CROSSING THE DARK SIDE OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
Since its creation in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been surrounded with controversies. Although WTO sets the global trading rules, the article will discuss its responsibilities and the external factors that oppose the organization.
Politics and Trade. Theoretically speaking, WTO members are given access to each other’s markets on even terms, meaning no two countries can have exclusive trade pacts without granting the same terms to other nation, or every other country in the organization at least. However, many critics argue the practice is forcefully integrating politics into the trade, causing long-term problems.
They also point out the apparent concessions it has done to its charters. The most classic example is the system of tariff brokering occurring through an organization, designed to cut barriers to trade. Its rules allow a country to protect some industries if removing tariffs would lead to unwanted side effects, including the loss of significant domestic industries. Some of the common industries include food production, auto production, and steel production. Moreover, a push by developed countries to have labor effects such as job loss, or reduced hours or salaries added to reasons for justified tariffs.
War on Tariffs. Tariffs refer to the general tax levied upon all buyers of a specific product, which can have negative side effects. Proceeds from this tax go to government offices, raising revenue and may shield local industries from foreign competition. But high price of foreign goods enable domestic manufacturers to increase their prices as well. This may also serve as a wealth transfer tax which uses public money to promote a domestic industry that produces an uncompetitive product. Easing the tariff might affect the workers in the said industry but could reduce the burden carried by everyone else. Therefore, the organization has been involved into the business of facilitating such deals.
Deceiving Name. Anti-dumping measures and restrictive quotas are simply tariffs even though WTO has different treatment for these. The organization can brag about the number of international tariffs it has closed since its establishment. Many reductions have been balanced by these stealth tariffs.
Many critics also stipulate the WTO has struggled with one of its basic goals – transparency. The organization is also vague in resolving disputes through negotiation and revealing the manner these settlements were reached. It is rarely clear what nations are in on the decision-making process, whether on settling conflicts or brokering new trade ties.
Because of its reticence, the WTO has been blasted from both the left and right. The left notices the organization as the henchman of a shadowy group of stronger countries, forcing deals allowing them to take unfair advantage on less developed nations. The clique utilizes the organization to crack open these nations as markets to sell and protect their own markets against products of weaker countries at the same time. Most powerful countries, in terms of their economic conditions, seem to determine the WTO agenda and were the first ones to legislate anti-dumping acts to guard favored domestic industries while defying similar actions by less powerful countries.
Unloved, Unneeded, and Unwanted. Supporters of free market attack the organization as an unnecessary entity. They also implied trade should be left to firms to work out on each deal, rather than making complex and heftily politicized agreements between countries on what they can and cannot protect. It makes them think if the WTO’s objective is to promote trade, it would compel its members to eliminate all protective measures and permit a real free trade, not facilitating tariff agreements.
Tip of the Iceberg. Countries using the entity to safeguard their own industries may only hurt themselves in the end if these industries become more ineffective without true global competition. An economic theory outlines a lack of competition removes the opportunities to venture in new technology, maintain expenditures under control, and continually refine production since the local firm will merely inflate prices under the tariff-set price of imported products. Should the cycle continue, international competitors could appear as stronger ones, and consumers may choose their goods based on qualify, perhaps paying a premium over local products.
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