(Dec 9): In what has become a normal week, US President Donald Trump has imposed new tariffs on friends, foes and innocent bystanders. This includes the French, and several Latin American countries. He has indicated that a China trade deal may be off until after the next US election. The impact of this attack on the global rules-based order on markets was noticeable.

In contrast, China reaffirmed support for the World Trade Organization, but is this leadership enough? Unless this is supported by other WTO members and a coalition be built to back up China’s support for the WTO, then China’s leadership by itself is probably not enough. So, the question is, how is the coalition to be built? What is required to mobilise and empower smaller WTO members to get behind the leadership provided by China?

Speaking at a Belt and Road business forum in Xi’an recently, I offered four suggestions. The first is a need for mid-sized members of the WTO, such as Australia, to be encouraged and supported to recognise the threat to their own prosperity that would be posed by an undermining of the WTO.

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