Multilateralism 2018-June 2021

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The Bretton Woods Project is a UK-based NGO
that challenges the World Bank and IMF

1 June
Vladimir Socor: Four Setbacks to Western Credibility in Ukraine (Part Two)
(Eurasia Daily Monitor) Along with United States President Joseph Biden greenlighting Gazprom’s Nord Stream Two project, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken giving Ukraine’s concerns the short shrift preparatory to Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (see Part One in EDM), NATO has unexpectedly toned down its endorsement of Ukraine’s ambition to join the Alliance in the future; while Germany and France have given Kyiv reason to conclude that their position is weakening vis-à-vis Russia in the “Normandy” negotiations on the war in Ukraine’s east.
NATO has scrapped the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine and NATO-Georgia commissions that had been envisaged to be held during the Alliance’s June 14 summit in Brussels. The North Atlantic Council on the ambassadorial level decided, on May 6, against inviting partner countries to attend the summit. Kyiv has pleaded in vain with NATO to reconsider this decision. Ukraine was prepared to submit yet again its case for a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at this summit. Ukraine’s MAP application is now postponed indefinitely.
This decision is hurting NATO’s collective credibility (as distinct from that of certain individual member countries) in Ukraine. Membership via a MAP had been officially promised since 2008, and repeated annually since then with diminishing intent to deliver. The United States traditionally led a minority group of member countries supporting Ukraine’s aspirations; but this year, the Biden administration has toned it down. Blinken communicated this change while in Kyiv in early May, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his closest entourage did not or could not register the message. Instead, they raised public expectations unrealistically ahead of NATO’s summit. Failing expectations management generates disappointment and, potentially, NATO-skepticism in Ukraine, playing into Russia’s hands (see (see EDM, May 6, 10).

5 May
U.S. Supports WTO Plan to Lift Vaccine Patent Protections
(New York) In an effort to close the horrific vaccine disparity between wealthy countries and the developing world, the Biden administration announced that it supports waiving intellectual-property protections for coronavirus vaccines.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” wrote United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai in a statement. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”
WTO Mulling Intellectual Property Waivers for Vaccines
(AP) — Ambassadors from World Trade Organization countries on Wednesday resumed discussions on trade rules protecting the technological know-how behind COVID-19 vaccines amid growing pressure on rich nations to relax them — as a way to help poorer countries fight the pandemic.
The WTO’s General Council was taking up a temporary waiver for intellectual property protections that South Africa and India first proposed in October. The idea has gained support in the developing world and among some progressive lawmakers in the West.
China’s growing importance within WTO highlighted by appointment, trade professor says
(SCMP) China’s Zhang Xiangchen was appointed as a deputy director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday
American lawyer Angela Ellard, France’s WTO envoy Jean-Marie Paugam and Costa Rica’s former trade minister Anabel Gonzalez were also selected
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has again chosen trade experts from China and the United States as deputies for its director general, maintaining a delicate geopolitical balancing act which also keeps two fractious powers close at hand.
Two out of the four chosen are women, a first for the global trade watchdog. Their four predecessors, all men, stepped down on March 31.

29 April
WHO Publishes new guidance to promote Strong, Efficient and Sustainable Regulatory Systems
The World Health Organization, (WHO) has recently published two documents that will be critical for countries’ regulatory system strengthening activities, including regulatory cooperation, convergence and transparency.
Good Regulatory Practices (GRP) and Good Reliance Practices (GReP), published as Annexes 10 and 11 in the 55th report of the WHO Expert Committee on Specifications for Pharmaceutical Preparations (ECSPP) (WHO Technical Report Series 1033)1 aim to support countries in improving the oversight and regulation of medicines and health products, and to promote greater collaboration between regulators regionally and internationally to leverage resources more efficiently and ensure quality health products reach people faster.

30 March
Leaders of 23 countries back pandemic treaty idea for future emergencies
(Reuters) – Leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization on Tuesday backed an idea to create an international treaty that would help deal with future health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic by tightening rules on sharing information.
The idea of such a treaty, also aimed at ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was floated by the chairman of European Union leaders, Charles Michel, at a summit of the Group of 20 major economic powers last November. … A draft resolution on negotiations could be presented to the WHO’s 194 member states at their annual ministerial meeting in May, he said.
(CBC) Canada, U.S., Russia, China not listed
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not listed among the signatories to the letter, nor are the leaders of China, Russia or the United States.
When asked about China, Russia and the U.S., Tedros said signatories to the letter mainly joined through an opt-in process in which countries signalled their wish to join, though he noted that in some instances the WHO invited regional representation.

17 March
First Quad Summit Takes on China, Diplomacy over LAC Friction
Leaders of the four Quad countries – India, US, Japan and Australia met for the first time at the summit level and described it as “historic”.
This summit meeting was hosted by the US and came after over thirteen years [since] the idea of the Quad first came about in 2007.

15 March
Gwynne Dyer: The Quad awakes – round up the usual suspects
Creeping shyly onto the stage via Zoom, the successor to Nato emerged into public view last Friday.
It’s called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – the “Quad”, for short. It’s intended to be to China what Nato (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) was to the old Soviet Union: an alliance to deter and contain the “evil regime”, now located in Beijing, until it finally collapses and promotes alternative approaches.

13 March
Our four nations are committed to a free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region
Opinion by Joe Biden, Narendra Modi, Scott Morrison and Yoshihide Suga
(WaPo) In December 2004, the continental shelf off the coast of Indonesia shifted two meters, creating one of the largest tidal waves in modern history and a nearly unprecedented humanitarian crisis around the Indian Ocean. With millions displaced and hundreds of thousands killed, the Indo-Pacific region sounded a clarion call for help. Together, our four countries answered it.
Australia, India, Japan and the United States — a group of democratic nations dedicated to delivering results through practical cooperation — coordinated rapid humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to people in need. Our cooperation, known as “the Quad,” was born in crisis. It became a diplomatic dialogue in 2007 and was reborn in 2017.
Now, in this new age of interconnection and opportunity throughout the Indo-Pacific, we are again summoned to act together in support of a region in need.

