Conflict, Chaos and Confusion
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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.
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Chapter 12: Vested Interests in Queuing and the Loss of the WTO's Club Good: The Long-run Costs of US Bilateralism

William A. Kerr


12. Vested interests in queuing and the loss of the WTO’s club good: the long-run costs of US bilateralism Just about every country seeks to foster its own trade position by means of preferential arrangements and, in a sense, we are witnessing a revival of beggar-thyneighbor practices, even if in a context different from the 1930s. The United States is picking and choosing its partners in the hemisphere for special treatment … Sidney Weintraub, 2004, p. xiii The decision of trade policy makers in the United States to abandon trade liberalisation through the exclusive pursuit of multilateralism has been met with dismay in many quarters.1 It is the single most important change in trade policy making since the development of multilateral institutions in the wake of the Second World War. Since the inception of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947, the United States has been the major supporter of multilateralism and, given its importance to global trade, was able to maintain the position of the GATT, and subsequently the World Trade Organization, as the premier forum for trade liberalisation. The consistent message was ‘if you want to foster a trade relationship with the United States you must be an active participant in the multilateral trade liberalisation process’. This does not imply that the United States has been constant in its desire for trade liberalisation, as clearly the influence of protectionists has waxed and waned through the various administrations of the post-Second World War era. The United States...

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