The WTO signed a mini-package of trade initiatives in Bali last week. This column argues that the ‘Bali package’ is welcome but not enough. Without some new initiative or direction, the WTO looks set to drift for the next few years. The WTO cannot move ahead until the trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic ‘mega-regionals’ are done or dead. In the meantime, the WTO should promote research and discussion on how 21st-century trade issues could be brought into the WTO when the time is ripe.
Richard Baldwin, Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 00:00
Bernard Hoekman, Jesper Jensen, David Tarr, Friday, November 29, 2013 - 00:00
Two regional trade agreements are centre of attention in Ukraine: the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU – that for the time being Ukraine has rejected – and the Eurasian Customs Union with Russia, that Ukraine has been invited (or pressured) to join. Rather than choosing between the two, Ukraine should focus on reducing policy frictions that negatively affect trade through processes that mobilise firms and industries on both sides of the border. The recent proposal by Ukraine to establish a joint commission among Ukraine, Russia and the EU to promote trade could be a step in this direction.
Kyle Handley, Nuno Limão, Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 00:00
The impact of policy uncertainty on economic activity is potentially important, but controversial because it is hard to identify and quantify. Recent research provides a framework to identify the impacts of policy uncertainty on firm decisions, and finds it has strong effects in the context of international trade. China’s WTO accession secured its most-favoured nation status in the US, and the evidence shows this reduction in uncertainty can explain a significant fraction of its export boom to the US.
Matthias Helble, Ganeshan Wignaraja , Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 00:00
Intensifying negotiations leading to the December WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali have renewed optimism for concluding the beleaguered Doha Round and boosting Asia’s trade. Agreement in Bali on tariff-quota administration, trade facilitation, and food security would improve the prospects for a Doha deal and WTO credibility. Failure at Bali, however, would spur the rise of mega-regional trade agreements – to the detriment of countries outside these agreements.
Elías A. Baracat, J. Michael Finger, Julio J. Nogués, Raúl León Thorne, Monday, October 28, 2013 - 00:00
Trade reforms must be durable if countries are to reap the benefits of international specialisation and trade. Whereas Peru has sustained the reforms it carried out in the 1990s, Argentina has introduced multiple trade restrictions in recent years. This column argues that Peru’s success is due to two factors. First, Peruvian trade reform was part of a broader reform effort. Second, by highlighting the success of Asian countries and negotiating bilateral agreements, Peru’s political leaders fostered a positive vision of Peru’s role in the world economy.
Hector R. Torres, Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 00:00
'Special and differential treatment' was justified on the basis that developing countries lacked the fiscal resources to smooth the transition to free trade. However, despite improved fiscal circumstances, exceptions to WTO rules remain in place. Establishing an independent watchdog for the WTO could help it to address these issues.
Beata Javorcik, Gaia Narciso, Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 00:00
WTO membership does not come cheap in a political sense. So what is the point? This column addresses the idea that institutional reforms in the joining nations are an important element of the gains. It focuses on one reform – changes in customs procedures that limit discretion. This shuts down one channel for tariff evasion, but the column shows that greater evasion occurs through alternative channels.
Michitaka Nakatomi, Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 00:00
As the Doha Round continues to stagnate, mega FTAs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will likely play the leading role in trade rulemaking for some time to come, creating a 'spaghetti bowl' of trade rules. This column argues that we should multilateralise the results of mega FTAs on an issue-by-issue basis, starting with an International Supply Chain Agreement.
Pascal Lamy, Monday, July 29, 2013 - 00:00
After heading the WTO for eight years, Pascal Lamy offers his farewell remarks. This column reproduces them in full. Despite global turmoil including the Great Trade Collapse and an historic shift of economic power towards emerging markets, the WTO is larger and stronger. Regional trade arrangements can contribute trade opening but they are not sufficient. There is no escape from achieving positive results in the Doha Round, but this requires adjusting the agenda to today's realities by adding new elements.
Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott , Cathleen Cimino, Sunday, July 7, 2013 - 00:00
In the wake of the Great Recession, world trade has faltered. Responsible officials turned a blind eye to fresh liberalisation and condoned a quiet resurgence of protectionist measures. This column argues that the global economy needs strong medicine to rebound, and that successful WTO trade talks are part of the elixir.
