The World Trade Organization: A Very Short Introduction
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The World Trade Organization (WTO) is scarcely ten years old, but it has already generated a mountain of debate, controversy, and outrage. Rulings on beef hormones and tuna-dolphin cases provide explicit examples of how the organization regulates into areas of individual consumer choice, ethical preferences, and cultural habits. The deep and far-ranging impact of the WTO on peoples' everyday lives means that it is not just an institution of interest to economists, but to everyone, a fact that was perhaps most graphically illustrated by the demonstrations that have become a regular feature associated with high-level meetings of the WTO. This book provides a carefully considered explanation of what the WTO is, what it does, and how it goes about executing its tasks, and gives a clear understanding of the mandate, structure, and functioning of the WTO that is essential to appreciating the controversy behind the organization.
abstruse content notwithstanding, rule-making in the WTO is fundamentally a political process. The choice of what gets included in the agreements and what gets excluded is inﬂuenced critically by the interests of the powerful. The impact of these agreements has also often proven to be asymmetric, with many of the promised beneﬁts for developing countries remaining unrealized. 59 World Trade Organization The structure of the agreements The agreements of the WTO are a product of the
limited schedules of developing countries have naturally provoked the ire of countries, practitioners, and theoreticians. The continued trade restrictions of developing countries appear especially offensive to some, given that average applied tariff rates on industrial products have fallen below 3% in developed countries. Some liberal economists have been quick to argue that developing countries must engage in some real liberalization now before demanding any further concessions from the
governments that require foreign investors to meet certain performance standards in order to boost their domestic economies in a particular way. Examples include local content requirements (whereby investors must use a certain minimum of domestically produced inputs), export requirements (multinational enterprises must export a certain proportion of their produce to improve the balance of payments position of the country), or technology transfer requirements. Developing countries had actively
development aid packages were important for the weakest members of the group. 103 The Doha Development Agenda The Like-Minded Group of developing countries The Egyptians were offered an aid package, while Pakistan was offered both a US aid package and increased EC textile quotas. World Trade Organization Simultaneously, various sticks were brandished. Developing countries were told that the ACP waiver and the TRIPs and public health declaration would be withdrawn. Smaller countries were
the GATT While the previous section has argued strongly in favour of a multilateral trade organization, this does not amount to a defence of the World Trade Organization. An international organization can take a variety of shapes, and may be guided by a spectrum of rules 9 Who needs an international trade organization? Belonging to the developing world is at least as much a product of self-designation by the countries concerned and recognition by other members of the group, as it is of any