Trade and Development Report 2018

Power, Platforms and the Free Trade Delusion

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This flagship publication examines different aspects of the nature and role of international trade in the era of hyperglobalization and considers related policy challenges that will need to be addressed if trade is to contribute to a more stable and inclusive global economic order. Research provides authoritative data and analysis on trade, investment, finance and technology. UNCTAD offers solutions to the major challenges facing developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable nations. Beyond tailored analysis and policy recommendations, UNCTAD research also generates global standards that govern responsible sovereign lending and borrowing, investment, entrepreneurship, competition and consumer protection and trade rules.

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The shifting contours of trade under hyperglobalization

The backlash against hyperglobalization is gaining momentum with the international trading system on the front line. This is a surprising turn of events. As discussed in previous Reports, the roots of the heightened insecurity, indebtedness and inequality that are hallmarks of the current era stem more from the workings of the financial system than the trade regime; and that regime proved robust in the face of the economic fallout from the global financial crisis. Moreover, using tariffs to mitigate the problems of hyperglobalization will not only fail to do so but runs the danger of adding to them, through a vicious circle of retaliatory actions, heightened economic uncertainty and slower growth.

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