Why the era of global free-trade is dwindling

Fortune

It looks like the wheels might be coming off the global free-trade bandwagon.

For roughly 30 years, there had been growing momentum for nations to tear down trade barriers through free-trade agreements. The creation of free-trade blocs snowballed as countries signed on to these pacts to promote export-led economic growth.

Not that the passage of an FTA is ever easy. Harmonizing trade policy between two or more countries involves overcoming sometimes vast cultural differences and defeating the efforts of not just one, but many special interests. That’s why the U.S. Congress developed the strategy of voting for “fast track” status of trade agreements. By approving fast track, Congress commits to submit the deal, as negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative, to an up-or-down vote, rather than haggling over the details and likely killing the agreement altogether.

But it’s looking like Democrats in Congress will not approve fast track authority for…

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