The WTO and the Uncertain Future of Multilateralism

October 2, 2013

The World Trade Organization has been a pillar of the global trading system since its inception in 1995, serving an especially important role in the adjudication of trade disputes and, ultimately, helping to subdue protectionism. But the failure of multilateral negotiations to achieve broader and deeper reductions in global trade barriers, while bilateral and regional agreements have flourished, raises important questions about the WTO and its future. Will large agreements that establish new rules in new areas, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, relegate the WTO to insignificance, merely lower its profile, or provide a much-needed jolt by suggesting best practices that will ultimately strengthen the multilateral system?

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