The short answer is it’s the bedrock of international trade and it matters a lot! This second PD session was led by George Riddell and Arne Mielken, two Company members who are involved with the World Trade Organisation on a daily basis and gave us an expert and inside view on its history, current role and future.
Did you know that 80% of world trade is conducted on the basis of WTO rules although free trade agreements seem to get more coverage? It is particularly valued by business because, unlike other international bodies, it provides a binding dispute settlement mechanism.
It is best seen as a trade liberalisation movement that provides a rules based system within which trade negotiations can take place. It is by no means perfect – it’s ‘one member, one vote’ system allows even the smallest least developed nation a voice but makes reaching consensus difficult and slow as one size never fits all. The need for speed was identified as one improvement the organisation could work on.
The WTO is changing and developing with the times and the plan is to publish periodic papers for World Traders to keep us all up to date on those developments. And it is likely there will be further PD sessions on specific WTO topics. Watch this space!
Thanks again to George and Arne for a fascinating hour and do keep an eye on Clerk’s Notes for details of the next session.