The persistent failure to reach a new agreement under the WTO has sent trade scholars back to the drawing board. This column discusses two prominent ideas for restructuring the talks to get past the prolonged impasse. One is to permit agreements between some, but not all, members; the other to relax the requirement of consensus.
Philip Levy, 19 June 2010
Geza Feketekuty, 19 June 2010
What is holding back the Doha Round? This column argues that while there are many reasons for the difficulties the WTO has faced, the shortcomings of the mercantilist model in framing mutually acceptable multilateral agreements is undoubtedly a major factor. The WTO needs a new kind of forum where countries can think through the issues before the give and take.
Chad P. Bown, 19 June 2010
The international community responded to the global crisis with a promise not to raise protectionist measures, and there has been little trade friction in terms of WTO disputes. This column assesses the dispute settlement system's capacity to bear a larger caseload and suggests that an increase in WTO litigation could be good news for the rules-based trading system – even in the absence of progress on the Doha round.
Richard Baldwin, 05 June 2010
The WTO is said to be in a funk – unable to conclude the Doha Round even as its members liberalise unilaterally and regionally. CEPR's newest Policy Insight argues that tactics used to get consensus at the last Round pushed the organisation into decision-making’s “impossible trinity” (consensus, uniform rules, and strict enforcement). A Doha package with something for everyone may be found, thus defeating the impossible triangle. The big-package tactic, however, won’t help the WTO confront 21st century challenges in a timely manner; for that, at least one of the triangle’s corners must be modified.
Richard Baldwin, 07 June 2010
The WTO is in a funk – unable to conclude the Doha Round even as its members liberalise unilaterally and regionally. This column introduces a Policy Insight arguing that the tactics used to conclude the last round pushed the organisation into decision-making’s “impossible trinity” (consensus, uniform rules, and strict enforcement). The Doha Round may succeed – defeating the triangle with the 'big package' tactic – but this tactic does not work fast enough to allow the WTO to confront 21st century challenges in a timely manner. At least one of the impossible triangle’s corners will have to be modified.
Michael Waibel, 16 April 2010
What legal basis is there for retaliating against China’s exchange-rate policy? This column says that IMF rules are likely inadequate to rule against China, while its policy does not constitute a WTO-punishable export subsidy. It argues that exchange-rate conflicts should be handled by a proposed IMF dispute settlement mechanism, not the WTO.
Joel P. Trachtman, 30 April 2010
Does the US have a legal case against China’s exchange-rate regime? This column, which first appeared in Vox's latest eBook, argues that any claim against China at the WTO would face substantial hurdles, and would be unlikely to add pressure on China any time soon. If a claim does go ahead, it is more likely than not to fail.
Dukgeun Ahn, 16 April 2010
How might the US take action through the WTO over China’s alleged currency manipulation? This column analyses three potential legal issues: legality of exchange-rate policy under the GATT rules, legality under the subsidy rules, and the feasibility of non-violation complaints. It concludes that any WTO resolution will be difficult to achieve because the organisation is not designed to deal with alleged exchange-rate manipulation.
Susan Ariel Aaronson, 09 February 2010
Is the WTO doomed? This column argues that the WTO’s credibility is waning and that to get it back it needs to reign in China’s erratic governance. China’s failure to enforce trade laws threatens the concept of mutual benefit that underpins the WTO. China is broken, and a broken China could break the WTO.
Robert E. Baldwin, 15 December 2009
It is clear from the recent WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva that a successful conclusion to the Doha Round is a long way off. But long stoppages have been commonplace in earlier liberalisation efforts. This column outlines some of these delays in an effort to better understand the current standstill.
Léonce Ndikumana, Tonia Kandiero, 27 November 2009
The trade collapse hit Africa hard, particularly its exporters of natural resources and manufactured goods. As commodity prices have started to recover, so has African trade. This chapter recommends concluding the Doha round of WTO negotiations and investing in Aid for Trade initiatives to make the revival sustainable and support developing economies’ long-term interests.
Patrick Low, 20 November 2009
Patrick Low, chief economist at the World Trade Organization (WTO), talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the case for ‘critical mass’ decision-making as an element of the WTO’s overall decision rules in the future, once the Doha Round has been completed. The interview was recorded in Geneva at the inaugural Thinking Ahead on International Trade conference in September 2009.
The fourth Summer Programme on the WTO, International Trade and Development will take place from June 28 to July 9, 2010 in Geneva. It will provide participants with a unique opportunity to enter into the analysis and atmosphere of multilateral trade. The programme, delivered with the Graduate Institute Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, combines economic, legal and political analysis of international trade and development.
Lectures and discussions will shed light on the following questions: the reasons why countries open their economies to trade and the reasons why they protect domestic industries, the means and pathways they use to either open or protect, what these considerations mean for the multilateral trading system and their implications for economic development.
- Professionals keen to improve their knowledge on current major issues in international trade
- Students at MA level
Deadline for Applications
April 1, 2010
Simon J Evenett, 24 September 2009
Simon Evenett of the University of St Gallen talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about ‘Broken Promises’, the latest report from Global Trade Alert, which collates information on state measures taken since last November that discriminate against foreign commercial interests, and reveals how the G20 countries have broken their 'no protectionism' pledge. The interview was recorded in Geneva at the inaugural Thinking Ahead on International Trade conference in September 2009.
Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Sherry Stephenson, 11 May 2009
The crisis has delivered a particularly strong blow to export revenues of small developing countries. These nations have limited room for deploying anti-cyclical packages and, as a group, do not account for a significant amount of total world trade. They should thus be temporarily awarded policy space to adopt trade measures to counter the impact of the current economic crisis.
Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo, 30 March 2009
This column proposes the launch of a WTO Crisis Round at the G20 summit. Unlike the Doha round’s liberalising agenda, such a crisis round would simply aim to “hold the line on protectionism” and prevent a retreat from current levels of trade openness. This column that says that such action is necessary for the global trading system to survive these “potentially perilous times.”
Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott , 05 February 2009
The “Buy American” provision in the US stimulus package would violate US trade obligations, damage the US' reputation, and have almost no real impact on US jobs. Moreover, the provisions will be read as an Obama trade policy that leans toward protectionism – with severe consequences abroad.
Richard Baldwin, Simon J Evenett, 04 December 2008
A collection of essays from 17 leading trade scholars from around the world addressing the question of what world leaders should do to stop the spread of protectionism.
Marc Auboin, 28 January 2009
Some 80% to 90% of world trade relies on trade finance, and there is little doubt that the trade finance market will experience difficult times in the first half of 2009 – difficulties that will contribute the global economic malaise. Public-backed institutions are responding, but are they doing enough?
Man-Keung Tang, Shang-Jin Wei, 22 January 2009
This column studies the growth and investment consequences of WTO/GATT accessions. Accessions tend to raise income but only for countries that were subject to rigorous accession procedures. Commitments associated with accessions are also found to be helpful especially for countries with poor governance.