The Imperative of WTO Reform in an Era of Rising Protectionism and Trade Wars

This article substantiates the necessity of reform of the major institution of global economic governance, the World Trade Organization (WTO). A number of crucial problems facing the existing multilateral trading system (MTS) are explored: the problem of the development and efficiency of the WTO in the new environment; the weakening of the leadership role of the U.S.; regionalism; the crisis of the decision-making system in the WTO; and the recent rise of trade protectionism. These challenges point to the necessity of WTO reform, the latter two being particularly pressing since they eventually moved the issue from the realm of scientific discussion into the realm of practical initiatives. This article analyzes the first steps taken by members of the WTO in 2018 toward the organization’s reform, focusing on the EU’s concept paper on WTO modernization, which was the first such initiative. Emphasis is given to the pivotal role of the positions of the U.S. and China since it is hardly possible to successfully continue the process of WTO reform without them. The controversial position of the U.S., formed largely under the influence of the current isolationist and protectionist trade policy of the Trump administration, is analyzed in depth. The article concludes that the process of WTO reform is bound to be extremely complicated and may take years.

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Copyrights are owned by authors and editorial office. The reproduction of materials without permission of the editorial office is prohibited. The reference to the materials is obligatory. © National Research University Higher School of Economics, 2019.

Portanskiy, A. (2019) 'The Imperative of WTO Reform in an Era of Rising Protectionism and Trade Wars', International Organisations Research Journal 14.2: 304-318

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