Excerpts from a policy brief by Ken Ash, a speaker at WITA’s 2023 Virtual Intensive Trade Seminar, which started today. Tickets are still available to purchase individual session passes for Monday or Tuesday’s discussion.
Is the high point in multilateral trade relations already 30 years in the past? Are notions of international cooperation and mutual benefit relics of an earlier time?
Hopefully not, there is still much more to play for. Amidst the visible geopolitical tensions, and what often looks like a blurring of trade, economic, climate, and security interests, there are some encouraging signs recently.
This brief considers prior developments that helped shape the nature of the trade policy debate today, offers an admittedly optimistic assessment of a renewed interest by G7 members in international cooperation, and highlights immediate priorities for action by G7 Trade Ministers….
When G7 Leaders met in Japan in May 2023, did they take the first tentative steps back from international confrontation and towards reinvigorated international cooperation? The G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué is a remarkable document – full credit to the G7 Presidency of Japan. The Communiqué is comprehensive and substantive in its treatment of a wide range of global issues; it emphasizes throughout the unity of G7 members and their commitment both to work together and to engage with international partners.
National security is a central theme of the Communiqué, and support for Ukraine is emphasized. Leaders also prioritize accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the transition to a clean energy economy, noting that poverty reduction and climate mitigation go hand in and; cooperating to build economic resilience and economic security across supply chains, and to enable a strong global economic recovery; investing in global health and pandemic preparedness; cooperating on migration and human trafficking; ensuring good governance of artificial intelligence and digital technologies; and strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core.
G7 Leaders emphasize that they are interested in “de-risking” and not in decoupling. This is a significant, deliberate, and welcome change in message and tone. Earlier discourse often implied a much more extensive stepping back from international trade, investment, and overall cooperation. Given the interconnectedness of economies today, decoupling is neither feasible nor desirable and re-discovering this reality would be extremely costly for all countries. An open and inclusive approach for mitigating risks to economic, climate, and security interests based on collaboration across countries, and with the private sector, is both feasible and desirable.