After World War II, the US and UK backed the precursor framework to the World Trade Organization, hoping to move the world firmly away from the ill effects of 1920s and 1930s protectionism, and believing that the geopolitical gains would be as great as the economic ones.
Today, these two architects of the modern world trade order have taken a sharp turn away from far-reaching global agreements, and gone back to the more cautious approach of negotiating one nation at a time.
In 2017, newly inaugurated US president Donald Trump made good on his campaign promise to drop out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), negotiations for which involved dozens of countries. Britain has spent much of the past four years unwinding its participation in the European trade bloc, and is now edging closer to a no-deal Brexit. (It is, however, finalizing trade deals with Japan and Canada.)
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