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Valdai Paper #23: The Future of the Global Trading System

15.07.2015

This paper explores the possibilities and prospects for the global trading system. It does so initially by tracing the roots of the schisms that have recently emerged out of the latest round of trade talks. The 23th Valdai paper is devoted to the future of the Global Trading Relations.

In the mid-1990s, there was a moment of glory and satisfaction for those crafting the global trading system. The Uruguay Round of global trade talks had come to a successful conclusion. The participants erected the new World Trade Organization (WTO) atop the makeshift structure of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

According to the author in the decades the ebullience has faded away. In his most recent statement on their prospects, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo concluded, “it is hard to see a way forward.”

This paper explores the possibilities and prospects for the global trading system. It does so initially by tracing the roots of the schisms that have recently emerged out of the latest round of trade talks. Then it considers the new institutional approaches – mega-regional agreements and WTO plurilaterals – that followed the breakdown of global talks. Finally, the paper will consider where these trends are likely to lead and how major participants in the system can work to shape its future.

The author of the article is Philip I. Levy, Senior Fellow on the Global Economy, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Adjunct Professor of Strategy, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

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