Edited by Julio Faundez and Celine Tan
Chapter 8: The World Trade Organization and the Turbulent Legacy of International Economic Law-making in the Long Twentieth Century
Fiona Macmillan* INTRODUCTION 1. This chapter focuses on the establishment of the WTO with a view to suggesting that it constitutes the climax, and so the beginning of the end, of the current process of international economic law-making. The chapter argues that, in essence, the emergence of the WTO as an institution is a crystallisation of pervasive structures and ideologies that combined and gained particular force and impetus during the twentieth century. Specifically, the chapter considers the effects of the so-called doctrines of comparative advantage and free trade in the context of the rise of corporate capitalism in the post-World War Two period. Tied in with this potent combination is the process of decolonisation. The effect of decolonisation on the world economy has, of course, been profound. In particular, decolonisation has called for the development of new techniques for accessing the resources of the so-called developing world on terms that ensure that the dominant position of the former colonial powers in the world economy is maintained. This chapter is premised on the claim that both the doctrine of comparative advantage, which has provided the theoretical ballast for the current world trade regime, and the rise of corporate capitalism, the practical arrow in the theoretical bow, are inherently well-adapted to the task of maintaining the subordinate position of the former colonies. In this sense, the underlying argument of the chapter is that the establishment of the World Trade Organization was not only the climax of the current process of interna- * Corporation...
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