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Self-Enforcing Trade

Developing Countries and WTO Dispute Settlement

By Chad P. Bown
Self-Enforcing Trade: Developing Countries and WTO Dispute Settl

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.

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