Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements: Detangling the Noodle/Spaghetti Bowl

Paul Gretton
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Following the global financial crisis, economic growth and international trade growth have been sluggish. Current projections indicate that growth may continue to be sluggish in the medium term. These continuing trends will limit income raising productivity growth needed to maintain and improve living standards with population ageing across many economies. It will also limit capacities needed to raise living standards amongst lower income regions. Gaining public acceptance of productivity improving policies and the contribution that trade openness makes, however, is getting harder due to re-emerging national protectionist sentiments. This note looks at possible ways to improve trade policy formulation at the national, regional and global levels through evidence to bolster the case for greater openness and economic reform. Growth could be revived if G20 countries act to implement deeper and wider trade and economic reforms, and avoid policies that limit productivity growth prospects.