Table of Contents

Conflict, Chaos and Confusion

Conflict, Chaos and Confusion

The Crisis in the International Trading System

William A. Kerr

After 15 years the WTO is not functioning as envisioned and is faced with many new trade challenges − climate change, terrorism, pandemics, genetically modified organisms, food safety − which it is ill-equipped to handle. Conflict, Chaos and Confusion sheds light on this deep and acute crisis, focusing on contentious and complex new trade issues and how they will affect international trade in the future.

Chapter 5: International Harmonisation and the Gains from Trade

William A. Kerr

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics


With a view to harmonizing technical regulations on as wide a basis as possible, Members shall play a full part, within the limits of their resources, in the preparation by appropriate international standardizing bodies of international standards for products for which they either have adopted, or expect to adopt, technical regulations. Article 2.6, Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade World Trade Organization, 1995 There was one [Christmas] card I particularly resented sending. It was to the EEC Agricultural Commissioner in Brussels. I would rather have sent him a redundancy notice. He is even worse than his colleagues, and I can’t speak worse of anybody than that. He’s the fool who has forced through the plan to standardise the Eurosausage. By the end of next year we’ll be waving goodbye to the good old British sausage, and we’ll be forced to accept some foreign muck like salami or bratwurst in its place. Of course, they can’t actually stop us eating British sausage. But they can stop us calling it sausage. It seems that it’s got to be called the Emulsified High-Fat Offal Tube. James Hacker, fictitious British Cabinet Minister in the television comedy series Yes Prime Minister Creators and writers Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay, in The Complete Yes Prime Minister, 1986, p. 11 It is generally accepted, although less often explicitly stated, that harmonisation of standards and regulations on a multilateral basis is a desirable policy goal.1 Harmonisation of standards is often an explicit goal of regional trade agreements – for...

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