In and around the World Trade Organization (WTO), a pea-soup fog of details and techniques obscures a wider view, a strategic sense of how the international trading system is poised and where it is heading. The cross-border integration of markets and technological change will continue to pose great challenges for World Trade Organization rules and procedures, as will the evolution of international public and private law. The focus of this briefing is a third great force: power and politics. American leadership secured the peace for the non-communist world through intergovernmental co-operation and international institutions. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was the most successful expression of such ‘liberal internationalism’. The micro –political environment has changed in key respects. The World Trade Organisation is its foremost expression, especially through its disputes settlement mechanism.