Is this a backlash against trade or just another economic war? The world’s biggest trade pact was just moments from being signed when India pulled out. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the deal would hurt its farmers, businesses, workers and consumers.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would have brought together the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.
Despite what seems to be a backlash against globalisation and the 16-month trade war between the United States and China, the remaining nations plan to push ahead with an agreement – leaving a door open for India.
Globalisation has limits, as India bolted at the prospect at the gradual elimination of tariffs which would have opened up the floodgates for cheap Chinese goods plus agricultural produce from Australia and New Zealand.
Simon MacAdam, a global economist at Capital Economics, and author of the report: Does Globalisation Have a Future? tells Al Jazeera that it is important to bear in mind that on many metrics the world may have already reached “peaked globalisation”.
“This isn’t a new thing. It hasn’t just come about because Donald Trump entered the White House and launched into a trade war against China and it hasn’t just come about because of the collapsing of various trade deals in recent years.”
He adds: “This is something that has been going on for about a decade now. Trade flows are a percentage of the world economy, are the same now pretty much as they were around the time of the financial crisis and that’s symptomatic of several factors. It’s not just about economic nationalism and politicians increasingly looking inwards. It’s also to do with the lasting overhanging effects of the financial crisis, it’s to do with changes in technology.”
How is France becoming more unequal?
Emmanuel Macron’s decision to cut taxes for the wealthy earned him the moniker “president for the rich” and his decision to raise taxes on diesel and petrol led to the popular yellow jacket protests, which later morphed into revolt against inequality.
Just how unequal is French society? Earlier this year, Bernard Arnault briefly overtook Bill Gates to become the second-richest man in the world. The centibillionaire plans to take over the jeweller Tiffany for more than $14bn. The personal fortunes of French billionaires has grown twice as fast as their US and Chinese counterparts in 2019, according to Bloomberg.
Jacques Reland of The Global Policy Institute explains that it is more difficult than before for the poor in France to exit poverty because the problem is not just about wages, it is about access to education and jobs.
“In France, people tend to quickly demonstrate … maybe that’s why France has still … one of the best redistribution and social welfare systems in the OECD,” Reland says noting that the demonstrations have played an important role in creating awareness about issues of inequality in France.
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