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.
Gaëlle Balineau, Jaime de Melo, 05 May 2013
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.
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.
Michele Ruta, Anthony Venables, 21 April 2012
Around one fifth of global merchandise trade is in natural resources. Yet national policies manipulate trade flows and prices, and the problem is exacerbated by market failure in long-run extraction contracts. This column argues these problems could be addressed by extending the role of the WTO in the enforcement of resource-extraction agreements.
Simon Evenett, Frédéric Jenny, 15 February 2012
After several decades of quiescence, global commodity prices almost doubled in 2008 and, after a brief fall, rose again in 2011. The papers in this new CEPR eReport aim to identify and assess the importance of the factors responsible for the recent increases in the levels and volatility of commodity prices.
Vera Thorstensen, Lucas Ferraz, Emerson Marçal, 04 December 2011
Persistent exchange-rate misalignments have created trade frictions worldwide. This column argues that the WTO should adopt trade rules that allow nations to neutralise the effects of exchange-rate misalignments. Otherwise, the WTO might become a diplomatic-juridical fiction.
Bernard O’Connor, 27 November 2011
Is China a market economy? This legal question matters as antidumping and anti-subsidies laws apply differently to market economies. This column deconstructs the myth that China will automatically get market-economy status at the WTO in 2016 and argues that if China wants the EU to recognise it as a market economy it should comply with the explicit criteria in EU law.
Lionel Fontagné, 25 November 2011
The Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations has passed its ten-year anniversary unspectacularly and the question is now how to salvage a decade of frustrating progress. Yet even with a new ‘Ministerial’ of the World Trade Organisation being held in mid-December, this column argues that an interim agreement for poor countries and trade is sadly out of reach.
John Weekes, 23 November 2011
Next month the World Trade Organisation holds its eighth ministerial conference. This column by a veteran of trade negotiations sets the scene – documenting the WTO’s achievements and the challenges ahead.