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Pluralist world

Who are we?

This project brings together an international team of young scholars from political science, peace and conflict studies, economics and development studies. With the mentorship of our leader, local senior scholars but also the multidisciplinary research environment of School of Management and Tampere Peace Research Institute we have made sure that the substance of our work reaches high international quality. 

The expertise and educational background of the research group is multidisciplinary. So is the nature of this project. It focuses on political dynamics in trade and financial governance, which combine political science, peace and conflict studies, development studies but also international economics and global political economy. 


What is this project about?

In this research project we elucidate the challenge of regional blocs to multilateralism in the context of post-hegemonic and increasingly multipolar international order. One of our particular focuses is the comparative institutional analysis of Regional Trade Agreements and Regional Financial Institutions and their relation with respective multilateral institutions. In this manner we establish to what extent the regional blocs threaten global cooperation and reproduce the political cleavages and conflicts at multilateral institutions. At the background of this project is thus the crisis within multilateral institutions and its reproduction to regional institutions. 

Indeed, leaders of the 20 major economic powers meet regularly under the auspices of G20 Summit producing joint communiques about cooperation and coordination. But on the multilateral institutions where those communiques should turn to joint decisions little progress has been made. Much more has been accomplished on the regional level between like-minded groups. However, unlike cooperative regionalism of the 20th century, 21st century regionalism is characterized by increasing plurality and intensifying antagonism. The positive relation between regionalism and multilateralism thus seems to be broken. This project seeks to establish what that means and where to find solutions. 

European integration is a classic example of the former dynamics between regionalism and multilateralism. It was launched as an integral part of the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe. Marshall plan was one key element of the postwar construction of the international order accompanied by founding of multilateral financial institutions and the (failed) attempt to launch an International Trade Organization. US influence in both regional and multilateral processes was thus direct and strong ensuring institutional conformity on both levels. As European integration grew deeper and broader the Union became itself an active agent at the multilateral institutions. Together with the US, Canada and Japan the EU promoted deepening and broadening of economic integration at the multilateral institutions. Thus, the case of European regionalism evidences US hegemony as a decisive feature of the 20th century dynamics between regionalism and multilateralism. In 21st century the rise of Asia in general and China in particular have changed this basic setting. Plurality of power and world views has replaced US hegemony. 

A key outcome of US hegemony was the successful completion of Uruguay Round with the founding of World Trade Organization. It was met with enthusiasm and seen to evidence Fukuyama’s controversial thesis of the end of history. The subsequent Doha Round of negotiations however soon replaced optimism with pessimism. Spanning over almost two decades the Doha Round has been stalled by persistent conflicts between major commercial states and between the developed and developing countries. In the new post-hegemonic world US has not been able to exercise decisive influence on the multilateral arena not even together with EU, Japan and Canada. And this provides the background for trade regionalism in the 21st century. When failing at the multilateral level the developed countries have resorted to regionalism. But so have others. Russia has its own regional process, China and India their own and Latin America theirs. Thus, the former understanding that trade regionalism strengthens trade multilateralism no longer holds. Yet, what kind of dynamics will emerge is still to be determined.

The crisis of trade multilateralism resonates with the situations at multilateral financial institutions. During the entire 21st century they have been the object of an intense critique because of imbalanced voting powers and the actual lending policies. In mid 2000s the broad dissatisfaction with their lending policies in fact culminated in financial crisis of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It was caused by the decreasing demand for funds among the developing countries and Asia and remedied only by the Eurozone crisis and the financial needs of the euro group. Yet, the need for development finance has not ceased to exist. In contrast, there are still over billion people without access to clear drinking water, sanitation facilities or electricity. But financing this kind of little lucrative projects has not been very high on the agenda of the World Bank and IMF. Nor have the loan conditions been very appealing for the developing countries after the poor experiences in Latin America, Africa and East Asia. Hence, to meet the pressing development concerns new regional institutions have been launched in Latin America and Asia. Here too regionalism seems a reaction to shortcoming at the multilateral level. 


Project aims 

The project interprets regional and multilateral interactions from a realist perspective. Its basic assumption is that states, strategic interests and competing worldviews remain vital for regional and multilateral cooperation. Consequently, the distinctive feature of post-hegemonic order is the creation and consolidation of plural regionalist projects whose institutional and cultural variety reflect the plurality of multipolar international order. The key theoretical and practical questions that emerge from this perspective is the interplay between this process and multilateralism. We approach this broader problematic through systematic comparison of institutions in regional and multilateral level. In trade for example we scope and depth of legal norms in respective levels and the practices and depth of cooperation. 

