The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement by 15 countries of the Asia-Pacific, accounting for 30% of the global trade, late last year, and the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) comprising 54 countries in January 2021, have revived the narrative on free trade agreements (FTA). The parallel development to ‘take back control’ that propelled Brexit highlighted the backlash against globalisation and free trade. Nobel laureate Milton Friedman held that the economics profession has been almost unanimous on the desirability of free trade. However, good economics is not always good politics. From India, which in the last five years has hiked tariffs on a fourth of all products traded, to the US, which promotes buy American, protectionism is the flavour of the season. Read More.