The international trade scene is in turmoil: trade conflicts and tensions are generating uncertainty for businesses and undermining the rules-based global trading system. Trade and trade policy has long been a central element of European Union’s (EU) external policy. Trade policy is used to pursue multiple objectives, including economic interests as well as political, developmental, environmental and values-based objectives. EU trade agreements aim not only at reducing foreign market access barriers but but also condition the terms of preferential access to the Single Market on regulation in partner countries in areas such as social and labour standards.
Is this an effective strategy? Does it come at the cost of attaining economic objectives? Has the emphasis on bilateral and preferential trade arrangements come at the expense of multilateral cooperation?
‘Perspectives on the Soft Power of EU Trade Policy’, an eBook co-edited by Prof. Bernard Hoekman and San Bilal, brings together different perspectives on some of these questions. The diversity of approaches and views illustrate the complexity of the EU trade-related policy agenda. While the framework for EU trade policy is comprehensive, the trade-offs it implies might not always be properly assessed, and the balance struck might be sub-optimal.
Formed as a collection of essays, the eBook presents the findings of an anonymous survey implemented in 2018-19 as part of an EU Horizon 2020 funded project – Realising Europe’s Soft Power in External Cooperation and Trade (RESPECT), led by the Global Governance Programme. The aim of the survey was to collect views from trade practitioners in the EU and in partner countries on the design and implementation of EU trade and external policies, including development cooperation programmes.
Download the eBook ‘Perspectives on the Soft Power of EU Trade Policy’ here.
Read the full article on VoxEU, CEPR Policy Portal, here.