The Asian Perspective
ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation
Edited by Richard Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja
Chapter 11: The future of the World Trade Organization
The multilateral trading system, long considered to be the first best option for liberalizing global trade, faces the most serious challenge in its six and a half decades of existence. The inability of the WTO to deliver its promise to deepen and widen trade liberalization, an exercise this forum had initiated nearly 12 years ago, has raised questions about its continued relevance. Yet, the reality remains that the WTO is the only organization that can take a comprehensive view of the increasing complexities of the evolving economic engagements between countries. The challenges the global community faces in this context are twofold. First, there is a need to identify and assess the key developments in the Doha Round that have contributed to the present stalemate. Secondly, it is imperative to identify the options that the organization could consider for defining its future work program, given the new realities of global economic engagement. Since the start of the Doha Round negotiations, the drivers of economic integration have undergone significant changes. The most prominent of these is the emergence of global production networks (GPNs) as drivers of economic integration between countries. The most compelling evidence in this regard is provided by Southeast Asia, the most integrated of all the regions. The shift from localized to fragmented production systems requires new approaches that the WTO must take cognizance of. This chapter addresses the two sets of issues indicated above and is divided into three sections.
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