The recurring theme is the restriction of domestic policy space by world trade rules. While many of the critiques are ideological and not necessarily based on facts, we have come a long way from Seattle and the WTO as an institution does not evoke such strong reactions now. Developing countries are participating more actively in the multilateral system both in the negotiating arena as well as the dispute settlement process.China has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the multilateral system since it entered the WTO in 2001. India has actively participated in the dispute settlement process to protect its national interest. However, the concerns of the challenge to democratic space by international trade regulations persist and are manifested n varying forms especially when a decision is delivered against a national measure or interests of developing countries are impacted by the rules. Can we find the balance between globalization, trade rules and democratic, domestic will? While some of that balance can be achieved by creative interpretation of the existing Agreements itself, a more sustained engagement with the multilateral system to harmonize development goals with trade rules must be attempted.
While we are not seeing "Seattle-like" protests in present Ministerials (maybe because it was in Doha?), the issues raised and concerns expressed nevertheless need to be constantly addressed.