The Sutherland Report: A Missed Opportunity for Genuine Debate on Trade, Globalization and Reforming the WTO
18 Pages Posted: 29 Feb 2008 Last revised: 25 Oct 2012
Date Written: June 1, 2005
In January 2005, at the 10th anniversary of the organization, the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued the long-awaited high-level panel report on The Future of the WTO. This essay explains why the so-called Sutherland Report, named after one of its authors, is likely to be regarded by history as a missed opportunity. The report was written by insiders, focuses on insider problems and offers what are essentially insider-based solutions. The essay addresses two specific foundational problems skirted in the Sutherland report: (i) the WTO's protectionist/producer bias and (ii) the question of coordination and coherence with other international organizations. It also offers an alternative diagnosis of the world trade system and suggests a novel paradigm to assess WTO reform proposals. Finally, some of the proposals in the Sutherland report are examined in light of this novel paradigm.
Keywords: WTO reform, globalization, protectionism, coherence in international law
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