The Problem with Global Trade 1. Entrenching Inequality (in conversation with Grieve Chelwa)

Season 3, Episode 3,   Apr 14, 2022, 03:10 PM

For a while now, the mantra “trade not aid” has dictated how the overdeveloped countries of the Global North engage with their less wealthy counterparts. The logic being that trade is more dignified than aid, and leads to longer lasting change.

 However, to anyone who has been paying attention, the way global trade is set up may actually be one of the reasons these countries remain poor. The playing field is far from level, and there are multiple mechanisms that work in concert to ensure it remains that way. To try and understand how the global trade system works, and to find out what can be changed, we had a series of conversations with some experts.  In all these conversations, we aimed to understand how the current global trade system came to be, how it works, and how we can make it more equitable, just, and fair. 

In today’s episode, the first of the series,  we speak  to Grieve Chelwa, who is an economist, about how the global trade system particularly affects African countries. Grieve is the director of research at the Institute on race power and politics at the New school in New York City. 

In upcoming episodes, we will delve deeper into the history of the World Trade Organization, we will look at how global trade as it is currently done contributes to climate change, we will explore how Global North countries can change the way they engage with their less wealthy counterparts, and we will zoom in on investor state dispute settlement,  a particularly insidious mechanism that makes it difficult for countries to decouple themselves from an exploitative trade system that stifles their economic growth. 

Image source: B.S. Halpern (T. Hengl; D. Groll) / Wikimedia Commons