Understanding the GATT’s wins and the WTO’s woes

CEPR Policy Insight No 49

Richard Baldwin

The WTO is said to be in a funk – unable to conclude the Doha Round even as its members liberalise unilaterally and regionally. This Policy Insight argues that tactics used to get consensus at the last Round pushed the organisation into decision-making’s “impossible trinity” (consensus, uniform rules, and strict enforcement). A Doha package with something for everyone may be found, thus defeating the impossible triangle. The big-package tactic, however, won’t help the WTO confront 21st century challenges in a timely manner; for that, at least one of the triangle’s corners must be modified.