The World Trade Organization

Topic: LawPolitics
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Last updated: March 27, 2019

With the increasing activities in global trade, the need for an international body that would oversee the implementation of liberal trading policies would become a necessity especially with the concerns stepping beyond the issues of tariffs.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) which is a by product of a series of international trade negotiations as based on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), had further evolved by integrating liberal trading principles that look after the welfare of the trading nations.  What makes this complicated is that trade in itself is competition; as Hoekman and Koestecki (1995) mention, it has been inescapable that world trading becomes political since nations remain to intervene international trade.With the backdrop of free trade and multilateral trading rules as the major driving forces, the WTO has established the following principles (‘Principles of the Trading System’, n.d.): 1) the most-favored-nation principle which also means trading without discrimination; 2) national treatment, in which both local and foreign products are treated equally; 3) freer trade by means of lowering trade barriers which can be achieved through negotiations; 4) predictability and transparency of international trade as based on trading activities being bound to the policies of WTO; 5) promotion of fair competition by establishing fair conditions of trade; 6) encouraging development and economic reform platform by establishing channels of flexibility for developing nations to adjust to the requirements of the organization.

  From these, the WTO apparently has established a framework of trading policies for its member nations.  The WTO has therefore established a significant role in the overall global governance; it is also apparent that the WTO is the prevailing force that further encourages globalization.Although it seems that the WTO is critical to the realities of globalization, the organization is not without its opposition.  Apparently, the problem lies in certain points of WTO’s policies, which, upon closer inspection, may indicate that a double standard is evident.  An example cited by Jones (2004) is that the protests in Seattle in 1999 during a round of WTO trade negotiation were founded on numerous aspects in which the WTO, despite its principles of non-discrimination and encouragement of development, left the less-developed countries behind.

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  Hence, further development and policies of the WTO, despite the boost for less developed economies, favor more the welfare of the developed and wealthy nations.  Another issue was the continuous push of the WTO for expanded trading may have its affects on the environment (Rao, 2000).Although it can be argued that an increase in trading does not directly result to harming the environment, the eventual consequences of the need to compete globally would lead certain economies to resort to harmful actions just for the purpose of keeping up with the competition.  In addition, politics play a significant role for WTO accession; a number of countries were denied membership for political reasons such as Iraq, Iran, and Libya (Michalopoulos, 2001).  Such political reasons can then be directed at the influences of certain nations which may have problems with these countries, particularly the United States and other western countries.  In addition, although the WTO principles mentioned that it disallowed protectionism in certain cases, the problem here is that protectionism benefits the developed nations should the entry of foreign goods pose threats to the local economy.  Hence, the double standard can be seen as long as the trading policies and exemption work for the developed economies thereby limiting the development of others.

ReferencesHoekman, B. & Kostecki, M.  1995.  The Political Economy of the World TradingSystem: From GATT to WTO.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.Jones, K.

  2004.  Who’s Afraid of the WTO?  Oxford University Press, New York.Michalpoulos, C.  2001.  Developing Countries in the WTO.

  Palgrave, New York. Book ‘Principles of the Trading System’. N.d.  World Trade Organization.  [Online] Availableat:

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