Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Globalization and the World Trade Organization from the Perspective of the Underdeveloped World

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Globalization and the World Trade Organization from the Perspective of the Underdeveloped World

Article excerpt

The author examines the work of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from the point of view of the underdeveloped nations. He argues that the WTO professes to facilitate global prosperity by removing all forms of barriers to trade. A rules-based, member-driven organization, the WTO was established to administer global trade agreements, to provide a forum for trade negotiations, handle trade disputes, and cooperate with other international organizations to provide technical assistance and training to underdeveloped countries. But the author sees it from a very different perspective, and expresses a view that is not uncommon within the underdeveloped world. He says that while the WTO accelerates prosperity for some states, it perpetuates poverty in other member states. Providing an aggregate of empirical evidence and logical plausibility, he argues that the WTO is an undemocratic organization used by the multinational corporations (MNCs) to assault and marginalize the national sovereignty of peripheral member states in which it actually perpetuates poverty. While promoting globalization, it prevents development in underdeveloped states by supporting the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, which he claims institutionalizes a monopolistic system of intellectual property rights. International development, he claims, would be better served by a free system of bilateral and multilateral regional trade agreements.

Key Words: Globalization; Underdevelopment; Marginalization; Multinational Corporations; Peripheral countries; Bilateralism; Multilateralism; World Trade Organization (WTO); opposition to WTO.

Editor's note: In this article, the author expresses a perspective that is not uncommon in the underdeveloped world. Although it runs counter to the view of the WTO that is conventionally held in the developed nations, it is a perception that all those who are thoughtful about the world economy will do well to understand. With this in mind, we have thought it worthwhile to allow its emotion full rein even though passionate language is uncharacteristic in an academic journal.

The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) created the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1995 to oversee and implement the reductions in tariffand other non-tariffbarriers that it negotiated. The WTO provides procedures for negotiating more tariffreductions and ruling on disputes arising over trade. Indeed, the WTO superseded GATT in all of its functions, and is now the world's organization for supposedly global trade enhancement. On July 23, 2008, it had 153 member nations, including states from the peripheral countries, and it accounted for more than 97 percent of world trade1. The WTO is a rules-based, member-driven organization that claims to administer global trade agreements, provide a forum for trade negotiations, handle trade policies, cooperate with other international organizations, and purportedly provide technical assistance and training to the underdeveloped countries. Its major body is a ministerial conference that meets at least once every two years to discuss and resolve trade policy issues. The WTO also has a General Council that oversees its operations, dispute settlement efforts, and other decisions. The General Council concentrates its activities in three areas: trade in goods, trade in services, and trade-related aspects of intellectual property protection.

What are the mechanisms for resolving a dispute if a member state is guilty of unfair trade practices against another member? Under the WTO's dispute-resolution system, member countries can file complaints against other members with the WTO. If subsequent negotiations fail to resolve a dispute, the matter is turned over to a WTO panel of trade experts who issue a formal decision. A member state found guilty of unfair trade practices can legally refuse to comply with the panel's ruling. …

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