12 March
‘Quad’ leaders pledge new cooperation on China, COVID-19, climate
US, India, Japan and Australia plot vaccine drive for Indo-Pacific, seek to counter China’s influence, and plan an in-person summit.
(Al Jazeera) Leaders of the United States, India, Japan and Australia, convened by US President Joe Biden in a first virtual summit of the ‘Quad’ group of countries, pledged to work together to counter China’s rising influence in the Indo-Pacific and cooperate on COVID-19 and climate.

Multilateral Cooperation for Global Recovery
Emmanuel Macron , Angela Merkel, Macky Sall, António Guterres, Charles Michel, Ursula von der Leyen
– Comments from Javier Solana, Andrés Velasco, Mark Leonard, Kemal Derviş, et al.
We should not be afraid of a post-pandemic world that will not be the same as the status quo ante. We should embrace it and use all appropriate fora and available opportunities to make it a better world by advancing the cause of international cooperation.
(Project Syndicate) In September 2000, 189 countries signed the “Millennium Declaration,” shaping the principles of international cooperation for a new era of progress toward common goals. Emerging from the Cold War, we were confident about our capacity to build a multilateral order capable of tackling the big challenges of the time: hunger and extreme poverty, environmental degradation, diseases, economic shocks, and the prevention of conflicts. In September 2015, all countries again committed to an ambitious agenda to tackle global challenges together: the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Our world has experienced diverging trends, leading to increased prosperity globally, while inequalities remain or increase. Democracies have expanded at the same time that nationalism and protectionism have seen a resurgence. Over the past decades, two major crises have disrupted our societies and weakened our common policy frameworks, casting doubt on our capacity to overcome shocks, address their root causes, and secure a better future for generations to come. They have also reminded us of how interdependent we are.The most serious crises call for the most ambitious decisions to shape the future. We believe that this one can be an opportunity to rebuild consensus for an international order based on multilateralism and the rule of law through efficient cooperation, solidarity, and coordination. In this spirit, we are determined to work together, with and within the United Nations, regional organizations, international fora such as the G7 and G20, and ad hoc coalitions to tackle the global challenges we face now and in the future. (3 February 2021)

5 February
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Set to Become W.T.O.’s First Female Leader
(NYT) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist and former finance minister of Nigeria, appears set to become the next director general of the World Trade Organization, with the Biden administration announcing its “strong support” for her candidacy on Friday. She would be the first woman and the first African national to lead the organization.
Her path was cleared after Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean trade minister, announced she was withdrawing from consideration to head the World Trade Organization.

27 January
G7 urged to create permanent fund to deal with future crises
Fund would get money to where it was needed more quickly, say humanitarian groups
A permanent disaster fund to deal with future pandemics, the climate crisis and natural disasters should be proposed by the G7, senior UN and humanitarian figures have said.
Such a fund would reduce the need to resort to an emergency begging bowl. When Covid-19 hit the globe just 2% of the needed funding was ready in advance, advocates of the plan say.
The new coalition, organised by the Centre for Disaster Protection, says in a joint statement the disaster risk initiative is designed to predict crises better by creating a new “Crisis Lookout”, to improve risk information and the prioritisation of crises globally, regionally and nationally.
It would also prepare better responses by making pre-arranged finance the primary way that crises are paid for so that funding gets where it is needed faster and with the greatest impact.


21-22 November
G20 Riyadh Summit
G20 Summit: G20 leaders united to address major global pandemic and economic challenges
G20 leaders met in virtual format to address the way forward how to tackle together the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, finance the development and deployment of a vaccine as well as continue the support to citizens and businesses struggling to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic.
Leaders Declaration (Long read)
G20 Summit Closes With Little Progress and Big Gaps Between Trump and Allies
World leaders committed to some efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic, but the meeting illustrated the difficulty of carrying out an agenda when the United States is indifferent or hostile to many goals.
(NYT) Officials at the Group of 20 summit meeting released a closing statement on Sunday that served as perhaps the Trump administration’s final reminder of the wide gulf between the United States and its allies on handling global threats like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
In its statement, or communiqué, the group emphasized what it called the “important mandates of the United Nations’ systems and agencies, primarily the W.H.O.,” referring to the World Health Organization, an agency Mr. Trump announced a withdrawal from in July, threatening to cut off one its largest sources of funding.
Donald Trump has left the world stage. Few will miss him
(CNN) The virtual summit for leaders of the world’s richest nations is being hosted by Saudi Arabia. Its stated aim is to pull countries together to combat Covid-19, accelerate testing, treatment and vaccines for all, while helping poor nations cope with the pandemic’s economic impact.
Evidence of the shifting attitude toward the outgoing US administration came from the lips of Saudi’s Minister of Investment, Khalid al-Falih. “When the world needed leadership [to combat Covid-19] there was none,” he said. The G20 had stepped up because some nations “turned inwards towards nationalism.” Al-Falih didn’t mention Trump by name. He didn’t need to; his audience understood.

15 November
Asia’s stake in global cooperation through the G20
(East Asia Forum) The late 1940s saw the creation of the IMF, the World Bank, the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, which the WHO joined in 1948, and the GATT, now the WTO.
Seventy years on, these post-war institutions still provide a framework within which international cooperation can take place. But, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they need strengthening and reinvigorating. The world now faces an important choice. We could revisit the direction taken in the late 1940s, when multilateral cooperation helped support a golden age of global growth. Or we could return to the path of the 1930s, when weak cooperation and ineffective institutions led, eventually, to war. The election of Joe Biden has given us all hope that, once again, the United States might help take us in the former direction.
Economically, there’s a need for huge fiscal support to pay for virus-fighting action and preserve incomes through economic recovery. The fiscal responses of the world’s major economies have been enormous, with spending measures larger than ever. In the United States and Australia, spending and revenue measures have increased by more than 10 per cent of GDP, and in Japan, Canada and South Africa by more than 5 per cent. Loans, equities and guarantees have increased by 15 per cent of GDP in France and the United Kingdom and by over 30 per cent in Germany and Italy. Across the G20, spending and revenue measures have amounted over 4 per cent of GDP while loans, equities and guarantees account for more than 5 per cent.
But emerging market economies have been denied this course of action, due to high levels of public debt and external financial constraints. Global cooperation is urgently needed to support them. At the G20 Summit in Riyadh, on 20–21 November, leaders need to agree that these countries can run larger budget deficits, by an additional 5 per cent of GDP or even more.
The benefits worldwide would be very large. In countries where extra fiscal support is provided, GDP could increase by more than 2 per cent and employment by up to 5 per cent. Global output would be pulled up by as much as 1 per cent of global GDP.

