Has anybody ever considered who contributes to the development of laws and regulations governing how countries conduct their businesses in terms of trade with neighboring countries? With the world market’s complexity, who organizes the flow of thousands of commodities? Many of the clothing we wear, electronics we use at home, and goods we eat are made possible by the World Trade Organization’s policies and agreements. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a multinational organization that lets producers in numerous countries do business smoothly and equitably across the globe. Since its creation twenty years ago membership has grown to 159 countries and the growth is still continuous. Apart from its growing numbers, it is also experiencing an increase in depth and diversity of resources as more than two-thirds if its members come from developing countries. The management and smooth functioning of the global trade depend on the WTO regulations, dispute settlement strategies, and the work of the administration.
The WTO as an international organization is focused on opening trade relations between the different countries that are part of it. As a business organization, its future will depend on how efficient it is in settling trade disputes between nations. If the World Trade Organization as a negotiator between member governments sorts out the business problems that they are facing, it will enhance the future international relations and boost trade (Werner Zduoc, 2013 p.657). When the international relations are positive it will lead to the growth of the economy and the increase in employment opportunities. If the WTO ensures that it continues to maintain good international relations its functions and importance in the global trade system will continue to grow as it provides stability and secure operations of trade between nations. As more and more developing countries’ economies continue to grow together with the growth in diversity in international commerce the importance of the WTO will increase as there will be a need for it to implement more foreign policies. The growths of diverse economies will surely see some frictions and disputes between nations happening thus the future of the WTO is about to become more complicated than it already is at the moment.
Developing countries have a tendency of using intimidating bargaining power to gain more from weaker countries if they are not on the setting of the WTO. The WTO will ensure that it aids poorer countries that have small economies to form consensus blocks. With the growing international trade, the future of the World Trade Organization is filled with the burden of always creating cross-cutting and inconsistent rules that will govern the diverse markets that will be emerging so as to avoid any disputes cropping up (Kent Jones, 2015 p.102). The challenges ahead are much greater, and the WTO needs to be efficiently prepared to have an advantage over them. The World Trade Organization has been recognized for stopping the threat of trade protectionism that was as a result of the 2008 financial crisis when economies stumbled, and unemployment had risen to its peak.
The organization has had very definite success, but the changing international economies are proving to pose a series of challenges. The Doha Development Round which was a round of multilateral trade negotiations that was conducted so as to liberalize further trade and reform WTO has become one of the most obvious challenges for the organization. The Doha Round had put focus in finding solutions to reduce critical trade barriers that are were found in agriculture, industrial goods, and services. Businesses around the world would be forced to specialize in producing goods and services, achieving significant economic status, and increasing their efficiency & productivity. All this would allow the business to deliver to foreign consumers goods that are of high quality and cheaper products.
The purpose of the Doha Round is to ensure that access to markets increases for goods and services that are provided by developing countries. The World Trade Organization claims that the success of the passing of the Doha Round would lead to the global GDP increasing by $150 billion each year (Geise, 2015 p. 123). The reason for the stalemated state of the Doha negotiations is because it is too ambitious and relies on a single undertaking approach which is based on an all-encompassing agreement of markets of agriculture and goods & services. If the negotiation stalemate continues to endure the WTO’s foundations will begin to crumble especially the Dispute and Settlement System, and this will destroy the international relations that have already been formed (Sarah Joseph, 2013 p. 145). If the institution is unable to continuously modernize and update the rules that govern it is set towards destruction.
During the negotiations, developing countries had been assured that they would receive special and differential treatment but became aggravated when countries that are more developed and richer demanded that they get more allowances. The WTO is facing a new set of challenges with the expansion of economies by the large developing countries. The future of the organization and the Doha Round depends on how these member countries integrate into the global trading system. The trade globalization has destroyed the national boundaries and created trading systems that are complex whereby every member state has a stake, but they are unable to shape it to suit their interests.
