Commentary Type

Book Launch: Revitalizing the World Trading System


When I left the WTO on March 31st, 2021, I was intent upon writing a guidebook to the institution. What I had in mind was the kind of book that I would have benefited from when I arrived at the WTO in the summer of 2017.

It was not that I was unfamiliar with the rules of the international trading system. After all I had spent close to a half century in the field of international trade law and negotiations.

Despite all this experience, I knew that I was not familiar with all important aspects of the operations of the organization. This is also the case for most representatives newly appointed from member countries who are about to serve in Geneva at the WTO, for the trade officials back home, and for that matter, members of the public.

My idea was that if more people, more students, more officials, understood what the WTO stood for, how it worked, and where it did not work, and knew more about where the rule book had gaps, there would be a sound foundation for making improvements in the organization, and therefore improve the functioning of the world trading system.

My book is about the world trading system that enlightened foreign economic policies created just after the end of the Second World War, and the need for that system to be made equal to the major challenges facing the world today – whether due to climate change, future pandemics or the impact of continuing technological advances, including artificial intelligence.

The world trading system stands for the proposition that international cooperation based upon both the rule of law and on sound economic principles, is essential to the future well-being and prosperity of the peoples in all of the 164 WTO member countries and holds a promise for a better future for the 23 countries seeking to join this institution. The member countries including those in Latin America are linked to other nations by this common interest.

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