Does the WTO Matter Anymore?



Bryce Baschuk | Bloomberg

At what point is the World Trade Organization no longer relevant?

Over the past three years the U.S. has expertly poked at the WTO’s most vulnerable weaknesses and slowly rendered the organization ineffective in constraining President Donald Trump’s aggressive approach to trade policy.

Currently, the Geneva-based trade body’s three primary functions — negotiation, dispute settlement and monitoring — are largely dysfunctional.

The timing of the WTO’s quagmire couldn’t be worse. In the face of a global recession and a once-in-a-century pandemic the WTO no longer provides an effective deterrent to prevent nations from skirting trade rules and plunging into regional trade wars.

There isn’t even an active director-general to help lead the organization out of its morass after the last one stepped down at the end of August to escape the chaos.

This is the state of an organization whose overreaching goal is to help nations try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other.

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