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Resource booklet for the 4 WTO Ministerial Conference
US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Agence France Press
26 July 2001
"…We can launch a new round of trade negotiations that will help all
countries, especially developing countries, to expand their economies…A
dynamic, growing global economy is the ultimate poverty reduction strategy…Developing countries can be among the big winners if there is a market-opening round."
Nelson Mandela
Summit to mark the 50th Anniversary of the GATT/WTO
multilateral trading system, Geneva,
May 1998
“We are firmly of the belief that the existence of the GATT, and now the
World Trade Organization, as a rules-based system provides the foundation
on which our deliberations can build in order to improve … As we enter
the new millennium, let us forge a partnership for development through
trade and investment."
Alan Greenspan
Testimony before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban
Affairs, US Senate,
20 September 2001
"As a consequence of the spontaneous and almost universal support that
we received from around the world, an agreement on a new round of multilateral trade negotiations now seems more feasible. Such an outcome
would lead to a stronger global market system. A successful round would
not only significantly enhance world economic growth but also answer terrorism with a firm reaffirmation of our commitment to open and free societies."
Fidel Castro
Speech on the 50th anniversary of the multilateral trading system,
19 May 1998
"Those of us who were colonies yesterday and are still today enduring the
consequences of backwardness, poverty and underdevelopment, we are
the majority in this organization [WTO]. Every one of us has the right to a
vote and no one has the right to veto. We should turn this organization
into an instrument of the struggle for a more just and better world. We
should also count on those responsible statesmen, sensitive to our realities,
who can undoubtedly be found in many developed cou ntries."
EU Commissioner for trade Pascal Lamy and US Trade
Representative Robert B. Zoellick
The Washington Post online
17 July 2001
"Developing countries cannot expect to fare as well as the United States
and the EU in a system of unbridled bilateralism. They would do much better under a multilateral trade round. Indeed, a new round is perhaps one of
the most useful contributions we could make to the alleviation of global
poverty, providing it is really a round for both growth and development…The case for launching a new round is clear. If we get the other
policies right, open trade should lead to better jobs, the spread of ideas and
investment and to open, more confident societies. But although we like to
stress the upside of globalization, we need to address the worldwide fears
and anxieties that accompany it particularly when the economic slowdown
means added strain on employers, workers and families everywhere…We
recognize that a number of developing countries have real concerns about
their ability to implement previous trade agreements. We will continue to
work with them and with the WTO leadership to assist this process."
Mike Moore
Speech to the Transatlantic Business Dialogue
29 October 1999
”Too much of this century was marked by force and coercion. Our dream
must be a world managed by persuasion, the rule of law, the settlement of
differences peacefully within the law and cooperation. It’s a good thing
that all our living standards are now based on the ability of our neighbours
to purchase our products. That’s where the WTO can do splendid work and
advance the progress of the human species.”
Chinese Vice-Minister Long Yongtu
Address to the final session of the Working Party on the Accession of
China to the WTO,
17 September 2001
"China will soon become a WTO Member after necessary legal procedures.
To achieve this goal, we have made protracted and arduous efforts. Everybody present today has good reason to be proud of our work, as we are
part of a historical event, an event which will bring a country with one
fourth of the world population into the multilateral trading system which
takes the promotion of the world trade and economic development as its
major goal."
The WTO's 4 Ministerial Conference promises to be anything but a
"routine" Ministerial meeting. Seven years after the entry into force of
the World Trade Organization, Ministers will have to decide about the
immediate future of the multilateral trading system and the WTO as an
institution. A failure to reach consensus on a future work programme
would lead many to question the value of the WTO as a forum for negotiations and it could certainly condemn the organization to a period of
The questions facing Ministers at the Ministerial Conference will be very
much the same as those they confronted in Seattle in 1999. At the core
is whether governments are ready to launch a wider process of negotiations—a new round, in fact—and if so, what should its content be. I
have made no secret of my conviction that a new round is necessary. It
is the best way in which we can effectively address the problems of economic slowdown and prevent the further marginalization of many developing countries through the weakening of the multilateral system. It
is the best way to ensure that the legal system embodied in the WTO
responds to economic reality. It is the best way to sustain the momentum of the negotiations on agriculture and services. Nowhere in the
world, as far as I know, is the need for negotiation on agriculture disputed; but nowhere else in the world, if not here, is that negotiation
going to happen.
All of the rules in this system have been negotiated—that is their
strength and the source of their legitimacy. But by the same token they
can only be changed by negotiation. Any inequities in the system—and
they exist—can best be removed by negotiation. Not to negotiate means
accepting the status quo, which is yesterday's compromise. A strong,
vibrant, predictable and rules-based multilateral trading system is in the
interest of all countries, particularly developing countries. I hope we can
seize this opportunity to fashion the system in such a way that it would
be responsive to development needs. Trade between developing countries is growing faster than trade between industrialized and developing
countries. And they are using more often the WTO's dispute settlement
mechanism to resolve their differences. As many as 13 of the 14 new
disputes reported to the WTO since February 2001 were filed by developing countries.
As I write this, the preparatory process for the 4 Ministerial Conference
in its final stage. Members are all agreed that the process thus far has
been transparent and inclusive. Since February 2001, there have been
more than 35 open-ended meetings on various issues of interest to
delegations. This excludes meetings which have been held on the implementation review mechanism. Members no longer feel that decisions
are being foisted upon them, and there is the collective sense of responsibility that the process should produce results that will strengthen the
multilateral trading system to the benefit of all Members. Before and at
the Ministerial Conference, we need to inject a sense of urgency into
the process. Clinging to well-known positions will not advance the process and might spell disaster for the rules-based multilateral trading system. Members should be prepared to make trade-offs and take into
consideration the interests of other Members as well bearing in mind
the over-arching objective of strengthening the multilateral trading sysst
tem to make it more relevant in the 21 century.
The WTO is not the GATT, yet we have not modernized our structures,
organization and procedures to reflect our new and wider responsibilities. That is why I have prepared a separate document on capacity
building and development, which is a proposal that I hope Members will
consider so that we can all do a better, more effective and efficient job.
Mike Moore
Geneva, October 2001
A guide for officials, legislators, civil society and all
those interested in international
trade and global governance
World trade developments
Committed to fair and non-discriminatory trade
Making trade rules predictable and enforceable: the
dispute settlement system of the world trading system
Does global trade benefit everyone?
Do governments loose sovereignty when they join the
Does the WTO interfere with domestic policy objectives? 18
What flexibility is there in the WTO Agreements?
Governments, their citizens and the WTO
Environmental issues
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
Services, the GATS
The GATS does not threaten the right of Members to
maintain public services
WTO Agreements complement human rights
Further trade liberalization can help Members meet
environment and development objectives
Non-tariff measures
Textiles and clothing
Intellectual property
Dispute settlement
Regionalism/trade and development
Trade and environment
Trade is central to human health, prosperity and social welfare.
Many of the goods we buy, the services we use and the foods
we eat depend on foreign trade. Examples of trade in daily life
are so abundant they sometimes go unnoticed: people drive to
work in a car made in Japan which runs on fuel imported from
the Middle East. Others ride bicycles made in China with tyres
from Malaysia. A computer might have come from Korea and
may run on software from the United States and a morning cup
of coffee was most likely imported from Kenya, Colombia, Tanzania or Ecuador.
Trade enriches our lives through greater choice and opens our
minds to new ideas and cultures. It binds people together in a
dynamic and complex network of mutually beneficial commercial
relations. It is a key engine of economic growth. The prosperity
trade brings gives people the opportunity to buy the things they
value most: an education, access to health care, proper housing
and food for their families. It is the job of the World Trade OrganIzation to establish the rules and preserve and nurture this
web of commercial activity.
But trade is not entirely a natural phenomenon, it depends on
political will. Compare, for example, the starkly different policy
responses to two of the most major economic and financial disasters of this century. When crisis set in during the 1930s, the
knee-jerk reaction was economic nationalism. As one country
raised its tariff barriers, so too did others in retaliation. Trade
plummeted, unemployment became entrenched, cooperation
between nations broke down and guns, soldiers and tanks took
over. The human and economic costs were catastrophic. In stark
contrast, when the Asian economies experienced a financial crisis
in the late 1990s, markets were kept open and sensible but
tough economic policy and regulatory decisions were taken. This
helped contain the crisis and it allowed the Asian nations to export their way out of difficulty. Within a relatively short period of
time, these countries were on the road to recovery and fears of
worldwide recession were proven unfounded.
The WTO… Why it matters
Restoring international economic growth and stability through
the promotion of trade was crucial to securing a lasting peace
after World War II. It was this vision that led to the creation of
the multilateral trading system in 1948. At first this was a provisional agreement between 23 countries called the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the GATT). In 1995, the GATT
became the WTO, a fully-fledged international organization with
stronger and broader authority. Its membership today includes
142 Members , each at its own level of economic development
and with its own set of economic priorities. Since Seattle (November 1999), seven countries joined the WTO - Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Jordan, Lithuania, Moldova and Oman. With China
and Chinese Taipei also poised to enter the organization, another
1.3 billion people will benefit from the rules-based trading system. Another 30 or so countries—from the Russian Federation,
Saudi Arabia and Ukraine to Vietnam and Yemen—are in the
process of negotiating their accession to the WTO. Even though
the trading system has changed greatly over the years, the underlying goals of the system embodied in the WTO have remained constant: to promote openness, fairness and predictability in international trade for the benefit of humanity.
"By initiating the procedure of accession to the WTO, the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia wishes to point out and stress the importance it
attaches to membership in the WTO, especially having in mind the role
of the WTO in the world economy and its contribution to the promotion
of international trade as the main pillar of world development."
Dr. Zoran Sami, Federal Minister of Transportation, Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia,
February 2001
Openness, fairness and predictability
World trade developments
World exports of merchandise and commercial services, 1990-2001
(Billion dollars and percentage)
Annual percentage change
First half
Trade and output growth of developing economies, 1990-2000
(Annual percentage change)
Developing economies
Merchandise export volume
Merchandise import volume
Merchandise export value
Merchandise import value
The year 2000 was outstanding for global output and trade
growth. The expansion of merchandise output and trade by
4.5% and 12%, respectively, was the strongest in more than a
decade. As trade growth continued to exceed output growth,
the ratio of world trade in goods and services to world GDP
reached 29%. Since 1990 this ratio has increased 10 percentage
points, more than in the two preceding decades combined.
Manufacturing production rose 6% in 2000, but the increase in
agricultural production was limited to 1%. Mining output was up
3.5% boosted by a 4.5% increase in oil and gas output. As in
preceding years, exports of manufactures increased in real terms
much faster than exports of agricultural or mining products. And
Measured at constant 1987 prices and exchange rate.
The WTO… Why it matters
once again, the excess of trade growth (14.5%) over output
growth (6%) in manufactures was far higher than in the other
two sectors, although preliminary data for agriculture also sug2
gest also a large gap between trade and output growth.
World merchandise trade and output by major product group, 2000
(Annual percentage change in volume terms)
Agricultural products
Mining products
All merchandise
A further indicator of the strength of global integration last year is the
estimated 18% increase in the US dollar value of inflows of foreign direct
investment (FDI). Although the most dynamic part of FDI flows was again
among the developed countries, both developing and transition economies
reported record FDI inflows. However, total private capital flows (net) to the
developing countries and the transition economies were close to zero as net
FDI inflows were fully offset by other private capital outflows. (International
Monetary Fund (IMF), World Economic Outlook, October 2001).
Openness, fairness and predictability
World merchandise trade by region, 2000
(Annual percentage change in volume terms)
Transition economies
Western Europe
World average
North America
Middle Eas t
Latin America
World commercial services trade by selected region, 2000
(Annual percentage change in value terms)
Transition economies
North America
Latin America
World average
Western Europe
The WTO… Why it matters
The Tinbergen Institute of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, estimates
developing countries would gain $155 billion a year from further trade
liberalization—over three times the $43 billion in average annual
overseas aid.
Trade, when it is allowed to flow freely, fosters economic
growth. It encourages specialization, which can lead to greater
gains in productivity and efficiency. It means countries can concentrate their resources on producing the goods they make best
and importing goods that are more efficiently produced elsewhere. A more open world trading system means all countries
benefit from access to the 6 billion customers in the global marketplace.
Trade can help bring technology and materials needed to create
exports and offers consumers a wider range of personal choice in
everything from oranges, to cars, to medication and clothes. It
encourages competitive pricing and stimulates technological advances. This is why one of the main thrusts of the multilateral
trading system is to encourage the removal of barriers to trade.
This has taken place through what have become known as
"rounds of negotiations" in which participating countries give
better access to their markets in return for better access to the
markets of other countries. There have been eight trade rounds
since the GATT was created in 1948. These initially concentrated
on lowering customs tariffs on goods at the border, but have
since expanded in scope to address a broader range of measures.
During the Uruguay Round (1986-1994), agriculture and textiles
were brought more fully into the multilateral trading system and
GATT provisions that discriminated against the interests of agriculture-exporting countries were reformed. Participating countries also agreed to phase out quantitative limits on trade in textiles during a 10-year period. The scope of the WTO's rules was
widened to include trade in services, one of the fastest growing
and dynamic sectors in the international economy, and trade-
Openness, fairness and predictability
related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS). These sectors are now subject to trade liberalization and dispute settlement in the WTO.
The benefits of the Uruguay Round, as well as previous rounds,
have contributed to a substantial reduction of the overall level of
protection. Since the creation of the GATT, more than 50 years
ago, the simple average bound tariff on imports of industrial
products of the most developed countries has been brought
down to under 5%. Most non-tariff barriers have been prohibited. Developing countries are now participating more fully in the
WTO and in many cases they have also bound most of their industrial tariffs. Non-tariff barriers, affecting agricultural trade
have been replaced with tariffs and all agricultural tariffs have
been bound. A framework for the liberalization of trade in services is in place and in several sectors the liberalization process is
also in progress. Most countries are more open now than they
have been at any time since the end of the World War II.
MFN is a simple but very effective principle; it eliminates differences in
economic and political weight between nations and dispenses with
favouritism. It provides a self-perpetuating dynamism to the process of
trade liberalization. In effect, it means that whenever two trading
partners get together to open up trade between themselves, all WTO
members benefit.
Total annual gains to New Zealand from the Uruguay Round were
estimated at $370 million in 2000.
"Towards Free Trade" Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New
June 1999
Committed to fair and non-discriminatory trade
The WTO treats all Members alike, be they rich or poor, big or
small, strong or weak. The WTO is a system based on rules. The
rules apply to everyone, even the most powerful economies in
the world. Many WTO rules are specifically designed to ensure
that fair trade conditions prevail between trading partners. Central among these are obligations to ensure that trade is non-
The WTO… Why it matters
discriminatory, the so-called "most-favoured nation" and "national treatment" rules. The most-favoured nation (MFN) obligation prevents WTO Members from discriminating between foreign goods or treating products from one WTO Member better
than those from another. For example, if the European Union
decides to lower its customs tariff on imports of cocoa from
Ghana from 10% to 5%, it must immediately extend this 5%
customs tariff on cocoa to all other WTO Members that might
wish to export cocoa to the EU.