Correspondingly, this project answers the following research questions: 

1) What is the relation between the institutions of different regional projects with multilateral institutions in the context of trade and development finance? 

2) To what extent if at all do competing worldviews manifest themselves in the institutional variety of regionalism in the 21st century? 

3) What and how steep are the cleavages between different regionalisms and what implications does it have for the future of multilateralism? 

4) How to increase the resilience of multilateralism? What can major powers in general and the EU in particular do to become more constructive actors? 


Project outputs 

The project will have multiple outputs, among them scientific publications (notably one Finnish and one International Journal Special Issue and an international scientific book), as well as more popular publications, combining graphic arts with science.

We have already launched a popular blog on Regionalism and the Arts of Power, where we illustrate and exacerbate the political cleavages and competition between regions. 

The educational dimension of the project consists of PhD Seminars organized twice and the scientific book to be used in education. 

The popular dimension also includes cooperation with institutional partners most notably the Indian BRICS institute and one of the leading Asian think tanks, Observer Research Foundation. We produce joint popular texts together with researchers from the institute and publish them both at our blog and at the institute’s web page. We thus seek publicity across intraregional and cultural border lines. 

For a short introduction to the literature and debates at the core of this project, please have a look at the following paper.


A few references 

Baldwin, R. (2011), '21st Century Regionalism: Filling the gap between 21st century trade and 29th century trade rules', CEPR Policy Insight, No. 56. 

Eder, Julia Theresa (2016), Trade and Productive Integration in ALBA-TCP –A systematic comparison with the corresponding agendas of COMECON and CSR, Austrian Journal for Development Studies, 4-2016 (forthcoming). 

Gill, Stephen & Cutler, Claire (eds.) (2014), New Constitutionalism and World Order, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Juutinen, Marko (2014), Gene Food and the Change in Governance – Case of EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement, Finnish Review of Political Economy, 2 (2014):1, 9–33. 

Juutinen, Marko (2014), Euroopan unionin ja Yhdysvaltain välinen vapaakauppasopimus, In Thomas Taussi, Marko Juutinen, Sakari Puisto, Anton Nikolenko, Kauppa se on joka kannattaa, vapaa vaihdanta suomalaisen hyvinvoinnin lähteenä, Helsinki: Libera Foundation; pages 27–43. 

Juutinen, Marko, Käkönen Jyrki (2016), Battle for Globalisations? BRICS and US Mega-Regional Trade Agreements in a Changing World Order, Observer Research Foundation: New Delhi. 

Juutinen, Marko, Käkönen Jyrki (2016), Blokkien paluu: BRICS-maiden nousu, USA ja Suomi, Into kustannus 2016, 

Juutinen, Marko (2016), Regional Trade Agreements: A Strike at Multilateralism, Occasional Paper 93, Observer Research Foundation. 

Juutinen, Marko (2016), TTIP-sopimuksen tavoitteet ja kritiikki: Onko huoleen syytä, (2nd and revised edition), Tampere: KSL. 

Lamy, Pascal (2015) 'Is trade multilateralism being threatened by regionalism?', in Baru, Sanaya and Dogra, Suvi (eds.) Power Shifts and New Blocs in the Global Trading System, London: Routledge, pp. 61–78. 

Maiche, Karim (2015), Mitäs me länsimaalaiset! Suomi ja lännen käsite, Helsinki: Into. 

Panda , Jagannath P. (2014) 'Factoring the RCEP and the TPP: China, India and the Politics of Regional Integration', Strategic Analysis, vol 38 (1), 49-67. 

Stephen, Matthew D. (2014) 'Rising powers, global capitalism and liberal global governance: A historical materialist account of the BRICs challenge', European Journal of International Relations 20:4, 912–938. 

Subacchi, Paolo (2015) 'The AIIB Is a Threat to Global Economic Governance. The era of U.S. dominated global economic order is ending but the fragmented governance system isn't the best replacement', Foreign Policy, 31 March, accessed at, 1 April 2015. 

Subramanian, Arvind (2015) 'Ideas and power in contemporary trade development' in Baru, Sanaya and Dogra, Suvi (eds.) Power Shifts and New Blocs in the Global Trading System, London: Routledge, pp. 39–60. 

Summers, Lawrence (1991), 'Regionalism and the World Trading System', in Lawrence Summers (ed.) Policy Implications of Trade and Currency Zones, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Kansas City. 


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