This tralac newsletter provides an opportunity to reflect on the current state of multilateral trade governance.
There is now broad acceptance that the multilateral trading system is in crisis. Renewal and recalibration of this system have become urgent. Developments in the global economy have outstripped the system that was created in the late 1980s/early 1990s, leaving governance gaps especially in what economists used to call the ‘new generation trade issues’ such as investment and competition policy. Technology developments of the past few decades have changed not only how trade is conducted, but the very nature of the global economy, resulting in deeper global integration and interdependence.
Geo-political shifts are notably underpinned by fundamental economic developments and reorganisation of the global economy. In this context, the economic rise of China and the associated global consequences must be considered. In short, the crisis in the multilateral trading system, runs deep. It has to reckon with the fact that trade itself is increasingly contentious, and that trade policy is now a seriously contested policy area.
It’s again an exciting and challenging time to be working on trade – and we have a series of Blogs covering many complex issues concerning multilateral trade governance.
Although this newsletter does not provide a complete discourse of the current state of the multilateral trading system, what ails it and what needs to be done to renew and reform it, our aim is to encourage open debate. Our aim is that this debate should include developing countries and especially voices from Africa.
Our September newsletter focused on dispute settlement. The parlous state of the dispute settlement in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), that used to be regarded as the centre piece of the multilateral trading system, is not only a reflection of concerns about operational issues such as the appointment of members of the Appellate Body, but also about fundamental differences regarding the role of dispute settlement in the multilateral trading system. We refer you back to the September newsletter for that discussion.
We are particularly pleased to have contributions to our October newsletter from the World Trade Organisation’s Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff and the Director of the Agriculture and Commodities Division, Edwini Kessie.
Trade is definitely back on the governance and development agenda. Leadership, innovative policy analysis and active debates are essential to shape a 21st century trade policy and governance agenda. This is urgently required to support economic decisions that will aggregate to deliver inclusive development outcomes.
We look forward to your feedback.
The tralac team