It is clear from all the evidence that the biggest risk for the poorest
developing countries does not come from the potential losses that
globalization or market opening may pose: the biggest risk is that they
may be excluded from the opportunities for growth by continuing
barriers to their exports or the maintenance of protected domestic
In a group of 18 developing countries that became much more open to
trade after 1980, as measured by rising shares of exports and imports in
GDP, the average growth rate accelerated. This group includes most of
the world's poor people—among the 18 countries are Bangladesh,
China, India, Ghana, Nepal, Uganda and Vietnam.
The national treatment obligation prevents Members from treat3
ing foreign and domestically produced products differently. This,
for example, means that if Venezuela exports the same kind of
gasoline into Norway as Norway produces itself, Norway may
impose the same high (but not higher) standards on gasoline
from Venezuela as it imposes on gasoline of domestic origin.
The national treatment obligation does not prevent Members from imposing
tariffs (on an MFN basis and not higher than maximum levels bound in tariff
schedules) and applies only after goods have been cleared in customs.
However, it is treated slightly differently under other different WTO
agreements. For example, under the General Agreement on Trade in Services
(GATS), it is not unconditional and exceptions to the national treatment
principle can be written into Members' schedules. Special and differential
treatment for developing countries in the form of tariff preferences is also
allowed as are preferences between Members that are part of regional trade
Openness, fairness and predictability
But there are other obligations designed to ensure that Members
are not given unfair advantages over their trading partners.
These include rules on dumping and subsidies, which can make
exports artificially competitive. The issues are complex, and the
rules try to establish what is fair or unfair, and how governments
can respond, in particular by taking action to compensate for
damage caused by unfair trade.
"The presence of the WTO doesn't eliminate trade friction, but it does
provide a public forum where the power of consensus can help resolve
disputes. Although the WTO lacks direct enforcement powers, its
decisions are taken seriously because its member nations have agreed to
play by its rules. A WTO ruling gives the winning side the moral upper
hand in a dispute, even if the winner chooses to negotiate a compromise
rather than impose hefty penalties that could touch off a trade war."
Thomas S. Mulligan and Evelyn Iritani
Dow Jones International News Service
24 August 2001
Making trade rules predictable and enforceable: the
dispute settlement system of the world trading system
The WTO brings stability and predictability to international trade
because its rules are legally binding. So too are the schedules of
market-access commitments in goods and services that each
WTO Member negotiates. These set clear ceilings on levels of
protection. This encourages trade because it allows exporters to
develop and grow their businesses. They have full knowledge of
the terms of access and can act and invest with confidence
knowing that markets which are opened will remain open.
Members involved in WTO disputes since 1995
October 2001
as complainant
United States
Developing countries
as respondent
The WTO… Why it matters
The Understanding on Dispute Settlement says the purpose of the
dispute settlement system is: " preserve the rights and obligations of
Members under the covered agreements, and to clarify the existing
provisions of those agreements in accordance with customary rules of
interpretation of public international law."
(Article 3.2)
The vast majority of international trade goes on smoothly and
without dispute. There are, however, rare occasions when a
Member may consider that one or more Members are not in
compliance with their WTO commitments and that this has negatively affected its national consumer or producers. It is then that
the affected Members have the option of using the WTO's dispute settlement system.
Dispute settlement procedures play a central and invaluable role
in ensuring that trade conflicts are settled fairly, in accordance
with the rule of law and on a timely basis.
Once a dispute is notified to the WTO an established timetable of
'automatic' steps is set in motion. The immediate priority is for
disputes to be settled through consultations. If not, then Members assembled in the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) refer
a dispute to a panel of experts. Panelists are appointed by
agreement between the parties, and by default, by the WTO's
Director-General. A panel's recommendations are automatically
adopted unless there is a 'consensus against' adoption by all
WTO Members who together comprise the Dispute Settlement
Body. A first instance panel report may be appealed, but the decision by the second instance Appellate Body is final.
The long-term outcome of the dispute settlement process must
be complete restoration of full compliance with WTO rules.
However, if a Member fails to implement a WTO ruling there are
two temporary measures that can be taken. Either the offending
Member can offer 'compensation' for the harm done to the
trade interests of another Member or the DSB can authorize a
level of retaliatory sanctions. But this rarely happens. The vast
majority of the more than 239 disputes brought to the WTO so
far have been settled without fanfare or public contention. Since
a main aim of WTO dispute settlement mechanism is to contain
Openness, fairness and predictability
unilateral imposition of trade sanctions, unilateral retaliation by
powerful trading entities is subject to multilateral WTO control.
No one can claim that the WTO's dispute settlement system
compensates for an unequal distribution of economic power in
the world, but it must be emphasized that this system gives small
Members a fair chance they otherwise would not have to defend
their rights. By September 2001, developing countries as a group
initiated 79 of the 239 disputes. India, Brazil, Mexico and Thailand were the most active. The United States and the European
Union have used the system the most, 69 and 56 times respectively, and are also the most frequently challenged by other governments as not being in compliance with the WTO's rules.
WTO agreements cited in disputes since 1995
Agriculture Textiles
The WTO is not a world government and its Members do not wish it to
be one. The WTO cannot force compliance upon unwilling governments.
A dispute arises only when a Member claims that another Member has
failed to live up to its WTO obligations.
Isn’t the high level of WTO disputes worrying?
Not really. The higher rate of notification of disputes can be interpreted in several different ways. For example:
as an expression of greater confidence of Members in the
efficacy of the new dispute settlement system. In fact, the
dispute settlement system is more predictable, more certain
and faster than the former GATT disputes system;
as a reflection of the wider range of WTO rules and their
greater specificity;
there is now a much wider range of issues covered by WTO
Agreements—including Services and Trade Related Intellectual Property—all of which are governed by the same dispute
The WTO… Why it matters
as a result of the larger number of WTO Members, increasing levels of trade and the greater importance of trade in the
economies of Members.
Before the creation of the WTO, the dispute system was not
binding, thus frequently decisions were ignored. The new system is working well, but any system can be improved with experience and mature study.
It is true that smaller and poorer countries have capacity constraints. They often do not have the resources to take their trade
disputes to the WTO. That is why the WTO has actively endorsed
the creation of the Geneva-based Advisory Centre on WTO Law,
an independent centre that provides developing countries with
legal counsel at reduced costs.
Trade and jobs and poverty reduction
Trade can be a powerful force for fostering job creation and reducing poverty. But liberalization does not always impact favourably on everyone in the labour market. Just as new export
opportunities create new jobs in some areas, pressure from foreign competition can sometimes result in jobs being lost in previously protected sectors. One of the most difficult challenges facing legislators, governments and policy-makers is to ensure their
citizens cope with readjustments in the labour market and acquire necessary new skills. These pressures, however, do not just
come from greater competition but also from factors such as
technological change.
A recent World Bank study of growth in 80 countries over 40 years
shows that, on average, growth in the income of the poor—the poorest
fifth of the population—rises about one-for-one with the growth rate of
overall per capita income in a developing country. This has been
demonstrated by the trade-oriented policies that helped transform East
Asia, which represents over a third of developing-country population,
from one of the world's poorest regions 40 years ago to the prosperous
and economically resilient region it is today.
David Dollar and Aart Kraay. Growth is Good for the Poor,
World Bank.
The temptation to resist change is high—particularly as the
voices clamouring for protection tend to shout louder and are
more emotionally charged than those supportive of trade liberalization. But change is not only inevitable, it is crucial to economic
The way in which markets are opened, especially the speed and
sequence of market-liberalizing steps, can make a big difference
to these adjustment pressures.
Economic studies consistently show that market liberalization is
associated with higher growth and that growth contributes to
the alleviation of poverty.
IMF Issues Brief: Globalization, Threat or Opportunity. Available at
The WTO… Why it matters
Between 1994 and 1998, 1.3 million new jobs supported by exports of
goods and services were created in the United States. Over the same
period, total US employment increased by 11.7 million jobs, and the
unemployment rate declined from 6.1% to 4.5%. Jobs supported by
goods exports pay 13 to 16% above the average wage.
"America and the WTO", United States Trade Representative.
"The fourth WTO ministerial is, therefore, another opportunity for the
international community to demonstrate its commitment to long-term
welfare of the LDCs."
Minister Idi Simba , Minsiter of Trade, Tanzania
Agence France Press
22 July 2001
A recent study by Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner of Harvard
University found that developing countries with open economies grew
by 4.5% a year in the 1970s and 1980s—while those with closed
economies grew by 0.7% a year. At that rate, open economies double in
size every 16 years, while closed ones must wait a hundred.
In East Asia and the Pacific between 1987 and 1998 the number of
people living on less than 1US$ a day fell from 418 million to 278
million. This was paralleled by a four-fold increase in the ratio of exports
of goods and services to GDP.
Trade and jobs and poverty reduction
Merchandise exports of least-developed countries by selected
country groups, 1990-2000
(Billion dollars and percentage)
Annual percentage
1990-00 1998 1999 2000
Total LDC
Oil exporters (4) a
Exporters of manufactures (7) b
Commodity exporters (29)
LDC with civil strife (6) c
Memorandum Item:
Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and Yemen.
b Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao People's Dem. Rep., Lesotho, Madagascar, Myanmar and Nepal.
c Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo Dem. Rep, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and
The WTO… Why it matters
Does global trade benefit everyone?
National income growth is the key to a permanent reduction in
the level of poverty. But experience confirms that the most likely
outcome is that national growth will have a positive effect on the
incomes of the poorest parts of a population, possibly because it
is generally easier for the government to increase its poverty alle5
viation efforts if incomes are higher or growing.
"We have always recognized that International Trade can be a powerful
engine of economic growth around the world."
A.B. Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India
20 August 2001
Alan L. Winters, "Trade, Income Disparity and Poverty", WTO 2000.
Governments acting together constitute the WTO
The organization is only as strong as the will of its Members to
abide by the rules
Members agree to be “bound” by WTO Agreements because
they see it to be in their own self interest to do so. The success of
the WTO depends largely on the willingness of Members to
abide by its rules and rulings. A pre-condition for this willingness
to be “bound” is the negotiation of agreements that are sufficiently clear in their rules and scope and whose disciplines are
workable and mutually accepted.
When the WTO Members take decisions, it has to be without dissent.
Consensus reigns and voting, although provided for, has never been
Do governments loose sovereignty when they join the
“Sovereignty” is a word that connotes different things to different people. It conjures up a wide spectrum of ideas of national
pride and independence. In the WTO, sovereignty is understood
in several ways. All WTO Members are “sovereigns” over their
“customs territory”. By joining the WTO, governments undertake
to make laws that comply with WTO Agreements and to change
laws that do not.
Compliance with WTO Agreements does not in any way reduce
the right of a government to make laws for its own territories.
Most WTO Agreements make no attempt to guide governments
on the content of their laws: they concern only the ‘external’
effects of the laws or regulations. There are some WTO accords,
however, such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights, the Sanitary and Phytosanitary
Agreement and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade,
that encourage the harmonization of policies in specific technical
areas. But even here, there are exceptions available. Ultimately,
The WTO… Why it matters
WTO Agreements are the result of the exercise of sovereign
trade powers by WTO Members. (See Annex 1: Will the NationState Survive Globalization?)
"I come from a small country. I see interdependence, and treaties and
the great global institutions as guarantors of our sovereignty and safety.
The realities of a more global world make it harder for governments to
act independently of each other. Global challenges call for shared and
cooperative solutions."
Mike Moore,
April 2001
The concept of “sovereignty” should be distinguished from that
of “interdependence”. Sometimes international cooperation on a
regime of rules requires governments to make the choice to set
limits to their own behavior, with certain exceptions, in the interest of the common good. However, this is not about losing sovereignty but about ensuring that everyone abides by rules that
have been mutually agreed. This is not peculiar to the WTO but is
the norm for all multilateral rule making organizations. Without
such a willingness to set commonly agreed limits on unilateral
action, the international system would not be able to function
Does the WTO interfere with domestic policy
The WTO does not make rules about the domestic policy objectives of Members. But it does make rules about the way in which
these objectives are achieved. That sometimes limits the sort of
things governments can do in domestic policies. But whatever
measures a government might choose, one thing is certain: national policies should not discriminate between nationals and
foreigners or between foreigners of different origin.
The WTO is only concerned with international trade but some
WTO Agreements—like the GATT Agreements that preceded the
WTO—have rules about the national regulations of Members.
But such rules are agreed first by all Members and then adopted
and implemented at the national level.
Governments acting together constitute the WTO
Why are trade rules required for Members' regulations? Part of
the reason lies in the emergence of non-tariff barriers as a form
of disguised protectionism. Some examples of such non-tariff
barriers could include domestic regulations on the sale of goods,
labelling, pricing, storage and value-added taxation, etc. Members negotiate commitments to ensure the transactions which
take place at the border are as fair and as open as possible. It
would be pointless if the benefits of these commitments were
nullified by transactions which re-introduce the protection or
discrimination that WTO rules seek to eliminate.
"Globalization is a process that seems irreversible, and given that fact,
we are left with the only choice available to join it, but not passively."
Joaquim Chissano, President of Mozambique
20 August 2001
"We found that the 3 billion people living in the 24 developing countries
that have integrated into the world economy most successfully have
gained from higher incomes, longer life expectancy and better schooling.
These countries enjoyed an average 5% growth rate in the 1990s
compared with 2% in rich countries...Putting our heads, ostrich like, into
the sand is not the answer. Putting in place safety nets and sound
policies, and pulling down rich country trade barriers, just might be."
Caroline Anstey, Head of Media, World Bank
Financial Times
17 August 2001
What flexibility is there in the WTO Agreements?
Drawing the line between domestic policy objectives and nontariff barriers can be difficult. That’s why the WTO Agreements
are flexible enough to permit Members to pursue policy objectives other than trade. Reference is always made to international
standards whenever appropriate. Also, regulations are covered in
WTO rules only to the extent that they apply to traded goods
and services.
WTO Agreements take into account different levels of development and different trade and economic policies:
The WTO… Why it matters
by the inclusion of longer time-frames for implementation of
the rules by developing countries or by allowing developing
countries to make lower liberalization commitments, as provided for in the Agreement on Agriculture;
by the provision of some lower thresholds of compliance by
developing countries—particularly the least-developed countries; and
by allowing Members time-limited ‘waivers’ of specified obligations for particular purposes. A number of developed
countries (Canada, EU, US) have granted trade concessions
to developing and least-developed countries on a unilateral
basis and have been granted limited ‘waivers’ to enable
them to maintain these concessions. Other waivers relate to
technical deficiencies in the tariff schedules of some Members.
Governments, their citizens and the WTO
If the claim that "governments do not represent the interests of citizens"
were true, then it is something that citizens need to correct at home. It is
not something that an inter-governmental body like WTO can deal with.
The WTO is owned and driven by its Members. Ambassadors act on
behalf of Ministers, on instructions from their governments, when
Ministers are not meeting. Ministers hold Ministerial Conferences at least
once every two years to keep the WTO accountable. Parliaments and
Congresses must ratify agreements reached. Parliaments represent the
people, that is why we should involve them more in our processes and
we have been doing so. Members of parliament should assemble on a
regular basis to learn what we do and advise and reflect the concerns of
the people they represent. Recently, the WTO approached the
International Parliamentary Union (IPU) to hold a special conference to
sensitize MPs to our work. This was a success and It is planned to hold
further regular meetings of this type. I frequently appear before
congressional and parliamentary committees to give evidence and
explain the workings of the WTO.
