America's shift toward bilateral trade deals shows a total loss of faith in the ability of multilateral forums (G7 … G20) and U.N. agencies (IMF, etc.) to rebalance the world economy through effective international policy coordination.
That was long time coming -- a sad coda to the global economic (political) and financial order created at the Bretton Woods Conference in July 1944. It is at that time that the economic policy coordination was enshrined as one of the fundamental principles in the IMF's Articles of Agreement, enjoining both surplus and deficit countries to balance out their external trade positions.
What followed – to this day – has been an unending comedy of errors, recriminations and hypocrisy as policy coordination and rules of a sustainable free trade were shunned in pursuit of self-serving national interests.
Predictably, surplus countries refused to adjust (i.e., to reduce their surpluses by running stronger domestic demand to boost imports), extolled their "economic virtue" and continued to live off their trade partners.
A drag on world economy
But deficit countries had no choice; they had to adjust (i.e., to reduce their deficits by shrinking their domestic demand and cutting down their imports) because they ran out of money and had to submit to foreign lenders demanding strict conditions with respect to the timing and magnitude of their trade adjustment.
And here is the world we ended up with.