In terms of the structure of this essay, it will first outline the World Trade Organization, then will proceed to show how the WTO is arguably used as a vehicle to strengthen the neo-?? imperialist world economic order, and will finish with some concluding remarks. Outline of the World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization is the multilateral trade organization that replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1995 (Narlikar 2005). GATT was an agreement to liberalize world trade by the reduction of protectionist measures including tariff and non-?? ariff barriers to trade. The World Trade Organization takes this further through the creation of an institutional body of global governance (Lal Das 1998). The WTO deals with issues pertaining to trade negotiations, management of trade disputes and surveillance of national trade policies, for instance (Hoekman andKostecki 2009). It can be characterized as a network organization that is member-?? driven, where in practice state officials mostly exercise control over the organization (Baylis et al 2008).
The way decisions are reached in the WTO negotiations is through bargaining and consultation, which ultimately are driven by consensus (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). In order to achieve accession to the World Trade Organization, market access liberalization is prescribed in order to further integrate the country in question into the globalized economy (Baylis et al 2008). This expands the sphere of neo-?? liberalism, where countries adopt economic policies that are favorable to free markets.
Furthermore, the World Trade Organization deals with issues pertaining to intellectual property (Trade-?? Related Intellectual Property Rights? TRIPs) and investment issues (Trade-?? Related Investment Measures? TRIMs). The former (TRIPs) is legislation on intellectual property relating to ownership rights, which apply to all member states of the World Trade Organization (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). Members are required by law to uphold intellectual property rights, which include copyrights, patents, and trademarks (Lal Das 1998).
The TRIPs are more comprehensive than previous intellectual property legislation and norms. In addition, the TRIPs prescribe how enforcement is implemented and how the dispute mechanism functions. The economic rationale behind TRIPs is to facilitate research and development (R&D) and innovation (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). Trade-?? Related Investment Measures, on the other hand, relates to foreign investment in a domestic market, which imposes restrictions and standards on foreign investors (Wade 2003).
A common measure is content requirements, limiting the amount of foreign input that may be used in the production process (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). TRIMs act as de facto trade barriers, which is not congruentwith WTO aims of a more liberalized world trade system, and are therefore severely restricted. Analysis Given the consensus-?? driven nature of decision-?? making within the World Trade Organization, controversial issues in negotiations require agreement between the major players, which represent the core capitalist states (Narlikar 2005). This argument is consistent with neo-?? ealist approaches to international relations in terms of why states enter into international organizations and institutions. Here, states are not interested in cooperation to mitigate uncertainty and anarchy, but are self-?? interested and accede to international organizations through rational calculation if there are gains to be made and not because of benevolence (Linklater 1986). This theoretic framework of international relations can be applied to the World Trade Organization to argue for how core capitalist states use this economic institution to strengthen the neo-?? mperialist world economic order. Core capitalist states are centers where economic activity is most intense, and these represent a high share of world trade and of global economic output. This arguably means that they are the major players in world trade and, therefore, are more influential in the WTO (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). There are incentives for peripheral states to accede to the WTO as this means they are able to be more involved in the world economy.
The conditions for this are originally controlled by the core states, as the WTO can be traced back to Bretton Woods, and are subject to change depending on prevailing attitudes of the major trading powers (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). Access to markets of an aspiring accession country now needs to be more liberalized, and there is asymmetric bargaining power in the process where incumbent countries are able to demand more (Wade 2003). This obstructs the ability of peripheral states to build up domestic industries so their macroeconomies can compete in the system ofglobal capitalism.
All of this arguably points to the view that the WTO is a tool for the strengthening of the neo-?? imperialist world economic order. In a structural sense, core capitalist states are able to use the WTO to their advantage to strengthen the neo-?? imperialist world economic order. In many meetings, there is inadequate representation of developing countries (which can be designated as peripheral states) because of limited capacity to partake in various issues raised at the WTO (for instance, they may have no delegation based in Geneva) (Narlikar 2005).
In addition, peripheral countries lack the legal experience and expertise, which puts them at a disadvantage in dispute settlements, but lack also the financial resources to be represented in the WTO in a worthwhile manner (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). Moreover, peripheral countries are less likely to file complaints against economically developed states, whereas peripheral countries are more likely to have a complaint filed against them by a much large factor (Busch and Reinhardt 2003).
