MJIEL Vol 2 Issue 2 2005 - Article 1


The free trade paradigm that envelops the new economic order is facing a mid-life crisis. Trade liberalization is a polarizing concept that has divided scholars, trade experts, jurists, economists and trade blocs alike into two opposing schools of thought. Much of the debates have borne themselves out in the last decade as the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) system developed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and an incipient body of jurisprudence began to tackle difficult analytical, institutional, self-identity and political questions. The result of institutionalized global trade rules and semi-regular ministerial summits has been a bifurcated agenda whereby developed countries and well-established trade blocs negotiate highly self-satisfying trade policies while the developing world scrambles to interject a development agenda that presently appears incompatible with existing policies. The developing countries must simultaneously juggle their domestic development, attempt to juxtapose trade rules that fit their needs, and struggle to reshape the dominant free trade philosophy to yield to its interests. As trade principles continue to buttress the relative influence of developed countries to establish preferential rules vis-a-vis the developing world, the system risks losing legitimacy among the beneficiaries of international trade. For too long the WTO has artificially insulated trade discourse and jurisprudence from their natural connection with society, the environment, labor and other such public interests. Therefore, this Article will suggest a novel perspective on WTO jurisprudence that focuses on the existing legal foundation for supporting interests of the developing world, and illustrates that latent resources exist in the developing world that are worthy of WTO protection and enforcement. Hence, this Article will argue that the future expansion and even the continued feasibility of the WTOs trade liberalization model rest squarely on its willingness to incorporate and promote the developing worlds agenda in a way that recognizes cultural uniqueness and production process as intrinsic components of internationally traded goods and services.

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