WTO: Strengthening the Neo-Imperialist World Economic Order

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“Core capitalist states have used the WTO to strengthen the neo-­‐‑imperialist world economic order.” Discuss Introduction
The World Trade Organization is a multilateral trade organization dealing with the regulation of international trade providing a forum for trade negotiations and dispute settlement. This essay will argue that the WTO has indeed been used as an instrument for core capitalist states to further the neo-­‐‑ imperialist world economic order. This will be considered in terms of regulatory, or legislative, conditions and market forces, both of which pose constraints on peripheral countries that core states can use to their advantage. Specific attention, as part of the analysis, will be given to the TRIPs and TRIMs agreements relating to intellectual property and investments, respectively. Neo-­‐‑imperialist economics will be interpreted as the expansion of capitalism to increase the economic surplus (stemming from an economic welfare framework) of core capitalist states instead of traditional physical conquest. In terms of the structure of this essay, it will first outline the World Trade Organization, then will proceed to show how the WTO is arguably used as a vehicle to strengthen the neo-­‐‑imperialist world economic order, and will finish with some concluding remarks. Outline of the World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization is the multilateral trade organization that replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1995 (Narlikar 2005). GATT was an agreement to liberalize world trade by the reduction of protectionist measures including tariff and non-­‐‑tariff barriers to trade. The World Trade Organization takes this further through the creation of an institutional body of global governance (Lal Das 1998). The WTO deals with issues pertaining to trade negotiations, management of trade disputes and surveillance of national trade policies, for instance (Hoekman andKostecki 2009). It can be characterized as a network organization that is member-­‐‑driven, where in practice state officials mostly exercise control over the organization (Baylis et al 2008). The way decisions are reached in the WTO negotiations is through bargaining and consultation, which ultimately are driven by consensus (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). In order to achieve accession to the World Trade Organization, market access liberalization is prescribed in order to further integrate the country in question into the globalized economy (Baylis et al 2008). This expands the sphere of neo-­‐‑ liberalism, where countries adopt economic policies that are favorable to free markets. Furthermore, the World Trade Organization deals with issues pertaining to intellectual property (Trade-­‐‑Related Intellectual Property Rights⎯TRIPs) and investment issues (Trade-­‐‑Related Investment Measures⎯TRIMs). The former (TRIPs) is legislation on intellectual property relating to ownership rights, which apply to all member states of the World Trade Organization (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). Members are required by law to uphold intellectual property rights, which include copyrights, patents, and trademarks (Lal Das 1998). The TRIPs are more comprehensive than previous intellectual property legislation and norms. In addition, the TRIPs prescribe how enforcement is implemented and how the dispute mechanism functions. The economic rationale behind TRIPs is to facilitate research and development (R&D) and innovation (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). Trade-­‐‑Related Investment Measures, on the other hand, relates to foreign investment in a domestic market, which imposes restrictions and standards on foreign investors (Wade 2003). A common measure is content requirements, limiting the amount of foreign input that may be used in the production process (Hoekman and Kostecki 2009). TRIMs act as de facto trade barriers, which is not congruentwith WTO aims of a more liberalized world trade system, and are therefore severely restricted. Analysis

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