Free trade lies at the heart of the new era of globalisation. This superb account explains the theory of free trade and how it has been put into practice. The author reviews the history of 20th century trade agreements. He traces what happened to GATT, with its quite narrow ambit, before the USA pushed the world into the Uruguay Round. This renegotiation of the rules of international trade, enshrined in the World Trade Organisation Agreements, is now taking free trade much further than ever before.
The author examines the benefits and hidden costs of the WTO Agreements in both economic and non-economic terms. He looks at their implications for weaker economies and their likely consequences in terms of environmental protection, labour standards and political sovereignty.
But alternatives do exist, he argues, to an over-reliance on free trade. These include managed trade, fair trade and self-reliant trade. And he sets out a series of innovative proposals for reforming the basic building blocks for managing the global economy - the WTO, IMF and World Bank.