Beata Javorcik, Gaia Narciso, 05 September 2013

WTO membership does not come cheap in a political sense. So what is the point? This column addresses the idea that institutional reforms in the joining nations are an important element of the gains. It focuses on one reform – changes in customs procedures that limit discretion. This shuts down one channel for tariff evasion, but the column shows that greater evasion occurs through alternative channels.

Michitaka Nakatomi, 15 August 2013

As the Doha Round continues to stagnate, mega FTAs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will likely play the leading role in trade rulemaking for some time to come, creating a 'spaghetti bowl' of trade rules. This column argues that we should multilateralise the results of mega FTAs on an issue-by-issue basis, starting with an International Supply Chain Agreement.

Pascal Lamy, 29 July 2013

After heading the WTO for eight years, Pascal Lamy offers his farewell remarks. This column reproduces them in full. Despite global turmoil including the Great Trade Collapse and an historic shift of economic power towards emerging markets, the WTO is larger and stronger. Regional trade arrangements can contribute trade opening but they are not sufficient. There is no escape from achieving positive results in the Doha Round, but this requires adjusting the agenda to today's realities by adding new elements.

Gary Hufbauer, Jeffrey Schott , Cathleen Cimino, 07 July 2013

In the wake of the Great Recession, world trade has faltered. Responsible officials turned a blind eye to fresh liberalisation and condoned a quiet resurgence of protectionist measures. This column argues that the global economy needs strong medicine to rebound, and that successful WTO trade talks are part of the elixir.

Richard Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai, Ganeshan Wignaraja, 12 June 2013

The WTO risks losing its centricity in the world trading system due to its focus on 20th century trade issues and lack of progress in the Doha Round. This column introduces a new eBook that looks at how Asia meanwhile built a deep network of supply chains and is experimenting with new forms of regional trade governance. Asia’s experience of open trade-led development offers lessons for other regions. Better coherence is also vital between Asia’s regional trade rules and global trade governance.

Peter Egger, Georg Wamser, 07 June 2013

Free trade agreements are often signed in conjunction with other bilateral economic agreements such as investment agreements, double taxation treaties, or even currency agreements. This column argues that this trend reflects the greater complexity of 21st century economic integration – especially the intertwining of FDI and trade in goods and services. Economists should analyse the effects of all such agreement conjointly. Failing to do so may result in attributing trade booms to the wrong policies.

Gaëlle Balineau, Jaime de Melo, 05 May 2013

The first order of business for the next Director-General of the WTO will be to help broker a deal at the Ministerial Meeting in Bali next December. Following the announcement of reductions in tariffs on environmental goods announced by APEC members last September, there is some hope that a deal might be in hand for a reduction in trade barriers on environmental goods and services. This column reviews the stalemate so far and argues that with little to put on the table, progress at the multilateral level is unlikely.

Bernard Hoekman, Petros Mavroidis, 03 April 2013

The WTO is looking for a new Director-General. The process, which is remarkably open and public, has nine candidates. This column introduces a new VoxEU eBook in which seven of the candidates lay out their views on the challenges confronting the WTO and how to address them. Taken together, they provide a uniquely comprehensive view of the world’s trade governance problems. It will be an important reference long after the selection process ends.

Chad Bown, Meredith Crowley, 08 February 2013

For most of the postwar period, rich nations had much lower average tariffs than developing nations, but they frequently applied variable protection – dumping duties etc. – in reaction to business cycles and exchange-rate movements. Massive, unilateral tariff-cutting by developing nations since the 1990s evened out the averages. This column presents new evidence that emerging economies are now tying variable protection more closely to business cycles and exchange rates – just like the high-income economies.

Simon Lester, 20 January 2013

Trade agreements have become ‘deeper’ over recent years, and there are initiatives in the pipeline to globalise deeper trade governance through mega-regional agreements (such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership). This column argues that trade agreements in general – and the WTO in particular – should focus on what they do best, reducing protectionist barriers. Broader issues such as intellectual property and regulatory expropriation should be left to governments to deal with on their own. Governments that handle these issues most effectively will be the winners in the new world of supply-chain trade.

Fabrice Defever, Alejandro Riaño, 04 January 2013

The West perennially complains about China subsidising industry geared towards its domestic market. But what will happen when China enacts its latest Five Year Plan’s emphasis on domestic growth? This column argues that ending ‘pure-exporter subsidies’ – subsidies that boost Chinese exports while simultaneously protecting the least efficient, domestically oriented firms – will benefit Chinese consumers, but will cost the rest of the world.

Richard Baldwin, 22 December 2012

CEPR Policy Insight No 64 argues that adapting world trade governance to the realities of supply-chain trade will require a new organisation – a WTO 2.0 as it were.

Juan Marchetti, Michele Ruta, Robert Teh, 02 January 2013

Globally, large current account imbalances prevail. This column argues that they also continue to represent a systemic risk for the world economy. The WTO has a clear-cut role in the institutional effort to address these imbalances. However, this role has more to do with opening services and government procurement markets than with the often invoked trade sanctions in response to exchange rate misalignments.

Richard Baldwin, 22 December 2012

The world of international commerce has changed radically over the past years due to the rise of supply-chain trade. This column argues that the WTO has not kept up with the need for new rules governing the intertwining of trade, investment, intellectual property, and service. Bring these rules to the multilateral level will require the establishment of a new international organisation – a ‘WTO 2.0’.

Kati Suominen, 20 December 2012

Free trade agreements are now the centre of gravity in global commerce. This column says they are also the likeliest pathway to multilateral trade liberalisation. With the US negotiating two mega deals – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a US-EU free-trade agreement – China and other emerging economies will have no choice but to play by common rules of the game. It concludes that with all heavyweights joining the charmed circle, multilateral talks in Geneva will no longer be needed.

J. Bradford Jensen, 19 November 2012

Should developed countries fear trade in services? Won’t high skilled jobs be lost to cheaper, developing country service workers? This column argues that trade in services represents a profitable opportunity as long as international trade in services is liberalised. The US and other developed countries should aggressively pursue fairer and thus more favourable terms under the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement.

Marc Bacchetta, Cosimo Beverelli, 31 July 2012

The WTO and its predecessor the GATT have been remarkably successful in negotiating down tariffs over the past six decades. But trade is still a long way from free and since the global crisis, it is becoming even less so. This column reviews the facts, economics, and motives behind these new non-tariff barriers and discusses the challenges they pose for the WTO.

Simon Evenett, 20 July 2012

Simon Evenett of the University of St Gallen talks to Viv Davies about the recent increase of protectionist measures in the world trading system. They also discuss the implications of the rise in regional trade agreements, the potential effects of Russia joining the WTO and the impact of slow growth in Europe on the region’s trade with the rest of the world. Evenett maintains that defenders of the world trading system should do more to prevent the current subordination of trade policy. The interview was recorded by telephone on 17 July 2012.

Simon Evenett, 14 June 2012

In recent weeks official bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and the European Commission as well as leading private sector associations – the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the so-called B20 group of business leaders – have made strong statements concerning rising protectionism in the run up to the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. On the basis of most extensive update to the Global Trade Alert (GTA) database, that was conducted in preparation for this, the eleventh GTA report, they were right to do so.

Christoph Moser, Andrew Rose, 08 June 2012

Why do trade negotiations take so long? The WTO’s Doha Round is into its 11th year and still far from completed. This column uses data on regional trade agreements to identify the determinants of how long it takes to conclude regional trade agreements. The findings are not good news for the chances of the Doha Round ending any time soon.

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