Reforming the World Trade Organization

Historic lows come to surface for the Trade Barometer index. The continued drop in goods, due to the pandemic, places the index at 95.6 points. That is 1.2 points lower than the first reading in March. readings below 100 indicate uncertain trends.

The index is designed to identify turning points and gauge momentum in global trade growth. The volume of service trade fell by 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to last year.

The Trump administration has never hidden its disdain for the World Trade Organization. An author agrees it might be time to reform the WTO.

This week the WTO said U.S. tariffs on China violated global trade rules. The U.S. Trade Representatives scoffed at that.

Marianne Schneider-Petsinger is a senior researcher at a British firm that studies international issues. She recently published a paper on reforming international trade, suggesting the WTO consist of only a handful of countries.

“Now there’s been a long standing debate whether this has been a stepping stone or perhaps a stumbling block for multilateral systems, and I think really the way forward will be in plurilateral agreement,” she states. “Now, plurilateral agreements they involve a subset of WTO members and are usually focused on a specific section of the economy that’s different from multilateral agreements that covers all 164 WTO members.”

Petsinger says the WTO must balance the demands of 21st century trade and resolved old trade issues.

Future of the WTO depends on who wins the election in November.