The balancing of interests no longer has primary importance towards the outcome of negotiations, but the aspect of a stable and resilient system that serves everyone and all countries get to participate. This implies that there is a significant change being experienced where there is a shared responsibility rather than the usual national autonomy and payback as the primary criterion for action. But this change is gradual it does not happen overnight, but many small steps will get us to the change desired. Beyond the trade liberalization which is almost being achieved, there is a need for a global structure where everyone can benefit from the flow of commerce.
The World Trade Organization is bound to become this type of the global structure. The role of WTO in the liberalizing of trade is increasingly being questioned because of the many Free Trade Agreements that keep being formed. More global issues are coming up with the growing economies and business relationship, and in the past, the WTO has not been efficient in helping address matters related to trade like climate change, global trade inequalities, and food security. The WTO needs to play a more active role in combating these problems as it goes into the future as it will lose its importance if it is unable to help address these matters. For instance, on the issue of climate change, the organization should consider creating docking stations that will be between two processes so as to be able to resolve conflicts and achieve synergies. The global obstacles that are cropping up in this day and time need more sophisticated approaches to control and stop them as the approaches of 20 years ago are not efficient enough to remove the obstacles. The World Trade Organization needs to begin on the process whereby it will revitalize itself and be equipped enough to deal with the continuous changing international economic environment.
The Secretariat of the WTO
Based in Geneva, WTO Secretariat has over 600 staff who are managed by the Director-General. Outside Geneva, the organization also has other branches which make it generate over 160 million Swiss Francis annually. Ideally, the members of the WTO are individual decision makers since the Secretariat does not have the mandate to say anything. It is seen different from other international bureaucracies. The primary responsibilities for the administration are to supply technical support to various committees and councils. They also minister conferences by providing technical assistance for the developing countries to enable them to explain and analyze the world trade. Also, the Secretariat explains public affairs to the media, provides legal assistance to settle disputes and also gives the government advises particularly the ones wishing to join the WTO.
The Arguments of the WTO
The World Trade Organization still takes the responsibilities of advocating the benefits of free trade through international systems. There have been several arguments concerning the advantages of free trade (Sarah Joseph, 2013 p.44). They eventually listed a few things that they thought would be beneficial to organizations. For instance, they argued that the set systems would help in promoting peace, handle constructive disputes, create a rule that makes life easier and also encourage free trade as it will reduce the high living standards of people. The WTO also offered choices on the quality of products, encouraged trade due to high returns, stimulated the economic growth of business, shield governments from lobbies and also supported the use of the system to the government.
About this, the WTO continued to argue that these lines were beneficial and that by practicing free trade, the states will be in a position to compete with the other traders. Also, they viewed the agreements of the reduction of tariffs, free trade and the world trade throughout the universe to be very beneficial as well as the confidence builder. They believed that these steps would increase trust among countries. In addition to that, they counted themselves as the dispute solvers whenever there was friction between traders. By introducing free trade, World Trade Organization still argued that business people will earn more money, prices will go down, and the living standards of people will improve.
Free trade was also believed to encourage competition, thus creating room for traders to diversify new products. The WTO also believed that free trade protects the job prospect as well as promoting growth for dealers (Richar Blinkman, 2015 p. 176). The rules that the World Trade Organization set were supposed to curb down any political conflicts from the government. They did this by protecting the industries which had possibilities of corrupting the states. The arguments of the WTO, however, had limitations that prevented them from applying all the policies. For instance, there were categories which had a weak legal trade, particularly the ones that were not flexible regarding the issues of the national security, high imports surge and also trading with other countries.
The Future of World Trade Organization
Vision of Competition
The initial vision of the WTO lies with vision. The “WTO 1.0” is one idea that this organization values particularly for the bulk development of a country. The WTO also focuses on the ambitions of restraining the focus of free trade because of the fear of the overstretching policy consequence, as well as the capacities of the members (Kent Jones, 2015 p.268). World Trade Organization also has vision “WTO 2.0,” which focuses on updating the rules by expanding and updating the realities in order to reflect the investment of the recent trade particularly the drives of the global value chains.
