Trade block

18 Oct 2012

With global trade negotiations stalled, Australia is attempting to navigate between the competing demands of two giants, writes Jock Given in Inside Story.

IT didn’t look like it at the time, but 1995, the year the World Trade Organization started its work, may have been the summit of American power. The old threat of communism had been crushed; the more recent fear of Japan had passed. In the summer, the web browser Netscape made its initial public offering and the internet boom began. The following year, Steve Jobs returned to Apple. Californian counterculture grabbed hold of commerce and reconstructed its commanding heights. Ideas were everywhere; money was cheap. Many spoke of a “New Economy.”

The Asian economic crisis came and went. The long boom in the West went back to booming, apparently confirming the durability of the economic model underpinning the WTO. In 2000, Bob Woodward published his biography of US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, Maestro: Greenspan’s Fed and the American Boom. The reviews were still coming out when the Twin Towers fell and the soldiers set off for the Middle East.

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