The Liberal International Economic Order on the Brink

Kristen Hopewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The recent election of President Donald Trump, propelled in part by a surge of anti-trade sentiment that blames “unfair trade” for the current economic and social ills of the United States, has put the future of the US-led liberal international economic order in doubt. This article argues that, in seeking to criticize Trump’s agenda and the danger it represents, there has been a tendency to fall back on a largely fictitious vision of the past – a romanticized image of the pre-Trump liberal international economic order and the US’s role within it. In fact, the US’s commitment to liberal principles has always been partial, selective and self-serving, with US leadership experienced by many as coercive rather than benevolent. In short, in the realm of trade, “America First” is far from new. Yet, ironically, Trump’s plan to “Make America Great Again” is most likely to do precisely the opposite by accelerating American decline. If Trump were to follow through with his most extreme threats, such as withdrawing from the WTO and other existing trade agreements, the consequences would be profoundly damaging to the US.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-08
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent History
Issue number793
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2017


  • Trump
  • US hegemony
  • trade
  • trade policy
  • trade agreements
  • WTO
  • China


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