Mike Moore
October 2001
Some say governments only represent the interests of the leaders, or of the “executive” arm of government, or of the elite
members of a society or big business. Governments, so this ar-
Governments acting together constitute the WTO
gument goes, do not really represent the interests of citizens. But
this is more about the relationship between governments and
citizens than about the relationship between the WTO and citizens. Some advance arguments that the WTO is “not democratic” because it “overrules” legislation passed by democratically elected governments. But this is a misunderstanding. The
WTO does not “overrule” national laws because it has no constitutional powers to do so in any country. The WTO rules, to which
every Member has agreed in advance, deal with the trade effects
of laws. These rules are made by consensus, approved by each
government and ratified by their respective national parliaments.
Parliaments, therefore, have a responsibility to ensure that the
legislation they pass or have passed is in conformity with the
treaties they approve. WTO Members are, after all, duty bound
to observe their obligations under the WTO Agreement.
And what about a “democratic deficit” in decision-making
amongst WTO Members? The argument that small and poor developing countries are disenfranchised from the decision-making
process of the organization is unfounded. All WTO Members
have exactly the same rights under the agreements. Decisions in
the WTO are taken by consensus (although voting is legally possible under the WTO treaties) and every Member can potentially
veto decisions it does not agree with. This means the least powerful Members of the organization can have strong leverage
powers. After the Seattle Ministerial Conference, all developing
countries, especially the least-developed, unanimously agreed the
consensus principle was the best way of safeguarding their interests. Also, if the charge of democratic deficit were true, why are
there so many small developing countries, from Bhutan to Vietnam, actively seeking accession to the WTO?
The WTO… Why it matters
Of course, not all Members participate in the WTO as effectively
as they would like. Some Members, especially from leastdeveloped countries, need assistance to increase their capacity to
participate in the WTO. For instance, there is a group of leastdeveloped countries that cannot afford to maintain offices in
Geneva. The WTO Secretariat makes extensive efforts to keep
these governments informed about WTO activities. And twice a
year representatives of governments with no offices in Geneva
are invited to the WTO for a week of detailed briefings. However, without additional financial resources, the WTO Secretariat’s ability to assist is limited. Parliamentarians and legislators
have repeatedly said the WTO should be equipped to do more.
A "democratic deficit" in the WTO? What exactly is understood by
"democracy" in the context of the WTO? Some say the WTO is "not
democratic" because citizens do not participate directly in the work of
the WTO. But does this mean the WTO is "not democratic"? After all,
the WTO is a treaty among governments and, like other treaties, does
not directly include citizens. Only governments can negotiate trade rules
for countries. Citizens are expected to be represented at the WTO
through their governments.
The WTO and NGOs
WTO Members have often discussed the possible role of NGOs in
WTO meetings. Several submissions by WTO Members address
this issue and WTO Members have explained often that governments are the ones that represent the interests of all their respective citizens. But that does not mean there is no contact between
the WTO’s Members and representatives of NGOs. The WTO Secretariat, within the mandate given by the Members, has taken
several steps to enhance the dialogue and flow of information to
NGOs. The WTO Secretariat organizes symposia for NGOs, provides regular briefings and has a special NGO section on its website with specific information for NGOs. Since the WTO was established, NGOs have attended all WTO Ministerial Conferences.
“The WTO is made up of 142 Members and operates on a basis of
consensus. This means all Members are equal under the rules. It means
all Members have the right to participate in decision-making. Consensus
means all Members have veto power. WTO agreements are negotiated
by Ambassadors representing their respective countries. Before the
agreements enter into force, they are referred back to Governments.
Governments are in turn accountable to parliaments who are responsible
for passing legislation because our agreements must be ratified by
legislators. Every two years, we are held accountable and given direction
at a Ministerial Conference.”
Mike Moore,
WTO Symposium on Issues Confronting the World Trading System
7 July 2001
(See Annex 2 for the Director-General's address)
At the Seattle Ministerial Conference in 1999 more than 160
meetings (workshops, seminars, private meetings) took place in
the NGO Centre. As in the case of previous Ministerial Conferences, NGOs were briefed on a daily basis by the WTO Secretariat on the progress of the working sessions. Additionally, NGOs
had full access to the press centre located in the official Confer-
Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are specified in
Article V:2 of the Marrakesh Agreement and further clarified in a set of
guidelines (WT/L/162) which were adopted by the General Council in July
The WTO… Why it matters
ence venue. Regardless of the outcome of the Seattle Ministerial
Conference and the tumultuous protests accompanying its proceeding, these features have all been welcomed by NGOs as
genuine signs of transparency.
Violent outbreaks by demonstrators at both the WTO's Geneva
(May 1998) and Seattle (November 1999) Ministerial Conferences have made it harder for some NGOs to win the support of
the WTO’s Members to do more. Some WTO Members are concerned that NGOs themselves are not directly accountable to the
public. And some critics claim that many NGOs do not publish
their accounts or make their internal documents available for
public scrutiny. Although NGOs may fairly claim to represent a
point of view, even a widely held point of view, it would be difficult to agree that NGOs represent citizens in the same way as
elected members of a parliament. Nevertheless, many WTO
Members actively seek NGO involvement and encourage them to
follow the work of the organization.
Over 90% of all WTO documents are now available from the WTO
website. In addition, a monthly list of NGO position papers received by
the Secretariat is compiled and circulated for the information of WTO
Members and the public. Since April 2000 a monthly electronic news
bulletin—with more than 1,300 subscribers—has been available to
NGOs, facilitating access to publicly available WTO information.
Many well known international NGOs are global players with more
resources than the WTO. The WTO budget for 2001 was 134 million
Swiss Francs. That's about $US 91 million. By that measure, the WTO has
fewer resources than many well-known intern ational NGOs such as:
World Wildlife Fund: SFr. 470 million, $US 305 million.
Greenpeace International: EUR 126 million, about $US 123 million.
December 2000
The WTO and NGOs
Nothing in the WTO’s Agreements tells governments how to
prepare for negotiations or the consultations they undertake
with their citizens. Members have repeatedly re-affirmed that
they consider themselves responsible for dialogue with their citizens and for determining how best to represent the interests of
their countries. Members can and often do have wide ranging
national-level consultations on trade policy. In some countries
NGOs exert considerable pressure at the national level and their
views are often included in the trade policy positions taken up by
many governments.
The WTO… Why it matters
If the WTO works for trade, then why not use it to achieve other
policy objectives?
"The open, rule-based trading system has generated an extraordinary
surge in prosperity and dramatic reductions in poverty ….. The trade
liberalization process must continue. But views differ widely on how this
should be done. Some have suggested using trade rules to achieve goals
with respect to labour, the environment and human rights. I believe
instead that full use should be made of the United Nations system to
pursue such goals. To attempt to use the multilateral trading system to
solve problems in these and other areas would place it under great
strain, and would be much less effective than adopting policy solutions
in the sectors themselves "
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General
ECOSOC meeting
July 1998
Many look to the WTO to secure further progress on environmental policy, labour standards, human rights, health, culture
and social marginalization. They want the WTO to use its rules to
enforce ‘core labour standards’ or to sustain trade sanctions
against environmentally damaging production methods.
People often ask, if we can have a binding dispute mechanism
for trade, why not have similar mechanisms to deal with issues of
the environment, labour, gender, indigenous and other areas of
human differences? Good question. Perhaps other institutions
could duplicate the WTO mechanism. However, if the WTO were
to take on all these important additional responsibilities, then we
would not function, and even worse would be an organization
with too much power.
Each global issue has to find its own best policy path. Otherwise,
problems are only transferred from one forum to another. It is
not optimal to solve all non-trade issues through the WTO.
We do not need to make the WTO the substitute for the international system: the UN family of agencies and programmes already exists to fulfil exactly this role. In some cases, the UN’s
Trade values do not conflict with other values
agencies might be strengthened with better enforcement
mechanisms so they can act according to their area of institutional jurisdiction. This would be far better than using the WTO
to enforce policies outside its competence.
Just because the WTO has been very effective in ensuring compliance to trade rules does not mean it should now shift its focus
towards achieving other policy goals. Most WTO Members believe that it should not. They agree that the WTO is a forum for
negotiating trade rules and nothing more.
It’s not just about trade …
Trade is not an end in itself—and neither is trade liberalization.
Several important human welfare goals underpin the WTO
Agreements: improving employment opportunities and productivity, improving food supply and food prices, ensuring better
access to health education and information services. But it is up
to governments to decide how to meet such objectives. Trade
can help provide the means. Trade and other non-economic values can be mutually complementary provided that governments
abide by the rules. For example, a Member's food and health
standards can be the strictest in the world but they should not
discriminate against foreign imports by imposing higher standards on foreign products than those applied to domestic suppliers.
The globalization of markets makes the interaction between
trade regulations and other health and environmental regulations
very common. The WTO Agreements provide governments with
the appropriate flexibility they need to meet their objectives.
Governments do not want to be prevented from restricting imports that may pose unacceptable risks to health or to their environment. But that does not mean they are willing to accept protectionism in the name of protecting health. There is a difference
between the two stances. All Members agree it is possible to
avoid both protectionism and policies that could cause harm to
human health.
The WTO… Why it matters
But the path between the two is very narrow. So agreements are
usually very carefully worded to say how, and in what circumstances, an exception may be used. At the same time, we should
not forget that the benefits of trade can lead to the attainment
of desired non-economic objectives.
Governments may resort to the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement to protect human, animal or plant life and health
but should do so only if:
there is a sound scientific reason for the restriction (if not,
they may take provisional measures while seeking additional
information necessary for a more objective assessment of
the government uses the minimum level of import restriction
necessary to achieve its goals; and
the government does not apply the import restrictions in a
way which discriminates between the exports of other WTO
These rules are about ensuring the lowest possible level of trade
restrictions and avoiding discriminatory import regulations. Why?
Because discrimination disrupts trade, creates conflict between
governments and is costly for producers and consumers.
Trade does not provide a "one size" fits all solution and seeking answers
to a wide variety of problems is as unrealistic and inefficient in the
international sphere as it is in the national setting where one
government Ministry might be doing the work of another.
Some difficult questions
General exceptions—such as those in Article XX of the GATT 1994—
allow governments to do what is necessary to achieve certain policy
goals to safeguard health, the environment and public morals.
Environmental issues
There is a lot of misunderstanding of recent WTO disputes involving government environmental or health regulations.
In fact, in its decision on the case bought by India and others
against the United States’ laws prohibiting certain imports of
shrimp (the ‘shrimp-turtle’ case), the Appellate Body of the WTO
explicitly ruled that governments have every right to protect human, animal or plant life and health and to take measures to
conserve exhaustible resources. The WTO does not have to “allow” them this right. It is a given, ensured by Article XX.
The rulings do not attack environmental policies. The dispute
arose because the protection measures concerned treated foreign suppliers less favourably than domestic suppliers, or discriminated among foreign suppliers or were more trade restrictive than necessary to achieve the desired environmental objective. Article XX clearly states that measures taken to protect exhaustible natural resources, for example, should not be applied
arbitrarily or cause unjustifiable discrimination between Members
where the same conditions prevail. Nor should they serve as a
disguised restriction on international trade. This is clearly contrary
to the fundamentals of fair and open markets—and the rules of
the WTO.
The WTO does have rules about the trade impact of policies that
protect animal, human and plant health. It also has rules about
the trade impact of product labeling. But these rules do not
specify the policies that Members should have; they specify only
that regulations and policies should not discriminate and that any
trade measures—such as import barriers—should be no more
restrictive than necessary to achieve credible policy objectives.
The WTO… Why it matters
Of course, most governments that have signed an MEA are also
Members of the WTO, so it would be reasonable for Members of civil
society to expect governments that are Members of both Agreements to
ensure the provisions negotiated in each domain do not conflict.
The WTO puts some basic limits on subsidies that interfere with
international trade. But the existing rules cannot adequately deal with
subsidies that cause overfishing—and even rules that simply require
subsidies to be reported to the WTO are widely disregarded. Fortunately,
momentum is building for the WTO to take a serious look at agreeing
new fishery subsidies rules in the next few years.
WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature
Brochure issue summary no. 19/99.
An example of an environmental issue that involved fundamental
WTO principles concerns a dispute that arose because the United
States, in an effort to improve its air quality, applied stricter rules
on the chemical characteristics of imported gasoline than it did
for domestically-refined gasoline. Venezuela (and later Brazil) said
this was unfair because US gasoline did not have to meet the
same standards—it violated the ”national treatment” principle
and could not be justified under exceptions to normal WTO rules
for health and environmental conservation measures. The dispute
panel agreed with Venezuela and Brazil. The appeal report upheld the panel’s conclusions (making some changes to the
panel’s legal interpretation). The United States agreed to amend
its regulations.
Multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the
The WTO does cooperate with multilateral environmental
agreements (MEAs) and the relationship between the WTO and
the MEAs has been remarkably smooth. The WTO includes MEA
How could a conflict, if it arises, be dealt with? Since there has been no panel
recommendation or Dispute Settlement Body decision on a case involving
such a conflict, the WTO has not been asked to decide on this issue. But
there is a clue. In the decisions on the 'Shrimp-turtle' case, the Appellate
Body said the legitimate environmental objectives of the US regulation—protection of an endangered species—would justify an exemption from WTO
Some difficult questions
representatives as observers in its meetings and the Secretariat
has been mandated by Members to develop close cooperation
with them. No dispute has so far arisen as the result of a conflict
between a Member’s obligations under the WTO and under an
MEA. But the potential for conflicts should not be underestimated and WTO Members continue to study potential implications. Also, most MEAs do not contain trade provisions, so it
would be reasonable to hope that the opportunity for conflict
between the trade organization and the environmental organizations would be minimal.
It seems possible, then, that trade measures that are required by
MEAs in pursuit of environmental objectives that are—by multilateral consensus—‘legitimate’ and not merely a disguised restriction on international trade would be found to fall within the exceptions of Article XX. In the shrimps dispute, for example, no
party questioned the WTO-consistency of measures taken by
Members to honor their obligations under the CITES Treaty (to
protect endangered species). The consistency of such MEAs with
exceptions allowed under Article XX is therefore not only possible, but very likely.
This distinction between decisions directed at the trade impact and
decisions directed at the policies themselves is important. The WTO has
no rules on the impact of environmental regulations on trade—unless
you count the requirement that no government regulations or policies
should lead to trade discrimination among Members.
obligations under Article XX of GATT (the 'General exceptions' clause) . The
Appellate Body made it as clear as possible that a Member is free to frame its
own environmental laws or to act in accordance with plurilateral or multilateral agreements in pursuit of 'legitimate' environmental objectives. If a member's laws are not unjustifiably discriminatory or a disguised restriction on international trade, then laws that are necessary to achieve these environmental objectives are likely to be covered by the General Exceptions of Article XX.
The WTO… Why it matters
Charlene Barshefsky, the former United States Trade Representative,
acknowledged in October 1999 that "the United States has not relaxed
any environmental law or health or safety law in order to comply with
any WTO ruling" (several of the cases were 'lost' by the US). She
explained that where changes to US laws were made, this was to
remove any discrimination in the treatment of foreign companies and US
Risk assessment and food safety
Complex scientific and technical issues frequently need to be
taken into account when making decisions in the areas of environment, health and many other areas of public policy. In such
cases assessments are needed to identify the potential outcomes
of a decision—for example, whether to approve or not approve a
class of drugs for public use—but also of the different risks that
are associated with alternative outcomes—for example, whether
the risk of harm from unintended side effects is greater than the
risk of harm from the disease.
