WTO: The reawakening of protectionism
This intelligence update describes the growing protectionist stance of the European Union in its trade relations with other states. This harms not only the economic recovery prospects of developing nations, but also the credibility and integrity of the WTO and the system of global free trade. Disagreements between the US and EU jeopardise transatlantic trade, and undermine the legitimacy of the WTO. The WTO should prioritise protectionism, as well as the need for a global anti-trust regime should top the WTO’s agenda, enhanced by reform of the institutional and operational features of the WTO’s dispute resolution panels. Growing protectionism at global level contrasts with regional commitments to liberalisation, and the protectionist impetus could hinder progress towards more open economies and trade regimes. The WTO cannot ignore these issues if it is to continue as guardian of a free trade system. There are two possible scenarios: institutional reform of the WTO, or an ostrich-like response from the global guardians of free trade. In the latter scenario, closed regionalism would gain ground. Given the increase in antidumping cases in the jurisdictions of the EU, the US and before the WTO, this causes great concern and highlights the need for a pre-emptive strike at the challenge to the credibility of the WTO.