Joshua Meltzer's detailed piece on the future of trade talks and the WTO is a brilliant exposition of issues involved and the possible way forward.
Titled "The Future of Trade", this Foreign Policy piece highlights the criticality of concluding the Doha round, the increasing threat of Free Trade Agreements undermining the multilateral system, the pressures on an already overburdened dispute settlement mechanism, role of developing countries like China and India in the global governance agenda as well as the challenges the WTO will face in the coming years.
"Since its establishment, the WTO has delivered significant global economic benefits through the liberalization of world trade. As a key institution for global economic governance, the WTO has also stabilized the rules on trade and provided an effective dispute settlement mechanism to manage trade conflicts. This has given businesses the confidence to engage in the type of global trading strategies that have allowed a company like Apple to have iPod components manufactured and assembled in different countries and then shipped back to the United States, generating greater profits for Apple and ultimately providing a cheaper product to consumers.
Despite its indisputable benefits, the WTO currently faces a range of serious challenges. The most obvious challenge to the WTO is that it is losing its role as the primary vehicle for liberalizing trade. This has been driven by the difficulty in concluding the Doha round and the proliferation of free trade agreements. In fact, for some countries, FTAs will deliver deeper and broader trade liberalization than would be possible, at least at the moment, within the WTO. As outlined, the proliferation of FTAs is a fact, and the Doha round has effectively stalled."An interesting read.