Undermining that global system most significantly, in Emerson’s view, has been a willingness of nations to simply pull out of long established, even if not perfect, systems.
“The United States is refusing to renew the appointments or create new appointments of the judges (for the WTO),” he says. “They're supposed to be seven of those. There's only three left. As of the 10th of December, one left. So that's it. No more effective dispute settlement procedures. If you got rules that can't be enforced of all. They're not really rules, are they?”
APEC though is the hope, not the answer: “We work with government and with the private sector to develop new ideas for the future of APEC,” Emerson says of the RMIT centre.
“But just as importantly, to work in areas such as capacity building. You say APEC is a co-operative arrangement, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. So it's not so much a negotiating forum for trade deals but it’s there to help other countries develop their capacity in whatever area – that might be in infrastructure, the digital economy, regulation and so on.”
Emerson also spoke about Australia’s role as an “honest broker, not a powerbroker” and China’s developing nation status, among other trade quandaries.
Listen to the full podcast above.
Tony Walker is a bluenotes contributor, former Financial Times correspondent in China and former Australian Financial Review political editor.