The Future of the WTO

CIES Policy Discussion Paper 98/01

32 Pages Posted: 30 May 1998

See all articles by Kym Anderson

Kym Anderson

University of Adelaide - Centre for International Economic Studies (CIES); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Australian National University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 1998


Despite the huge contribution the GATT has made to the world economy since 1948, substantial scope remains for further contributions from and adaptations by its successor since 1995, the World Trade Organization. After first reviewing why the world needs the WTO, this paper examines the main challenges confronting the organization as we approach the new millennium, and assesses the WTO's potential to address each of these issues. They include completing the integration of agriculture and textiles and clothing into the mainstream of the GATT, and coping with the WTO's much-expanded roles in monitoring compliance and settling disputes. The Uruguay Round certainly did not handle all the key issues confronting the international trading system though, and new challenges have since arisen. Thus, as well as digesting the latest agreements, the WTO needs to address such issues as the calls to use the WTO and its dispute settlement procedures for issues only peripherally related to trade (environment, labour, human rights more generally), the continuing growth of regional trading arrangements, the rapidly expanding importance of foreign investment and competition policy, the surge in applications from (especially former socialist) countries wishing to join the WTO, the changing nature of services trade because of the information revolution, and the recent backlash against globalization. The paper suggests that most of these issues can best be addressed in the context of another comprehensive round of multilateral trade negotiations early next century, particularly given the built-in agenda for reviews of the agriculture, services and TRIPs agreements by 2000. In that case the non-trivial task of building a consensus among WTO members to launch that round needs to begin immediately. The paper concludes with a discussion of what it will take to build that needed consensus, and of the prospects for success.

JEL Classification: F13

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Kym, The Future of the WTO (February 1998). CIES Policy Discussion Paper 98/01, Available at SSRN: or

Kym Anderson (Contact Author)

University of Adelaide - Centre for International Economic Studies (CIES) ( email )

School of Economics
Adelaide SA 5005
+61 8 8313 4712 (Phone)
+61 8 8223 1460 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Australian National University ( email )

Arndt-Corden Dept of Economics
Coombs Building
Canberra, AK ACT 2600
+61 8 8313 4712 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics