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.
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.