12 November
WTO Director Race: The Case for Yoo Myung-hee
The South Korean trade minister could balance competing concerns from China and the US — and make the WTO relevant again.
(The Diplomat) Yoo’s quarter century of experience equipped her with an understanding to most effectively deal with three main functions of the WTO that need reform – negotiations, dispute settlement, and rules setting. On her website, she asserts that as director general she will address the organization’s trust deficit and countries’ questions regarding its modern relevance. “First and foremost, the WTO needs to keep evolving to become more relevant to the changing economic realities in the 21st century,” she writes. Its “negotiating function must be revitalized so as to bring much-needed updates to the rulebook.  Another priority would be to restore the effective functioning of the dispute settlement mechanism.” … Yoo’s election as the next director general of the WTO would allow the U.S. to acknowledge the importance of another Asian nation (aside from China) in the international economy and cease treating China as the only significant voice in Asia. And if Yoo is selected, Yi Xiaozhun could actually lose his seat as a deputy director general of the WTO in the name of regional balance considerations; this would go far in constructively channeling China’s influence in the WTO.

9 November
The Case for an EU Development Bank
The European Union needs to reinforce its development financing activities in order to level the playing field with the United States and China. Establishing its own development bank would have an immediate, significant, and resource-efficient impact.
By , President of the European Investment Bank
(Project Syndicate) A strong global role requires strong policy coherence in the EU’s approach to development. The COVID-19 crisis has derailed global development goals and could push 100 million additional people globally into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. A powerful European voice in development is therefore a moral imperative.Such a stance is also in Europe’s own interest. While developing countries are grappling with the pandemic’s health and economic consequences, none of their existing security threats and challenges have abated. There are already indications that violence is increasing in fragile or conflict-afflicted regions, such as the Sahel and Iraq.
Meanwhile, the devastating impact of climate change on developing countries demands that Europe strengthen its international role. We know that European actions alone will not change the direction of global warming. After all, Europe’s carbon-dioxide emissions are less than one-third of Asia’s. To address the impact of climate change, we must reach beyond our borders, learn lessons, share our expertise, and cooperate with green investors everywhere. A coherent climate strategy must be a key building block of an effective European development strategy.

28 October
Discord over next global trade chief threatens to blow up WTO
The US doesn’t support Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
(Politico eu) The next global trade chief was supposed to save the World Trade Organization.
Instead, the fractious race to appoint a WTO director general has itself now delivered a further blow to an organization on life support.
On Wednesday, the United States said it could not support Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next WTO boss even though most member countries supported her.
… The appointment of a new chief was meant to help resolve this rift and set the WTO back on track, but Wednesday’s political bombshell from the Americans now raises big challenges for the organization and its consensus-based approach to selecting a chief.
Okonjo-Iweala is a former World Bank No. 2 and twice acted as her country’s finance minister. She was presented as the consensus candidate to WTO members after a long process of consultations with all members in Geneva.
Washington, however, is throwing its weight behind her opponent, the South Korean candidate Yoo Myung-hee, saying that she has “25 years of trade experience and that she would be able to hit the ground running,” according to a WTO spokesperson.
The decision stunned many in Washington’s trade community, even after four years of the U.S. administration’s disruptive trade policies.

21 October
G20 communiqué analysis – Annual Meetings 2020
Amidst predictions of a protracted debt crisis and uneven economic recovery, the Group of Twenty (G20) finance ministers and central bank governors met virtually at the 2020 World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings on 14 October under Saudi Arabia’s presidency. In the face of mounting pressure, including from the World Bank and IMF, to take further action on debt relief and to urgently scale up fiscal support for the poorest countries, the G20 failed to deliver and issued yet another insufficient communiqué.
At the G20 press briefing on 14 October, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, announced an extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), by six months, with a commitment to review and consider a further six-month extension at the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings in April 2021. The announcement falls short of even the most modest calls from leaders of low-income countries for a one year extension, reiterated by the IMF and World Bank.
Europe’s fight for multilateralism: With or without the US?
Regardless of the US election’s outcome, Europe will face some difficult choices on how far liberal states should cooperate with illiberal ones in shaping the international order
US President Donald Trump’s disdain for international rules and institutions has been a nightmare for Europe. Almost all European policymakers see multilateral cooperation and an open, rules-based international system as essential to their interests. But Trump has pursued a foreign policy that is transactional, erratic, and hostile to international cooperation. He moved to pull the United States out of a series of multilateral institutions and deals, including the Paris Agreement on climate change, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Human Rights Council, and the Iran nuclear deal. Trump also paralysed the dispute settlement process of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by blocking the appointment of judges to its appellate body. He told the United Nations that the future belonged to patriots rather than globalists, saying the free world “must embrace its national foundations”.
Europeans have tried in various ways to fill the gap left by Trump’s retreat from multilateralism, striving to keep processes alive and compensate as far as possible for US retrenchment. They have also proposed a series of reforms to international institutions in response to US concerns about these bodies (which Europeans largely share). But such initiatives have essentially been part of a holding operation.

5 October
Competing for order: Confronting the long crisis of multilateralism
(Brookings) Editor’s Note:
In this paper, Bruce Jones and Susana Malcorra argue that the current malaise in the multilateral system “stems from much more than just the anti-multilateral instincts of some contemporary political leaders; rather, it has deeper roots and has been more than a decade in the making.” This paper was published in partnership with IE University School of Global and Public Affairs.
In September 2020, against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the heads of state or government of 170 countries met—virtually—to commemorate the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. In an outcome document that had been negotiated over the summer, they tasked the Secretary General with developing ideas to reinvigorate multilateral cooperation in twelve areas, ranging from public health to peace and security.
… In various informal groupings, governments and civil society institutions have begun to look for answers to this essential question: can the multilateral order, on which so many have relied for so much, be revamped in the face of mounting geopolitical tension, divisions over globalization, and rapid technological change? It’s a question made both more necessary and more difficult by the outbreak of the largest international public health crisis in a century.

