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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 20: International Trade Education: Do We Need a New Model for the Global Market?

William A. Kerr

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics


I will set down a tale as it was told to me by one who had it of his father, which latter had it of his father, this last in like manner had it of his father …. Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper1 For the most part, international trade policy education follows the timehonoured method of on-the-job training.2 For example, few trade negotiators have received formal post-secondary training in trade policy although many have degrees in economics, law, business or international relations that touched on aspects of international commerce in minor ways – an undergraduate trade theory course, a course in international business, one unit in a crowded legal curriculum or a survey of international organisations. Trade negotiators learn their craft from their predecessors in apprentice-like or mentoring processes. This form of education can be very effective in transferring existing knowledge, but it is inefficient in that those with the knowledge and expertise can pass it on to only small numbers. It might be argued that trade negotiation is a specific skill and that the individuals who enter that profession don’t need an in-depth understanding of the broader aspects of trade policy – any more than car sellers need to fully understand the workings of the automobiles they are selling. After all, trade negotiators are deal-makers – it is the negotiating prowess that is important.3 While this argument can be made regarding trade negotiators, it is not the case for those that provide the analysis upon which negotiating positions are established. Again,...

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