Battles in the WTO
Negotiations and Outcomes of the WTO Ministerial Conferences
By Martin Khor

Publisher: Third World Network
ISBN: 978-967-0747-40-8
Year: 2020   No. of pages: 376
14 cm x 21.5 cm


About the Book

The World Trade Organisation has been an extremely controversial and divided organisation ever since its establishment in 1995. The big battles are most evident at its highest governing body, the Ministerial Conference, where the Trade Ministers of member states convene to chart the WTO’s course.

This book is a compilation of contemporaneous reports and analyses of what unfolded at each Ministerial, as well as a few “mini-Ministerials”, that took place from the WTO’s inception up to 2017. As these articles reveal, the Ministerials have been the stage on which battles over the future direction of the WTO are most prominently played out. These clashes have mainly pitted developed member states pushing to expand the WTO’s ambit into new subject areas, against many developing countries which call instead for redressing imbalances in the existing set of WTO rules.

This book also shines a light on the murky decision-making methods often employed during Ministerials, where agreements are sought to be hammered out by a select few delegations behind closed doors before being foisted on the rest of the membership. Such exclusionary processes, coupled with the crucial substantive issues at stake, have led to dramatic outcomes in many a Ministerial.

The ringside accounts of Ministerial battles collected here offer important insights into the contested dynamics of the WTO and the multilateral trading system in general.

MARTIN KHOR (1951-2020) was Adviser to the Third World Network. He was formerly Executive Director of the South Centre (2009 to 2018). He was the author of several books on trade, development and the environment, including Globalization and the South. He followed the negotiations in the WTO for many years, including at most of the Ministerial Conferences.




Introduction: The Twists and Turns at the WTO Ministerials           

First Ministerial Conference, Singapore, 1996                         

How the North got its way by Martin Khor                                 

Reform of WTO functioning on the agenda? by Martin Khor        

After Singapore, the battle of interpretations begins: Labour standards by Martin Khor

Trade and investment: Fighting over investors’ rights at WTO by Martin Khor

Competing views on “competition policy” in WTO by Martin Khor

Government procurement: The real aim of the majors by Martin Khor

Second Ministerial Conference, Geneva, 1998                           

South wants Ministerial to focus on implementation by Martin Khor

Broad preparations for new negotiations, and a PR offensive by Martin Khor

Third Ministerial Conference, Seattle, 1999                            

At Seattle, the WTO faces a serious crossroads by Martin Khor     

The revolt of the developing nations by Martin Khor                    

The situation at the WTO a year after Seattle by Martin Khor        

Fourth Ministerial Conference, Doha, 2001                             

An analysis of the WTO’s Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, 9-14 November 2001 by Martin Khor

Fifth Ministerial Conference, Cancun, 2003                            

An account and analysis of the WTO’s Cancun Ministerial Conference by Martin Khor

Mini-Ministerial, Geneva, 2004                                              

Comments on the WTO’s Geneva July-August 2004 decision by Martin Khor

WTO agrees on framework package on Doha talks by Chakravarthi Raghavan

Sixth Ministerial Conference, Hong Kong, 2005                      

“Recalibrating” the WTO’s Hong Kong Ministerial, and what comes after by Martin Khor

WTO Ministerial outcome imbalanced against developing countries by Martin Khor

How the Hong Kong Ministerial adopted its Declaration by Martin Khor

Mini-Ministerial, Geneva, 2006                                              

As WTO Geneva Ministerial fails, new deadline and challenges loom by Martin Khor

Mini-Ministerial, Potsdam, 2007                                             

New WTO impasse: Why the G4 Potsdam meeting failed by Martin Khor

Mini-Ministerial, Geneva, 2008                                              

Behind the July failure of the WTO talks on Doha by Martin Khor

Seventh Ministerial Conference, Geneva, 2009                        

WTO’s Seventh Ministerial ends early with uncertainty ahead by Shefali Sharma

Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference almost a non-event by Kanaga Raja

Eighth Ministerial Conference, Geneva, 2011                          

MC8 another “non-event” Ministerial by Kanaga Raja                 

Ninth Ministerial Conference, Bali, 2013                                 

WTO makes an imbalanced deal in Bali by Martin Khor               

WTO food fight before and at the Bali Ministerial by Martin Khor

After Bali: Moving beyond the Doha Development Agenda? by D. Ravi Kanth

Tenth Ministerial Conference, Nairobi, 2015                           

Doha SU diminished, not dead, and retrievable by Chakravarthi Raghavan

South suffers a setback at Nairobi by D. Ravi Kanth                     

Eleventh Ministerial Conference, Buenos Aires, 2017              

MC11 fails and ends in disarray by Chakravarthi Raghavan         

US blocks outcomes, collapsing MC11 like house of cards by D. Ravi Kanth

CSOs disappointed over MC11 failure to deliver on PSH, development by Kanaga Raja

Malaysia RM40.00 RM4.00
Developing countries USD14.00 USD7.00 (air)
Others USD20.00  USD10.00 (air)

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