While countries rush to enact more and more free-trade agreements, not enough is known about their impact. This column presents evidence suggesting that free-trade agreements are more discriminatory than their preferential tariffs suggest. It finds a stark increase in contingent protection as free-trade agreements cause a 10%-30% increase in the number of antidumping disputes against non-member countries.
Thomas Prusa, Robert Teh, 15 September 2010
Dany Jaimovich, Richard Baldwin, 02 September 2010
As WTO trade talks languish, what’s driving the surge in regional trade agreements? This column says that regionalism is being driven in large part by the domino effect, in which nations excluded from a trade agreement launch their own negotiations to redress trade diversion. This dynamic is more of a challenge to the WTO than a threat at the moment, but it should not be neglected.
Michele Ruta, 04 August 2010
Trade in natural resources accounts for a growing share of world trade and a growing share of policymakers’ attention. Given the economic, environmental, and political implications of natural resources, this column asks how to design rules that can promote mutual gains from resources trade. It provides recommendations for export policy, conservation policy, and domestic policy.
Robert Lawrence, Gary Hufbauer, 06 July 2010
Originally scheduled to end in 2005, Doha negotiations have dragged into their ninth year. This column argues that, while many observers assign blame to the complexity of 153 members reaching a consensus, the heart of the matter is far simpler. It says that if the US and China come up with new offers, the momentum for a speedy agreement will be unstoppable.
Bernard Hoekman, 19 June 2010
A key objective of the WTO Doha Round was to address the concerns of developing countries. This column argues that, despite the lack of progress on the core market access agenda, much has been achieved in terms of market access and trade facilitation since 2001.
Philip Levy, 19 June 2010
The persistent failure to reach a new agreement under the WTO has sent trade scholars back to the drawing board. This column discusses two prominent ideas for restructuring the talks to get past the prolonged impasse. One is to permit agreements between some, but not all, members; the other to relax the requirement of consensus.
Geza Feketekuty, 19 June 2010
What is holding back the Doha Round? This column argues that while there are many reasons for the difficulties the WTO has faced, the shortcomings of the mercantilist model in framing mutually acceptable multilateral agreements is undoubtedly a major factor. The WTO needs a new kind of forum where countries can think through the issues before the give and take.
Chad Bown, 19 June 2010
The international community responded to the global crisis with a promise not to raise protectionist measures, and there has been little trade friction in terms of WTO disputes. This column assesses the dispute settlement system's capacity to bear a larger caseload and suggests that an increase in WTO litigation could be good news for the rules-based trading system – even in the absence of progress on the Doha round.
Richard Baldwin, 05 June 2010
The WTO is said to be in a funk – unable to conclude the Doha Round even as its members liberalise unilaterally and regionally. CEPR's newest Policy Insight argues that tactics used to get consensus at the last Round pushed the organisation into decision-making’s “impossible trinity” (consensus, uniform rules, and strict enforcement). A Doha package with something for everyone may be found, thus defeating the impossible triangle. The big-package tactic, however, won’t help the WTO confront 21st century challenges in a timely manner; for that, at least one of the triangle’s corners must be modified.
Richard Baldwin, 07 June 2010
The WTO is in a funk – unable to conclude the Doha Round even as its members liberalise unilaterally and regionally. This column introduces a Policy Insight arguing that the tactics used to conclude the last round pushed the organisation into decision-making’s “impossible trinity” (consensus, uniform rules, and strict enforcement). The Doha Round may succeed – defeating the triangle with the 'big package' tactic – but this tactic does not work fast enough to allow the WTO to confront 21st century challenges in a timely manner. At least one of the impossible triangle’s corners will have to be modified.
Michael Waibel, 16 April 2010
What legal basis is there for retaliating against China’s exchange-rate policy? This column says that IMF rules are likely inadequate to rule against China, while its policy does not constitute a WTO-punishable export subsidy. It argues that exchange-rate conflicts should be handled by a proposed IMF dispute settlement mechanism, not the WTO.
Joel Trachtman, 30 April 2010
Does the US have a legal case against China’s exchange-rate regime? This column, which first appeared in Vox's latest eBook, argues that any claim against China at the WTO would face substantial hurdles, and would be unlikely to add pressure on China any time soon. If a claim does go ahead, it is more likely than not to fail.
Dukgeun Ahn, 16 April 2010
How might the US take action through the WTO over China’s alleged currency manipulation? This column analyses three potential legal issues: legality of exchange-rate policy under the GATT rules, legality under the subsidy rules, and the feasibility of non-violation complaints. It concludes that any WTO resolution will be difficult to achieve because the organisation is not designed to deal with alleged exchange-rate manipulation.
Susan Ariel Aaronson, 09 February 2010
Is the WTO doomed? This column argues that the WTO’s credibility is waning and that to get it back it needs to reign in China’s erratic governance. China’s failure to enforce trade laws threatens the concept of mutual benefit that underpins the WTO. China is broken, and a broken China could break the WTO.
Robert Baldwin, 15 December 2009
It is clear from the recent WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva that a successful conclusion to the Doha Round is a long way off. But long stoppages have been commonplace in earlier liberalisation efforts. This column outlines some of these delays in an effort to better understand the current standstill.
Léonce Ndikumana, Tonia Kandiero, 27 November 2009
The trade collapse hit Africa hard, particularly its exporters of natural resources and manufactured goods. As commodity prices have started to recover, so has African trade. This chapter recommends concluding the Doha round of WTO negotiations and investing in Aid for Trade initiatives to make the revival sustainable and support developing economies’ long-term interests.
Patrick Low, 20 November 2009
Patrick Low, chief economist at the World Trade Organization (WTO), talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the case for ‘critical mass’ decision-making as an element of the WTO’s overall decision rules in the future, once the Doha Round has been completed. The interview was recorded in Geneva at the inaugural Thinking Ahead on International Trade conference in September 2009.
The fourth Summer Programme on the WTO, International Trade and Development will take place from June 28 to July 9, 2010 in Geneva. It will provide participants with a unique opportunity to enter into the analysis and atmosphere of multilateral trade. The programme, delivered with the Graduate Institute Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, combines economic, legal and political analysis of international trade and development.
Lectures and discussions will shed light on the following questions: the reasons why countries open their economies to trade and the reasons why they protect domestic industries, the means and pathways they use to either open or protect, what these considerations mean for the multilateral trading system and their implications for economic development.
- Professionals keen to improve their knowledge on current major issues in international trade
- Students at MA level
Deadline for Applications
April 1, 2010
Simon Evenett, 24 September 2009
Simon Evenett of the University of St Gallen talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about ‘Broken Promises’, the latest report from Global Trade Alert, which collates information on state measures taken since last November that discriminate against foreign commercial interests, and reveals how the G20 countries have broken their 'no protectionism' pledge. The interview was recorded in Geneva at the inaugural Thinking Ahead on International Trade conference in September 2009.
Gary Hufbauer, Sherry Stephenson, 11 May 2009
The crisis has delivered a particularly strong blow to export revenues of small developing countries. These nations have limited room for deploying anti-cyclical packages and, as a group, do not account for a significant amount of total world trade. They should thus be temporarily awarded policy space to adopt trade measures to counter the impact of the current economic crisis.