10 June
Kemal Derviş: Less Globalization, More Multilateralism
While some degree of deglobalization may be desirable today, this process also carries grave risks, from skyrocketing production costs to geopolitical conflict. The only way to mitigate those risks is through enhanced multilateral cooperation.
(Project Syndicate) With the COVID-19 catastrophe having laid bare the vulnerabilities inherent in a hyper-connected, just-in-time global economy, a retreat from globalization increasingly seems inevitable. To some extent, this may be desirable. But achieving positive outcomes will depend on deep, inclusive, and effective multilateralism.
One of the most powerful drivers of support for deglobalization is the vulnerability of production models that rely on long and complex global supply chains, which have sacrificed robustness and resilience at the altar of short-term efficiency and cost reduction. With many companies and industries dependent on faraway suppliers – and lacking any alternatives – no part of such value chains can function unless all parts do. And as the COVID-19 crisis , one never knows when parts will stop functioning.

3 June
COVID-19: The challenge to multilateralism and regionalism
(Jakarta Post) One of the geopolitical impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the weakening of the multilateralism-based international order. On current trends, multilateralism will become irrelevant in the future; thus, from the geopolitical and security point of view, COVID-19 is similar to climate change and nuclear weapons as global threats to humanity. It is a threat that is direct, i.e. not needing an intermediate vehicle or mechanism

An Indo-Pacific Charter
Manjeet Kriplani, Executive Director, Gateway House, in discussion with Prof. Rory Medcalf, Head, National Security College, Australian National University, and author of Indo-Pacific Empire: China, America and the Contest for the World’s Pivotal Region; and Cleo Paskal, Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources, and Asia-Pacific, Chatham House; on the possibility of an Indo-Pacific Charter for the region
The discussion addressed the possibility of an Indo-Pacific Charter emerging along the lines of the Atlantic Charter, and also discussed the ways in which powers such as India and Australia can contribute to the security and stability of the region. (Gateway House 28 May 2020)

Modernizing the World Trade Organization
Oonagh E. Fitzgerald
(CIGI) This series looks at the issue of reform and modernization from a variety of angles. While some contributors focus on how to keep the lights on in dark times, others offer ideas on how to restart productive negotiations, how to reform and restore the rules-based dispute settlement system (DSS), how to make trade more inclusive, whether to narrow the WTO’s focus to trade basics to leave more flexibility to nations for their own development, and how to update and reshape the WTO to deal with today’s interconnected global challenges.
Today, the WTO is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy.
The global trading system, which only a few years ago was being lauded as the model of effective multilateralism, now seems locked in an out-of-date governance paradigm, in need of a new program of work with which to start to break impasses and address the urgent and encompassing challenges of the twenty-first century. Part of the WTO’s challenge is figuring out just how to start such a reform initiative when there are such strongly opposing factions to be drawn into consensus.
This essay series grows from earlier work done by CIGI on the WTO: a consultation on the Canadian government’s Ottawa Group initiative on WTO reform3 and two essay series on reshaping trade through women’s economic empowerment4 and mainstreaming gender in trade agreements.5 Launched as the AB was about to become non-functioning in December 2019, this series casts its net more broadly than the dispute settlement issues while acknowledging that the WTO’s challenges are all deeply interconnected. The essays explore the potential for more comprehensive WTO reform to imagine a new program of work and a way to embark upon that work, and thereby to help invigorate discussions for the next Ministerial Council meeting.

30-31 May
Jeremy Kinsman: Trump dumps the WHO at the height of the pandemic, and the G-7, and the world’s reaction (video)
Trump postpones G7 summit, seeks to add countries to invitation list
(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would postpone a Group of Seven summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.
“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said.
The decision to postpone the G7 summit is a retreat for Trump, who had sought to host the group of major industrialized countries in Washington as a demonstration that the United States was returning to normal after the coronavirus epidemic.
Merkel rebuffs Trump invitation to G7 summit
US president wants landmark event but chancellor ‘cannot agree’ to travel due to ongoing pandemic.
(Politico Eu) Merkel’s refusal to attend the summit in person risks scuppering Trump’s attempts to present the gathering as a landmark moment drawing a line under the lockdowns and travel bans imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump canceled the summit in March due to the crisis and said he would host a videconference instead. But in a tweet on May 20, he said he might reschedule the summit, proclaiming, “It would be a great sign to all — normalization!”
The White House said this week it plans to hold the summit in late June in Washington, rather than the original venue of Camp David, the presidential retreat, where Trump moved the event after facing an outcry over plans to hold it at one of his own golf resorts in Miami.
…while officials said Merkel’s reluctance to attend the G7 summit was primarily based on the ongoing health situation, they also said European G7 leaders are concerned that Trump may simply want to use their visit for an election-year photo op, and as a basis for declaring the world is getting back to work — thanks to him.
Officials said that there had been very little of the traditional preparation that precedes the annual G7 summit, including detailed discussion about the agenda, and often intensive negotiation over the drafting of formal conclusions. Those negotiations were expected to be particularly tough given Trump’s divergence from the others on a number of issues, especially trade and climate change.
EU asks US to rethink World Health Organization withdrawal
‘Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,’ say EU leaders.
The request came after President Donald Trump on Friday moved ahead with plans to withdraw from the United Nations health agency, which he has accused of helping Beijing cover up the coronavirus outbreak.
Phil Hogan mulls leaving Commission for WTO top job
EU trade chief Phil Hogan has joined the pool of possible contenders for the top job at the World Trade Organization, opening up the prospect of a departure that would send a shockwave through the European Commission.
One key advantage for Hogan over other European contenders could be his experience in dealing with the U.S. administration and friendly ties with his American counterpart Robert Lighthizer.
People close to Hogan said that the question whether the U.S. would back his candidature was “one of the things he’ll be exploring.”

