One of the most disconcerting conundrums in international economic relations and the current system of global governance is the absence of a platform that brings together regional integration blocs and their development institutions. This lack of horizontal coordination and communication lines across regional integration arrangements stands in contrast to the prevalence of such coordination at other levels of global governance, whether across countries or between global international institutions, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Yaroslav Lissovolik. Bridging the “regional gap” in global governance has the potential to greatly expand the “possibility set” for new economic alliances and economic openness in the world economy.
The publication of this op-ed marks the beginning of online collaboration between Valdai Club, Russia as part of its Think Tank project and the Center for Russia-China Strategic Interaction under CITIC Foundation for Reform and Development Studies, China. This is the first in a series of planned exchanges between the two organizations on bilateral and global matters.
Why has multilateralism between regional economic blocs not progressed thus far throughout the global economy? Firstly, regionalism as an intermediate governance layer between global institutions and country-level governance may be perceived as a risk to national sovereignty and a threat to the integrity of multilateral global institutions. The recent cases in point are UK’s Brexit from the EU and the challenges posed by the expansion of the regional trading blocs to global organizations such as the WTO. The latter concerns appear to be off the mark by now, however, given the positive contribution that is delivered by regional integration to opening markets and promoting trade liberalization. Indeed, it may be argued that most of the liberalization impulses across the global economy originate in recent years via regional integration.