Thank you for your engagement over this past week Richard, Greg and Daniel. Your critical insights provoked many great discussions in this blogsphere and beyond.
While the tone of the discussion was often pessimistic about the prospect of concluding major multilateral trade rounds, we seemed to agree that the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism continues to constrain the most egregious forms of protectionism that the current economic and political climate breeds. Similarly, none of us suggested that we have come to the end of trade liberalization. Rather, the consensus seemed to be that any new liberalization commitments -- at least in the foreseeable future -- will be undertaken in regional and bilateral settings. The current financial crisis is unlikely to be particular conducive to even such more circumscribed trade deals, but it is in those more limited settings where we expect states to continue to strike Pareto-improving deals with their key trade partners.
Our discussion covered a range of ideas on how we might revive the WTO as a forum for multilateral negotiations: Domestic politics, liberal ideas, institutional design, judiciary-induced liberalization, linkages across regimes, gradualism, PTAs as building blocks of (eventual) multilateralism and, finally, reciprocity and development in bargaining. Yet the diffusion of power and divergent preferences among the key economic powers tended to weigh heavily on the most optimistic arguments. Exposing both the agreement and disagreement among us, I trust that the conversation left all of us with a more nuanced appreciation of the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Thank you again for a spirited exchange!
[Ed. note: or your convenience, all of the posts in this conversation are listed here in chronological order]
- 2/23: Future of the WTO (Anu Bradford)
- 2/23: Future of WTO (Daniel Abebe)
- 2/23: Future of the WTO-Relevance (Gregory Shaffer)
- 2/23: Future of the WTO (Richard Steinberg)
- 2/24: Future of the WTO: End of multilateralism?
- 2/24: Future of the WTO- Liberal Ideas and Domestic Politics (Gregory Shaffer)
- 2/25: Future of the WTO: Noise versus Trend (Richard Steinberg)
- 2/25: Future of the WTO: Judiciary taking the lead?
- 2/25: Future of the WTO: "Death" of the WTO and Hegemonic Stability Theory
- 2/26: Future of the WTO-- Power Diffusion and Regionalism/Bilateralism (Richard Steinberg)
- 2/26: Future of the WTO-PD Games and Deadlock, Financial Crisis, Regional Blocks (Gregory Shaffer)
- 2/26: Future of the WTO: Governing the world economy beyond trade
- 2/27: Future of the WTO: Limited Options
- 2/27: Future of the WTO: Regionalism, Multilateralism, and Global Governance (Richard Steinberg)
- 2/27: Future of the WTO- Institutional Reform, Development and Reciprocity (Gregory Shaffer)