Major multilateral institutions have long claimed that their market-oriented trade rules reduce poverty and advance development. Instead, they hold back the developing world from a more human-centric, social-justice approach that it needs to reach its potential. South Africa has the potential to set an example of how a global “middle power” can drive change. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided extra impetus – and a test.
Turkey and multilateral institutions alike, including the European Union, were already struggling with political and economic crises in the years before the pandemic multiplied the sense of catastrophe. As they seek to pull themselves out of the depths of Covid-19, it is time to set aside the divisions that have long stalled progress for all of them, and seek recovery in cooperation and mutual benefit.
Trade agreements have become an important battleground for tech companies to fight the regulatory pressure they are finally facing in the Global North. But allowing tech companies to capture digital trade talks to defang domestic regulation creates serious risks for privacy, fundamental rights, competition, social and economic justice, and sustainable development.