The Asian Perspective
ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation
Edited by Richard Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja
The 1995 creation of the World Trade Organization – as an institutional extension of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – held out the promise of an effective, rules-based world trading system where all countries were treated alike. In addition to establishing a global judiciary for trade disputes, the WTO was expected to provide a forum for trade negotiations and undertake other related functions. Progress on the judiciary side has been brilliant, but the negotiation promise is largely unfulfilled (Hoekman and Kostewei 2010). The world trading system is in a state of flux characterized by new developments and uncertainties about global trade governance under the WTO. Fundamental changes are occurring because of the rise of emerging economies (such as Brazil, Russian Federation, India, People’s Republic of China, and South Africa – the BRICS), the expansion of international production networks and supply chains, signs of new commercial and industrial policies, and the proliferation of free trade agreements globally. These developments are all here to stay but the WTO has not kept up with them. Furthermore, the WTO Doha Round has been going on for more than a decade. Despite being the longest multilateral trade talks in history, it shows little sign of concluding comprehensively anytime soon. The WTO’s centricity in global trade governance is eroding and risks continuing to erode.