Richard Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai, Ganeshan Wignaraja , Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 00:00
The WTO risks losing its centricity in the world trading system due to its focus on 20th century trade issues and lack of progress in the Doha Round. This column introduces a new eBook that looks at how Asia meanwhile built a deep network of supply chains and is experimenting with new forms of regional trade governance. Asia’s experience of open trade-led development offers lessons for other regions. Better coherence is also vital between Asia’s regional trade rules and global trade governance.
Peter Egger, Georg Wamser, Friday, June 7, 2013 - 00:00
Free trade agreements are often signed in conjunction with other bilateral economic agreements such as investment agreements, double taxation treaties, or even currency agreements. This column argues that this trend reflects the greater complexity of 21st century economic integration – especially the intertwining of FDI and trade in goods and services. Economists should analyse the effects of all such agreement conjointly. Failing to do so may result in attributing trade booms to the wrong policies.
Gaëlle Balineau, Jaime de Melo, Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 00:00
The first order of business for the next Director-General of the WTO will be to help broker a deal at the Ministerial Meeting in Bali next December. Following the announcement of reductions in tariffs on environmental goods announced by APEC members last September, there is some hope that a deal might be in hand for a reduction in trade barriers on environmental goods and services. This column reviews the stalemate so far and argues that with little to put on the table, progress at the multilateral level is unlikely.
Bernard Hoekman, Petros C. Mavroidis, Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 00:00
The WTO is looking for a new Director-General. The process, which is remarkably open and public, has nine candidates. This column introduces a new VoxEU eBook in which seven of the candidates lay out their views on the challenges confronting the WTO and how to address them. Taken together, they provide a uniquely comprehensive view of the world’s trade governance problems. It will be an important reference long after the selection process ends.
Chad P Bown, Meredith Crowley, Friday, February 8, 2013 - 00:00
For most of the postwar period, rich nations had much lower average tariffs than developing nations, but they frequently applied variable protection – dumping duties etc. – in reaction to business cycles and exchange-rate movements. Massive, unilateral tariff-cutting by developing nations since the 1990s evened out the averages. This column presents new evidence that emerging economies are now tying variable protection more closely to business cycles and exchange rates – just like the high-income economies.
Simon Lester, Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 00:00
Trade agreements have become ‘deeper’ over recent years, and there are initiatives in the pipeline to globalise deeper trade governance through mega-regional agreements (such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership). This column argues that trade agreements in general – and the WTO in particular – should focus on what they do best, reducing protectionist barriers. Broader issues such as intellectual property and regulatory expropriation should be left to governments to deal with on their own. Governments that handle these issues most effectively will be the winners in the new world of supply-chain trade.
Fabrice Defever, Alejandro Riaño, Friday, January 4, 2013 - 00:00
The West perennially complains about China subsidising industry geared towards its domestic market. But what will happen when China enacts its latest Five Year Plan’s emphasis on domestic growth? This column argues that ending ‘pure-exporter subsidies’ – subsidies that boost Chinese exports while simultaneously protecting the least efficient, domestically oriented firms – will benefit Chinese consumers, but will cost the rest of the world.
Richard Baldwin, Saturday, December 22, 2012 - 00:00
CEPR Policy Insight No 64 argues that adapting world trade governance to the realities of supply-chain trade will require a new organisation – a WTO 2.0 as it were.
Juan A. Marchetti, Michele Ruta, Robert Teh, Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 00:00
Globally, large current account imbalances prevail. This column argues that they also continue to represent a systemic risk for the world economy. The WTO has a clear-cut role in the institutional effort to address these imbalances. However, this role has more to do with opening services and government procurement markets than with the often invoked trade sanctions in response to exchange rate misalignments.
Richard Baldwin, Saturday, December 22, 2012 - 00:00
The world of international commerce has changed radically over the past years due to the rise of supply-chain trade. This column argues that the WTO has not kept up with the need for new rules governing the intertwining of trade, investment, intellectual property, and service. Bring these rules to the multilateral level will require the establishment of a new international organisation – a ‘WTO 2.0’.