff codes for environmental products under HS […]

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    Growth, import dependence and war: the risks of Chinese vulnerability

Growth, import dependence and war: the risks of Chinese vulnerability

World trade has increased tremendously in recent decades, driven by the rise of China and other emerging economies. The reliance of world trade on choke points (such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea) creates the need for someone to guarantee the freedom of navigation. Traditionally, this role has been upheld by the […]

Global talent fosters innovation and collaborative patents

Innovation thrives when a diverse set of ideas come together, and globalisation plays an important role in facilitating this process. This recombination often happens through skilled people moving to top talent clusters or labs. Over 40 per cent of the researchers at America’s top seven cancer research centres are foreign-born, and one researcher described how the interaction of these […]

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    Turf wars? Placing geographical indications at the heart of international trade

Turf wars? Placing geographical indications at the heart of international trade

When doing your weekly shop have you ever observed the small blue/yellow and red/yellow circles that appear on the wrappers of Wensleydale cheese or Parma ham? Such indicia are examples of geographical indications (GIs), or appellations: they show that a product possesses certain attributes (taste, smell, texture) that are unique to a specific product and which can only be […]

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    Peter Trubowitz: For Trump, the principal focus on China is domestic and not geopolitical

Peter Trubowitz: For Trump, the principal focus on China is domestic and not geopolitical

Since July, the Trump administration has targeted China with growing tariffs on imported Chinese goods, with the country responding in kinds. In this interview published by Chatham House’s The World Today magazine, LSE’s US Centre director, Peter Trubowitz, comments that Trump’s trade conflict with China is more about satisfying his supporters at home rather than competing with China on […]

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    Germany is quietly rebalancing its economy – but this will not fix the Eurozone’s flaws

Germany is quietly rebalancing its economy – but this will not fix the Eurozone’s flaws

Ever since the financial and sovereign debt crisis, the political and economic implications of Germany’s unbalanced economy have lured the attention of academics, policy institutions, the public and politicians across Europe and beyond. Frequent are the pleas made to the German political establishment to rebalance its export-oriented economic model, increase fiscal expenditures and thus rein in the world’s largest current account surplus.

But what is […]

The WTO’s unfinished business

The ongoing international trade tensions between the US and a host of countries serves as a reminder of the importance of strong international institutions in helping avoid the escalation of trade disagreements into trade wars. The WTO and its predecessor the GATT are often seen as not only a strong force behind multilateral trade liberalisation, but also a place […]

The dangers of the global trade war for the UK

Since 2016, two of the world’s largest economies – those of the US and the UK – have made major shifts away from global economic integration. First, the British electorate voted to leave the EU. Since then, the Trump administration has sparked a global trade war which currently shows no signs of dissipating, with tariffs having already been imposed […]

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    Melting ice caps will open the northern sea to commercial traffic and change world trade patterns

Melting ice caps will open the northern sea to commercial traffic and change world trade patterns

Arctic ice cover has been shrinking as a result of global warming. Besides the important and critical environmental and economic effects of melting ice caps, a side effect is to open the northern sea route for high volume commercial traffic. This shipping route will connect East Asia – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China – with North-western Europe through […]

‘Trade policy 3.0’ will foster inclusive trade

In a recent article for LSE Business Review, I introduced the classification of “trade policy 3.0” and the emergent “internet of rules” (IoR): a networked repository of executable forms of rules written in computer language. The distinctive character of trade policy 3.0 is that, in addition to “writing down the rules” of trade in natural language (trade policy 1.0) […]

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    For free trade, but against TTIP: public opinion and the backlash against globalisation

For free trade, but against TTIP: public opinion and the backlash against globalisation

Trade policy has reemerged in the headlines. Politicians and activists from the right and the left of the political spectrum challenge the idea that free trade benefits everyone. Negotiations about new trade agreements fail and existing agreements are suspended. It even seems like trade policy might develop into a wedge issue in national politics and international relations. This raises […]

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    Will it pay to be large in the EU steel industry? The answer may not be straightforward

Will it pay to be large in the EU steel industry? The answer may not be straightforward

There is a widespread belief that many of the problems that have recently plagued the EU steel industry can be resolved, or at least alleviated, by increased market concentration. Aligned with this conviction, many analysts and industry executives have positively welcomed the recent merger of the European operations of Germany’s ThyssenKrupp and India’s Tata Steel. The thinking goes that concentrating […]

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    Disruptive trade technologies will usher in the ‘internet of rules’

Disruptive trade technologies will usher in the ‘internet of rules’

Businesses, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), face many challenges in understanding and complying with international commercial rules and regulations. Research also indicates low utilisation of eligible tariff preferences, or favourable tax rules, by traders. In other words, many businesses do not always effectively benefit from their negotiated market advantages. Unfortunately, the current “version history” (or stage in the […]

Populism and the broken engine of the Italian economy

Italy is an anomalous case. It posted the lowest growth rates among the developed countries for about a quarter of a century. This anomaly can help to understand why the anti-establishment forces, which have also reaped successes almost everywhere in the Western world, gained a majority in the latest Italian elections. It also helps to understand the economic policy […]