The Future of the WTO
Globalisation and Trade Policy: From GATT-1947 to WTO-2000, V.D. Norman and A. Melchoir (eds.)
Posted: 28 May 1998
NOTE: The following is a description of the paper and not the actual abstract.
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: Suggested Citation