in dispute always aim to conform with the
could be a down side to trade liberalization and expansion. More trade
means more possibilities for disputes to arise. Left to themselves,
those disputes could lead to serious conflict. But in reality, a lot of
international trade tension is reduced because countries can turn to
organizations, in particular the WTO, to settle their trade disputes.
World War 2 that option was not available. After the war, the world’s
community of trading nations negotiated trade rules which are now
entrusted to the WTO. Those rules include an obligation for members to
bring their disputes to the WTO and not to act unilaterally.
they bring disputes to the WTO, the WTO’s procedure focuses their
attention on the rules. Once a ruling has been made, countries
concentrate on trying to comply with the rules, and perhaps later
renegotiating the rules — not on declaring war on each other.
300 disputes have been brought to the WTO since it was set up in 1995.
Without a means of tackling these constructively and harmoniously, some
could have led to more serious political conflict.
fact that the disputes are based on WTO agreements means that there is a
clear basis for judging who is right or wrong. Once the judgement has
been made, the agreements provide the focus for any further actions that
need to be taken.
increasing number of disputes brought to GATT and its successor, the WTO,
does not reflect increasing tension in the world. Rather, it reflects
the closer economic ties throughout the world, the GATT/WTO’s
expanding membership and the fact that countries have faith in the
system to solve their differences.
the exchanges between the countries in conflict can be acrimonious, but
they always aim to conform with the agreements and commitments that they