Self-Enforcing Trade

Developing Countries and WTO Dispute Settlement

The World Trade Organization — backbone of today's international commercial relations — requires member countries to self-enforce exporters' access to foreign markets. Its dispute settlement system is the crown jewel of the international trading system, but its benefits still fall disproportionately to wealthy nations. Could the system be doing more on behalf of developing countries? In Self-Enforcing Trade, Chad P. Bown explains why the answer is an emphatic "yes."

Bown argues that as poor countries look to the benefits promised by globalization as part of their overall development strategy, they increasingly require access to the WTO dispute settlement process to protect their trading interests. Unfortunately, the practical realities of WTO dispute settlement as it currently stands create a number of hurdles that prevent developing countries from enjoying the trading system's full benefits. This book confronts these challenges.

Self-Enforcing Trade examines the WTO's "extended litigation process," highlighting the tangle of international economics, law, and politics that participants must master. He identifies the costs that prevent developing countries from disentangling the self-enforcement process and fully using the WTO system as part of their growth strategies. Bown assesses recent efforts to help developing countries overcome those costs, including the role of the Advisory Centre on WTO Law and development focused NGOs. Bown's proposed Institute for Assessing WTO Commitments tackles the largest remaining obstacle currently limiting developing country engagement in the WTO's selfenforcement process -- a problematic lack of information, monitoring, and surveillance.

Related Event: Could the WTO Better Serve the Poor? Monday, November 9, 2009

Praise for the book

Chad Bown is rapidly joining the ranks of the most influential trade analysts of his generation. This book shows why. He examines the ways in which developing countries can effectively exercise their WTO-defined rights to access foreign markets, drawing on insights from economics, politics, and law. Both scholars and policymakers will profit from this masterly analysis."
—Jagdish Bhagwati, University Professor, Economics and Law, Columbia University

"In over sixty years of the multilateral trading system, the settlement of disputes has evolved from diplomatic consultations to a highly sophisticated and effective system to apply WTO law to particular disputes. In a deep and penetrating analysis, Chad Bown sheds new light on the reality. His analysis and suggestions are timely and important."
—Alejandro Jara, Deputy Director-General, WTO

"When it comes to the world trading system, there is hardly a more timely and important issue than how the WTO can better serve developing countries. Chad Bown is uniquely qualified to provide the authoritative account of this issue from an economic and legal perspective, and does so admirably in this book."
—Robert Staiger, Stanford University

"In this carefully researched book, Chad Bown offers a reader a clear and comprehensive analysis of the trade dispute settlement system. This is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary issues of world trade or in how nations deal with the competition that is a natural byproduct of globalization."
—Judith Goldstein, Janet Peck Professor of International Communication and Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

"This is the most insightful work I have seen regarding the positioning of developing countries in WTO dispute settlement. The author masterfully explains the hurdles preventing developing countries from acceding to WTO adjudication, and advances meaningful and realistic proposals to overcome them. It is my hope that practitioners will read and engage, and that policymakers will be inspired by this excellent volume."
—Petros C. Mavroidis, Columbia Law School and University of Neuchâtel