Working paper

Deglobalisation and Protectionism

This paper presents a data-driven examination of whether deglobalisation has happened and whether protectionism was the cause.

Publishing date
17 November 2022
Uri Dadush
Shipping cargo yard

Trade in goods has slowed markedly since the global financial crisis (GFC), but there is 
no deglobalisation: most countries have seen increased international integration across 
nearly all goods, services and factor markets. China has become more self-reliant and 
is a notable exception in goods trade. Despite some dramatic instances, protectionism 
has largely been kept at bay and trade in goods remains quite free, perhaps freer 
than it was before the GFC. The proliferation and deepening of free trade agreements 
have contributed to this outcome. There has been deglobalisation of capital markets, 
but not because of protectionism. Despite efforts to erect barriers in some sensitive 
sectors, technology flows quite freely across borders because of the internet. However, 
trade policy uncertainty increased after the election of President Trump, a trend that 
persists under President Biden, and the biggest challenge is to avoid backsliding. There 
are many missed opportunities in the globalisation of services and of capital flows – 
especially those to developing countries. Increased migration remains potentially the 
largest source of gain from globalisation, but it is also the most fraught politically.

Anabel Gonzalez and Richard Newfarmer provided very useful comments on a previous draft. Thanks for helpful comments also go to Bruegel colleagues Alicia García-Herrero, David Kleimann, André Sapir, Nicolas Véron, and Jeromin Zettelmeyer. Robin Schindowski and Ryan Strong provided excellent research assistance, and Klaas Lenaerts provided technical support.

About the authors

  • Uri Dadush

    Uri Dadush is a Non-resident fellow at Bruegel, based in Washington DC, and a Research Professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland where he teaches courses on trade policy and on macroeconomic analysis and policy. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South in Rabat, Morocco and Principal of Economic Policy International LLC, providing consulting services to international organizations. He was a co-chair of the Trade, Investment and Globalization Task-Force of the T20 and Vice-Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Trade and Investment at the World Economic Forum.

    He was previously Director of the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prior to that he was Director of International Trade, Director of Economic Policy, and Director of the Development Prospects Group at the World Bank. Based previously in London, Brussels and Milan, he spent 15 years in the private sector, where he was President of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Group Vice President of Data Resources Inc., and a consultant with McKinsey and Co.

    His books include: Trade Preferences, Foreign Aid and Self-Interest; Trade Policy in Morocco: Taking Stock and Looking Forward (with Pierre Sauve' , co-editor); WTO Accessions and Trade Multilateralism (with Chiedu Osakwe, co-editor); Juggernaut: How Emerging Markets Are Transforming Globalization (with William Shaw); Inequality in America (with Kemal Dervis and others); Currency Wars (with Vera Eidelman, co-editor); and Paradigm Lost: The Euro in Crisis. His new book, 'Geopolitics, Trade Blocks and the Fragmentation of World Commerce' will be published by Lexington Books in September 2024.

    His columns have appeared in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Monde, Liberation, L’Espresso and El Pais

    He has a BA and MA in Economics from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a PhD in Business Economics from Harvard University.