The World Trade Organization (WTO) is managing international trade relations in an era characterized by the decline in tariffs and other border restraints to commerce. Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are now the main market-segmenting factor. Trade liberalization amounts to the extension of the geographic scope of relevant product markets, and global value chains (GVCs) have been proliferating in an almost tariff-free world. GVCs are helped by bargaining solutions regarding impediments posed by NTBs, and absent a more general design to this effect, many candidates might find themselves outside the GVCs bandwagon. Together, these changes in the landscape form an integration strategy that we refer to as the new WTO Think. This strategy remains rooted in the original rationale of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of reducing the negative externalities of unilateral action and solving important international coordination challenges, but is more inclusive of regulators and non-state actors and more flexible and positive in its means. In particular, we advocate that the WTO should embrace the confluence of shared social preferences and trade, where it exists, as a motivation for advancing international regulatory cooperation. This strategy will not only increase gains from trade, by enlarging the list of candidates to participate in GVCs, but will also help the WTO maintain its policy relevance in the years to come.
Petros C. Mavroidis
Petros C. Mavroidis
The World Trade Organization (WTO) does not squarely address the issue of the jurisdictional ambit of national policies affecting trade. Yet, absent some agreement as to what trading nations can and cannot do, the WTO loses much of its effectiveness. In the absence of explicit regulation of the issue in the WTO contract, one would reasonably expect WTO Members to behave in line with the postulates governing allocation of jurisdiction embedded in public international law. WTO practice evidences neither an explicit acceptance nor a refusal of these rules.
Petros C Mavroidis
Bernard M. Hoekman and Petros C. Mavroidis
Services are regulated for a variety of reasons. Regulation is typically influenced by political economy forces and may thus at times reflect protectionist motivations. Similar considerations arise for goods, but the potential for protectionist capture may be greater in services as many are self-regulated by domestic industry. The GATT embodies specific disciplines on product regulation in a separate agreement on technical barriers to trade (TBT) encouraging the use of international standards and norms that only impact on trade to the extent necessary to achieve the regulatory objective. The GATS does not include similar disciplines. We discuss reasons for this discrepancy and assess whether consideration should be given to seeking to adopt TBT-type disciplines that apply to trade in goods.