The 300 new agreements of recent years have been partly catalyzed by the fact that the current round of Doha wto negotiations has not been successful for more than 15 years. Note that WTO rules take into account bilateral and regional agreements, which are repeatedly described as complements, complications and creative tensions with the WTO. “The fears of this uncertainty are particularly acute for the global business community, as many companies depend on global value chains vulnerable to new trade barriers,” said CCI. And despite progress over time, the ICC Open Markets Index 2017 gave an average score of only 3.6 out of 6 (of which 6 is the most open) for a group of 75 countries. (The United States also reached a 3.6.) While supporting the creation of the EEC, other European countries feared that their economic interests would suffer, as their exports to these six countries were discriminated against in relation to the sales of EEC members. As a result, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland created the European Free Trade Area in 1960, which would eliminate trade tariffs and allow everyone to maintain their own external tariff. The United States, once a proponent of multilateralism and free trade, was seeking regional solutions to its economic problems. One such initiative was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed with Canada and Mexico. It was designed to create a free trade area on the North American continent and came into force on January 1, 1994. Nafta was an executive agreement reached on August 12, 1992. It was passed by Congress in late 1993 after a lively national debate.
Before that, when protectionism backfired. A devastating trade war broke out in the early 1930s. In the Great Depression, fears that imports would put more people out of work led governments to create their trade barriers, triggering a vicious cycle of retaliation. This has only exacerbated unemployment. The global economy soared and ultimately contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Protectionism can easily put us in a situation where no one wins and everyone loses. This golden age came to an end on June 28, 1914, when a bullet from the assassin killed Archduke François Ferdinand and Europe descended into world war I. When the war finally ended in 1918, the global trading system was in ruins. Unfortunately, the United States turned its back on international cooperation and the victorious European powers demanded harsh reparations from Germany. However, the decline of British power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the inability of the European system of balance of power to take account of the changes brought about by the growth of German power and the decline of the Austrian and Ottoman empires contributed to the outbreak of the great conflict known as the First World War (1914-1918). It must be acknowledged that this war broke out despite the existence of fairly powerful international trade flows. It cannot therefore be inferred from the fact that free trade prevents war in all cases, especially when it comes to issues of power and nationalist pride.
Today, however, the prospects for further multilateral trade liberalization are uncertain. The Doha Development Round negotiations failed to reach an agreement after 15 years of effort. The United States, the European Union and Japan were not prepared to make substantial changes to current agricultural programs, and advanced developing countries – particularly India, China and Brazil – were not prepared to significantly reduce their industrial tariffs.