Category: WTO

Modest Gains at the WTO Ministerial Conference

David Collins

The 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference took place in Geneva last week with representatives of all 164 member countries in attendance – collectively comprising the WTO’s highest decision-making body. The stakes were high – there have been no major multilateral trade initiatives in decades, leaving the 27-year-old organization struggling to justify its existence in a world increasingly dominated by bilateralism or worse, economic isolationism. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, both of which have dealt significant blows to standards of living worldwide, the WTO was under much pressure to deliver tangible progress in trade liberalization. In the minds of many, failure was simply not an option.

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The WTO’s Essential Security Exception and Revocation of Russia’s Most Favoured Nation Status following the Invasion of Ukraine

David Collins

Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several nations, led by Canada and Ukraine, suspended the application of the World Trade Organization’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment to Russian goods. MFN is a foundational principle of WTO law, contained in Article I of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It promises that all WTO members will receive the same treatment as each other – the lowest tariffs on all goods offered by each WTO member will be made available to all. The effect of this trade sanction against Russia will not be lost on its president – Vladimir Putin’s masters’ thesis was allegedly on the importance of the MFN principle to international trade. The actual impact of the revocation of MFN on Russia may be less significant and the legal issues behind it are complex and troubling.

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