Integrity Score 640
No Records Found
No Records Found
Very good 👍
After decades of conflict that has neutered its work, the World Trade Organization looks to be back in business.
Its highest decision-making body – a conference of ministers from the organisation’s 164 member nations – has just met for the first time since 2017.
None of what the ministerial conference (dubbed MC12 due to being the 12th such meeting) agreed on was particularly groundbreaking. But the fact there was agreement at all – on areas such as agriculture, fishing, intellectual property, e-commerce and food insecurity – was itself a milestone.
The question is what happens now, with considerable challenges ahead for the WTO and its role in promoting and protecting a global rules-based trading system.
The WTO’s job is to be the forum for multilateral rule-making, to observe the implementation of these trade rules, and to settle disputes among members.
In most situations, decisions must be made by consensus. This means a single detractor can scuttle initiatives supported by the rest of the WTO’s membership.
This has proved particularly problematic for the WTO’s rule-making function, which has largely been comatose for two decades, since negotiations on reducing trade barriers ground to a standstill at the ill-fated Doha Round launched in 2001.
Particularly damaging to the WTO has been the hostility of the US. Past administrations, especially the Trump administration, stymied the WTO’s dispute-settlement function by blocking the appointment and reappointment of judges to its appeal court (known as the Appellate Body). By 2019, there were not enough judges to hear appeals, leaving disputes in limbo.
The WTO has also been criticised for having few to no answers to the world’s most pressing issues: how to craft modern trade rules that support climate action and sustainability.
The rise of economic nationalism and unilateralism has increased trade friction making the WTO look increasingly irrelevant.
Read more: https://theconversation.com/world-trade-organization-steps-back-from-the-brink-of-irrelevance-but-its-not-fixed-yet-185373