Contradictions and Conflicts in the Multilateral Trading System

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-9-5-14
V. Zagashvili,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 29.05.2023. Revised 14.06.2023. Accepted 04.07.2023.

Acknowledgments. The article was prepared within the project “Post-crisis world order: challenges and technologies, competition and cooperation” supported by the grant from Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation program for research projects in priority areas of scientific and technological development (Agreement 075-15-2020-783).

Abstract. Although the Doha Round is prominent for its Development Agenda that pays special attention to the needs of developing countries, it is the contradictions between this group of countries and the developed ones that brought the multilateral negotiations to the deadlock. The stagnation of the Doha Round made protectionism an easy choice for too many. Protectionist response to external shocks becomes especially damaging to the multilateral trading system when WTO basic rules are ignored, which is just the case of the US trade policy. A really hard issue was posed in front of the WTO by Washington with the suspension of the work of the Appellate Body and subsequent paralysis of the Dispute Settlement, one of the pillars of the multilateral trading system. The significance of this case goes beyond the multilateral trading system because the experience of the WTO in this field is extremely important for the emerging system of global governance. Since the creation of the WTO the world economy has undergone great changes and major challenges arose that are still to be attended by the multilateral trading system. Moreover, some existing WTO provisions are to be clarified in order to eliminate uncertainty and double interpretation that allow countries to resort to discriminatory practices with impunity. The resumption of the full operation of the multilateral trading system is hardly possible without a review of the decision-making procedure based now on the consensus and single undertaking rules. Changing the decision-making process is a fundamental problem in the multilateral trading system. Plurilateral agreements do not eliminate it but allow the countries concerned to meet challenges that are most important to them. The resolution the 12th ministerial conference is critically important: it sets to summarize proposals for reforming the WTO and prepare a draft decision on their basis by the next conference which is scheduled for February 2024. Taking into account that the divergence of national economic interests will persist indefinitely long, it can be assumed that the process of reforming the WTO will encounter considerable difficulties and will also take long period of time. Overcoming the stagnation of the multilateral trading system will remove an important obstacle that prevents the globalization from entering its next, integration stage, distinctive for the formation of the global governance system. The WTO is not the only, although very important, element of this system, the further development of which will require a close interaction between the main international organizations.

Keywords: multilateral trading system, World Trade Organization, special and differential treatment, WTO dispute settlement system, plurilateral agreements


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For citation:
Zagashvili V. Contradictions and Conflicts in the Multilateral Trading System. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 9, pp. 5-14. EDN: SBRVDY

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