In the ongoing discussion about the world trading system it's important to make a distinction between the possibility versus the probability of the failure to launch a new round as in Seattle in November 1999. The latter required a catalyst to trigger the outcome of failure. But the transformation of the trading system combined with the structural weakness of the WTO (World Trade Organization) would have ensured that even 'success' could not guarantee the future of a rules-based multilateral system in the absence of fundamental reform of the WTO.
The following discussion will first summarize the main transformative changes in the system which include the impact of the Uruguay Round as well as changes in the policy ambience and the policy process. I will then highlight the most urgent reforms needed to keep the system going and briefly note the longer-term changes required in the international governance architecture.
Without exaggeration, one could say that the ambience of trade policy-making has profoundly changed since the end of the Uruguay Round in 1994. This discussion will track the roots of this change to the transformation in the