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IMF: World Trade Can Still Drive Prosperity

But the international architecture must adapt to a fast-changing world

The tide is turning against economic interdependence and international trade. Trade restrictions and subsidies increased after the global financial crisis, and tensions escalated further as governments responded to the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine by scrambling to secure strategic supply chains and rushing into trade-distorting policies. Taken too far, these measures may open the door to alliance-oriented policies that reduce economic efficiency and fragment the global trading system. They could backfire if short supply chains end up more vulnerable to localized shocks. Foreign direct investment is already increasingly concentrated among geopolitically aligned countries.

Should we abandon the idea of trade as a transformative force for good? Our answer is a resounding “No!” Despite all the talk, trade has continued to deliver even during recent crises. It has great potential to keep contributing to higher living standards and greater economic opportunities for decades to come.


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