Putting “Humpty” Together Again

Including Developing Countries in a Consensus for the WTO

L. Alan Winters, Zhen Kun Wang
Release Date: May 1, 2000

This paper discusses the failure of the WTO Ministerial meeting to initiate a new round of world trade talks in Seattle in December 1999. The authors argue that this reflects several negative forces: the parties’ widely disparate positions; the lukewarm attitude of governments towards further trade liberalization; and a failure of the WTO as an institution. They contend that an effective coalition in favor of the trading system must be put together before starting another serious round of talks and that this requires both paying greater attention to the substantive needs of developing countries and procedural reform of the WTO. The authors propose an eight-point plan to balance the needs of the developing and developed worlds and conclude that the best strategy for developing countries is not to resist a round and liberalization, but to embrace them, and focus them on their development needs.