life size chess Lane Turner/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The Global Economy’s Three Games

Three major players – the United States, China, and a loose coalition formed by the other members of the G7 – are shaping the future of the international economic and geopolitical order. And they are all engaged in three contests simultaneously, without knowing which one is the most important.

PARIS – Chess masters are able to play simultaneously on several boards with several partners. And the more time passes, the more US President Donald Trump’s international economic strategy looks like such a match.

There are three major players: the United States, China, and a loose coalition formed by the other members of the G7. And there are three games, each of which involves all three players. Unlike chess, however, these games are interdependent. And no one – perhaps not even Trump – knows which game will take precedence.

On Trump’s first board is the break the rules of trade game. Many in his administration regard the World Trade Organization’s principles and procedures as an obstacle to bilateral negotiations. They would prefer to clinch deals with partners one by one, without being bound by the obligation to apply liberalization measures across the board and without being forced to abide by the rulings of the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism. Their aim is to restructure the trade relationships along a hub-and-spoke model, with the US at the center.

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