21 May
The fate of multilateralism after the pandemic
(Turkish Radio and Television Corporation/TRT) Global crises are no anomaly in recent history and multilateral institutions have generally emerged stronger in their wake.
The Covid-19 crisis shows that the current global system has not been able to find solutions or establish a common ground against the pandemic – on the contrary, the crisis has deepened.
The question is: how will Covid-19 reshape the global order?
Many commentators have concluded with the demise of multilateralism, which is directly related to other contemporary global crises like climate change, conflicts and trade wars.
However, it is too early to say that the multilateral international system has failed and there is not light at the end of the tunnel. In contrast, we should be cautious in announcing the failure of the international system.
Global crises have historically ended with the strengthening of multilateralism to tackle crises like World War I, World War II, human right[s] violations, economic and financial crises and climate change.

10 April
How coronavirus will change the world for ever
From the rise of surveillance to the retreat of globalism and death of cash, the pandemic’s impact may be felt for decades, Catherine Philp writes
(The Times) The rapidity of the American withdrawal and a growing assault on multilateralism has left international structures with little power.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has legally binding protocols on pandemic handling and reporting which every nation in the world has signed up to. But loopholes intended to preserve national sovereignty have undermined its ability to act.
The pleading of the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, who called the pandemic the worst crisis the global organisation has faced since its founding, has struggled to cut through the din of national leaders making their siloed cases.
The G7 and G20 belatedly cobbled together teleconferences only for a proposed declaration from the latter to be kyboshed by the US insistence on references to the “Wuhan virus”. In the UN Security Council, Russia has blocked attempts to organise remote voting.
… Coming hard on the heels of Brexit, the pandemic has shaken the foundations of the European Union. Prosperous states such as Germany and the Netherlands responded slowly to pleas for help from Italy and Spain, the first southern states to be stricken by the virus.

8 April
Populism not dead but multilateralism gaining ground
Populists tendencies shaking; right-wingers seeking help from transnational organisations
(Gulf news) Like Trump who began his term in 2017 by closing United States borders, starting to build a wall on the border with Mexico, ordering sweeping protectionist trade policies, including heavy tariffs on imports from China and Europe, and renegotiating the NAFTA trade pact with Canada and Mexico, Europe’s populists looked inwards and put their countries’ international commitments into doubt. International cooperation and multilateral approach in international relations seemed to be on the defensive, and isolationism and unilateral polices were on the rise.
As the coronavirus struck the world, the populists tendencies started to shake. Governments that were a few months ago empowered by the anti-foreigner policies and slogans began asking for help. International organisations, such as the United Nations and World Health Organisation (WHO) that were ridiculed by President Trump and other populist governments, are gaining prominence.

11 March
The Monocle Foreign Desk (audio) honours multilateralim’s hundredth birthday, dating from the founding of the League of Nations. Asking As the world attempts to tackle a global crisis, what have our multilateral institutions learned?, the discussion tackles reform of the UN and analysis of the efficacy of individual programs, such as WHO, UNHCR.

25 January
Bloomberg Politics: It Took 50 Years for Climate Change to Top the Davos Agenda
It took five decades for climate change to dominate the annual meeting of business titans, global leaders and top thinkers in Davos. This year, though, it seemed as if no one there could stop talking about it, Laura Millan Lombrana and Aaron Rutkoff report.

19 January
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
21—24 January 2020
Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World
Who’s coming to Davos 2020, and everything else you need to know
Nearly 3,000 participants from 117 countries to participate in the 50th Annual Meeting.
The world’s top leaders from politics, business, civil society, academia, media and the arts are set to descend on the Swiss mountain village of Davos.
The 2020 event will convene nearly 3,000 participants from 117 countries, including 53 heads of state – with US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel among them.
The meeting will focus on six core areas of activity through which stakeholders can advance the mission of creating a more cohesive and sustainable world : Ecology, Economy, Society, Industry, Technology and Geopolitics. These topics will be explored through nearly 400 different sessions, roughly a third of which will be livestreamed.


16 December
The Alliance for Multilateralism Makes Sense. Can It Make Good?
(World Politics Review) The rules-based multilateral order is on the ropes, pummeled by absent leaders, dissatisfied powers, clashing values, novel challenges, skeptical publics and sclerotic institutions. To combat these trends, France and Germany have proposed an “Alliance for Multilateralism.” This flexible network would be open in principle to all independent nations committed to responding collectively to the world’s most daunting problems.
Realizing this ambitious vision will require persuading prospective members that the proposed alliance poses no threat to their national sovereignty, that it can contribute to pragmatic problem-solving and that it is not directed against any particular state or states. The alliance’s architects must also decide whether it will be a multilateral platform that is normatively “thick” or “thin,” meaning one that is grounded in shared political principles or focused simply on peaceful coexistence among states that disagree fundamentally on values.
The crisis of multilateralism has many roots. One is an abdication of global leadership by the United States, the leading custodian of world order since 1945. Another is a rapid redistribution of global power toward China, India and other emerging economies, each of which seeks, like Wilhelmine Germany, its “place in the sun.” These aspirations include greater weight and voice in major organs of global governance, including the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
To complicate matters, disagreements between established and emerging powers increasingly reflect divergent beliefs about the appropriate rules and standards to govern state behavior in spheres ranging from trade to the use of force. Forging normative agreement on responsibilities and obligations is particularly vexing in the case of emerging and frontier issues like climate change, cyberspace, outer space and artificial intelligence.
Adding to these stresses, many citizens around the world have lost faith in globalization. They no longer trust their governments or international institutions to secure for them the fruits of integration while protecting them from the vulnerabilities of interdependence. Populist politicians reinforce public anxieties by depicting an open world as a threat to national prosperity, security and identity, and tarring international institutions as unaccountable entities bent on pursuing their own globalist agenda.
The Alliance for Multilateralism seeks to combat these centrifugal tendencies by rallying “goodwill powers,” as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian terms those nations that remain committed to collective action. Le Drian and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, envision the alliance not as a formal organization with fixed membership, but as a loose network allowing governments to opt in or out, depending on their interests, like-mindedness and capacities.

