Development and Finance from issue 2009/4

Beáta Udvari

World Trade Organisation as a Development Institution?

- Abstract -

JEL O-20, F-13

It is clear from current trends in global trade that the majority of developing countries are in a poor position, despite the fact that they have received substantial trade benefits for several decades. These countries are today at the stage that they can make themselves heard – which is huge progress. They would like to play an active role in the international division of labour, but their main problem is that they are unable to implement the agreements accepted at the Uruguay Round. To remedy the problem the Aid for Trade programme was created as part of the WTO, whereby the key goal is to develop supply-side capacities in countries in need, in order to help them play an efficient role in international trade. The programme has left many issues unanswered – mostly in relation to the role of the WTO. The main problem is that the WTO is not a development institution and was not established for this purpose; it was set up to oversee and ensure free trade. However, it appears as if it is now significantly overstepping the boundaries that were laid down for it, since it is already dealing with intellectual property and investments, while Aid for Trade as a development programme indicates that we can no longer view the WTO as just an institution responsible for free trade.

Beáta Udvari, PhD student (University of Szeged, Doctoral School in Economics)

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