| 06 March 2006

The trouble with trade: the international trading system after Hong Kong

In December last year, Hong Kong hosted the sixth World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting. In this paper in the Institute’s Perspectives series Mark Thirlwell, director of the international economy program, asks why it proved so difficult to secure a substantive agreement at Hong Kong, and discusses what this tells us about the health of the international trading system. Given what appears to be a declining appetite for multilateral liberalisation, the odds on a successful conclusion to the Doha Round within the currently envisioned timetable have again worsened. As a result, it seems likely that the action on trade liberalisation, such as it is, will remain at the bilateral and regional level. Since such agreements have several problematic features, past and future trade deals based on this template should be subjected to rigorous and independent review in order to minimise the risks associated with a trade strategy based around preferential trade.Mark Thirlwell

  • Mark Thirlwell

In December last year, Hong Kong hosted the sixth World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting. In this paper in the Institute’s Perspectives series Mark Thirlwell, director of the international economy program, asks why it proved so difficult to secure a substantive agreement at Hong Kong, and discusses what this tells us about the health of the international trading system. Given what appears to be a declining appetite for multilateral liberalisation, the odds on a successful conclusion to the Doha Round within the currently envisioned timetable have again worsened. As a result, it seems likely that the action on trade liberalisation, such as it is, will remain at the bilateral and regional level. Since such agreements have several problematic features, past and future trade deals based on this template should be subjected to rigorous and independent review in order to minimise the risks associated with a trade strategy based around preferential trade.Mark Thirlwell

  • Mark Thirlwell