Economic nationalism is on the rise, while multilateral and regional decision-making on trade is floundering. These trends are highlighted by the collapse of the World Trade Organization’s Doha round, the US’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the US and the UK taking steps that could lead to withdrawal from Nafta and the Common Market, respectively. When decision-making on trade shifts from multilateral institutions to states, what is at stake for equality? One domain of equality is procedural fairness, namely, “reciprocity” and “non-discrimination” between states. A second domain is domestic equality, since political leaders claim that better trade deals will help disadvantaged groups. A final domain is global distributive equality, which includes developing countries’ chances for growth and the treatment of their most vulnerable citizens. This talk clarified the points of conflict between these three domains of equality, and the prospects for global distributive equality while the first two domains have political priority.
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