Mark S. Manger


On his book Investing in Protection: The Politics of Preferential Trade Agreements between North and South

Cover Interview of February 14, 2010


The integration of developing countries into the world economy is a defining feature of globalization, and North-South trade agreements are where much of this plays out.  For some, these trade agreements are a path to economic development after the policies of import-substitution have failed.  But as politics and power intrude, the benefits that economic theory promises are hard to obtain.  With this in mind, many critics of globalization have set their aims on the WTO.  My book shows that the WTO is almost a sideshow by now, compared to these countless preferential agreements.  But for developing countries, the WTO actually promises greater economic gains.  What’s worse, by satisfying the interests of multinational firms, these bilateral deals actually erode the political support for broader, non-discriminatory free trade.

Talk of BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and the decline of the West aside, the global economy is still characterized by stark asymmetries of power.  It is not economic globalization itself but the politics of it that reinforce these asymmetries.  North-South agreements reflect this.  They are primarily a competition between economic giants.  Yet with this insight, we can start to think about solutions that spread the economic gains more widely.

© 2010 Mark Manger