Both the constituencies advocate different aspects. For instance, the “WTO 1.0,” deals with the least developed countries, weak economies, large entity markets like, South Africa, India, and Brazil, as well as some the developing countries which contain middle-power. However, a few countries oppose the obligations set by the WTO that it should not impose the members to different and unique treatment (SDT) since they believed it would permeate the system. The majority of them were also skeptical that the Global value chains were not spread evenly spread, the benefits only concentrated in the developed countries that had multinationals corporations and also felt the cost of developing the hosts of their countries were a bit concentrated.
Also, the two constituencies that broadly advocated the “WTO 2.0,” in the developed countries, interlined with the OECD and the developed countries wanted to integrate the GVC into a better platform just like the Pacific Alliance. The states also argued that the WTO needed an updated and extended reciprocal market which has access to the market share. They also advocated that the WTO should apply rules that incorporate investment through competition. The views of the polar spectrum are to incorporate important conceals. For instance, the advocacy that the WTO 2.0 organized was unable to tackle the lobbies that reflected the power of agriculture because the Agricultural lobbies had produced quintessentially products. This failure brought an argument of the skeptic’s paradigm of the WTO 2.0 that there were double standards which killed the legitimacy and trust of the WTO (Kent Jones, 2015 p.45). For this matter, the agricultural problem needed to be fixed or else it would never. Also, there were similar lobbies that were growing in the WTO 1.0 countries which needed the WTO 2.0 signature from their governments so as to be able to get access to the markets. However, their concerns were still sacrificed to the WTO 1.0 paradigm due to it being dormant.
Shifting the balancing Power
The aim of WTO was to balance the high politics trade to go hand in hand with the low political trade. This was brought up because of the emerging markets like China were seen to spread globally although the global power was seen to tilt away from the West & North moving towards the South and East. It later brought serious problems particularly to WTO’s Western architects since it reflected the residing of the investment order and the global trade (Werner Zdouc, 2013 p.1018). These challenges created tension to the US through various political battles who tried changing the policies of the trading systems that the WTO initially started.
Consequently, the mindset of the US diverted as they focused more to partner with the Trans-Pacific and to conduct transatlantic trade with the Investment Partnership. This made some countries to hold negotiations meeting that talked about the mega-regional trade to renew the new rules that were argued before particularly the like-minded States who were for the purpose of restoring the US primacy together with the WTO 2.0 vision. The overall intention was to allow the extension of preferences that were regulated to the WTO vision, through the competitive, liberation process (Werner Zdouc, 2013 p. 568). The reason for this was to hide the high stake unpredictable poker games that were argued about the easy prediction by the mega-regional trade who would succeed if they found out about the secret about the WTO vision.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership on this other side had a different mindset because it only concentrated with the final adoption of the political cycle since it was seen complex in the sight of US 2016 elections. The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership had an uncertain future since it had a weak negotiating power due to the fusion of the parties. The EU diverged its respect together with the US mission.
From the above arguments, it is impossible to have a clear say concerning the fate of the WTO system. This is because there are instabilities in the mega-regional States particularly the TTIP and the TPP not unless they come into an agreement. Nevertheless, the WTO still stumbles to pose itself since it’s found in between the great trading powers that are governed by influence and leadership. The outcome is still uncertain since the regional States that are supposed to oversee the vision that argues over political power so that each benefit on its own. The benefits that the WTO was also trying to embrace are also seen to have hiccups since different countries had different views. Still, these benefits were not helpful to other nations as they felt that the WTO only wants to help itself.
Jones, Kent. 2015. “An Institutional Approach.” Reconstructing the World Trade Organization for the 21st Century 100-268.
Joseph, Sarah. 2013. “A Human Rights Critique.” Blame it on the WTO? 21-99.
Jr, Richard L. Brinkman. 2015. “History, Theory, and the WTO.” U.S. Trade Policy 122-187.
Zdouc, Werner. 2013. “The World Trade Organization.” The Law and Policy of the World 245-1010.
Geise, Lukas. “Ambitious Aims, Enduring Impasse.” The Doha Round (2015): 92-135