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RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS: WORKING PAPERS

The case for creating a Working Party on the Functioning of the WTO

Since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round in 1994 and the creation of the WTO in 1995, the functioning of the multilateral trading system has been the focus of a considerable number of articles, proposals and debates.

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With the exception of a few important initiatives on transparency and decision-making, most contributions on the functioning of the WTO have been made by external observers of the WTO. However, over the past two years, an increasing number of Members have showed interest in systemic and institutional issues. This interest has to a large extent been generated by a concern about the role of the multilateral trading system in the overall international economic environment, particularly in light of the current global financial crisis. At the same time, the WTO as an institution is under considerable pressure following more than a decade of efforts to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations. This paper explores the possibility of establishing a Working Party on the Functioning of the WTO as a separate, deliberative process in the WTO. It seeks to outline the advantages of creating an informal forum or space for discussion among WTO Members and argues that many WTO Members appear to be ready for a broad discussion of institutional and systemic challenges facing the multilateral trading system.

No: ERSD-2011-16

Author:

Peter N. Pedersen

Manuscript date: October 2011

Key Words:

GATT/WTO; functioning of the WTO, institutional reform, systemic reform.

JEL classification numbers:

F1, F5, F13

Disclaimer  back to top

This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of the author, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the author. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, Rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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