The world gives up on free trade
The New York Times
Britain’s voters have made clear that the era of global economic integration is over, said Peter Goodman. The commanding victory for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party ensures a “splintering of the European trading bloc” and “the most consequential upsurge of economic nationalism in generations.” For decades after World War II, the international order was built on free trade as the alternative to centuries of international conflict. The new world order, by contrast, is based on Trumpian thinking: “Multilateralism is for suckers.” Trump imposes tariffs by fiat, justifying them on national-security grounds. Now Britain is headed down a similar path, abandoning Europe in the hope it can hammer out better bilateral trade agreements with nations like India, Australia, China, and the U.S. China, meanwhile, has come to see trade hostilities “as part of an American bullying campaign” and has launched its own nationalist response. Economists “point to history, notably the Great Depression, which was deepened by a wave of tit-for-tat trade protectionism,” for a hint of where all this can lead. But the public isn’t listening. Trump’s trade war is applauded by his base, while across Europe “furious popular movements have fixed on trade as a threat to workers’ livelihoods.” Globalization, it seems, had a good run.