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Conflict, Chaos and Confusion

The Crisis in the International Trading System William A. Kerr, Van Vliet Professor, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
After 15 years the WTO is not functioning as envisioned and is faced with many new trade challenges − climate change, terrorism, pandemics, genetically modified organisms, food safety − which it is ill-equipped to handle. Conflict, Chaos and Confusion sheds light on this deep and acute crisis, focusing on contentious and complex new trade issues and how they will affect international trade in the future.
Published in Association with the Estey Centre for Law and Economics in International Trade
Extent: 208 pp
Hardback Price: $120.00 Web: $108.00
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 978 1 84980 448 6
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  • Economics and Finance
  • International Economics
After 15 years the WTO is not functioning as envisioned and is faced with many new trade challenges − climate change, terrorism, pandemics, genetically modified organisms, food safety − which it is ill-equipped to handle. Conflict, Chaos and Confusion sheds light on this deep and acute crisis, focusing on contentious and complex new trade issues and how they will affect international trade in the future.

William Kerr demonstrates that there is no obvious way forward out of the current antagonistic climate. In the absence of any constructive initiatives the system appears chaotic. Everyone from seasoned trade policy veterans, business people engaging in international transactions, to domestic politicians and voters seem confused and apprehensive given the complexity of the problems brought by globalization. In just over a decade, the WTO has gone from an institution that was imbued with considerable optimism to one in deep crisis. The author explores in detail the major issues confronting the international trading system that have hitherto not enjoyed a great deal of attention. He provides insights that will inform the debate and discounts some of the simplistic solutions that are all too often proffered.

Informative, accessible and thought provoking, this book combines economic analysis with law, political science and institutional development within an historical context. As such, it will prove a fascinating read for a wide ranging audience encompassing academics and students of economics, international economics and international law, trade officials in both governments and NGOs, as well as trade policymakers in developing and developed countries.
‘The Estey Centre Journal of International Law and Trade Policy has become required reading among trade policy specialists, not least for Bill Kerr’s “Editor’s Pages” essay in each volume. Kerr has the ability in a dozen pages to engage, inform and entertain the reader with his careful scholarship, interesting choice of topic and highly-readable style. Kerr sets the tone for the volume and whets the appetite for the other articles. Over the ten years of the Estey Journal’s life Kerr’s pages have drawn our attention to a range of trade-law topics from the golf-club-like voting rules of the WTO to the delights of sipping incorrectly-labeled port. The decision to bring these twenty short papers together in a volume was inspired. Students and teachers will benefit from the convenience of the collection as source material for classes on trade law and policy. But above all, scholars in the fascinating area of the interplay of economics and law in multilateral trade institutions will have the wisdom of Bill Kerr readily to hand.’
– Tim Josling, Stanford University, US
Contents: Preface Part I: The Institutions of International Trade 1. A New World Chaos? International Institutions in the Information Age 2. Taming the Dragon: The WTO after the Accession of China co-authored with A.L. Hobbs 3. Homeland Security and the Rules of International Trade 4. A Club No More – The WTO after Doha Part II: Economic Issues in International Commercial Policy 5. International Harmonisation and the Gains from Trade 6. Dumping – One of Those Economic Myths 7. Special and Differential Treatment: A Mechanism to Promote Development? 8. Science-based Rules of Trade – A Mantra for Some, Anathema for Others 9. The Efficacy of TRIPS: Incentives, Capacity and Threats 10. Enjoying a Good Port with a Clear Conscience: Geographic Indicators, Rent Seeking and Development 11. Recession, International Trade and the Fallacies of Composition Part III: The Conduct of Trade Negotiations 12. Vested Interests in Queuing and the Loss of the WTO's Club Good: The Long-run Costs of US Bilateralism 13. Too Smart for Their Own Good! Complexity, Capacity and Credence in Trade Negotiations 14. Trade Agreements: The Important Role of Transparency 15. ‘Waiting for Godot’ or Riding the Orient Express? Trade Negotiations and the Global Audience Part IV: The Future of the International Trading System 16. Is it time to Re-think the WTO? A Return to the Basics 17. The Changing Nature of Protectionism: Are ‘Free Traders’ Up to the Challenges it Presents? 18. Who Should Make the Rules of Trade? The Complex Issue of Multilateral Environmental Agreements 19. Political Precaution, Pandemics and Protectionism 20. International Trade Education: Do We Need a New Model for the Global Market? Index