The nomination process has become so complicated by Third Worldists that no Western candidate for the post has ever had a chance. On the other hand, they could hardly have failed to do better.
Instead of tackling the burning issues of free and fair trade, Okonjo-Iweala finds himself pursuing grandiose, largely independent and intractable causes such as “vaccine equality” and fishing rights, not to mention our old friend climate change.
While all of these things impact free and fair trade, they also distract from the main purpose of the WTO – to stand firm against the rising tide of protectionism and unfair practices.
I would like to think otherwise, but I’m afraid Trump was right about the WTO. Multilateralism of the kind that is supposed to be championed by the WTO falls short of promoting free trade; there are simply too many parties involved to achieve globally remunerative results.
The basic premise – that signatories aren’t allowed to choose between which ones they restrict, but have to treat everyone the same – is fine as far as it goes, but it’s very difficult to maintain. in practice and has most likely reached the limit of its evolution anyway.
Rather, the future lies in bilateral free trade agreements between like-minded nations and preferably having similar levels of economic development. These are much easier to control and deepen in a more integrated economic relationship.
Making the case for free trade becomes more difficult when dealing with countries with lower labor and environmental standards. The perceived need for greater resilience in supply chains and political pressures to decoupling the Chinese economy make the case for global free trade even more difficult.
Worse, political leaders are increasingly using access to their national markets as a tool to obtain non-economic concessions. Free trade as an economically beneficial end in itself is a dying faith.
However, we should not completely despair. We can go very far with bilateral agreements and with large free trade blocs, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership, originally created as a bulwark against Chinese domination of the Pacific.
The WTO may have gone astray, but free trade is not quite dead yet.