Global Swing States and the Trade Order
For more than 50 years, the international trading system’s rules were set whenever the United States and Europe reached a deal, which was then refined by a few other key countries and ultimately signed onto by the other members of the trade organization. However, as the failure to reach agreement in the Doha Development Round of trade talks makes clear, this deal-making process — starting with just a few nations and assuming the eventual buy-in of the rest — has unraveled. A good deal of the unraveling stems from the entry of the “global swing states” — Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey — onto the world’s economic stage. Each has individually played an important role in the international trading system and the WTO, with Brazil and India figuring particularly prominently. Yet the collective actions of the global swing states have deepened polarization within the WTO, pitting the developed countries against an increasingly monolithic bloc of developing countries.