Trade, Inclusiveness, Inequality and the WTO: A South African Perspective on a Complex Debate
Economic globalisation is coming under increasing scrutiny in many parts of the world. In particular, its trade aspect is increasingly, and critically, being questioned, by populist politicians in the West and developing worlds alike. In the process important questions are being posed, particularly concerning whether trade exacerbates, or even causes, inequality in countries and leads to the exclusion of relatively marginal constituencies. This scepticism is being parlayed into the multilateral trading system, raising existential questions about the future of the WTO and of the liberal international economic order of which it is part. Accordingly, the paper reviews key issues and debates related to these themes, and applies them to African and South African contexts. It concludes with high-level recommendations for the South African government as it prepares for the 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Buenos Aires.