In addition, this has adverse long-?? run implications for peripheral states, where infrequent and case-?? based participation does little for systemic improvement, meaning that there is reduced incentive to challenge unjust trade practices (Narlikar 2005). Furthermore, “WTO law, still in a state of evolution, is being shaped by developed countries to their advantage, as developing countries stand watching on the sidelines” (Narlikar 2005: 95). As Wade (2003) puts it, the WTO is asymmetric in the ense that the obligations of developing countries and the rights of developed countries are enforceable, which is evident in the TRIPs and TRIMs agreements. Examining this from an analytical standpoint of markets and economic power, one can argue that asymmetric retaliation capabilities increases the core’s power over periphery states. Stronger economic states can punish weaker states outside of the WTO mechanism, which further reducesincentives for peripheral states to push their interests within the WTO.
For peripheral states, enforcement of trade decisions in their favor can be costly and such a decision, if it went against a core state, is likely to have a limited impact (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). The domestic market of a peripheral state is relatively unimportant for the exports of a core state, and a legitimate retaliation as authorized by the WTO will have a diminished effect. The TRIPs and TRIMs agreements are policy instruments that arguably strengthen the neo-?? imperialist world economic order.
Wade (2003: 621) argues that: Together the agreements make comprehensively illegal many of the industrial policy instruments used in the successful East Asian developers to nurture their own firms, industries and technological capabilities. They are likely to lock in the position of Western countries at the top of the world hierarchy of wealth. With TRIPs specifically, the agreement benefits the position of multinational corporations by reinforcing their market power and further raising barriers to entry in an industry (Ethier and Hillman 2008).
The TRIPs were drafted and lobbied for by pharmaceutical and media firms in core states (Wade 2003). To peripheral states, TRIPs puts upward price pressure on essential goods such as food and medicine, meaning that there is essentially a wealth transfer from the peripheral to core capitalist states (Lal Das 1998). TRIPs are arguably to the benefit of core states that specialize in high value knowledge goods, and to the detriment of peripheral states.
The aim of TRIPs implementation was to make sure that developing economies raised their standards in intellectual property protection, where this imposed high costs on peripheral states in terms of legislative and administrative matters (which diverts valuableresources) which were essentially already in place in core states (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). This has public health ramifications in developing states, where the licensing to domestically produce medicine allowed by TRIPs is inconsistent with production capabilities.
The medicines would have to be imported which can create balance of payments problems, and there are fears that this may restrict access to vital patented medicine. However, it must be mentioned that there have been efforts to alleviate these problems through foreign aid (O’Rourke 2005). One can argue that TRIPs facilitate a wealth transfer from peripheral to core capitalist states, and that the benefits accrue to firms in core states (Rodrik 1994). This represents a strengthening of the neo-?? imperialist world economic order, and is consistent with Wallerstein’s world-?? ystems theory. TRIMs help to strengthen the neo-?? imperialist world order by restraining the capabilities of governments in peripheral states in acting against multinational corporations, which are now better able to enter these markets (Wade 2003). Again, both agreements (TRIPs and TRIMs) constrain the ability of governments in peripheral states to practice pro-?? growth policies in terms of domestic industry. Instead, multinational corporations from the core capitalist states are able to operate more freely, which solidifies their economic position in a system of global capitalism.
Conclusion The World Trade Organization is a multilateral trade institution, which regulates international trade and promotes pro-?? liberal policies pertaining to international economics. The WTO replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which originated from the Bretton Woods conference, and is a member-?? driven international institution. The issues that dominate the WTO agenda are usually trade negotiations, trade dispute management andthe monitoring of national trade policies.
The TRIPs and TRIMs agreements relate to intellectual property rights and investments, respectively. TRIPs requires that WTO members maintain high standards of intellectual property protection, which benefits multinational corporations in core capitalist states, arguably strengthening the neo-?? imperialist world economic order. This is costly for a peripheral state to implement, and in practice becomes a transfer of wealth to the core capitalist states as TRIPs increase prices and limits knowledge diffusion. These agreements increase the ability of core capitalist states to further the neo-?? mperialist world order and limit the tools peripheral countries have to grow and integrate into the world economy in a more prepared fashion. There are asymmetric retaliation capabilities between core and peripheral states which distorts the balance in global capitalism and there are disincentives in place that limit the peripheral states’ use of the dispute mechanism. Therefore, core capitalist states have arguably used the World Trade Organization as a tool to strengthen the neo-?? imperialist world economic order. Bibliography Baylis, John, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens.
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