Commentary Type

The Current State of the World Trading System – What can Britain Do?

Virtual keynote delivered at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Trade, London


Margaret Thatcher does not come across as a person wracked with self-doubt when thinking about an appropriate global trade policy.

She expressed her views cogently in a speech on March 3, 1994—when the world trading system stood between the era of the GATT and the promise of a new World Trade Organization, the WTO. She was absolutely clear-eyed on the achievements of the former and the promise of the latter.

Of course, she would talk of history, of Britain’s choice to open its market with the repeal of the corn laws. She did not think that Robert Cobden got it wrong to open the British market for food.

She did not think that Churchill and Roosevelt got it wrong when in the summer of 1941 at Argentia Bay they set as a cornerstone of their war aims that the post-war global economy should be characterized by equal access to markets and to raw materials for all—a policy designed to underwrite a more durable peace.

View speech on YouTube

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