"The WTO puts no restrictions on the power to create or enforce such
laws. In fact, its basic charter says member countries can take any trade
measures they like to "protect human, animal or plant health". All the
WTO says is that members should not use trade as a weapon when
other issues, such as the environment, are at stake."
The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada,
1 March 2001
The US lost the case, not because it sought to protect the environment but
because it discriminated between WTO Members and thus failed to meet the
full requirements of Article XX. It provided countries in the western hemisphere-mainly in the Caribbean-with technical and financial assistance and
longer transition periods for their fishermen to start using turtle-excluder d evices. It did not give the same advantages, however, to the four Asian cou ntries (India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand) that filed the complaint with the
Some difficult questions
The WTO, like its predecessor the GATT, does not permit its Members to
distinguish between products that have the same characteristics ('like'
products) based on differences in the way they were produced. Why?
Because to do so would bring the rules into conflict with the very basis
of the gains from trade: differences in comparative advantage.
In globalizing economies, it is inevitable that there are trade impacts from some of these policy decisions. The WTO will probably face more and more requests for dispute resolution in matters that involve difficult decisions about scientific evidence, risk
and public policy. Already, in cases such as the EU ban on beef
treated with hormones, or Australian bans on salmon that could
contain fish parasites, WTO panels were asked to rule on
whether a policy took account of sound scientific evidence and
appropriate assessments of risk. In the two cases cited, the governments were found to have acted without proper scientific
And there are specific exceptions. The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS)
Agreement takes into account the need to protect human, animal or
plant life or health.
The WTO has not made any rulings that limit the rights of governments
to make laws to protect their environment or to safeguard their citizens
from safety or health risks.
Precautionary principle
This principle of administration can be used by Members when
there is no readily available science to guide a decision in matters
such as health, safety or the environment and where the risks
appear to be great.
The UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)—a multilateral environment agreement (MEA) with which WTO cooperates—formally endorsed in 2000 the ‘precautionary principle’ as an approach to dealing with novel genetic materials. It is not difficult
to see that there is a potential for conflict over whether a decision is truly ‘precautionary’ or is merely disguised protectionism:
the difference between ‘precaution’ and ‘protection’ may well
The WTO… Why it matters
depend on what is an ‘acceptable’ level of risk associated with
the decision.
But a recent ruling by the Appellate Body in early 2001 concerning
asbestos and products which contain asbestos found health risks to be
relevant in the determination of the likeness of products under the
national treatment clause.
But the labeling option is not as straightforward in practice as it seems:
developing countries in particular are strongly opposed to measures that
allow rich countries to pass national trade rules to impose on them
production standards or processes as a condition of accessing export
While Members have every right to use the highest standards,
developing countries increasingly seek to be consulted before such
measures (which can have devastating effects on their exports) are
passed by national parliaments.
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
Ideas and knowledge are an increasingly important part of trade.
Most of the value of new medicines and other high technology
products lies in the amount of invention, innovation, research,
design and testing involved. Many products that used to be
traded as low-technology goods or commodities now contain a
higher proportion of invention and design in their value—for
example brand name clothing or new varieties of plants.
For something to be patentable, it has to be an invention—which
includes meeting tests of novelty and inventive step. The scope of the
patent right only extends to the invention and not to any underlying
genetic material.
The WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS) is an attempt to narrow the gaps in the
way these rights are protected around the world, and to bring
them under common international rules. The areas covered by
the agreement include copyright and related rights, trademarks,
including service marks, geographical indications, industrial de-
Some difficult questions
signs, patents and the layout designs of integrated circuits. The
agreement addresses how Members are to give adequate protection to intellectual property rights and how countries should
adequately enforce those rights. It also states how disputes over
intellectual property rights are to be settled at the WTO and contains special transitional arrangements.
Striking a Balance …
The WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS) attempts to strike a balance between the
long term social objective of providing incentives for future inventions and creation, and the short term objective of allowing
people to use existing inventions and creations.
The balance works in three ways:
Invention and creativity in themselves should provide social
and technological benefits. Intellectual property protection
encourages inventors and creators because they can expect
to earn some future benefits from their creativity. This encourages new inventions, such as new drugs, whose development costs can sometimes be extremely high.
The way intellectual property is protected can also serve social goals. For example, patented inventions have to be disclosed, allowing others to study the invention even while its
patent is being protected. This helps technological progress
and technology dissemination and transfer. After a period,
the protection expires, which means that the invention becomes available for others to use. All of this avoids “reinventing the wheel”.
The TRIPS Agreement provides flexibility for Members to fine
tune the protection granted in order to meet social goals. For
patents, it allows governments to make exceptions to patent
holders’ rights such as in national emergencies, anticompetitive practices, or if the right-holder does not supply
the invention, provided certain conditions are fulfilled.
The WTO… Why it matters
While the TRIPS Agreement deals with the intellectual property side, it is
silent on the issues addressed in the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) of
the rights of countries to regulate access to biological resources in their
territories on the basis of the principle of prior informed consent and of
arrangements for benefit-sharing. This silence means that the TRIPS
Agreement leaves governments free to legislate in accordance with the
requirements of the CBD on these matters.
Access to medicines
Under the TRIPS Agreement, Members can make limited exceptions to copyright, trademark and patent rights, provided certain
conditions are met. For example, the exceptions must not “unreasonably” conflict with the “normal” exploitation of the patent.
In addition, some countries allow manufacturers of generic drugs
to use the patented invention to obtain marketing approval—for
example from public health authorities—without the patent
owner’s permission and before the patent protection expires. The
generic producers can then market their versions as soon as the
patent expires. This provision is sometimes called the “regulatory
exception” or “Bolar” provision.
The TRIPS Agreement says Members can also act, again subject
to certain conditions, to prevent patent owners and other holders of intellectual property rights from abusing intellectual property rights, “unreasonably” restraining trade, or hampering the
international transfer of technology.
Central to the access to medicines issue is the question of how
people in low income countries can have access to patented or
trademarked drugs, which are often expensive. Proposed answers cover a wide range of issues involving entire healthcare
systems. As far as intellectual property is concerned, the TRIPS
Agreement allows Members to take actions to improve access to
drugs, provided certain conditions are met. Two that are often
discussed in public are compulsory licensing and parallel or greymarket imports.
Some difficult questions
WTO Members to press on, following 'rich debate' on
WTO Members have agreed to examine in greater detail the issues raised in their first special discussion on Intellectual Property
and Access to Medicines in June and September 2001.
“This was a rich discussion, with over 40 detailed and thoughtful
presentations. These presentations reflected the views of many
more than 40 countries because several were made on behalf of
groups of countries, including the least-developed countries, the
African Group, the European Union, and ASEAN. I think I can
safely say that all Members are determined to ensure that the
TRIPS Agreement is part of the solution and not part of the
problem of meeting the public health crises in poor countries.
That includes the HIV-AIDS crisis in my own continent of Africa,
but HIV-AIDS is by no means the only problem.”
Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku, Chairman of the TRIPS
The TRIPS Council will continue to discuss this in a structured and
systematic way. That means looking at the relevant issues, topic
by topic.
The TRIPS Agreement also allows WTO Members to authorize
use by third parties (compulsory licenses) or for public noncommercial purposes (government use) without the authorization of the patent owner. The grounds on which this can be
done are not limited by the agreement, but the agreement contains a number of conditions that have to be met in order to
safeguard the legitimate interests of the patent owner. Briefly,
two of the main conditions are:
an effort must have been made first, as a general rule, to
obtain a voluntary license on reasonable commercial terms
and conditions;
adequate remuneration must be paid to the right holder in
each case, taking into account the economic value of the license.
The WTO… Why it matters
TRIPS and the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)
A main concern about the preservation of biodiversity is the
enormous potential that genetic resources have for enhancing
the welfare of mankind through their use in biotechnology.
Intellectual property rights are an important part of providing the
incentives for research and development in biotechnology, in
both developed and developing countries, and thus for the realization of these benefits. Intellectual property rights can also be
the subject of benefit sharing arrangements with countries or
communities that have supplied the underlying genetic material.
Some recent proposals by a number of WTO Members seek to
use the TRIPS intellectual property regime to make the principles
of the CBD more effective, for example by requiring patent applicants to disclose the geographical origin of any genetic material used in the invention in question and also to demonstrate
that the necessary prior informed consent, was obtained from
the competent authority in the country of origin.
In regard to the relationship of the TRIPS Agreement to the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, it should be emphasized that for something to be patentable under the TRIPS
Agreement, it must be an invention. This means that the patenting of biological material in its natural state, so-called “biopiracy”, is inconsistent with the principles of the TRIPS Agreement.
Traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples
A related problem that is sometimes raised is that of the patenting of traditional knowledge. Because traditional knowledge is
not new, this would be inconsistent with the principles of the
TRIPS Agreement. However, it can happen by error because
much traditional knowledge is not recorded in databases that
can be consulted by patent examiners when they decide whether
or not to grant a patent. Efforts are being made, both at national
and international levels to remedy this problem by drawing up
appropriate databases. One organization undertaking this work
is the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.
Some difficult questions
Another concern is that the intellectual property system does not
provide sufficient opportunities for the communities where the
knowledge originated to protect it from use by others. This concern relates to other traditional cultural manifestations, such as
The debate also focuses on whether the existing intellectual
property system should be complemented with forms of protection directed to issues relating to traditional knowledge, especially of indigenous and local communities. The study of these
matters has begun in WIPO and proposals for WTO action were
made in the preparations for the Seattle Ministerial Conference.
It is recognized that this issue gives rise to complex and difficult
questions. For example, while some intellectual property rights
are potentially indefinite in duration, such as trademarks and
geographical indications, a key feature of the main intellectual
property rights relating to creations and inventions is that, after a
temporary period of protection, such creations or inventions fall
into the public domain and become freely usable by mankind.
Geographical indications
Geographical indications are place names (and sometimes words
closely associated with a place) that are used to describe the origin and characteristics of a product. Examples include Bordeaux
wine, champagne and Roquefort cheese. Terms that are now
used generically (such as cheddar cheese) outside their original
locality do not have to be protected.
The TRIPS Agreement says that normally Members have to protect geographical indications in order to prevent consumers from
being misled. For wines and spirits, the agreement provides a
higher level of protections, i.e. even where there is no danger of
the public being misled.
Some Members want the higher level of protection extended
beyond wines and spirits to include such products as Parma ham,
Darjeeling tea, basmati rice, beers, other agricultural products
and handicraft. Members who propose extending the higher
level of protection to other products say it is illogical to treat
The WTO… Why it matters
wines and spirits as special. Some of them have said they may be
even more willing to negotiate actively in the current agriculture
talks (which began in 2000) if they see progress in extending
higher-level protection to these products. Some other Members
oppose extending this protection to other products. They say the
present agreement reflects a delicate balance of interests both
within TRIPS and between TRIPS and the previous agriculture
negotiations in the 1986-1994 Uruguay Round negotiations.
Services, the GATS
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the first
and only set of multilateral rules governing international trade in
services. It was developed by WTO Members in response to the
huge growth of the services economy over the past 30 years and
the greater potential for trading services brought about by the
communications revolution.
The Agreement that covers trade in services is called the GATS and its
origins date back to the Uruguay Round. Services represent the fastest
growing sector of the global economy and account for 60% of global
output, 30% of global employment and nearly 20% of global trade.
When the idea of bringing rules on services into the multilateral
trading system was floated in the early to mid 1980s a number
of countries were sceptical and even opposed. They believed
such an agreement could undermine governments’ ability to pursue national policy objectives and constrain their regulatory powers. The agreement which was developed, however, allows a
high degree of flexibility, both within the framework of rules and
also in terms of the scheduling of commitments. This is one of
the reasons why, of all the WTO agreements the GATS has been
the least controversial among Members. New negotiations to
liberalize trade in services began on 1 January 2000 and the
working atmosphere has been extremely positive with agreement
being reached in late March 2001 on a set of broad guidelines
and procedures for the negotiations ahead.
Some difficult questions
"Nonetheless, the WTO did spur a massive increase in investment. The
Basic Telecommunications Agreement and the more general trend of
regulatory liberalization triggered a rush to wire up cities and the globe
on a unprecedented scale. From 1997 until 2000, the OECD countries
and developing countries alike saw incumbents and new competitors
ploughing investment into telecommunication infrastructure. For
developing countries investment between 1995 and 1998 tripled the
amount of the preceding decade. As a result the global
telecommunications system grew from half a billion users in 1989 to two
billion last year. Simultaneously the Internet grew from a couple of
million users to 200 million and the number of countries connected to
the Internet rose from 90 to 200. This narrowed the gap between
developed and developing countries, although stark divisions between
the information rich and poor persist."
Dwayne Winseck, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and
Communication at Carleton University,
Daily Mail & Guardian
South Africa
22 August 2001
However, as concerns among governments have diminished, the
GATS has recently come under the spotlight of often hostile
public attention. Most of the criticisms and concerns expressed
essentially revolve around three key issues; the status of public
services, the right to regulate and the developmental dimension
of the GATS.
Exports of commercial services by all countries rose by 1.5% in 1999 to
reach $1,350 billion annually. Even developing countries profited from
services trade. In Africa for example, commercial services exports
expanded by 8.5% in 1999 (mainly due to improved tourism revenues in
Egypt) and represented the strongest increase anywhere in the world.
The WTO… Why it matters
"By the late 1990s the 29 rich countries of the Organisation of Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) accounted for 60% of all
telephone lines worldwide, despite representing only 15% of the world
population. During the 1990s analysts at the World bank estimated that
more than
$7 billion was needed in Africa alone to achieve just one telephone line
for 100 people, while others claimed that $200 billion was needed to
achieve modest levels of access to telecommunication services in
developing countries. According to these analysts the massive infusion of
investment in telecommunications depends on four strategies:
privatization, competition, the World Trade Organization's (WTO)
telecommunication's agreements and adequate regulatory regimes at a
national level."
Dwayne Winseck , Associate Professor , School of Journalism and
Communication at Carleton University,
Daily Mail & Guardian
South Africa
22 August 2001
The GATS does not threaten the right of Members to
maintain public services
It has been claimed that the GATS jeopardizes the right of Members to maintain public services such as health and education
services. This, however, is simply not the case. Governments remain free to choose those services sectors on which they want to
make binding commitments to liberalize. Governmental services
are explicitly carved out of the agreement and there is absolutely
nothing in the GATS that forces privatization of services industries or outlaws governmental or indeed private monopolies.
