Future of the WTO- Institutional Reform, Development and Reciprocity (Gregory Shaffer)
Thank you Anu for your stimulating post, and thank you Richard and Daniel for continuing to keep us honest. Anu's last post moves us to think of the importance of revised institutional design. We as commentators have been pretty pessimistic. But the world is of action. Things change. Opportunities open. Here are a few points to supplement Anu's post.
First, other fora-- and notably the OECD and UNCTAD (reflecting a developed country/developing country divide)-- have long engaged in complementary work to WTO negotiations and oversight. The larger developing countries now need to be integrated as part of a club of larger economies, as suggested by Anu. Institutional change may come slow (or in spurts) because of path dependencies and entrenched interests, but it is needed. Whatever change comes, such institution can, and must, complement what happens in the WTO.
Second, this being said, the BRICS will likely retain close ties with other developing countries because such coordination should enhance their leverage vis-a-vis the US and Europe. We are thus likely to continue to see them work in parallel through a group such as the G-20.
Third, we have not focused at all on development in this exchange even though the Round is called the Doha Development Round. This likely reflects the exchange's focus on power and its diffusion. Many in the US and Europe disparage the concept of a Development Round because it distracts attention away from the fact that a successful WTO negotiation depends on reciprocal bargaining. Yet there is no reason why development cannot remain an animating concept while reciprocity remains central to bargaining. It means that developing countries will need to engage in the give and take of bargaining, while the WTO and other complementary institutions need to ensure (and the US and Europe needs to accept and help come up with mechanisms in order) that they retain policy space and support for development strategies.