from Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

The United States and the WTO Dispute Settlement System

Council Special Report
Concise policy briefs that provide timely responses to developing crises or contributions to current policy dilemmas.

Overview

The Doha negotiations have stalled since last summer, and, as the November elections in the United States highlighted, American advocates of economic nationalism are growing in strength.

Robert Z. Lawrence

Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Nevertheless, Robert Lawrence makes a case for the effectiveness of the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly its dispute settlement system, and the benefits that would accrue to the United States and others from improving its effectiveness. These benefits include expanding world trade and increasing support for an often beleaguered organization that is central to the conduct of world trade.

More on:

Trade

International Organizations

United States

In this Council Special Report, Professor Lawrence addresses the critics of the dispute settlement mechanism—both those who think it should be tougher on countries that violate trade rules and those who think it is already so tough as to violate sovereignty. He points out the successes of the WTO since its creation in 1995 and argues that radical changes to the system are ill-advised. Lawrence nonetheless suggests several areas for reform, from steps that require multilateral negotiations, such as improving opportunities for nonstate actor participation in and enhancing transparency of the process, to changes the United States could make in its own behavior.

Part of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Series on American Competitiveness.

More on:

Trade

International Organizations

United States

Top Stories on CFR

Afghanistan

The United States has reached an agreement with the Taliban, but significant challenges, such as political power-sharing, the role of Islam, and women’s rights, remain for achieving intra-Afghan peace.

Russia

Russians have voted on a sweeping package of more than two hundred constitutional amendments, the most important of which exempts President Vladimir Putin from term limits and potentially allows him to rule until 2036. What does this change mean for the country’s future?

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines

The race to find a vaccine for the new coronavirus is well underway. Governments and researchers are aiming to provide billions of people with immunity in eighteen months or less, which would be unprecedented.