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US, India Undermine Multilateralism at WTO Ministerial

Expectations were low for the eleventh World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires, and on most accounts it still managed to under-deliver. This time around, US and Indian negotiators refused to compromise in service of achieving a consensus agreement in any area. Roughly three quarters of WTO members endorsed a precedent-setting, albeit hortatory, declaration on women and trade; the United States and India did not. And there were statements from varying groups of “like-minded” countries to pursue work in areas that could eventually lead to “plurilateral” agreements. Still, it is not clear these efforts are any more likely to overcome the sharp differences that have prevented compromise among the broader membership. And if they do, they could end up marginalizing smaller, less powerful developing countries.

WTO Members Avoid Failure in Nairobi, But Future Still Uncertain

Trade ministers, while attending the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Nairobi, again managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Faced with the prospect of complete failure, ministers worked overtime to cobble together a package of mostly small, symbolic agreements at the WTO’s Tenth Ministerial Conference. While the outcome is not being greeted with the same dismay, Nairobi looks more like the Copenhagen summit on climate change than the recent session in Paris, which managed to bridge North-South differences.

Bali Deal “Saves” WTO, For Now

The Bali package included agreements to facilitate trade by modernizing customs procedures and to ensure that minimum access for agricultural imports subject to quotas is achieved in practice. On food security, there was, at the end, a resolution of the dispute over a “peace clause” that will allow India to shield its food stockholding program from trade challenges for at least four years.

From March Madness to April Anxiety: The WTO Leadership Contest Heats Up

The madness of the US NCAA basketball championship  is in full swing and getting lots of attention in Washinton, but a globally more significant competition is entering the final stages in Geneva. Just as 68 US college basketball teams were winnowed to a sweet sixteen, and soon to an elite eight, and so on, nine candidates for director-general (DG) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will soon be trimmed to a fab five, then a dynamic duo, and, by May 31, a champion to lead the world trade system.

A New WTO Leader: Will It Matter for Development?

While the World Trade Organization is not normally seen as a development organization, a strong, rules-based trade system is still critically important for developing countries, and the WTO is at the center of that system. Later this year, the organization will select a new leader to succeed Pascal Lamy and the expectation is that the person will be from a developing country.

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