transatlantic task force on trade
A central thesis o this paper is that the problems o the DDA and o the WTO, ar rom be-ing sui generis, are part o a broader systemic malaise – possibly even a crisis – besetting multilateralism more generally. The malaise stems rom proound shits in geopolitics andthe structure o the world economy that have accelerated during the lie o the DDA. It isagainst that background that consideration o any initiatives to re-invigorate internationaltrade policy needs to be set.That the malaise suraced rst in the WTO has, in the author’s view, less to do with the or-ganisation’s particular role or with the substance o its deliberations than with the act that itis in many respects the most highly-evolved o all multilateral bodies: through the breadth o its membership, its consensual decision-making system and, above all, through its capacity tomake and enorce common rules. Furthermore, as a relatively new institution, launched whenthe onward march o globalisation appeared to be sweeping all beore it, the WTO had excep-tionally high hopes invested in it. Its ailure to ull them made disappointment all the greater.Many o the symptoms o the WTO’s condition – diverging national priorities, unwilling-ness to compromise and obdurate assertion o narrow sel-interest over the collective good- have also become increasingly evident in other multilateral orums and organisations: inthe Group o 20, in the global climate change talks, in the European Union and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. As ar as the G20 and the climate change talks are concerned, that should be no surprise: aterall, many o the most intractable dierences in those orums are between the same govern-ments that are also most deeply at odds in the WTO – notably the US, China, India and, to adegree, Brazil. No surprise, either, that kicking conficts and unresolved issues in the WTO“upstairs” to G20 summits has produced ne words but no substantive action.The disjuncture between the growth o global economic integration and the developmento eective international mechanisms to manage it is striking. That disjuncture is not new. As the concept note or this project recalls, as long ago as 1971 the Williams Commissionobserved that “the core o our present diculty is that government policies and practices,and international arrangements or collective decision-making, have not kept abreast o thehigh degree o international economic integration which has been achieved since WorldWar II.” Though the world economy is ar more highly integrated than our decades ago, thechallenge o achieving eective global governance is at least as great, i not greater, today.Why is this so? For an answer, it is necessary to re-trace history back to the mid-1940s.Though the world has changed dramatically since then, our concepts o multilateralism arestill heavily infuenced by the model that emerged during that period. To many minds, thatmodel, suitably modied and updated, remains broadly the basis on which the global govern-ance architecture o tomorrow should be patterned. Indeed, or many western observers, itrepresents the most highly developed system o ordering international relations.However, the post-World War II model was not the product o some smooth evolutionary process o constant renement. It was, rather, the result o a singular combination o circum-stances – some o them highly disruptive - that were in many ways extraordinary, that haveceased to obtain and that seem most unlikely to recur in the uture.
First, a devastating global confict, rom which the US emerged not only victorious but in a position o overwhelming and unchallenged economic, nancial, military and diplomatic strength.