Category Archives: Policy

Free trade (not agreements) will make Britain great

To judge from most of the “progressive” press and my Twitter feed, there is a great deal of ruin in Brexit. I hear that Britain is so integrated into the EU it will be rootless outside. The UK, I’m told, will need to ‘rejoin’ the WTO after Brexit. It has no trade agreements other than […]

Trade blocs world

We will soon see the creation of the first global-scale trade-blocs: exclusive international trade zones. What will it be like? The short answer (if you want to stop reading here) is: the direct economic impact will be rather modest but the blocs will be a disaster for rules-based WTO trading system. That could have much […]

Draft history of ICC: final chapters

Last year, I completed the manuscript of a centennial history of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). It’s a long work: 400 pages, more or less. It will be only the second history of this remarkable institution. The first was published in 1938. ICC commissioned the history in 2013, but has recently decided to wait […]

Can multilateralism be revived?

Shawn Donnan at the FT says that it needs a healthier life-style. Multilateralism is weaker than it has ever been. But, in trade, it has never been as robust as it seemed on the surface. For now, I doubt there is a reasonable prospect it can be revived in its original form. Instead, we should […]

The longevity of plain TeX

Microsoft Word was first released for MS DOS in October, 1983. Some five months earlier, Donald Knuth, a professor of computing at Stanford University, published “The TeX Book.” This was a jokey manual for, and a deft demonstration of, his TeX publishing program whose stable version first appeared in 1982. Each of these contemporary works […]

They never talk about trade

The trade and investment policies of the two main political parties in Australia have flip-flopped in chorus over the years so they hardly ever figure in election debates. As if they didn’t matter enough to fight about. Yet there’s little that matters more to the future prosperity of a small, open, still-somewhat-remote economy than building […]

Nothing to see here

Is there any point in continuing to puzzle over trade policy and agreements? Do they really make any difference to anything? It seems they’ve become too hard to put together; but does that matter? Since about 2001, I’ve been writing a weblog analysing international trade agreements, national trade policies and the post-WWII “system” of government […]