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Doha stalemate: The end of trade multilateralism?


This article challenges conventional narratives that suggest that the travails in the Doha Round, the shift to bilateral free trade agreements, and the broader unfolding of the global crisis collectively presage the decline of either the WTO or the broader institution of multilateral trade. We question the extent to which recent trends can indeed be said to constitute a genuine crisis of trade multilateralism by reflecting upon the contradictory and ambiguous nature of the multilateralism of the past, and also upon how contemporary multilateralism has been framed with reference to it. Our main finding is that, in contrast to the many short and medium-term symptoms which tend to appear in the conventional story of multilateral decline, there is actually a far more worrying long-term trend which underpins the varied conflicts that characterise contemporary trade politics: the fundamental lack of a shared social purpose between the developed countries and the more powerful emerging countries on which a stable, equitable, and legitimate edifice of multilateral trade rules can be erected, institutionalised, and enhanced.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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