Democracy & Nature, Vol. 3, No. 3
The Future of the World Trade Organization: Proposals for Fair and Environmentally Sustainable Trade
The paper begins by noting that trade theory gives no grounds for assuming that, in general, trade liberalisation will necessarily be beneficial for all the countries concerned. It notes that, with economic globalisation, a number of controversial issues have arisen with regard to trade liberalisation, including human rights, working conditions, environmental degradation and conditions in the poorest developing countries. There is a wide range of suggested responses to these issues, from continued trade liberalisation to a new protectionism. The paper argues broadly for reform of the international trading system within a conunuing general framework of multilateralism and non—discrimination, but with permitted exceptions to these prrnciples in order to pursue clearly defined objectives. This approach is illustrated in some detail with regard to the environment. The conclusion states that the establihshment of the World Trade Organizatwn (WTO) provides a rare opportunity to address environmental and other problems through reform of the rules and procedures inherited from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).