The GATS “bottom-up” approach to scheduling of commitments
means that Members are not obliged to make commitments on
the whole universe of services sectors, but retain the right to
specify the sectors on which they will take commitments. This
means that governments who do not want to bind levels of foreign competition in a given sector, because they consider it to be
a core governmental function or indeed for any other reason, are
free not to include it in their schedule. In this event only the
minimal obligations such as transparency and the obligation to
Some difficult questions
not discriminate between foreign suppliers apply . But even
when commitments are made on particular services, the GATS
allows Members to exercise a great deal of control over the operation of foreign suppliers in the domestic market. These take
the form of limitations to market access and national treatment
that are written, often in great detail, into Members' schedule of
The existence of a carve-out for services supplied in the exercise
of governmental authority is an explicit commitment by WTO
Members to allow publicly funded services in core areas of their
responsibility. Governmental services are defined in the agreement as those supplied neither on a commercial basis nor in
competition with other suppliers. These services are not subject
to any GATS disciplines, they are not covered by the negotiations
and commitments on market access and national treatment do
not apply to them.
Liberalization under the GATS does not mean
Equating services liberalization with deregulation is a common
misperception. The GATS does not require the deregulation of
any service. Commitments to liberalize do not affect the right of
Members to set levels of quality, safety, price or introduce regulations to pursue any other policy objective as they see fit. A
commitment to national treatment, for example, would only
mean that the same regulations would apply to foreign suppliers
as to nationals. It is out of the question that 142 governments
would have signed up to an agreement that undermined their
right to set qualification requirements for doctors or lawyers or
their ability to set standards to ensure consumer health and
safety—and WTO Members have not done so.
One-off exemptions to the MFN obligation have been taken by Members on
entry into force of the WTO Agreement, and can be taken by acceding
Members. These should, in principle, not exceed a period of ten years.
The WTO… Why it matters
The development of rules on domestic regulation across all services sectors is currently in progress. The intention of these rules
once they are agreed, will be to ensure that qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing
requirements do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in
services. The objective of this exercise is to prevent the use of
disguised restrictions.
Already disciplines have been developed for the accountancy
sector and these provide a good example of a possible outcome
of future work. These are essentially about transparency and
fair process. They do not say anything about the level of professional qualifications or standards for accountants except that
they should not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to
achieve the legitimate objective they seek. This means that if two
or more measures exist that can achieve the same objective, one
should choose the measure with the least trade restrictive impact
on trade. It does not mean that Members would have to compromise the level of quality or consumer protection they are
seeking to achieve through the regulation in question.
Douglas and McIntyre's export sales have increased from 23% of total
sales two years ago to 31% in 2000. More than 80% of their exports go
to the United States, 16% head to Europe; and 3% to Japan and
Australia. "There has been a subtle shift in emphasis in the last five years
to exports being critical and central to what we do. We have changed
our publishing program to focus more on the international market."
Scott McIntyre, President, Douglas and McIntyre Publishing
Group, Vancouver, British Colombia
The development dimension of the GATS
Concerns about the development implications of the GATS are
essentially focused on the investment aspect of the agreement.
Many critics, however, confuse the scope of the GATS and the
Multilateral Agreement on Investment, which was negotiated but
never agreed in the OECD (Organisation for economic develop-
The accountancy disciplines only apply to accountancy commitments and will
come into force at the end of the current round of negotiations.
Some difficult questions
ment) and which was quite fiercely opposed by some NGO and
civil society groups.
These two agreements, however, are completely different. The
GATS does not address policies for foreign direct investment per
se. It simply makes it possible for governments, if they so wish, to
make commitments on the supply of services through establishment, subject to whatever conditions they may wish to apply.
Any legal obligations that Members undertake in relation to certain aspects of their investment regimes are only incidental to the
supply of the service in question.
Some critics have suggested that investment in the supply of
services in developing countries may be to their disadvantage in
holding back the development of domestic service industries.
This view, however, has never been echoed by developing countries in the WTO, who are perhaps in a better position to judge
what is in their best interests. Certainly the prevalence of developing-country commitments on the supply of services through
foreign establishment suggests that they are keen to attract foreign investment rather than shield themselves from it. Many developing countries have also used the agreement to advance
their development agendas by stipulating that foreign establishment must be tied to criteria such as local employment quotas,
universal service provision, training requirements and the transfer
of technology.
WTO agreements complement human rights
The multilateral trading system and the human rights conventions have many features in common. Both grew out of a desire
to promote peace and better standards of living, ensuring full
employment and a growing volume of real income. For instance,
the Preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO
clearly expresses these as goals of the multilateral trading system.
These aspirations are also expressed in Article 55 of the UN Charter and in the human rights conventions. Both are maintained
through the imposition of an international rule of law. Both condemn discrimination on the basis of national origin. They are not
and should not be presumed as somehow contradictory.
The WTO… Why it matters
The report by the Secretary-General on "Globalization and its
impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights" (31 August
2000 A/55/342) to the Fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly
noted that:
"The goals and principles of the WTO agreements and
those of human rights law do, therefore, share much in
common. Goals of economic growth, increasing living
standards, full employment and the optimal use of the
world's resources are conducive to the promotion of human rights, in particular the right to development. Parallels
can also be drawn between the principles of fair competition and non-discrimination under trade law and equality
and non-discrimination under human rights law. Furthermore, the special and differential treatment offered to developing countries under the WTO rules reflects notions of
affirmative action under human rights law. These parallels
can even be traced to the origins of GATT."
The WTO agreements do not preclude actions by individual
Members of the WTO to ensure that international human rights
principles are incorporated into its own activities. It is up to each
individual Member to decide how it wishes to do this. The WTO
agreements do not say anything about the type of policies that a
government may wish to implement to bring about the fulfilment of human rights. For instance, with regard to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(ICESCR), there is nothing in the WTO agreements to prevent
Members from using tax policies to redistribute wealth through
more resources for social security systems and unemployment
benefits (Art. 22 and 23), from ensuring non-discrimination on
grounds of race, colour, sex or religion (Art. 2), providing education and health (Art. 13 and Art.12), providing special measures
for protecting and assisting children and young persons (Art. 10),
enhancing labour rights (Art. 8) or, for that matter, to use any of
the policies that could be said to be at their disposal to help fulfil
their human rights obligations.
Moreover, human rights covenants are primarily about rights and
obligations between individuals and States. WTO agreements, on
the other hand, are best characterized as multilaterally negoti-
Some difficult questions
ated contracts specifying the legal ground-rules for international
trade relations. They represent international legal commitments
taken by a state vis-à-vis another state.
The multilateral trading system supports the fulfilment of human
rights with the establishment of a rules-based multilateral
framework for international trade through inter alia the substantial reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade, the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international trade relations
and the settlement of trade disputes through the rule of international law. In these terms, the multilateral trading system ind irectly contributes to the achievements of ends such as better
standards of living and friendly relations between nations. Without "friendly relations among nations", the potential for interstate wars increases. The worst violations of human rights occur
during wars. Two world wars have shown that peace is best
maintained through international cooperation, the promotion of
the rule of international law and the creation of international
mechanisms and organizations for social, economic and political
stability. The WTO contributes to peace.
The WTO… Why it matters
The world is changing fast. Technology, transportation and
communication systems allow thoughts, people, goods and
services to travel thousands of miles in seconds or hours. This
stimulates business flows and development and inventions.
The role of the WTO’s agreements is to make sure that trade
flows freely and that possible conflicts are resolved by the parties
involved or by the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism. But
what about new forms of business now being conducted over
the internet? And what about new ways of manufacturing or
growing food and concerns over consumer health and safety.
Such issues need to be addressed at the national and international level and in a rules-based framework, especially since they
may have implications and repercussions the world over.
That is why new rules to address these issues must be negotiated
by Members. The WTO, with its role as a forum for negotiation,
is seen by its Members as the place to conduct such talks. And
many have called for these issues and older ones in need of
greater clarification to be included in a new trade round. The
world moves ahead and governments see it as necessary to address today’s critical issues before they become obstacles to international trade.
There is a problem, however, when it comes to which issues
should be addressed first. Each Member has its own list of concerns. This is a result of each Member's differing economic interests and level of development. Negotiating new rules for sustainable development might be a valid goal for an industrialized
country but poorer countries view such moves differently. They
can often not afford to adapt their production methods to higher
standards. Nor are they in agreement about negotiating new
international rules in this area.
Further trade liberalization can help Members meet
environment and development objectives
Citizens the world over worry about their future and the future
of their children. What will the world’s environment be like in 25
Negotiations the WTO's future
years and how safe will our food be in a quarter of a century
down the road? How many people will have risen out of poverty? Many feel these international problems require international solutions But this is not always the case. As most of us
know, achieving good environmental policies often starts at
home. But there are actions taken by national governments
which have international consequences. For example, subsidies
for farmers in many industrialized countries result in over produ ction and an increased use of fertilizers which endanger ground
water supplies. The same subsidies and other barriers to food
imports in those countries able to afford to subsidies for their
farmers decreases chances for developing countries to be competitive in their food exports. This is a situation where national
policies do little to improve the environment and make it even
harder for poorer agriculture export nations to realize the benefits of trade and to use the earnings for improving their social
What happens in farming is also applicable to fishing, forestry
and mining. Correcting these policy positions is central and has
been at the forefront of discussions ever since the Uruguay
Round of multilateral trade talks was launched in 1986. Policies
that harm the environment or do little or nothing to foster economic development are also regularly discussed by Members in
the WTO’s councils and committees. They are also the subject of
campaigns led by such organizations as the World Wide Fund for
Nature, Greenpeace and Oxfam which advocate the achievement
of win-win situations—with positive benefits for the environment
and development objectives.
The WTO… Why it matters
Foreign Affairs
January/February 2001, Volume 80, Number 1
Martin Wolf
Defining globalization
A specter is haunting the world's governments—the specter of
globalization. Some argue that predatory market forces make it
impossible for benevolent governments to shield their populations from the beasts of prey that lurk beyond their borders.
Others counter that benign market forces actually prevent predatory governments from fleecing their citizens. Although the two
sides see different villains, they draw one common conclusion:
omnipotent markets mean impotent politicians. Indeed, this formula has become one of the clichés of our age. But is it true that
governments have become weaker and less relevant than ever
before? And does globalization, by definition, have to be the
nemesis of national government?
Globalization is a journey. But it is a journey toward an unreachable destination—"the globalized world." A "globalized" economy could be defined as one in which neither distance nor national borders impede economic transactions. This would be a
world where the costs of transport and communications were
zero and the barriers created by differing national jurisdictions
had vanished. Needless to say, we do not live in anything even
close to such a world. And since many of the things we transport
(including ourselves) are physical, we never will.
This globalizing journey is not a new one. Over the past five centuries, technological change has progressively reduced the barriers to international integration. Transatlantic communication, for
example, has evolved from sail power to steam, to the telegraph,
the telephone, commercial aircraft, and now to the Internet. Yet
states have become neither weaker nor less important during this
odyssey. On the contrary, in the countries with the most ad-
Annex 1: Will the nation-state survive globalization?
vanced and internationally integrated economies, governments'
ability to tax and redistribute incomes, regulate the economy,
and monitor the activity of their citizens has increased beyond all
recognition. This has been especially true over the past century.
The question that remains, however, is whether today's form of
globalization is likely to have a different impact from that of the
past. Indeed, it may well, for numerous factors distinguish today's globalizing journey from past ones and could produce a
different outcome. These distinctions include more rapid communications, market liberalization, and global integration of the
production of goods and services. Yet contrary to one common
assumption, the modern form of globalization will not spell the
end of the modern nation-state.
The past as prologue
Today's growing integration of the world economy is not unprecedented, at least when judged by the flow of goods, capital,
and people. Similar trends occurred in the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries.
First, the proportion of world production that is traded on global
markets is not that much higher today than it was in the years
leading up to World War I. Commerce was comparably significant in 1910, when ratios of trade (merchandise exports plus
imports) to GDP hit record highs in several of the advanced
economies. Global commerce then collapsed during the Great
Depression and World War II, but since then world trade has
grown more rapidly than output. The share of global production
traded worldwide grew from about 7% in 1950 to more than
20% by the mid-1990s; in consequence, trade ratios have risen
in almost all of the advanced economies. In the United Kingdom,
for example, exports and imports added up to 57% of GDP in
1995 compared to 44% in 1910; for France the 1995 proportion
was 43% against 35% in 1910; and for Germany it was 46%
against 38% in the same years. But Japan's trade ratio was actually lower in 1995 than it had been in 1910. In fact, among today's five biggest economies, the only one in which trade has a
remarkably greater weight in output than it had a century ago is
The WTO… Why it matters
the United States, where the ratio has jumped from 11% in
1910 to 24% in 1995. That fact may help explain why globalization is more controversial for Americans than for people in many
other countries.
Second, by the late nineteenth century many countries had already opened their capital markets to international investments,
before investments, too, collapsed during the interwar period. As
a share of GDP, British capital investments abroad—averaging
4.6% of GDP between 1870 and 1913—hit levels unparalleled in
contemporary major economies. More revealing is that the correlation between domestic investment and savings (a measure of
the extent to which savings remain within one country) was
lower between 1880 and 1910 than in any subsequent period.
Historical differences exist, however. Although current capital
mobility has precedents from the pre-World War I era, the composition of capital flows has changed. Short-term capital today is
much more mobile than ever before. Moreover, long-term flows
now are somewhat differently constituted than in the earlier period. Investment in the early twentieth century took the form of
tangible assets rather than intangible ones. Portfolio flows predominated over direct investment in the earlier period (that trend
has been reversed since World War II); within portfolios, stocks
have increased in relative importance to roughly equal bonds
today. And finally, before 1914, direct investment was undertaken largely by companies investing in mining and transportation, whereas today multinational companies predominate, with
a large proportion of their investment in services.
Today's high immigration flows are also not unprecedented. According to economists Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson, the
greatest era for recorded voluntary mass migration was the century after 1815. Around 60 million people left Europe for the
Americas, Oceania, and South and East Africa. An estimated ten
million voluntarily migrated from Russia to Central Asia and Siberia. A million went from Southern Europe to North America.
About 12 million Chinese and 6 million Japanese left their
homelands and emigrated to eastern and southern Asia. One
and a half million left India for Southeast Asia and Southwest
Annex 1: Will the nation-state survive globalization?
Population movement peaked during the 1890s. In those years,
the United States absorbed enough immigrants to increase the
U.S. population from the beginning of the decade by 9%. In Argentina, the increase in the 1890s was 26%; in Australia, it was
17%. Europe provided much of the supply: the United Kingdom
gave up 5% of its initial population, Spain 6%, and Sweden 7%.
In the 1990s, by contrast, the United States was the only country
in the world with a high immigration rate, attracting newcomers
primarily from the developing world rather than from Europe.
These immigrants increased the population by only 4%.
As all of this suggests, despite the many economic changes that
have occurred over the course of a century, neither the markets
for goods and services nor those for factors of production appear
much more integrated today than they were a century ago. They
seem more integrated for trade, at least in the high-income
countries; no more integrated for capital—above all for longterm capital—despite important changes in the composition of
capital flows; and much less integrated for labor.
So why do so many people believe that something unique is
happening today? The answer lies with the two forces driving
contemporary economic change: falling costs of transport and
communications on the one hand, and liberalizing economic
policies on the other.
The technological revolution
Advances in technology and infrastructure substantially and continuously reduced the costs of transport and communications
throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The
first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid in 1866. By the turn of
the century, the entire world was connected by telegraph, and
communication times fell from months to minutes. The cost of a
three-minute telephone call from New York to London in current
prices dropped from about $250 in 1930 to a few cents today. In
more recent years, the number of voice paths across the Atlantic
has skyrocketed from 100,000 in 1986 to more than 2 million
today. The number of Internet hosts has risen from 5,000 in
1986 to more than 30 million now.
