Should countries surrender sovereignty in the name of freer trade? Be they politicians or citizens, few would argue in the affirmative. Indeed, the most vehement opposition to ratification of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) by the United States prior to December 1994 rested not on calculations of economic costs and benefits but on the "sovereignty argument." Under the new World Trade Organization (WTO), the likes of Ross Perot, Pat Choate, and Ralph Nader argued, an international panel of unelected experts would now be allowed to annul national laws and regulations duly passed by the U.S. Congress and reviewed by the courts. This made the WTO unacceptable in their eyes. Interestingly, defenders of the agreement followed the same logic by countering that the WTO did not involve any forfeiture of sovereignty.
In fact, Ralph Nader is right. Any country, including the United States, can theoretically be forced under GATT to withhold applying to foreign products and producers its national standards and regulations designed to protect consumers. This situation questions not only sovereignty at the border but also sovereignty within borders. But he is also wrong on three counts. This situation is neither new nor very bold. Moreover, there are ways to make such sharing of sovereignty ultimately beneficial to domestic and foreign consumers alike.____________________