International trade

Global trade faces many disruptions, and the stakes are high for strengthening trade policies and international cooperation.

The COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty over the trade and investment relationship with China, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have raised questions about the resilience of global trade and supply chains. Against this backdrop, the UK is embarking on its path of independent trade policy outside the EU.

Rapid technological change is transforming economies and global commerce around the world, but the rulebook has not kept pace. There is also an urgent need for global coordination and better alignment between trade and climate policies.

As the global trade system confronts multiple challenges simultaneously, the trade architecture and global governance are in flux. The World Trade Organization, which is at the heart of the rules-based global trading system, faces difficulties across its negotiating, monitoring and dispute settlement functions.

But can recent progress help to revitalise the global trading system? While some countries and regions are coming together to form new trade agreements, others are pursuing less ambitious forms of engagement in light of domestic concerns over trade.

For global trade and the trading system to be more resilient, sustainable and inclusive, a more holistic approach to the interlinkages between trade and non-trade issues is needed.