At the turn of the 20th century, the WTO helped create prosperity through globalisation and trade liberalisation. After WW2, it was clear that the world required rebuilding to prevent conflict related to resource access and to create prosperity. The main challenge at the time was economic despair. The Bretton Wood Conference gave rise to the IMF, The World Bank, GATT and later the WTO to solve these challenges. The present day has new and more imminent challenges and if they are left unaddressed, they can unravel integration and cooperation as WW1 did. These challenges are mainly; wealth and power inequalities, the environment and shifting comparative advantage. In this paper, I argue for the importance of the WTO as well as its need to recalibrate to meet 21st-century challenges.
The main reason the WTO needs to recalibrate is because of the Most Favoured Nation clause. It prevents governments from protecting scarce resources and prevents MEA’s form working. According to Shrybman, countries cannot discriminate between “like products” because of the WTO, this prevents consumers and producers from favouring sustainable goods and governments cannot enforce environmental standards through the precautionary principle. The Tuna-Dolphin; The Salmon-Herring and the Raw Logs Export Controls case studies are examples of this. Jones argues that the “like products rule” is in place because to prevent disguised restriction on international trade. While I agree that environmentalism may be used to cover mercantilist behavior, I disagree that the WTO does not have a role to play in environmental protection. Jones also makes the argument that environ...
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It’s unfortunate that the world needs world wars to realise the necessity of organisations like the WTO to facilitate communication, trade and common growth. It is also unfortunate that trade agreements are overly influenced by neoclassical economics and force we ignore the environmental and human capability impacts associated with unfettered production. However, a marriage between protectionism and environmentalism is not the answer, closing or severely limiting access to resources is not the only way to mitigate environmental issues, it is just an easy argument to make. Trade, the environment and labour are intricately intertwined so prioritising fair trade, the environment and sustainability a will bring prosperity and development. Fair, not free trade has to become an ideological cornerstone of the WTO if it is to meet present day challenges.
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