The WTO… Why it matters
A revolution has thus occurred in collecting and disseminating
information, one that has dramatically reduced the cost of moving physical objects. But these massive improvements in communications, however important, simply continue the trends begun
with the first submarine cables laid in the last century. Furthermore, distances still impose transport and communications costs
that continue to make geography matter in economic terms.
Certain important services still cannot be delivered from afar.
Diminishing costs of communications and transport were nevertheless pointing toward greater integration throughout the last
century. But if historical experience demonstrates anything, it is
that integration is not technologically determined. If it were, integration would have gone smoothly forward over the past two
centuries. On the contrary, despite continued falls in the costs of
transport and communications in the first half of the twentieth
century, integration actually reversed course.
Policy, not technology, has determined the extent and pace of
international economic integration. If transport and communications innovations were moving toward global economic integration throughout the last century and a half, policy was not—and
that made all the difference. For this reason, the growth in the
potential for economic integration has greatly outpaced the
growth of integration itself since the late nineteenth century.
Globalization has much further to run, if it is a llowed to do so.
Choosing globalization
Globalization is not destined, it is chosen. It is a choice made to
enhance a nation's economic well-being—indeed, experience
suggests that the opening of trade and of most capital flows enriches most citizens in the short run and virtually all citizens in the
long run. (Taxation on short-term capital inflows to emerging
market economies is desirable, however, particularly during a
transition to full financial integration.) But if integration is a deliberate choice, rather than an ineluctable destiny, it cannot render states impotent. Their potency lies in the choices they make.
Annex 1: Will the nation-state survive globalization?
Between 1846 and 1870, liberalization spread from the United
Kingdom to the rest of Europe. Protectionism, which had never
waned in the United States, returned to continental Europe after
1878 and reached its peak in the 1930s.
A new era of global economic integration began only in the
postwar era, and then only partially: from the end of World War
II through the 1970s, only the advanced countries lowered their
trade barriers. The past two decades, by contrast, have seen substantial liberalization take root throughout the world. By the late
1990s, no economically significant country still had a government committed to protectionism.
This historical cycle is also apparent in international capital investments. Capital markets stayed open in the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, partly because governments did not
have the means to control capital flows. They acquired and haltingly solidified this capacity between 1914 and 1945, progressively closing their capital markets. Liberalization of capital flows
then began in a few advanced countries during the 1950s and
1960s. But the big wave of liberalization did not start in earnest
until the late 1970s, spreading across the high-income countries,
much of the developing world, and, by the 1990s, to the former
communist countries. Notwithstanding a large number of financial crises over this period, this trend has remained intact.
In monetary policy, the biggest change has been the move from
the gold standard of the 1870-1914 era to the floating currencies of today. The long-run exchange-rate stability inherent in the
gold standard promoted long-term capital flows, particularly
bond financing, more efficiently than does the contemporary
currency instability. Today's vast short-term financial flows are
not just a consequence of exchange-rate instability, but one of its
Yet governments' control over the movement of people in search
of employment tightened virtually everywhere in the early part of
the last century. With the exception of the free immigration policy among members of the European Union (EU), immigration
controls are generally far tighter now than they were a hundred
years ago.
The WTO… Why it matters
The policy change that has most helped global integration to
flourish is the growth of international institutions since World
War II. Just as multinational companies now organize private exchange, so global institutions organize and discipline the international face of national policy. Institutions such as the World Trade
Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the
World Bank, the EU, and the North American Free Trade Agreement underpin cooperation among states and consolidate their
commitments to liberalize economic policy. The nineteenth century was a world of unilateral and discretionary policy. The late
twentieth century, by comparison, was a world of multilateral
and institutionalized policy.
Tradeoffs facing states
Ironically, the technology that is supposed to make globalization
inevitable also makes increased surveillance by the state, particularly over people, easier than it would have been a century
ago. Indeed, here is the world we now live in: one with fairly free
movement of capital, continuing (though declining) restrictions
on trade in goods and services, but quite tight control over the
movement of people.
Economies are also never entirely open or entirely closed. Opening requires governments to loosen three types of economic controls: on capital flows, goods and services, and people. Liberalizing one of the above neither requires nor always leads to liberal ization in the others. Free movement of goods and services makes
regulating capital flows more difficult, but not impossible; foreign direct investment can flow across national barriers to trade
in goods without knocking them down. It is easier still to trade
freely and abolish controls on capital movement, while nevertheless regulating movement of people.
The important questions, then, concern the tradeoffs confronting
governments that have chosen a degree of international economic integration. How constrained will governments find themselves once they have chosen openness?
Annex 1: Will the nation-state survive globalization?
Three vital areas
Globalization is often perceived as destroying governments' capacities to do what they want or need, particularly in the key
areas of taxation, public spending for income redistribution, and
macroeconomic policy. But how true is this perception?
In fact, no evidence supports the conclusion that states can no
longer raise taxes. On the contrary: in 1999, EU governments
spent or redistributed an average of 47% of their GDPS. An important new book by Vito Tanzi of the IMF and Ludger Schuknecht at the European Central Bank underlines this point. Over
the course of the twentieth century, the average share of government spending among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member states jumped from an
eighth to almost half of GDP. In some high-income countries
such as France and Germany, these ratios were higher than ever
Until now, it has been electoral resistance, not globalization, that
has most significantly limited the growth in taxation. Tanzi claims
that this is about to change. He argues that collecting taxes is
becoming harder due to a long list of "fiscal termites" gnawing
at the foundations of taxation regimes: more cross-border shopping, the increased mobility of skilled labor, the growth of electronic commerce, the expansion of tax havens, the development
of new financial instruments and intermediaries, growing trade
within multinational companies, and the possible replacement of
bank accounts with electronic money embedded in "smart
The list is impressive. That governments take it seriously is demonstrated by the attention that leaders of the OECD and the EU
are devoting to "harmful tax competition," information exchange, and the implications of electronic commerce. Governments, like members of any other industry, are forming a cartel
to halt what they see as "ruinous competition" in taxation. This
sense of threat has grown out of several fiscal developments
produced by globalization: increased mobility of people and
money, greater difficulty in collecting information on income and
The WTO… Why it matters
spending, and the impact of the Internet on information flows
and collection.
Yet the competitive threat that governments face must not be
exaggerated. The fiscal implications of labor, capital, and spending mobility are already evident in local jurisdictions that have the
freedom to set their own tax rates. Even local governments can
impose higher taxes than their neighbors, provided they contain
specific resources or offer location-specific amenities that residents desire and consume. In other words, differential taxation is
possible if there are at least some transport costs—and there
always are.
These costs grow with a jurisdiction's geographic size, which
thus strongly influences a local government's ability to raise
taxes. The income of mobile capital is the hardest to tax; the income of land and immobile labor is easiest. Corporate income
can be taxed if it is based on resources specific to that location,
be they natural or human. Spending can also be taxed more
heavily in one jurisdiction than another, but not if transport costs
are very low (either because distances are short or items are
valuable in relation to costs). Similarly, it is difficult to tax personal incomes if people can live in low-tax jurisdictions while enjoying the amenities of high-tax ones.
Eliminating legal barriers to mobility therefore constrains, but
does not eliminate, the ability of some jurisdictions to levy far
higher taxes than others. The ceiling on higher local taxes rises
when taxable resources or activities remain relatively immobile or
the jurisdiction provides valuable specific amenities just for that
The international mobility of people and goods is unlikely ever to
come close to the kind of mobility that exists between states in
the United States. Legal, linguistic, and cultural barriers will keep
levels of cross-border migration far lower than levels of movement within any given country. Since taxes on labor income and
spending are the predominant source of national revenue, the
modern country's income base seems quite safe. Of course, although the somewhat greater mobility resulting from globalization makes it harder for governments to get information about
Annex 1: Will the nation-state survive globalization?
what their residents own and spend abroad, disguising physical
movement, consumption, or income remains a formidable task.
The third major aspect of globalization, the Internet, may have
an appreciable impact on tax collection. Stephane Buydens of the
OECD plausibly argues that the Internet will primarily affect four
main areas: taxes on spending, tax treaties, internal pricing of
multinational companies, and tax administration.
Purely Internet-based transactions—downloading of films, software, or music—are hard to tax. But when the Internet is used to
buy tangible goods, governments can impose taxes, provided
that the suppliers cooperate with the fiscal authorities of their
corresponding jurisdictions. To the extent that these suppliers are
large shareholder-owned companies, which they usually are, this
cooperation may not be as hard to obtain as is often supposed.
It is also sometimes difficult to locate an Internet server. If one
cannot do so, how are taxes to be levied and tax treaties applied? Similar problems arise with multinational companies' ability to charge submarket prices to their subsidiaries abroad (socalled "transfer pricing" within multinationals), which leaves uncertain the question of how and in which country to levy the tax.
This scenario suggests that classic concepts in the taxation of
corporations may have to be modified or even radically overhauled.
The overall conclusion, then, is that economic liberalization and
technology advances will make taxation significantly more challenging. Taxes on spending may have to be partially recast. Taxation of corporate profits may have to be radically redesigned or
even abandoned. Finally, the ability of governments to impose
taxes that bear no relation to the benefits provided may be more
constrained than before.
Nevertheless, the implications of these changes can easily be exaggerated. Taxation of corporate income is rarely more than
10% of revenue, whereas taxes on income and spending are the
universal pillars of the fiscal system. Yet even lofty Scandinavian
taxes are not forcing skilled people to emigrate in droves. People
will still happily pay to enjoy high-quality schools or public trans-
The WTO… Why it matters
port. Indeed, one of the most intriguing phenomena of modern
Europe is that the high-tax, big-spending Scandinavian countries
are leading the "new economy."
Governments will also use the exchange of information and
other forms of cooperation to sustain revenue and may even
consider international agreements on minimum taxes. They will
certainly force the publicly quoted companies that continue to
dominate transactions, both on-line and off, to cooperate with
fiscal authorities. But competition among governments will not
be eliminated, because the powerful countries that provide relatively low-tax, low-spending environments will want to maintain
The bottom line is that the opening of economies and the blossoming of new technologies are reinforcing constraints that have
already developed within domestic politics. National governments are becoming a little more like local governments. The
result will not necessarily be minimal government. But governments, like other institutions, will be forced to provide value to
those who pay for their services.
Meanwhile, governments can continue the practice of income
redistribution to the extent that the most highly taxed citizens
and firms cannot—or do not wish to—evade taxation. In fact, if
taxes are used to fund what are believed to be location-specific
benefits, such as income redistribution or welfare spending, taxpayers will likely be quite willing to pay, perhaps because they
either identify with the beneficiaries, fear that they could become
indigent themselves, or treasure the security that comes from
living among people who are not destitute. Taxpayers may also
feel a sense of moral obligation to the poor, a sentiment that
seems stronger in small, homogeneous societies. Alternatively,
they may merely be unable to evade or avoid those taxes without
relocating physically outside the jurisdiction. For all these reasons,
sustaining a high measure of redistributive taxation remains perfectly possible. The constraint is not globalization, but the willingness of the electorate to tolerate high taxation.
Last but not least, some observers argue that globalization limits
governments' ability to run fiscal deficits and pursue inflationary
Annex 1: Will the nation-state survive globalization?
monetary policy. But macroeconomic policy is always vulnerable
to the reaction of the private sector, regardless of whether the
capital market is internationally integrated. If a government pursues a consistently inflationary policy, long-term nominal interest
rates will rise, partly to compensate for inflation and partly to
insure the bondholders against inflation risk. Similarly, if a government relies on the printing press to finance its activity, a flight
from money into goods, services, and assets will ensue—and, in
turn, generate inflation.
Within one country, these reactions may be slow. A government
can pursue an inflationary policy over a long period and boost
the economy; the price may not have to be paid for many years.
What difference, then, does it make for the country to be open
to international capital flows? The most important change is that
the reaction of a government's creditors is likely to be quicker
and more brutal because they have more alternatives. This response will often show itself in a collapsing exchange rate, as
happened in East Asia in 1997 and 1998.
The continuing importance of states
A country that chooses international economic integration implicitly accepts constraints on its actions. Nevertheless, the idea
that these constraints wither away the state's capacity to tax,
regulate, or intervene is wrong. Rather, international economic
integration accelerates the market's responses to policy by increasing the range of alternative options available to those affected. There are also powerful reasons for believing that the
constraints imposed on (or voluntarily accepted by) governments
by globalization are, on balance, desirable.
For example, the assumption that most governments are benevolent welfare-maximizers is naive. International economic
integration creates competition among governments—even
countries that fiercely resist integration cannot survive with uncompetitive economies, as shown by the fate of the Soviet Union. This competition constrains the ability of governments to act
in a predatory manner and increases the incentive to provide
services that are valued by those who pay the bulk of the taxes.
The WTO… Why it matters
Another reason for welcoming the constraints is that selfimposed limits on a government's future actions enhance the
credibility of even a benevolent government's commitments to
the private sector. An open capital account is one such constraint. Treaties with other governments, as in the WTO, are another, as are agreements with powerful private parties. Even
China has come to recognize the economic benefits that it can
gain from international commitments of this kind.
The proposition that globalization makes states unnecessary is
even less credible than the idea that it makes states impotent. If
anything, the exact opposite is true, for at least three reasons.
First, the ability of a society to take advantage of the opportunities offered by international economic integration depends on
the quality of public goods, such as property rights, an honest
civil service, personal security, and basic education. Without an
appropriate legal framework, in particular, the web of potentially
rewarding contracts is vastly reduced. This point may seem trivial,
but many developing economies have failed to achieve these
essential preconditions of success.
Second, the state normally defines identity. A sense of belonging
is part of the people's sense of security, and one that most people would not want to give up, even in the age of globalization.
It is perhaps not surprising that some of the most successfully
integrated economies are small, homogeneous countries with a
strong sense of collective identity.
Third, international governance rests on the ability of individual
states to provide and guarantee stability. The bedrock of international order is the territorial state with its monopoly on coercive
power within its jurisdiction. Cyberspace does not change this:
economies are ultimately run for and by human beings, who
have a physical presence and, therefore, a physical location.
Globalization does not make states unnecessary. On the contrary, for people to be successful in exploiting the opportunities
afforded by international integration, they need states at both
ends of their transactions. Failed states, disorderly states, weak
states, and corrupt states are shunned as the black holes of the
global economic system.
Annex 1: Will the nation-state survive globalization?
What, then, does globalization mean for states? First, policy ultimately determines the pace and depth of international economic integration. For each country, globalization is at least as
much a choice as a destiny. Second, in important respects—notably a country's monetary regime, capital account, and above
all, labor mobility—the policy underpinnings of integration are
less complete than they were a century ago. Third, countries
choose integration because they see its benefits. Once chosen,
any specific degree of international integration imposes constraints on the ability of governments to tax, redistribute income,
and influence macroeconomic conditions. But those constraints
must not be exaggerated, and their effects are often beneficial.
Fourth, international economic integration magnifies the impact
of the difference between good and bad states—between states
that provide public goods and those that serve predatory private
interests, including those of the rulers.
