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Not Just a "Second Order" Problem in a Wider Economic Crisis: Systemic Challenges for the Global Trading System


  • Higgott Richard

    (University of Warwick)


Reform of the multilateral trade regime is not simply a second order problem within a wider economic crisis. The completion of the Doha Round may be a second order question but the global trade regime faces a series of broader systemic challenges beyond the completion of the current negotiations. This paper identifies five challenges: (i) a marked reduction in popular support for open markets in major OECD countries; (ii) the stalling of a transition from one global economic equilibrium to another; (iii) a lack of clarity and agreement on the agenda and objectives for the WTO as we move deeper into the 21st century; (iv) the demand for fairness and justice in the governance of the WTOthe 'legitimacy' question and (v) the rise of regional preferentialism as a challenge to multilateralism. Failure to address these challenges will represent not only a fundamental question for the future of the WTO as the guarantor of the norms and rules of the global trade regime specifically, but also the ability to establish greater coherence in global economic governance overall when its need is arguably greater than at any time since the depression years of the 20th century inter-war period.

Suggested Citation

  • Higgott Richard, 2009. "Not Just a "Second Order" Problem in a Wider Economic Crisis: Systemic Challenges for the Global Trading System," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(3), pages 1-31, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:11:y:2009:i:3:n:5

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