The End of the Road for the WTO?: A snapshot of international trade policy after Cancun

Razeen Sally

Published: March 2004

The collapse of the Doha Round in Cancun is symptomatic of a wider malaise in the WTO. It has an overloaded agenda, and is becoming excessively legalised and politicised. The “UN-isation” of the WTO proceeds apace. Its decisionmaking mechanism is crippled. It is therefore not surprising that attention has shifted decisively to preferential bilateral and regional trade agreements (PTAs). To prevent permanent irrelevance, the WTO must, first, rediscover its market access raison d’être; and, second, revive an effective negotiating mechanism. The alternative is an increasingly fractured world trading system governed by unbalanced, unstable, power-driven PTAs.

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