Finally, as the world economy continues to integrate and crossborder flows become more important, global governance must
be improved. Global governance will come not at the expense of
the state but rather as an expression of the interests that the
state embodies. As the source of order and basis of governance,
the state will remain in the future as effective, and will be as essential, as it has ever been.
Martin Wolf is Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times. This paper is based on "The Nation
State in a Global World," presented at the Harry Oppenheimer
Colloquium on Globalization, funded by the Ernest Oppenheimer
Memorial Trust, in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in February 2000.
Excerpts will appear in the winter 2001 issue of the Cato Journal.
The WTO… Why it matters
Welcome speech by Mike Moore; Director-General of the World Trade
Plenary Opening
WTO Symposium on Issues Confronting the World Trading System
Geneva, 6 July 2001
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure to welcome you, it is good you are here and I look forward to the discussions, debate, exchanges and differences over the
next two days.
None of us has perfect knowledge; anything can be improved, that is
why gatherings such as this are important. I would like to see them as a
permanent, regular feature of the WTO's activities—budgeted for,
planned for, and useful to Member Governments, our staff and the
wider public.
I welcome scrutiny, it makes us stronger and more accountable. Thank
you to those who have made this event possible through financial contributions: Canada, European Commission, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
The debate about globalization means we are now closely scrutinized. I
welcome this attention. The WTO does important work and decisions
taken by our institution affect the lives of ordinary men and women all
over the world. It is right that we should be held accountable.
Annex 2: Open societies, freedom, development and trade
Governments recognize the need for international and regional responses to problems we have in common. No single nation alone can
combat Aids, clean the environment, run a tax system and manage airlines without the cooperation of others. This is why we have established
institutions and treaties such as the UN, ILO, WTO, World Bank, and the
Law of the Sea. But there has not been a corresponding dedication of
political resources, time, finance and focus to hold us more accountable
to our owner governments and the people.
Through our initiatives such as the recent IPU Meeting of Parliamentarians on Trade Issues and symposia such as this, we are encouraging
greater involvement from all sectors of political and civil society to help
us do a better job.
Voters and consumers want more information and control, greater accountability and greater ownership. They want to know what their governments are doing not just nationally but also internationally. This is a
good thing. Globally, we are now more prosperous and relations between states are more peaceful than ever before in world history. Yet
many people feel alienated from power and ownership. Ministers now
often find their toughest negotiations are not with each other but at
home inside their Parliaments and Congresses, with coalition parties,
cabinet colleagues, civil society, Member states. It is tougher than in my
Globalization is not new. It is a process, not a policy. Historians argue
that there were higher levels of trade, and certainly a greater movement of people, 100 years ago than there are today. What is new is
that everyone knows about it, has an opinion and that is good. The
questions of how we manage change is what we are here to discuss.
Some think if you abolished the WTO then you would abolish globaliz
ation. I believe that the civilized answer to differences is rules and law.
What brings the WTO into this debate is our dispute settlement system,
which binds outcomes legally. Good people are puzzled. Why, they ask,
can we have a binding system for trade but not the for environment,
labour, children and gender rights, human rights, animal rights, indigenous rights? Why can we not settle differences that drive nations and
tribes to war in a similar way? Good point. I am sure that Kofi Annan
would relish such a system. Critics, who are not all mad or bad, frequently say we have too much power. Some of them want to give us
more powers and responsibilities. It is also about jurisdiction. In which
The WTO… Why it matters
international institution should these powers and responsibilities reside?
We need to recognize the gaps in the international architecture. For
example, there is no powerful, funded, global environmental agency.
There should be. Heavy, fresh and creative thinking must be done
about the roles, functions, jurisdictions, obligations, management and
mandates of all international institutions and how we deliver our services. This is where those not captured by process and bureaucracy can
help the debate. I would welcome your views. A dear friend called our
process and culture "medieval". Hopefully, we are moving into an age
of enlightenment, made brighter by the illumination of the information
age, which will allow us to communicate in ways never dreamed of by
our founders.
The WTO is made up of 142 Members and operates on a basis of consensus. This means all Members are equal under the rules. It means all
Members have the right to participate in decision-making. Consensus
means all Members have veto power. WTO agreements are negotiated
by Ambassadors representing their respective countries. Before the
agreements enter into force, they are referred back to Governments.
Governments are in turn accountable to parliaments who are responsible for passing legislation because our agreements must be ratified by
legislators. Every two years, we are held accountable and given direction at a Ministerial Conference.
We are steadily improving the position and participation of non-resident
WTO Members and helping more modest missions in our work in Geneva. Work is underway by Members in important areas of internal and
external transparency.
Our owners jealously defend their rights and prerogatives. Even having
these symposia is controversial and not universally supported. Let me
share why. Many Ministers and Ambassadors say it is not the job of the
WTO to embrace NGOs and civil society. They say that should be done
at the national level in the formation of national policy positions. They
are correct but only 90% correct.
Now, because I have been so polite and have given you a message of
welcome, may I ask for your assistance. Nothing upsets our owners
more than the mindless, undemocratic enemies of the open society
who have as a stated aim the prevention of Ministers and our leaders
from even meeting. Imagine the attitude of the Minister from South
Annex 2: Open societies, freedom, development and trade
Africa who was imprisoned during South Africa's struggle for freedom
when faced with this attitude in the streets of Seattle. Or the Swedish
Minister who wanted to focus on issues of sustainable development,
Aids and how to extend freedoms we take for granted across a wider
Europe, yet had his leader's conference attacked.
It would strengthen the hand of those who seek change if NGOs distance themselves from masked stone-throwers who claim to want more
transparency, anti-globalization who trot out slogans
that are trite, shallow and superficial. This will not do as a substitute for
civilized discourse.
Who is to blame? There is enough blame for all of us to share. Perhaps
we could consider new principles of engagement. A debate should be
held and understandings reached between civil society, the international institutions and governments for a code of conduct that could
The rejection of violence
Transparency from NGOs as to their membership, their
finances, their rules of decision-making
Governments, business and foundations should insist
on rules of transparency and adhere to an agreed
"code", before they provide funding.
Governments and their institutions should, in return, give those who
follow such rules a stake in the process. And we need to accept that
there is a fundamental difference between transparency and participation on the one hand and negotiations on the other—which in the end
only governments can do.
If a group wishes to help draft such a set of guidelines, I promise to
look at it and talk to other institutions and governments.
Let me turn briefly to the current WTO work programme. Key decisions
will be taken in the weeks and months ahead –decisions that will have
a far-reaching impact on the future of the world trading system. At the
Ministerial Conference to take place in November, we must leave the
WTO stronger and more open, ready to play its full part in international
trade relations. To achieve this, I believe we must launch a new round
The WTO… Why it matters
or a wider set of negotiations. There are several reasons why we need
The economic argument for a new round is compelling. Cutting by a
third barriers to trade in agriculture, manufacturing and services would
boost the world economy by $613 billion, according to one study from
Michigan University. That is equivalent to adding an economy the size
of Canada to the world economy. Doing away with all trade barriers
would boost the world economy by nearly $1.9 trillion, or the equivalent of 2 Chinas. Of course, these are only estimates. Reasonable people can quibble about the exact size of the gains from a new round. But
the basic message from study after study is clear: a new round brings
huge benefits.
We are making progress on market access for LDCs because of EU
leadership, the US-Africa bill, and other initiatives. Twenty-nine countries have made more access available, we must do more but can best
get final progress inside a wider negotiation.
OECD agricultural subsidies in dollar terms are two thirds of Africa's
total GDP. Abolition of these subsidies would return three times all the
Official Development Assistance put together to developing countries.
Kofi Annan wants $10 billion to fight Aids; that is just 12 days of subsidies in dollar terms.
The development argument is compelling. Notwithstanding the advances over the last 50 years, 1.2 billion people are still living on less
than $1 a day. Another 1.6 billion are living on less than $2 a day. It is a
tragedy that while our planet is blessed with sufficient resources to feed
its 6 billion people, many are going hungry and living in misery. Poverty
in all its forms is the greatest threat to peace, democracy, the environment and human rights. The poor fear marginalization more than globalization.
Samuel Brittan produced a chart recently in the Financial Times. Over
the past fifty years, less-developed areas' life-expectancy has risen by
over 20 years, adult literacy from 40% to 70%. For China, literacy is up
by 34 percentage points, India 33, Sub-Saharan Africa 39, and North
Africa 41. Life expectancy for China is up by over 27 years, India by over
21 years and Northern Africa by over 20 years.
Annex 2: Open societies, freedom, development and trade
What does this prove? Little, other than in general the past 50 years has
seen the condition of our species progress at a pace unparalleled in history.
Can I be politically incorrect? Just because the great economic powers
want something, that does not automatically make it wrong. The truth
is a stubborn thing. The EU, Japan and the US account for over 60% of
the world's imports. Some observers have suggested recession for all
three. If that is true, it will be the first time all three have been in recession in 25 years. There is a slow down, how slow we have yet to experience. That cuts jobs and revenue everywhere. I am now reluctant to
predict the economic future, because I have accurately predicted five of
the last two recessions.
A more open world has its dangers, but a closed world divided into
tribal compartments has proved lethal in the past. The tribes of Europe
are a good example. Where the tribes appreciate and respect each
other's differences—culture, music, religion, food and commerce—we
enjoy a united Europe. Human rights and living standards are high. A
united Europe is a force for good. Where tribalism flourishes human
progress and human dignity are imperiled. Compare the Baltic States
and the state of the Balkans. Compare North Korea and the Republic of
Korea. Night and day, open or closed. Before the Soviets moved in to
the Baltic States, they had a living standard comparable with Denmark
and now they are bouncing back; pre-war Czechoslovakia was comparable with France. Is France less French because she is in the EU? No.
Does trade prevent development? Ask Korea, which had a lower living
standard than many African States 45 years ago. Korea now has a living
standard closer to Portugal and look how Portugal has prospered since
she opened up and joined the EU.
I know trade alone is not the answer, but it is part of the cocktail necessary for progress. Good governance, debt relief, infrastructure investment, education, sustainable development, health programmes, all
have a role to play.
I welcome you all and what you have to offer. I look forward to solid
debate and ideas that Ambassadors and Governments and our officials
can pick up, so we can improve our performance and all do a better
The WTO… Why it matters
Albania 8 September 2000
Angola 23 November 1996
Antigua and Barbuda 1 January 1995
Argentina 1 January 1995
Australia 1 January 1995
Austria 1 January 1995
Bahrain 1 January 1995
Bangladesh 1 January 1995
Barbados 1 January 1995
Belgium 1 January 1995
Belize 1 January 1995
Benin 22 February 1996
Bolivia 12 September 1995
Botswana 31 May 1995
Brazil 1 January 1995
Brunei Darussalam 1 January 1995
Bulgaria 1 December 1996
Burkina Faso 3 June 1995
Burundi 23 July 1995
Cameroon 13 December 1995
Canada 1 January 1995
Central African Republic 31 May
Chad 19 October 1996
Chile 1 January 1995
Colombia 30 April 1995
Congo 27 March 1997
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
1 January 1997
Costa Rica 1 January 1995
Côte d'Ivoire 1 January 1995
Croatia 30 November 2000
Cuba 20 April 1995
Cyprus 30 July 1995
Czech Republic 1 January 1995
Denmark 1 January 1995
Djibouti 31 May 1995
Dominica 1 January 1995
Dominican Republic 9 March 1995
Ecuador 21 January 1996
Egypt 30 June 1995
El Salvador 7 May 1995
Estonia 13 November 1999
European Communities 1 January
Fiji 14 January 1996
Finland 1 January 1995
France 1 January 1995
Gabon 1 January 1995
The Gambia 23 October 1996
Georgia 14 June 2000
Germany 1 January 1995
Ghana 1 January 1995
Greece 1 January 1995
Grenada 22 February 1996
Guatemala 21 July 1995
Guinea Bissau 31 May 1995
Guinea 25 October 1995
Guyana 1 January 1995
Haiti 30 January 1996
Honduras 1 January 1995
Hong Kong, China 1 January 1995
Hungary 1 January 1995
Iceland 1 January 1995
India 1 January 1995
Indonesia 1 January 1995
Ireland 1 January 1995
Israel 21 April 1995
Italy 1 January 1995
Jamaica 9 March 1995
Japan 1 January 1995
Jordan 11 April 2000
WTO Members and observers
Kenya 1 January 1995
Korea, Republic of 1 January 1995
Kuwait 1 January 1995
The Kyrgyz Republic
20 December 1998
Latvia 10 February 1999
Lesotho 31 May 1995
Liechtenstein 1 September 1995
Lithuania 31 May 2001
Luxembourg 1 January 1995
Macao, China 1 January 1995
Madagascar 17 November 1995
Malawi 31 May 1995
Malaysia 1 January 1995
Maldives 31 May 1995
Mali 31 May 1995
Malta 1 January 1995
Mauritania 31 May 1995
Mauritius 1 January 1995
Mexico 1 January 1995
Moldova 27 July 2001
Mongolia 29 January 1997
Morocco 1 January 1995
Mozambique 26 August 1995
Myanmar 1 January 1995
Namibia 1 January 1995
Netherlands 1 January 1995
New Zealand 1 January 1995
Nicaragua 3 September 1995
Niger 13 December 1996
Nigeria 1 January 1995
Norway 1 January 1995
Oman 9 November 2000
Pakistan 1 January 1995
Panama 6 September 1997
Papua New Guinea 9 June 1996
Paraguay 1 January 1995
Peru 1 January 1995
Philippines 1 January 1995
Poland 1 July 1995
Portugal 1 January 1995
Qatar 13 January 1996
Romania 1 January 1995
Rwanda 22 May 1996
Saint Kitts and Nevis
21 February 1996
Saint Lucia 1 January 1995
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
1 January 1995
Senegal 1 January 1995
Sierra Leone 23 July 1995
Singapore 1 January 1995
Slovak Republic 1 January 1995
Slovenia 30 July 1995
Solomon Islands 26 July 1996
South Africa 1 January 1995
Spain 1 January 1995
Sri Lanka 1 January 1995
Suriname 1 January 1995
Swaziland 1 January 1995
Sweden 1 January 1995
Switzerland 1 July 1995
Tanzania 1 January 1995
Thailand 1 January 1995
Togo 31 May 1995
Trinidad and Tobago 1 March 1995
Tunisia 29 March 1995
Turkey 26 March 1995
Uganda 1 January 1995
United Arab Emirates 10 April 1996
United Kingdom 1 January 1995
United States 1 January 1995
Uruguay 1 January 1995
Venezuela 1 January 1995
Zambia 1 January 1995
Zimbabwe 5 March 1995
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
Observer governments
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Cape Verde
China, People's Republic of
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Holy See (Vatican)
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Russian Federation
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Taipei, Chinese,
Yugoslavia, Fed. Rep. of
Note: With the exception of the Holy See, observers must start
accession negotiations within five years of becoming observers.
Glossary of terms
Built-in agenda Post-1995 work set out in WTO agreements.
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which has
been superseded as an international organization by the WTO.
An updated General Agreement is now one of the WTO’s
GATT 1947 The old (pre-1994) version of the GATT.
GATT 1994 The new version of the General Agreement, incorporated into the WTO, which governs trade in goods.
General Council Top WTO decision-making body between
ministerial conferences. Usually Geneva-based diplomats. Comprises all WTO members.