26 September
Germany launches Alliance for Multilateralism
The Alliance for Multilateralism is a loose group of nations working to boost international cooperation. Its purpose is to tackle global issues such as disarmament, digitalization and climate change.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday welcomed his fellow foreign ministers from some 50 countries for the first meeting of the “Alliance for Multilateralism,” a loose group of nations working to boost international cooperation, reform international institutions, and tackle various global issues such as disarmament, digitalization and climate change.
“Despite all the crises happening across the world, the rule-based global order has brought us peace and prosperity like never before in history,” Maas said at the group’s first official gathering on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
The German foreign minister has been pursuing this project since July last year. And countries like France, Japan and Canada have been working as partners in the project.

16 April
Canada joins new alliance to save the world order — and the U.S. is not included
(Global) Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday that the international community is facing “”the most turbulent moment in terms of the rules-based international order since the Second World War,” but that Canada has allies in other countries.
Canada has formally joined a German-French coalition aimed at saving the international world order from destruction by various world dictators — and the alliance does not include the United States.
The initiative is part of ongoing government efforts to shore up international co-operation at a time of waning American leadership and President Donald Trump’s outspoken disdain of institutions created after the Second World War.

3 April
In Trump times, agreeing to disagree becomes norm at G7 meetings
(Reuters) – Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations meet on Friday in France to prepare for the leaders’ summit in August, but the absence of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underscores how tough agreeing common ground between allies has become.
Ten months after U.S. President Donald Trump threw the efforts of other leaders to show a united front into disarray by leaving early, backing out of a joint communique and criticizing his Canadian host, senior diplomats are scrambling to avoid a repeat episode.
France, which took over the rotating presidency of the group of major industrialized nations, has scaled back its ambitions, counting on minor advances in areas where consensus can be found easily, including the dangers of cyber crime for democracy and tackling inequalities between men and women.
“The idea is to avoid losing energy on texts that do not bring much, whereas what (President) Emmanuel Macron wants is that our presidency makes it possible to advance on specific topics,” said a senior French diplomat ahead of the meeting on Friday and Saturday in the Brittany seaside resort of Dinard.

21 February
When multilateralism crumbles, so does our rules-based order
Mark Medish
(The Guardian) Mike Pompeo and John Bolton have led the charge against multilateralism, but they should be careful: might can win on a given day, but it will never make right.
Since the end of the second world war, the rules-based system has been a long and imperfect work in progress. But the driving idea was that multilateral commitments to legal norms would be self-reinforcing and help to turn standards into practice. Multilateralism is a strategic bet on normative advances based on mutuality. The converse is certainly true: self-help will accelerate a collapse of shared legal standards. … One of the many signs of the decline of the rules-based order is the spate of cross-border arrests of business executives, journalists and other private citizens. These incidents are not new…but the higher frequency of detentions of business executives today is noteworthy. …
The legal merit of each case is different, but all suggest the tactical use of judicial powers to gain foreign policy or other leverage. The message seems to be, if you want the upper hand in a bilateral negotiation, go arrest that foreigner! Private citizens working across borders should take notice of what was once a more remote risk – becoming a pawn in a geopolitical game.


G20 Argentina 2018

Diversity, People, Sustainable Development: Pillars of the Argentine G20 presidency
Argentina assumes G20 presidency
The G20 is the premier global forum for economic and political cooperation.
Throughout 2018, Argentina will welcome some 20,000 G20 participants to its shores,
and host the Leaders’ Summit from 30 November 2018 to 1 December 2018

