WTO Updates — Cotton Case, Bali, China — Challenges Ahead.

China and WTO


There are major challenges ahead for the WTO. Here’s some recent developments:
….. Settlement of the U.S. – Brazil cotton case in the WTO is a novel approach, providing for ‘compensation’ and final settlement of dispute, but still allowing newer U.S. cotton subsidies in the future (but after 5 years they may be attacked).  “Washington Post Editorial — Cotton Case Settlement.Washington Post (Oct. 8, 2014).
….. Good review of WTO status today by Director-General of the WTO. Five points: (i) the dispute resolution system is performing at a very high level; (ii) failure to negotiate new trade rules is the greatest challenge that the WTO faces; (iii) immediate challenge is to implement the 10 decisions of the Bali Agreement of 2013; (iv) growth of regional trade agreements (253 RTAs have been notified to the WTO)  are no substitute for global multilateral rules for world trade in the global system; (v) global companies operating in global markets demand global rules. “WTO’s Impasse.” WTO News (Oct. 9, 2014). 
….. Concerning China Gen. Wesley Clark argues: (i) China is a fundamental challenge to the global architecture of trade, law and peaceful resolution of disputes; (ii) ‘Naked self-interest’ is an organizing principle of Chinese policy; (iii) Yet, we can still help China assume its place as a global leader. My assessment is a bit different and more positive: (i) China is actively engaging in the global system today and is resolving trade disputes under the rules of the WTO; (ii) All states aim to effectuate their national interests; (iii) The U.S. is working with China to address newer issues as they arise. “Get Real About China.New York Times (Oct. 12, 2014).
…. For 13 years WTO has failed to conclude new multilateral rules. Perhaps the ‘plurilateral’ way should be tried. This is not what was envisaged 20 years ago but it’s better than no deals. This would move away from ‘unanimity’ in making multilateral agreements to a smaller-subset of willing states in formulating plurilateral agreements such as the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).Rethink the Way WTO Takes Decisions.Financial Times (Editorial 10.14.14)


About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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