Trade and Globalisation

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PINPoints Network Perspectives #43

21 Dec 2016 - 16:22

PINPoints 43

Negotiation analysis anno 2016 shows a growing tension between negotiations and public opinion.

Donald Trump, ‘Master of the Deal’
Criticism on the secretive processes and results of international negotiations played an important role in getting Donald Trump elected. He promised to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington and, more importantly, claimed to represent the interests of blue-collar workers. Looking back with hindsight it is indeed possible to say that the interests of this specific group have been underrepresented in the mandates of negotiators working for successive American presidents on trade deals (e.g., NAFTA and TPP). President Trump aims to include these voices while (re)negotiating trade agreements and make the ‘best deals for America’, or at least for the people who voted him into office. I. William Zartman describes the expected negotiation style of President Trump in the opening article of PINPoints 43.

Brexit negotiations
On the campaign trail Trump called his prospective election ‘Brexit plus plus’. Indeed, from a negotiations perspective there are quite some similarities. It is possible to argue that Brexit is also the result of a badly managed constituency who felt underrepresented in many EU negotiations in which the UK participated. Many ‘leave’ voters preferred a sense of renewed control over their destiny to the EU’s murky decision-making procedures. Ironically, the destiny of the UK largely depends on future negotiations, since it has to negotiate with the EU on its exit terms. If prime minister May chooses a so-called ‘soft exit’ – keeping the UK in the internal market of the EU – much of the wanted independence and control will be an illusion. The UK would still have to implement many EU rules and regulations, but without their negotiation chair in Brussels. Mark Anstey and Guy Olivier Faure reflect.

Colombian peace referendum
A more direct example of a constituency turning against a negotiation result is the referendum in Colombia. Three articles (by Zartman, Rosoux & Anstey, and Oliver & Gawn) suggest that the peace deal between the Colombian president and FARC was good, but that it got lost in national politics. For now the willingness to reach a final agreement has been strong and the parties have not fallen back to violence. Just before publishing this issue a renewed agreement was announced. Let’s hope that this time the deal will be ratified and the really hard work – implementation – can begin.

How negotiations work
More reflective articles in this edition also aim to strengthen our understanding of how negotiations work, to improve negotiations as a decision-making tool in case arbitration and coercion are either impossible or too costly. Schüssler discusses tensions between self-interest and justice perceptions in negotiations. Meerts looks back at the historic The Hague Peace Conferences (1899 and 1907), two of the first diplomatic negotiation processes where public opinion played an important role. Anstey thoroughly analyses the role of culture in negotiations. Zartman and Troitskiy summarise their contributions to one of the running PIN book projects, on closure in negotiations.

Negotiating peaceful cooperation
With geopolitical tensions still rising and nationalistic movements gaining prominence inside many countries, negotiations remain vital in ensuring peaceful cooperation. Meanwhile, international negotiations are under pressure from increased demands for democratic control and transparency. PIN will continue to analyse negotiations, in order to enable practitioners and policymakers to make them more effective.