1-2 December
G20 sealed landmark deal on WTO reform by ducking ‘taboo words’
(Reuters) “A number of words that we used to have always in G7 and G20 summit communiques became kind of taboos,” a European official said on Saturday in the midst of the negotiations. “We have American taboos and Chinese taboos.”
First among those taboos is “protectionism”. The U.S. administration has become sensitive to criticisms after President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs not only on $250 billion of Chinese goods but also on steel and aluminum imports that hit several of his G20 partners.
China, meanwhile, steadfastly opposed the inclusion of the usual calls for “fair trade practices,” delegates said. Beijing rejects criticisms from the United States, Europe and Japan for dumping, industrial subsidies, abuse of intellectual property rights and technology transfers, amongst other practices.
Even the word “multilateralism” itself has fallen out of favor in a group designed to foster international cooperation.
Mark MacKinnon: A trio of unrepentant global disruptors leaves its mark on G20 summit
(Globe & Mail) This is what success looks like these days for a major multinational institution: The G20 summit in Argentina ended on Saturday with exhalations of relief simply because no one walked away from the meeting, and a joint communiqué was signed by everyone.
It was easy to overlook that the agreed statement was thin gruel, and that it contained an abstention from the United States – the world’s biggest economy and second-biggest polluter – on the critical issue of combatting climate change. Comfort was found in the fact the world didn’t appear to have gotten any worse during the 48 hours the G20 leaders were gathered in Buenos Aires. In the era of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman – a trio of global disruption – that’s an accomplishment.
… The ruthless actions of Mr. Putin and the Crown Prince have come to define the lawlessness and global disorder that has emerged as multilateral institutions such as the G7, the G20, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court have lost clout … As with Mr. Putin, there were no real repercussions for the Crown Prince in Buenos Aires. Again, the opposite happened. At the end of the meeting, it was confirmed Saudi Arabia would host the 2020 summit of an organization that could by then be in even greater crisis.
G20 leaders reaffirm ‘rules-based international order’
With Trump upending traditional diplomacy, text lets EU claim small victory
By David M. Herszenhorn
(Politico Eu) G20 leaders on Saturday adopted a joint communiqué reaffirming their commitment to “a rules-based international order” — a small, symbolic victory for stability in an era when U.S. President Donald Trump has upended traditional diplomacy by instigating trade wars and employing aggressive protectionist policies and rhetoric.
At the same time, the statement by leaders at their annual summit included an awkward line — “We also note current trade issues” — that was a nod to Trump’s continuing fury at an international trading system that he insists has long taken unfair advantage of the United States, the world’s richest country.
The world makes room for Trump
The G-20 illustrates global philosophy in Trump era: Everybody plus one.
(Politico) Donald Trump has issues. And the team of G-20 “sherpas” negotiating the joint statement to sum up the annual leaders’ summit were more than happy to take note of them if it meant the explosive American president wouldn’t blow up their work.
One of Trump’s issues is the multilateral trading system that most other G-20 leaders cherish, but that he believes has long allowed other countries to take advantage of the United States.
Nearly two years into a world reordered by Trump, the globe has readjusted. Leaders of other major economic powers have learned — and accepted — they will not succeed in shifting Trump’s views either by logical argument or by charm. So their goal is to agree to disagree, to avoid taking offense even when Trump is offensive. In other words, the best way to protect the multilateral system is to let the Big Guy go his own way, even as they keep him at the table. That’s what they did in Buenos Aires. And the G-20 lives on to reconvene in Osaka in 2019.
Early in his presidency, Trump openly groused about having to attend international summits. But White House aides said Trump has grown more confident on the world stage in recent months, having built relationships with foreign leaders and beefed up his knowledge of policy issues. Administration officials have followed suit, as they’ve learned how to go toe-to-toe with negotiators from other countries.
Similarly, world leaders and their top deputies have learned how to live with Trump. Gone are the days when the U.S. president’s unorthodox foreign policy pronouncements prompted panic. Instead, foreign officials now remain calm, focus on areas of agreement and — most importantly — try find ways to get on Trump’s good side.
(Bloomberg Politics) It was, as one weary negotiator observed, better than nothing.
After a week of wrangling over wording by their “sherpas,” the Group of 20 leaders meeting in Argentina issued a statement saying the system of rules underpinning global trade since World War II is flawed and needs changing. For the first time, they didn’t mention the risk of protectionism – even as, arguably, such behavior is on the rise. And they agreed to “reform” the World Trade Organization.
The priorities of U.S. President Donald Trump were felt throughout the document, and indeed senior White House officials were quick to praise it. But in rushing to avoid a repeat of other recent summits, which saw communiques either ripped up or not accepted at all, countries may have only served to weaken the G-20 as a whole.
Tricky issues (Ukraine, the murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi) were left out entirely. On climate change, signatories to the Paris climate accord reaffirmed it as irreversible. On the very next line, the U.S. inserted language explaining Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact.
While the document staved off an immediate disaster, the risk is that future summits will value settling on a statement over addressing key challenges such as unilateralism, trade wars and a warming planet.
Rosalind Mathieson

G20 agreement backs ‘rules-based’ order but bows to Trump on trade reforms

23 July
Danielle Allen: Trump’s foreign policy is perfectly coherent
(WaPost opinion) Trump’s foreign policy doctrine has been staring us in the face so plainly that we’ve overlooked it. Here’s my unifying theory: He didn’t get out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal because he disagreed with this or that detail of the agreements. He hasn’t started up deals with Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin and sought to force Xi Jinping to the bargaining table because he has refined views of what he seeks. He got out of the former deals because they were multilateral; he’s working on the latter deals because they are bilateral.

20 July
Kemal Derviş: Can Multilateralism Survive?
In today’s deeply interconnected world, we need rules and institutions to govern markets and economic activity more than ever. Yet multilateralism is under increasing strain, and the lack of a clear and consistent means for assessing changing global power dynamics is not helping.
(Project Syndicate) … the world is entering the next decade in a kind of bipolar state, strongly dominated by the US and China. If the EU is treated as a single power – including by its own members (say, by pursuing common policies) – it could represent a third pole. India, whose GDP is now growing at nearly 8% annually, could eventually comprise a fourth, but it has some way to go.
An international order that rests on three and a half legs does not quite live up to the multipolar hype. This holds important implications for efforts to . In particular, because the world is not quite multipolar, it is not structurally as conducive to a multipolar multilateralism as many have assumed. To survive, multilateralism will need the support of the big players.
Many have been hoping that China would put its weight behind a multilateral world order, but China’s leaders seem prepared to use multilateral structures only when it suits them. The EU, for its part, clearly has a strong multilateral bent, but it is weakened by internal divisions. If it were to overcome them, it could be the champion of multilateralism we need; for now, however, it is too divided. India could become an important advocate of multilateralism, but it is currently pursuing unilateral policies and still lacks the requisite international influence.

18 July
Carl Bildt: The End of NATO?
US President Donald Trump escalated his war on US alliances and multilateral institutions at NATO’s summit in Brussels and then at his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. There is now little doubt that Trump’s strange affinity for Putin represents a serious threat to European security.
(Project Syndicate) Russia’s advantages over NATO have less to do with resources than with command and control. As a single country, Russia’s military forces are more integrated, and can be deployed more quickly in pursuit of strategic directives from the Kremlin. Such nimbleness was amply demonstrated in Crimea in 2014 and in Syria the following year.
For its part, NATO does have a deeply integrated command structure for the forces that are assigned to it. But that hardly matters if political decisions to deploy forces or launch operations are not taken in time. In any military confrontation, unity of will and the speed of high-level decision-making determine the outcome.
The problem is that while NATO’s military capacity is actually improving, its political decision-making capacity is deteriorating. Imagine what would happen if a NATO member state sounded the alarm about Russia launching a secretive Crimea-style military operation within its borders. Then, imagine that US intelligence agencies confirmed that an act of aggression was indeed underway, despite Putin’s denials.
Finally, imagine how Trump might respond. Would he call Putin to ask what’s going on? … Would Trump quickly invoke the principle of collective defense under Article 5 of the NATO treaty? Or would he hesitate, question the intelligence, belittle US allies, and validate Putin’s denials?

