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Does Trade Multilateralism have a Future?: Reviving the WTO’s Credibility as the premier Multilateral Trade Negotiating Forum (MULTITRADE)
Start date: Nov 10, 2014, End date: Aug 9, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

In the present climate of weak economic prospects, the developed countries have seen a growing disenchantment with globalisation and trade liberalisation. Irrespective of their stated interest in enhancing export revenue to bridge fiscal gaps, strong protectionist tendencies are surfacing. Also, the focus seems to be shifting from multilateralism, made evident from the failure to conclude the on-going Doha Round of WTO negotiations and the recent spurt in FTA negotiations worldwide. On the other hand, developments since the recent financial crisis indicates that the WTO is yet to lose it’s relevance as the multilateral referee of global trade relations, as least insofar as its rule-making and dispute-settlement roles are concerned. The laudable resilience of the global trading system and WTO institutions notwithstanding, recent experience with Doha Development Round negotiations has highlighted the need for systemic changes in WTO, in the interest of making the organisation more credible and efficient.It is in this context that this project proposes to analyse possible contours of a reinvigourated multilateral trade negotiation system and trade liberalising philosophy, one that can meet the trade challenges and political-economy realities of the 21st century. To do this, the project will look at the contours of a more constructive engagement and leadership by emerging economies (and in particular Brazil, India and China) in the international trade negotiations, especially given that the major industrialised countries have now reduced their leadership in the WTO-led multilateral trade negotiations. The project will also evaluate the acceptability of a developing-country-led negotiating template that might emerge as result. Finally, we would discuss how the WTO could be reformed to institutionalise systems and governance modalities that foster/boost dynamic comparative advantages for all Members, and the specific role of emerging markets in restoring WTO’s supremacy.

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