Thursday, August 11, 2016

Kristen Hopewell's "Breaking the WTO"

Kristen Hopewell is Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at the University of Edinburgh.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Breaking the WTO: How Emerging Powers Disrupted the Neoliberal Project, and reported the following:
Breaking the WTO analyzes the impact of contemporary power shifts on the World Trade Organization (WTO), one of the most powerful institutions responsible for governing the global economy. For over half a century, the trading system was dominated by the US and other advanced-industrialized states, with developing countries and their interests severely marginalized. However, over the course of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, which began in 2001, new powers from the developing world – China, India and Brazil – emerged as major players at the WTO and came to have a significant impact on the negotiations.

Page 99 charts that impact, showing that the new powers succeeded both in putting issues of importance to developing countries at the center of the round and in blocking initiatives advanced by the US and other rich countries that were unfavorable to their interests. Compared to previous rounds of multilateral trade negotiations, the change has been profound. Working together, China, India and Brazil demonstrated the power to resist an unbalanced deal as well as to successfully make meaningful demands of the US and other traditional powers.

As the remainder of the book shows, the US had long been the primary driver of liberalization in the international trading system, using its position as the dominant political and economic power to push other countries to open their markets to its exports, while nonetheless maintaining significant protections in sensitive areas of its own. But in the Doha Round, for the first time, China, India and Brazil turned the tables on the US and other rich countries, pressing them to live up to their professed principles of free trade and open and liberalize their own markets.

Challenging the hypocrisy and double-standards built into the trading system, the emerging powers embraced the free trade principles of the WTO and demanded that the institution equally serve their interests. However, this threw the rising powers into direct conflict with the US and other traditional powers. The result has been a stalemate in the Doha Round, throwing the WTO and its neoliberal project into crisis.
Learn more about Breaking the WTO at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue