The volatility and uncertainty surrounding the world's financial system -- never mind stalled global trade talks in Geneva, and even delayed and difficult regional trade talks -- are discussed in much of the business media these days.

This volatility has even become front-page news, as we read of the Canadian dollar exploding in value in a matter of weeks to $1.10 US, of Canadian shoppers flooding malls in Syracuse, Buffalo or Bellingham, Wash., of Canadian postal outlets flooded with online purchases from the U.S., or of dairy
farmers and auto workers suggesting that their sectors would be doomed if trade agreements currently under negotiation were finalized by Canada.

Announcements of manufacturing plant closures and forestry sector cutbacks, especially in Ontario and Quebec, are becoming daily news, while resource-rich regions of Canada, Russia, the Persian Gulf and elsewhere are booming, leading to increased income disparities both within countries and
between them.

Meanwhile, the voices of protectionism are being raised by those being most adversely affected and by those representing them - most prominently by several Democratic presidential candidates in the United
States, some advocating the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and of taking strong trade-restricting measures against China which is rapidly becoming the world's workshop.

Current and planned research work at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), as well as its sponsorship of dialogue and discussions of these and related matters, are addressing important
aspects of these international economic governance issues. Proposals for the reform of the world's pre-eminent international economic institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization have been developed in conjunction with both pre-eminent and established academics and policy-makers, and as well as with younger scholars and officials from around the world - and have been the subject of CIGI-sponsored sessions at the organizations themselves.

In parallel, work on a country or regional basis under the aegis of the Centre for International Governance Innovation has been undertaken on several rapidly-growing emerging countries -- particularly China,
but also India, Brazil, Russia and the Persian Gulf states.

The China activity, led by John Whalley, and frequently in partnership with Canada's International Development Research Centre, has focused on China's economic growth as well as constraints on that growth, and on China's increasingly-important trading relationship with the rest of the world . China has now surpassed Germany to become the world's second largest trader. China's movement up the technology ladder has also been studied in some depth by CIGI, as has its involvement in various regional trade and financial arrangements.

The impact of these many current and possible developments on Canada and on the other high-income, already-developed economies and how we might adjust to them has also been, and will
continue to be, a theme of CIGI's ongoing work in this very important policy area.

More generally, the objective of CIGI's work on the international economy will continue to be a search for how we and the world community as a whole can govern ourselves to ensure greater prosperity, equity, and predictability for all. The world economy is changing as rapidly now as it did 200 years ago during the early Industrial Revolution. Further, the institutions that we in the industrialized, high-income West created in the aftermath of the Second World War are under real strain and could, in some cases, be risking irrelevance.

CIGI's objective is to contribute through research, dialogue and discussion, both in Canada and abroad, and in collaboration with partners around the world, to develop and put forward ideas to help shape new international arrangements that will reflect and take advantage of the new opportunities that all the changes underway around the world offer.

In the years ahead, we shall be working on questions such as international trade and exchange rates - including the likely future level of the Canadian dollar, the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen, the Chinese renminbi -- trade and agriculture, practical steps to improve the workings of the International
Monetary Fund and of the World Trade Organization, climate change issues that could or might influence future international trade negotiations, and the key question of how to integrate more of the developing world into the planet's increasingly globalized economic system on as effective and fair terms as possible.

The list is long, the issues major, and the impact that each and every one of these issues will have
on individual Canadians and others in every part of the world on a daily basis is huge. But over the
past five years we at CIGI have made a start and there is much more to come.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.