Traffic in LA/ USA pollution Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Why Multilateralism Still Matters

Driven by a sense of injustice and inequality, voters in the West have increasingly rejected openness, as well as the political establishment that has advanced it. But, while the grievances fueling these choices are real, the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.

MADRID – Across the West, faith in international governance and economic globalization is declining. As Donald Trump’s victory in the United States’ presidential election showed, voters, driven by a sense of injustice and inequality, are increasingly rejecting openness, as well as the political establishment that has advanced it. But, while the grievances fueling these choices are real – many have been left behind by globalization – the treatment is likely to cause more harm than the disease.

Trump won by promising to pursue unilateral and inward-looking solutions, much like those advocated by proponents of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Voters were galvanized by the prospect of rejecting new free-trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and renegotiating old ones like the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA). They rally against multilateral bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) – the main forum for negotiating and implementing global trade norms and one of the only international organizations with a quasi-judicial dispute-settlement entity.

All of this ignores a crucial fact: in today’s world, turning inward is not a viable option, especially for Western liberal democracies. We are simply too interconnected; the problems, challenges, and opportunities we face have no regard for national borders.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/vpSSxWt;

Handpicked to read next

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.