Navigating the Brave New World of International Trade Agreements
Bruce Fox, VP, General Counsel & Secretary, The Main Street America Group
The world seems to be getting smaller every day. Technology has improved the speed of business travel and all forms of commercial communication to the point where the global market is similar to the U.S. domestic market just a few short decades ago. All of these changes do come with a price, one of which is the political reaction to the ebb and flow of commerce between nations with varying agendas, needs and political necessities, including immigration policies. International trade agreements provide a relatively consistent and enforceable framework to facilitate international trade and as might be expected are subject to the real pressure of international politics. While these pressures may take different shapes and forms, one clearly observable form is through trade barriers implemented by one sovereign nation to control, limit or block trade with one or more other sovereign nations. These trade barriers can be complex to understand and difficult to track as the global political landscape seems to change on a daily basis. For example, the U.S. and other nations seemed to be embracing a more global market under the administration of U.S. President Barak Obama. This direction changed in 2017 when President Donald Trump took office and pushed his agenda against bilateral or even trilateral trade agreements. This comes on the heels of “Brexit,” the United Kingdom’s historic vote to withdraw from the European Union on June 23, 2016, which regardless of the reason or reasons behind the vote signifies a major move away from globalization.
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