The World Trade Organisation Opportunities and Threats

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It would seem that key to the WTO’s future success is its ability to ensure that free trade becomes fairer, and that the benefits of free trade are spread more evenly.

The WTO has a difficult job. It must reconcile not only the diverse interests of developed economies but developing ones also. It must reconcile the interests of governments, business and people, rich and poor. It must balance the wealth-creating potential of free trade, with the inequality it can also intensify. It must take account of the environment and make allowances for cultural difference and uniqueness.

The WTO’s role today is not as simple as it was: trade issues and disputes are incredibly complex affairs, which, without the WTO, would inevitably sink into protectionism and conflict, and that would benefit no-one.


1. Find out, using relevant sources, such as the WTO web site, the issues and problems encountered by the WTO at the Seattle Summit in 1999. How do the problems and issues reflect those identified above?

2. Can free trade ever be fair trade?

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