International trade usually hits the headlines only when a major disagreement degenerates into a “trade war”. Most of the time, trade is carried out peacefully under a set of rules overseen by the World Trade Organization. “Multilateralism” is the basis of the WTO system – that is, the more partners there are to an agreement, the better. But getting 150 or more countries to agree is a long process, carried out over a number of years in the various rounds of trade talks.
Governments are still trying to reach agreement on the Doha Round of trade talks that were interrupted in summer 2008. You may remember images of what looked like a gigantic examination hall, as ...