This publication examines international trade and the role of the G20.

Key findings:

  • If one of the main roles of the G20 is to be a circuit breaker in overcoming intractable international economic issues, multilateral trade liberalisation is a prime candidate for the G20’s attention.
  • The record of the G20’s standstill on protection is mixed, particularly when it comes to the application of non-tariff barriers. But the G20’s record in helping to advance the conclusion of the Doha Round is poor. This has damaged the G20’s credibility on trade policy.
  • Countries are withdrawing from ambitious attempts to open world markets in favour of pursuing preferential trade arrangements, particularly mega-regional agreements. This should be a concern for the G20.
  • Trade policy needs to adapt to the reality that value chains are increasingly driving international trade. Goods are now made ‘in the world’.
  • There are a number of things the G20 could do to support the multilateral trading system, including: putting trade at the heart of efforts to deliver economic and employment growth; extend and strengthen the standstill on protection; harvest what can be saved from the Doha Round; help bring the WTO trade policy agenda into the 21st century; advance plurilateral agreements; and seek to progressively align the modalities in the proposed mega trade agreements.

Contributors include Mike Callaghan AM, Peter Gallagher, John Ravenhill, Mark Thirlwell and Brett Williams.

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