13 July
America First, America Hated, America Alone
Trump intends to bring about the collapse of the liberal international order, in its commitment to open societies and its institutions.
By Bret Stephens
(NYT) For Trump, the upside is the substitution of a liberal order with an illiberal one, based on conceits about sovereignty, nationality, religion and ethnicity. These are the same conceits that Vladimir Putin has long made his own, which helps explain Trump’s affinity for his Russian counterpart and his distress that Robert Mueller’s investigation “really hurts our relationship with Russia,” as he remarked Friday.
It also explains his undisguised contempt for contemporary European democracy and his efforts to replace it with something more Trumpian: xenophobic, protectionist and truculent. This is the Europe of Germany’s Alexander Gauland, France’s Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Nigel Farage, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. Note that the last three are already in power. …
This will suit Americans for whom the idea of a free world always seemed like a distant abstraction. It will suit Europeans whose anti-Americanism predates Trump’s arrival by decades. And it will especially suit Putin, who knows that an America that stands for its own interests first also stands, and falls, alone.

10 July
Senate votes to support NATO as Trump’s European summit begins
(Axios) In a bipartisan rebuke to President Trump, the Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a non-binding motion in support of NATO.
Why it matters: The symbolic 97-2 vote came as Trump, who is in Brussels for a summit with NATO allies, continues to lambast the alliance over what he labeled as their lack of commitment in defense spending. Rand Paul and Mike Lee voted against the measure.

29 June
Institutions are under existential threat, globally
(Brookings) It is wishful thinking to believe the United Nations will reform itself or to expect the U.S. income tax code to be substantially simplified—in the foreseeable future and in the absence of a crisis. The best we can do is to start experimenting with new forms of institutions and build on those that look promising.

Jean Pisani-Ferry: Can Multilateralism Adapt?
Global governance requires rules, because flexibility and goodwill alone cannot tackle the hardest shared problems. With multilateralism under attack, the narrow path ahead is to determine, on a case-by-case basis, the minimum requirements of effective collective action, and to forge agreement on reforms that fulfill these conditions.
(Project Syndicate) many participants in the international system are having second thoughts about globalization. A widespread perception in advanced countries is that the rents from technological innovation are being eroded precipitously. The US factory worker of yesterday owed his standard of living to these rents. But as the economist Richard Baldwin brilliantly shows in The Great Convergence, technology has become more accessible, production processes have been segmented, and many of the rents have gone.
A second explanation is that the US strategy toward Russia and China has failed. In the 1990s, Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton thought that the international order would help transform Russia and China into “market democracies.” But neither Russia nor China has converged politically.
Third, the US is unsure that a rules-based system offers the best framework to manage its rivalry with China. True, a multilateral system may help the incumbent hegemon and the rising power avoid falling into the so-called “Thucydides’ trap” of military confrontation. But the growing perception in the US is that multilateralism puts more constraints on its own behavior than on China’s.
Finally, global rules look increasingly outdated. Whereas some of their underlying principles – starting with the simple idea that issues are addressed multilaterally rather than bilaterally – are as strong as ever, others were conceived for a world that no longer exists.

22 June
Reclaiming Multilateralism
By Dennis J. Snower, President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Professor of Economics at the Christian-Albrechts Universität zu Kiel
Since the dawn of civilization, humankind has gradually formed ever-larger cooperative networks, first by changing minds, and then by changing institutions. But with nationalist forces around the world threatening to reverse that progress, proponents of multilateralism will need to show why international cooperation is not just valuable, but necessary.
(Project Syndicate) In country after country, populists are beckoning voters to pursue atavistic dreams of national glory and abandon international commitments and multilateral cooperation. This is the age of “America first,” “Take back control,” and “Hungary belongs to the Hungarians” – to cite just a few of the slogans one hears nowadays.
Yet, when it comes to global problems, there can be no alternative to cooperation. Without it, we will all be at the mercy of cyber conflicts, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation. We will be buffeted by the spillover effects of financial crises, failed states, pandemics, and massive involuntary migrations. And we will have to learn to live with water and food crises, increasingly catastrophic weather events, and ecosystem collapse.
The question, then, is how to save multilateralism from populist forces. In fact, while multilateralism certainly appears to be on a collision course with nationalism, the two are not necessarily incompatible. The task for multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the G20 is to bring them into a complementary alignment.

21 June
Strong multilateral institutions key to tackling world’s dramatic challenges, UN chief says In Moscow
(UN News) In Moscow on Thursday, Secretary-General António Guterres said multilateralism was vital to tackling climate change, terrorism and other dramatic challenges, and that the United Nations and Russia would continue working together to make global institutions stronger and better able to serve the public good.

15 June
Consensus reached at G20 energy ministerial meeting
At the end of the G20 Meeting of Energy Ministers, representatives of the troika (Germany, Argentina and Japan) announced that consensus had been reached and a communiqué agreed upon. The G20 affirmed the group’s commitment to energy transitions that move towards cleaner, more flexible and transparent systems.

18 May
Is Multilateralism Finished?
By Zaki Laïdi
Although Donald Trump certainly deserves blame for disrupting global trade and security arrangements, the roots of today’s crisis of multilateralism run deeper than his presidency. As new powers emerge to rival the United States, the world should prepare for a future in which global cooperation is no longer an option.
(Project Syndicate) … after more than a year of Trump’s presidency, it has become increasingly clear that the malicious aspersions he cast on the international system are capable of drawing blood.
Trump from the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as one of his first official acts in office, and he America’s participation in the Paris climate agreement not long thereafter. Meanwhile, his administration has launched unprecedented attacks on the World Trade Organization, by accusing it of infringing upon American sovereignty, and by the appointment of judges to its Appellate Body.
In another rebuke to the WTO this spring, the Trump administration announced sweeping import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, the costs of which will fall largely on and Japan, owing to exemptions that have been granted to other countries. The Trump administration is also to impose additional tariffs on $100 billion worth of Chinese goods. And, in an episode reminiscent of the colonial era, it is pressuring China to drop its complaints against the United States at the WTO without a reciprocal commitment. …
Though Trump is unprecedented in American political history, it would be a mistake to assume that the end of his presidency will usher in a renaissance of multilateralism. The fact is that many of the factors behind today’s crisis of multilateralism predate Trump and will persist long after he is gone. Multilateralism is faltering at the precise moment that the international order is becoming more multipolar. The question we should be asking, then, is whether multilateralism and multipolarity are compatible.

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