The WTO and the global economy: Contemporary challenges and possible responses

The high economic growth rates that have been achieved by many countries in Asia have led to a contemporary world economy that is multipolar. This has had repercussions for the WTO, as well as for other multilateral organisations. The deadlock in the WTO’s Doha Round has led the United States and the European Union increasingly to turn their attention towards the negotiation of preferential trade agreements, including so-called ‘mega-regional’ partnerships. This chapter discusses some of the implications for – and possible responses by – the economies that have the greatest stake in a well-functioning multilateral trading system. These economies may find themselves caught in the midst of disagreements between the major trading nations, with few prospects of participating in the mega-regionals. The chapter argues that these economies – including those that have acceded to the WTO since its creation – need to take a more proactive leadership role in the WTO to enhance the transparency of what is done in the ‘megaregionals’ and to facilitate the pursuit of rule-making initiatives in the WTO on a plurilateral basis.

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