The past, present, and potential of economic security

This project responds to industrial economies’ ever-frequent invocation of economic security to indefinitely justify activities that impair other states’ trade within the post-war global economic order. It makes two crucial contributions to the discourse. The first contribution is to disprove
contentions that Cold War-era trade institutions are no longer fit for purpose. I show why governments planned for supply security in the postwar global order through richly detailed archival research. I investigate the underexplored influence of the Korean War upon GATT contracting parties and reveal the importance of equitable distribution of strategic materials in what one US congressperson called a ‘super-government’ cartel. I redescribe the contingent character of these legal structures, showing the functions (and limits) of economic planning and military preparedness when governments and firms – fresh off the Second World War experience – demanded economic security and access to strategic supplies. The second contribution is normative – showing the potential to bring economic security strategies to existing WTO institutions. I develop a framework that dissects economic security into four categories and explain how governments can – and should – address security ambitions without abandoning coordination and collective goals for the future