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The Need for WTO Reform: Where to Start in Governing World Trade?


The World Trade Organization (WTO) faces an existential crisis and its main functions are eroding. Its rulemaking function must be revised to govern the current trading environment. Its dispute settlement system, particularly the Appellate Body, has been deadlocked; the impasse must be resolved. Leading stakeholders have presented several reform proposals; however, the main challenge comes from systemic issues embedded in the geopolitical rivalry among major Group of Twenty (G20) members. The reform is not an easy process in a member-driven institution where consensus is strictly required. The G20 represents a critical mass of world trade and must play a collective leadership role with deliberate dialogue in order to provide a coherent approach that identifies divisions and creates solutions. This policy brief provides recommendations for the initial steps that the G20 can take to support WTO reforms.

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