Daniel W. Drezner

How the WTO can become relevant again

Anu Bradford is hosting a blog roundtable at the University of Chicago’s Law School faculty blog about the future of the World Trade Organization.  So far, the consensus is not encouraging for fans of an open global economy: Anu Bradford:  "Trade protectionism is on the rise but the institutional foundations of international trade deals have ...

Anu Bradford is hosting a blog roundtable at the University of Chicago’s Law School faculty blog about the future of the World Trade Organization

So far, the consensus is not encouraging for fans of an open global economy:

Anu Bradford:  "Trade protectionism is on the rise but the institutional foundations of international trade deals have been shaky for several years."

Daniel Abebe:  "we should see great power competition to be increasingly focused on trade issues and, given the tentative claims here, we should see increasing gridlock in the WTO."

Greg Shaffer:  "As for the Doha Round, it looks pallid in light of the staggering financial crisis that confronts us."

Richard Steinberg:  "As a location for trade negotiation, the WTO is dead." 

Well, that is all cheery news! 

In fairness, both Shaffer and Steinberg point out that the WTO is not irrelevant, because its Dispute Settlement Understanding remains the gold standard of enforcement in economic cooperation.  That said, this is still pretty bleak.  What can the WTO do? 

Read the rest of their posts to see some of their suggestions.  Here’s my modest proposal — the WTO needs to start an ilicit nuclear weapons program

Think about the benefits:

  1. If you thought enforcement was good now, imagine what it would look like backed up by a nuclear deterrent.  The Appellate body would become a seriously bad-ass judicial authority.
  2. Trade negotiations would move from page B23 of the business section to page A1.  This would create domestic political pressures for successful negotiations. 
  3. The Obama administration would immediately dispatch a high-level envoy to negotiate with the WTO.
  4. Russia and China would reflexively support the WTO on various policy positions in the U.N. Security Council.
  5. The WTO could likely extract a better set of lunch options for its Geneva-based personnel.  Having just been there, let’s describe the current menu of choice as "underwhelming."

A nuclear-armed WTO — good for trade and good for nonproliferation. 

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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