Academic Paper

Geopolitical competition, globalisation and WTO reform

Hoekman, B. M., Mavroidis, P. C., & Nelson, D. R. (2023). Geopolitical competition, globalisation and WTO reform. The World Economy, 46, 1163–1188.

Published 28 May 2023

This paper discusses options to manage spillovers of unilateral trade policies motivated by national security and other non-economic objectives on global trade and investment. Within the WTO framework, we argue a ‘specific trade concern’ mechanism is likely to be more effective than dispute settlement to address national security-motivated trade intervention. More broadly, we propose creation of a platform for governments, supported by relevant international organisations, to enhance transparency and assess the effectiveness and magnitude of the spillover effects of trade/related policies of systemic import. This would serve to help identify efficient instruments to achieve economic and non-economic goals and inform WTO reform discussions on subsidies and discriminatory trade policies. Plurilateral cooperation among like-minded nations offers a pragmatic pathway to address spillover effects of policies to achieve security and other non-economic objectives but requires a stronger governance framework to ensure consistency with an open multilateral trading system.

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Bernard Hoekman

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