Termites in the Trading System

Hardcover | June 18, 2008

byJagdish Bhagwati

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Jagdish Bhagwati, an internationally renowned economist known for his insightful analyses and elegant writing, here shines a critical light on Preferential Trade Agreements, revealing how the rapid spread of PTAs endangers the world trading system. Preferential Trade Agreements, many taking the form of Free Trade Agreements, now number over 300 and are rapidly increasing. Bhagwati reveals how these agreements have recreated the unhappy situation of the protectionist 1930s, when world trade was undermined by discriminatory practices(today, ironically, as a result of a misdirected pursuit of free trade). The world trading system is definitely at risk again, the author argues, and the danger is palpable. Indeed, PTAs have created a chaotic system of preferences that has destroyed the principle of non-discrimination in trade.The trading system today is characterized by a blizzard of discriminatory barriers, each designed to favor some specific trading partner, so that we have what Bhagwati has called the "spaghetti bowl" problem. And while the big firms in the big countries can cope with the chaos, though at a cost, theauthor shows that small countries and small exporters are seriously handicapped. He also examines how FTAs are typically tied to extraneous issues such as openness to capital flows and inappropriate labor standards, so that the weaker nations, negotiating one-on-one with stronger nations, are forcedto accept harmful demands unrelated to trade. Finally, the book warns that getting to multilateral free trade from the morass of PTAs will be almost an impossible task--like building a mansion from different-sized bricks. Preferential trade agreements, Bhagwati concludes, are not building blocks but stumbling blocks on the road of free trade. In Termites in the Trading System, he illuminates this growing threat to the world trading system. Acclaim for In Defense of Globalization: "If Mr. Bhagwati doesn't get a much deserved Nobel Prize for economics, he should get one for literature. His writing sparkles with anecdotes and delightful verbal pictures." --New York Sun "One of the world's leading international trade theorists.... Accessible and clearly argued. There is, one might say, a wealth of material on every page." --The Wall Street Journal "An outstandingly effective book.... Until further notice In Defense of Globalization becomes the standard general-interest reference, the intelligent layman's handbook, on global economic integration." --The Economist

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Jagdish Bhagwati, an internationally renowned economist known for his insightful analyses and elegant writing, here shines a critical light on Preferential Trade Agreements, revealing how the rapid spread of PTAs endangers the world trading system. Preferential Trade Agreements, many taking the form of Free Trade Agreements, now n...

Jagdish Bhagwati is University Professor of Economics and Law at Columbia University and is Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. His books include In Defense of Globalization, which Barrons and Businessweek named one of the best business books of 2004.

other books by Jagdish Bhagwati

In Defense of Globalization: With a New Afterword
In Defense of Globalization: With a New Afterword

Paperback|Sep 15 2007

$18.92 online$18.95list price
Sustaining India's Growth Miracle
Sustaining India's Growth Miracle

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see all books by Jagdish Bhagwati
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.3 × 5.8 × 0.9 inPublished:June 18, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195331656

ISBN - 13:9780195331653

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"The world's foremost trade policy scholar explains why what he calls 'preferential trade arrangements' are not a path towards global free trade, but a dangerous step away from it. A long-standing and brave opponent of these arrangements and particularly of those between hegemonic powers and developing countries, Jagdish Bhagwati explains how they promote costly trade diversion, interfere with the efficient operation of global business and allow great powers to extract unjustified concessions from weaker countries. This book underlines the abiding wisdom of non-discrimination, the now almost completely forgotten founding principle of the world trading system, and concludes that the only way to return to sanity is by movement towards free market access for all." --Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times "Jagdish Bhagwati is one of the world's most distinguished economists. ...a rare academic who has the great ability to communicate his ideas to a more general audience. ...written with a light touch, with many amusing stories, examples, and effective argumentation that make it, above and beyond its policy significance, a genuine pleasure to read. ... Mr. Bhagwati's concise book of just 100 pages of text should be read by all who care about the world trading system today."--The New York Sun "With layoffs in the auto sector and bailouts in the housing sector, exports are one of the few bright spots in the American economy. ... Begging the question: How can we sell even more? Columbia University economics professor Jagdish Bhagwati, for decades a leading international scholar on trade theory and practice, has some ideas."--New York Post "Termites is aslim volume, but there is a lifetime of economic learning in it, expressed in clear, often witty, language that is accessible to interested lay readers. ...likely to be widely read."--Far Eastern Economic Review "The founding fathers of the postwar trading system wisely chose non-discrimination as its central principle. But the last fifteen years have witnessed its erosion due to the proliferation of Preferential Trading Agreements. Jagdish Bhagwati, the leading trade economist of our time, rang first the alarm bells about the resulting spaghetti bowl of discriminatory rules and regulations. Now, with his usual blend of brilliance, wit and bluntness, he describes the rise of PTAs and analyzes why it has occurred and how it threatens the multilateral trading system. This book is essential reading not only for economists and trade diplomats, but for anyone concerned with the design of the institutions that are central to our prosperity. --Andre Sapir, Professor of Economics, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Former economic adviser to European Commission president Romano Prodi (2001-2004)