Reforming the World Trade Organization

Faizel Ismail

Published: December 2009

This paper considers two perspectives on the future of World Trade Organization (WTO) reform. One argues that the WTO is largely a well-functioning institution and requires only incremental reforms, while the other argues that more fundamental reforms are required to correct the asymmetries of power that gave rise to an imbalanced institution that is still deeply weighted in favour of the developed countries, and that continues to marginalize the majority of developing countries in the multilateral trading system. The paper argues in favour of the latter view, and makes a number of proposals for reform of the WTO that relate to the objectives, goals and mandate of the WTO; the coherence of the WTO with other global economic institutions; and the decision-making process and negotiating methods of the WTO.

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