Trade policy used to be the rather boring preserve of economic specialists. No longer so. Trade is now a crucial instrument of geoeconomic statecraft in which more than national prosperity is at stake. On the contrary, as the laboriously negotiated deal between the world’s two biggest economies demonstrates, deal-making involves questions of national prestige and even geopolitics. In the absence of outright, old-fashioned conflict, economic competition is where major international rivalries and tensions play out these days.
By Mark Beeson