Economic diplomacy deals with the nexus between power and wealth in international affairs. Accordingly, economic diplomacy is a major theme of the external relations of virtually all countries. At home, economic ministries, trade and investment promotion bodies, chambers of commerce, and of course foreign ministries, are all participants in economic work. Current trends include increasing collaboration between state and non-official agencies, and increased importance given to WTO issues, the negotiation of free trade and preferential trade agreements, and accords covering investments, double taxation avoidance, financial services and the like. Abroad, embassies, consulates, and trade offices handle economic diplomacy.
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This article begins by discussing how economic diplomacy might be seen as a distinct component in diplomacy in general and how the approach to decision-making and negotiation on mainstream economic topics may diverge from more overtly political diplomacy. It then makes the case that economic diplomacy has become more important with increased international economic interdependence or globalization and the greater need to find negotiated solutions to challenges, such as stable financial systems, open trade and investment, or climate change, in order to achieve domestic policy objectives. The article argues that states remain the main actors in economic diplomacy, despite the relative increase in the importance of non-state actors and the fact that markets must be treated as endogenous to the policy process. It discusses the distinctive characteristics of the conduct of economic diplomacy by governments. To illustrate the points made, the article discusses the cases of international investment policy and economic summitry, before concluding with an assessment of the trends in economic diplomacy.