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Can the WTO Curb Protectionism? Global Financial Crisis, Protectionism, and the WTO

  • Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Abbr : JAPS
  • 2017, 24(3), pp.105-136
  • DOI : 10.18107/japs.2017.24.3.004
  • Publisher : Institute of Global Affairs
  • Research Area : Social Science > Social Science in general
  • Received : August 17, 2017
  • Accepted : September 15, 2017
  • Published : September 30, 2017

Don Moon 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper explores whether and how trade protectionism has expanded after the global financial crisis in 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession. The mainstream view has insisted that current protectionism has been successfully tamed thanks to various factors; (1) the existence of policy substitutes to protectionism such as fiscal/monetary policies, (2) global value chains that have transformed domestic balance of power in favor of free trade and against protectionism, and (3) well-established international trading institutions represented by the WTO. This paper focuses on the third factor and argues that the WTO has failed to curb the proliferation of protectionism. Due to insufficient and obscure WTO rules in controlling major protectionist measures such as subsidy, anti-dumping, and health/technical regulations, as well as due to the systemic properties of the WTO dispute settlement system that tend to aggravate trade war rather than facilitate mutual free trade, the WTO has fundamental institutional limitations to control trade protectionism, especially when the political commitment of major powers to liberal economic order has rapidly waned as we have seen right now.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.