«This book tests the EU`s commitment to promoting labour standards through trade agreements. By combining rich empirical data with examples of real sectors and sound policy considerations, it reinforces the fundamental problems associated with the EU`s approach. In doing so, it presents trade as a massive reorganization of labour and calls on us to re-establish the link between trade and labour as a cornerstone of the global employment service. » – Yorgos Altintzis, Economics and Social Policy Division, International Trade Union Confederation, Belgium, THE RTAs must provide best practices in areas that have not been adequately addressed at the multilateral level; These areas include trade in services, investment, technical standards and regulatory issues (wto and WTO-X affairs). This is evident from a number of minor actors who express similar concerns. The transaction costs for negotiating a broader agenda are lower than those of the major WTO negotiations, which require a «consensus» among all players in a «single undertaking», i.e. no one receives anything until everything is settled. For example, RTAs offer venues more practical and results-oriented approaches, while mega-agreements allow driver`s seat hubs to impose robust and binding rules in areas as diverse as labour standards, the environment, intellectual property issues, FDi, food safety, etc. WTO multilateralism has not been a significant success in trade liberalization over the past two decades – but a few small exceptions5. The impasse in the WTO Doha Round and the disagreement between key players on the development agenda have led to a greater focus on negotiations, including «regional» channels, i.e. regional trade agreements (ATRs).6 Most of these agreements go beyond the WTO`s jurisdiction in terms of coverage and depth and provide a new platform to change the rules of world trade and open up trade further. Mehmet Sait Akman is currently Director of the G20 Study Centre at the Turkish Economic Policy Research Institute (TEPAV), a leading political think tank in Ankara.
He taught international trade and EU studies at the University of Marmara. He is an associate professor of trade policy at the University of Bahehir. Akman holds a phD in EU economics (University of Marmara), Istanbul; and the LL.M (London School of Economics-LSE) diploma. He has been a scientific advisor for WTO/ITTC training activities for ceecac officials. His recent book Catalyst: TTIP`s Impact on the Rest? with S. Evenett and P. Low, was published by CEPR. «Trade and investment are essential to sustainable growth and job creation.» It is a widely accepted slogan, and the Chinese G20 presidency is repeating it as well (G20 China 2016, p. 9). However, protectionist measures are being implemented persistently1, investment growth is weak2 and trade and investment governance rules are «fragmented»3, while WTO MULTILATERALism argues that it is losing its centrality (Baldwin, 2011). The G20 could be an appropriate platform to address these challenges by maintaining multilateral regimes. The G20 represents a «critical mass» for global trade and investment flows and provides a legitimate forum when it recognizes the needs of the rest of the world.
However, we must admit that, paradoxically, it is the same G20 members who are sitting on alternative platforms to rewrite the rules of the game of regulating global trade. Some go even further and claim to build «game-change» for the multilateral trading system. The communiqué of G20 leaders in 2015 in Antalya pledged to «guarantee bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements… in agreement with and contribute to the multilateral trading system under the WTO. In the July 2016 trade ministers` statement, it was said that «THE ATRs should be open to membership and