Working Paper

Globalisation Backlash? The Influence of Global Governance in Trade and Immigration

Published 1 January 2009 / By Lucie Cerna, William Hynes

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The economic crisis created a political imperative to act swiftly to deal with its consequences. This scramble for answers led to myopia in the selection of policies which risked the long-run competitiveness of countries. Anti-globalisation measures were particularly appealing, but there has not been a universal backlash. This paper investigates the recent policy developments in trade and immigration. Despite considerable discussion of emerging protectionism, trade policy remained resilient. High level political commitment to keeping markets open and international cooperation continued throughout the crisis. The globalisation backlash has been focused at the national level - in particular on high-skilled immigration policy – where the primacy of national policy-making remains and international coordination is absent. We attribute the differential crisis response to the role of global governance and argue that it has locked in globalisation. There are strong multilateral institutions in trade, but not in immigration. Where there is a regional dimension, governance arrangements have constrained countries from acting unilaterally.


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