Trading

Is the global trading system unravelling before our eyes? Here is where things stand – CBC.ca

The modern history of global trade is being written at warp speed, with a dizzying series of developments now testing the international trading system.

What the rules-based order looks like after this is anyone’s guess.

Credit a collision of conditions: a pandemic, a trade-skeptical U.S. president, simmering frustration with China, and a growing great-power rivalry.

In the past few days alone, the U.S. has dismissed the World Trade Organization’s top dispute-resolution body as illegitimate.

The Trump administration said it would ignore WTO appellate body rulings, after years of complaints from successive American administrations.

Then the U.S. slapped several new regulatory controls on high-tech exports to China that could be used by the military.

The U.S. has also placed its closest allies on notice: it is studying similar export controls for friendly nations that sell sensitive U.S. technology to rivals.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Xi Jinping, China’s president, continue to butt heads on trade issues. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Then there’s the pandemic.

Protectionist measures have not only sprouted all over the globe as countries cling to desperately needed medical equipment, such as masks and medicines.

A few countries have also limited food exports, in a sign of nervousness about potential hunger. There’s a Canadian-led push at the WTO, supported by dozens
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