The World Economic Order – Building the WTO Back Better

Remarks delivered at American University

July 2, 2021

The June 13 Final Communique of the G-7 Summit included the following statement:

4. Our agenda for global action is built on our commitment to international cooperation, multilateralism and an open, resilient, rules-based world order. As democratic societies we support global institutions in their efforts to . . . share prosperity through trade and investment. That open and resilient international order is in turn the best guarantor of security and prosperity for our own citizens. [emphasis added].

That we can refer to a "world economic order" at all is the product of the wisdom and foresight of mid-twentieth century planners preparing for the post world war era. This order is now 75 years old, a relatively short time in human history. The underlying precept was that a liberal international political order was inseparably intertwined with a liberal economic world order. The economic order was to be based primarily on three cooperative multilateral arrangements designed to be open to all nations, one for development finance, one for currency arrangements and one for trade. Two were founded at Bretton Woods -- the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The third, for trade, has a more complicated history.