A World Trade Organization for the 21st Century

A World Trade Organization for the 21st Century

The Asian Perspective

ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation

Edited by Richard Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja

The global financial crisis exposed great shortcomings in the global economic architecture, generating extensive international debate about possible remedies for these deficiencies. The postwar global architecture was guided by major developed economies, centered around the IMF, the GATT, and the World Bank. Today, the balance of economic power is shifting toward emerging economies. Global governance and economic policy must reflect this shift. With contributions from prominent Asian and international trade experts, this book critically examines key changes occurring in the world trading system and explores policy implications for Asia.

Chapter 11: The future of the World Trade Organization

Biswajit Dhar

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, asian economics, economics and finance, asian economics, international economics


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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