Members WTO governments (first letter capitalized, in WTO
Ministerial Conference Supreme WTO decision-making body
comprising ministers from all members. Meets at least once every
two years.
MFN Most-favoured-nation treatment (GATT Article I, GATS
Article II and TRIPS Article 4), the principle of not discriminating
between one’s trading partners.
national treatment The principle of giving others the same
treatment as one’s own nationals. GATT Article III requires that
imports be treated no less favourably than the same or similar
domestically-produced goods once they have passed customs.
GATS Article XVII and TRIPS Article 3 also deal with national
treatment for services and intellectual property protection.
TPRB, TPRM The Trade Policy Review Body is General
Council operating under special procedures for meetings to re-
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
view trade policies and practices of individual WTO members
under the Trade Policy Review Mechanism.
transparency Degree to which trade policies and practices,
and the process by which they are established, are open and
Uruguay Round Multilateral trade negotiations launched at
Punta del Este, Uruguay in September 1986 and concluded in
Geneva in December 1993. Signed by ministers in Marrakesh,
Morocco, in April 1994.
binding, bound see “tariff binding”
electronic commerce The production, advertising, sale and
distribution of products via telecommunications networks.
free-rider A casual term used to infer that a country which
does not make any trade concessions, profits, nonetheless, from
tariff cuts and concessions made by other countries in negotiations under the most-favoured-nation principle.
Harmonized System An international nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization, which is arranged in
six digit codes allowing all participating countries to classify
traded goods on a common basis. Beyond the six digit level,
countries are free to introduce national distinctions for tariffs and
many other purposes.
ITA Information Technology Agreement, or formally the Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products,
under which participants agreed to remove tariffs on IT products
by the year 2000.
ITA II Negotiations aimed at expanding ITA’s product coverage.
nuisance tariff Tariff so low that it costs the government more
to collect it than the revenue it generates.
schedule of concessions List of bound tariff rates.
Glossary of terms
tariff binding Commitment not to increase a rate of duty beyond an agreed level. Once a rate of duty is bound, it may not be
raised without compensating the affected parties.
tariff escalation Higher import duties by stages of processing.
This practice protects domestic processing industries and discourages the development of processing activity in the countries
where raw materials originate.
tariff peaks Relatively high tariffs, usually on “sensitive” products, amidst generally low tariff levels. For industrialized countries, tariffs of 15% and above are generally recognized as “tariff
tariffs Customs duties on merchandise imports. Levied either
on an ad valorem basis (percentage of value) or on a specific basis (e.g. $7 per 100 kgs.). Tariffs give price advantage to similar
locally-produced goods and raise revenues for the government.
WCO World Customs Organization, a multilateral body located
in Brussels through which participating countries seek to simplify
and rationalize customs procedures.
Non-tariff measures
anti-dumping duties Article VI of the GATT 1994 permits the
imposition of anti-dumping duties against dumped goods, equal
to the difference between their export price and their normal
value, if dumping causes injury to producers of competing products in the importing country.
circumvention Measures taken by exporters to evade antidumping or countervailing duties.
countervailing measures Action taken by the importing
country, usually in the form of increased duties to offset subsidies given to producers or exporters in the exporting country.
dumping Occurs when goods are exported at a price less than
their normal value, generally meaning they are exported for less
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
than they are sold in the domestic market or third-country markets, or at less than production cost.
NTMs Non-tariff measures such as quotas, import licensing
systems, sanitary regulations, prohibitions, etc.
price undertaking Undertaking by an exporter to raise the
export price of the product to avoid the possibility of an antidumping duty.
PSI Preshipment inspection—the practice of employing specialized private companies to check shipment details of goods
ordered overseas—i.e. price, quantity, quality, etc.
QRs Quantitative restrictions—specific limits on the quantity or
value of goods that can be imported (or exported) during a specific time period.
rules of origin Laws, regulations and administrative procedures which determine a product’s country of origin. A decision
by a customs authority on origin can determine whether a shipment falls within a quota limitation, qualifies for a tariff preference or is affected by an anti-dumping duty. These rules can vary
from country to country.
safeguard measures Action taken to protect a specific industry from an unexpected build-up of imports—governed by Article
XIX of the GATT 1994.
subsidy There are two general types of subsidies: export and
domestic. An export subsidy is a benefit conferred on a firm by
the government that is contingent on exports. A domestic subsidy is a benefit not directly linked to exports.
tariffication Procedures relating to the agricultural marketaccess provision in which all non-tariff measures are converted
into tariffs.
trade facilitation Removing obstacles to the movement of
goods across borders (e.g. simplification of customs procedures).
VRA, VER, OMA Voluntary restraint arrangement, voluntary
export restraint, orderly marketing arrangement. Bilateral ar-
Glossary of terms
rangements whereby an exporting country (government or industry) agrees to reduce or restrict exports without the importing
country having to make use of quotas, tariffs or other import
Textiles and clothing
ATC The WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing which integrates trade in this sector back to GATT rules within a ten-year
carry forward When an exporting country uses part of the
following year’s quota during the current year.
carry over When an exporting country utilizes the previous
year’s unutilized quota.
circumvention Avoiding quotas and other restrictions by altering the country of origin of a product.
CTG Council for Trade in Goods—oversees WTO agreements
on goods, including the ATC.
integration programme The phasing out of MFA restrictions
in four stages starting on 1 January 1995 and ending on 1 January 2005.
ITCB International Textiles and Clothing Bureau—Genevabased group of some 20 developing country exporters of textiles
and clothing.
MFA Multifibre Arrangement (1974–94) under which countries
whose markets are disrupted by increased imports of textiles and
clothing from another country were able to negotiate quota restrictions.
swing When an exporting country transfers part of a quota
from one product to another restrained product.
TMB The Textiles Monitoring Body, consisting of a chairman
plus ten members acting in a personal capacity, oversees the implementation of ATC commitments.
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
transitional safeguard mechanism Allows members to impose restrictions against individual exporting countries if the importing country can show that both overall imports of a product
and imports from the individual countries are entering the country in such increased quantities as to cause—or threaten—serious
damage to the relevant domestic industry.
Agenda 2000 EC’s financial reform plans for 2000–06 aimed
at strengthening the union with a view to receiving new members. Includes reform of the CAP (see below).
border protection Any measure which acts to restrain imports
at point of entry.
BSE Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow disease”.
box Category of domestic support.
Green box: supports
considered not to distort trade and therefore permitted with no
limits. Blue box: permitted supports linked to production, but
subject to production limits and therefore minimally tradedistorting. Amber box: supports considered to distort trade
and therefore subject to reduction commitments.
Cairns Group Group of agricultural exporting nations lobbying
for agricultural trade liberalization. It was formed in 1986 in
Cairns, Australia just before the beginning of the Uruguay
Round. Current membership: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand,
Paraguay, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay.
CAP Common Agricultural Policy—The EU’s comprehensive
system of production targets and marketing mechanisms designed to manage agricultural trade within the EU and with the
rest of the world.
Codex Alimentarius FAO/WHO commission that deals with
international standards on food safety.
Glossary of terms
distortion When prices and production are higher or lower
than levels that would usually exist in a competitive market.
deficiency payment Paid by governments to producers of
certain commodities and based on the difference between a target price and the domestic market price or loan rate, whichever
is the less.
EEP Export enhancement programme—programme of US export subsidies given generally to compete with subsidized agricultural exports from the EU on certain export markets.
food security Concept which discourages opening the domestic market to foreign agricultural products on the principle that a
country must be as self-sufficient as possible for its basic dietary
internal support Encompasses any measure which acts to
maintain producer prices at levels above those prevailing in international trade; direct payments to producers, including deficiency
payments, and input and marketing cost reduction measures
available only for agricultural production.
International Office of Epizootics Deals with international
standards concerning animal health.
multifunctionality idea that agriculture has many functions
in addition to producing food and fibre, e.g. environmental protection, landscape preservation, rural employment, etc.
peace clause Provision in Article 13 of the Agriculture Agreement says agricultural subsidies committed under the agreement
cannot be challenged under other WTO agreements, in particular
the Subsidies Agreement and GATT. Expires at the end of 2003.
reform programme Programme for reducing subsidies and
protection and other reforms under the Agriculture Agreement.
SPS regulations Sanitary and Phytosanitary regulations—government standards to protect human, animal and plant life and
health, to help ensure that food is safe for consumption.
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
variable levy Customs duty rate which varies in response to
domestic price criterion.
Intellectual property
Berne Convention Treaty, administered by WIPO, for the protection of the rights of authors in their literary and artistic works.
CBD Convention on Biological Diversity
counterfeit Unauthorized representation of a registered
trademark carried on goods identical or similar to goods for
which the trademark is registered, with a view to deceiving the
purchaser into believing that he/she is buying the original goods.
geographical indications Place names (or words associated
with a place) used to identify products (for example, “Champagne”, “Tequila” or “Roquefort”) which have a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic because they come from
that place
intellectual property rights Ownership of ideas, including
literary and artistic works (protected by copyright), inventions
(protected by patents), signs for distinguishing goods of an enterprise (protected by trademarks) and other elements of industrial property.
IPRs Intellectual property rights.
Lisbon Agreement Treaty, administered by WIPO, for the protection of geographical indications and their international registration.
Madrid Agreement Treaty, administered by WIPO, for the
repression of false or deceptive indications of source on goods.
mailbox Refers to the requirement of the TRIPS Agreement
applying to WTO Members that do not yet provide product patent protection for pharmaceuticals and for agricultural chemicals.
Since 1 January 1995, when the WTO agreements entered into
force, these countries have to establish a means by which appli-
Glossary of terms
cations of patents for these products can be filed. (An additional
requirement says they must also put in place a system for granting “exclusive marketing rights” for the products whose patent
applications have been filed.)
Paris Convention Treaty, administered by WIPO, for the protection of industrial intellectual property, i.e. patents, utility
models, industrial designs, etc.
piracy Unauthorized copying of copyright materials for commercial purposes and unauthorized commercial dealing in copied
Rome Convention Treaty, administered by WIPO, UNESCO
and ILO, for the protection of the works of performers, broadcasting organizations and producers of phonograms.
TRIPS Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
UPOV International Union for the Protection of New Varieties
of Plants (Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions
Washington Treaty Treaty for the protection of intellectual
property in respect of lay-out designs of integrated circuits.
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization.
export-performance measure Requirement that a certain
quantity of production must be exported.
FDI Foreign direct investment.
local-content measure Requirement that the investor purchase a certain amount of local materials for incorporation in the
investor’s product.
product-mandating Requirement that the investor export to
certain countries or region.
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
trade-balancing measure Requirement that the investor use
earnings from exports to pay for imports.
TRIMS Trade-related investment measures.
Dispute settlement
Appellate Body An independent seven-person body that,
upon request by one or more parties to the dispute, reviews
findings in panel reports.
automaticity The “automatic” chronological progression for
settling trade disputes in regard to panel establishment, terms of
reference, composition and adoption procedures.
DSB Dispute Settlement Body—when the WTO General Council meets to settle trade disputes.
DSU The Uruguay Round Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes.
nullification and impairment Damage to a country’s benefits
and expectations from its WTO membership through another
country’s change in its trade regime or failure to carry out its
WTO obligations.
panel Consisting of three experts, this independent body is
established by the DSB to examine and issue recommendations
on a particular dispute in the light of WTO provisions.
accounting rate In telecoms, the charge made by one country’s telephone network operator for calls originating in another
commercial presence Having an office, branch, or subsidiary
in a foreign country.
GATS The WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services.
Glossary of terms
general obligations Obligations which should be applied to
all services sector at the entry into force of the agreement.
Initial commitments Trade liberalizing commitments in services which members are prepared to make early on.
modes of delivery How international trade in services is supplied and consumed. Mode 1: cross border supply; mode 2: consumption abroad; mode 3: foreign commercial presence; and
mode 4: movement of natural persons.
multi-modal Transportation using more than one mode. In the
GATS negotiations, essentially door-to-door services that include
international shipping.
national schedules The equivalent of tariff schedules in GATT,
laying down the commitments accepted—voluntarily or through
negotiation—by WTO members.
natural persons People, as distinct from juridical persons such
as companies and organizations.
offer A country’s proposal for further liberalization.
protocols Additional agreements attached to the GATS. The
Second Protocol deals with the 1995 commitments on financial
services. The Third Protocol deals with movement of natural persons.
prudence, prudential In financial services, terms used to describe an objective of market regulation by authorities to protect
investors and depositors, to avoid instability or crises.
schedule “Schedule of Specific Commitments”—A WTO
member’s list of commitments regarding market access and
bindings regarding national treatment.
specific commitments See “schedule”.
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
Regionalism/trade and development
ACP African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Group of 71
countries with preferential trading relation with the EU under the
former Lomé Treaty now called the Cotonou Agreement.
Andean Community Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The seven
ASEAN members of the WTO—Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand—often speak
in the WTO as one group on general issues. The other ASEAN
members are Laos and Vietnam.
Caricom The Caribbean Community and Common Market
comprises 15 countries.
CTD The WTO Committee on Trade and Development
Customs union Members apply a common external tariff (e.g.
the EC).
EC European Communities (official name of the European Union in the WTO).
EFTA European Free Trade Association.
free trade area Trade within the group is duty free but members set own tariffs on imports from non-members (e.g. NAFTA).
G15 Group of 15 developing countries acting as the main political organ for the Non-Aligned Movement.
G77 Group of developing countries set up in 1964 at the end
of the first UNCTAD (originally 77, but now more than 130 countries).
G7 Group of seven leading industrial countries: Canada,
France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States.
Glossary of terms
GRULAC Informal group of Latin-American members of the
GSP Generalized System of Preferences—programmes by developed countries granting preferential tariffs to imports from
developing countries.
HLM WTO High-Level Meeting for LDCs, held in October 1997
in Geneva.
ITC The International Trade Centre, originally established by the
old GATT and is now operated jointly by the WTO and the UN,
the latter acting through UNCTAD. Focal point for technical cooperation on trade promotion of developing countries.
LDCs Least-developed countries.
MERCOSUR Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement of Canada,
Mexico and the US.
Quad Canada, EC, Japan and the United States.
SACU Southern African Customs Union comprising Botswana,
Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
S&D “Special and differential treatment” provisions for developing countries, contained in several WTO agreements.
UNCITRAL United Nations Centre for International Trade Law,
drafts model laws such as the one on government procurement.
UNCTAD The UN Conference on Trade and Development.
Trade and environment
Agenda 21 The Agenda for the 21st Century—a declaration
from the 1992 Earth Summit (UN Conference on the Environment and Development) held in Rio de Janeiro.
The WTO: Current issues, future challenges
Article XX GATT Article listing allowed “exceptions” to the
trade rules.
Basel Convention
An MEA dealing with hazardous waste.
BTA Border tax adjustment
CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. An MEA.
CTE The WTO Committee on Trade and Environment.
EST Environmentally-sound technology.
EST and products.
ex ante, ex post Before and after a measure is applied.
LCA Life cycle analysis—a method of assessing whether a good
or service is environmentally friendly.
MEA Multilateral environmental agreement.
Montreal Protocol An MEA dealing with the depletion of the
earth’s ozone layer.
Process and production method.
TBT The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
waiver Permission granted by WTO members allowing a WTO
member not to comply with normal commitments. Waivers have
time limits and extensions have to be justified.

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