Proposals For WTO Reform: A Synthesis And Assessment

Bernard Hoekman

in The Oxford Handbook on The World Trade Organization

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199586103
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Proposals For WTO Reform: A Synthesis And Assessment

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This article provides an overview of the modus operandi of the World Trade Organization (WTO) (for example, decision-making procedures, negotiating modalities, and dispute settlement), and summarizes the major arguments and proposals to reform them. It argues that much has already been done to improve the internal and external transparency of WTO processes. The article offers a constructive critique of key proposals: for instance, it contends that some proposals for structural reform ignore incentive constraints and the fact that the WTO is an incomplete contract which must be self-enforcing. Others – such as calls for a ‘critical mass’ approach to trade negotiations – can be pursued (and have been). The agenda for international cooperation increasingly revolves around ‘behind-the-border’ regulatory externalities that do not necessarily lend themselves to binding commitments in a trade agreement. The article makes the case for a focus on strengthening notification and surveillance, and on developing more effective mechanisms for dialogue on regulatory policies that sometimes create negative spillovers.

Keywords: modus operandi; World Trade Organization; reform; decision-making procedures; dispute settlement; transparency; critical mass approach; trade negotiations; notification; surveillance

Article.  16121 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Economy

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