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WTO, rules, commitments, tariffs, standards, trade wars, geographical indications, and more

UK-EU tariffs, tariff quotas, services, media, leadership, GATT Art24, continuity deals, and more

Trade, direct democracy

Crisis, reform, negotiations, disputes, amendments, agriculture, access to medicines, trade facilitation

T E C H N I C A L  N O T E S
Latest: Technical note: Appeals ‘into the void’ in WTO dispute settlement updated Sep 19, 2023 | All notes


WTO reform

WTO reform: 39 members call for more information to be made public New proposal arrives as governments seek to improve dialogue with stakeholders on trade and its wider impact Jul 31, 2023

Ratifications: should WTO members rethink how they work? Aug 19, 2023

New US dispute settlement reform paper has no proposals Jul 5, 2023

Ministerial Conference: After

Lightning at night over the WTO's Council Room building

Fracturethrough, but the tough part is what happens next
With Robert Wolfe Jun 30, 2022 | Scorecards Jun 19, 2022
SINGLE UNDERTAKING Have we just seen its funeral? By Robert Wolfe Jun 21, 2022

‘Notification and review’ sounds dull but is essential for WTO reform | Texts: proposal and objections Jul 18–Aug 7, 2022
Performes ‘holding the pen’ allow WTO staff to influence disputes? Aug 22, 2022

DEADLOCK BREAKING Are retreats the new WTO pandemic? Nov 13, 2022

AGRICULTURE Successful conference’s one big failure Jul 4, 2022 |
Thinking outside the box(es) Oct 24, 2022 | The retreat Oct 26, 2022

Small figure in silhouette star gazing   Unlikely video star outshines trade big-guns Jun 21, 2022

TRADE, WTO, security

Photo of worker asleep in a cart beside recently-worked bare earth

New proposals stir WTO farm talks out of deep sleep Jun 24, 2023

Technical note: Agricultural domestic support categories in the WTO

Friend-shoring: a costly snow job?
By Robert Wolfe Jun 17, 2023
Faith in multilateral system eroding With Robert Wolfe Feb, 26, 2023

COVID-19 waiver

Why WTO members are deadlocked over the TRIPS waiver

The waiver with notes Jun 18, 2022

Updates after the Ministerial Conference Dec 20, 2022
Earlier comparison with the India-South Africa version Mar 18, 2022

WTO reform

How wide to set the WTO window?

Thoughts on WTO reform and transparency. With Robert Wolfe
Photos by Jay Louvion Apr 26, 2021
Short: Summary
Long: 1 Transparency
External transparencyNegotiationsPerformes transparency help or hinder?

In search of the Wensleydale deal with Norway Jun 8, 2021

Ukraine conflict

Ukraine cornfield

Five takeaways from the WTO seminar on food security
Over-reaction is not the answer, delegates hear Apr 26, 2022

Ukraine (painting detail)

Ukraine—what Russia faces in the WTO system
Mar 4–Apr 26, 2022
Can a WTO member be expelled? No. But … Mar 23, 2022


Aerial shot of harvesters

Draft ministerial documents on agriculture updated Jun 11, 2022

Performmestic support in stockholding Two last-minute proposals for Ministerial Conference Jun 3, 2022 | Behind the rhetoric

WTO farm talks head into 2022 Chair’s draft hangs in the balance Jan 24, 2022
Draft shows little to harvest and The text Dec 9, 2021 | More below

Argue settlement

Crisis, but the WTO does …

Appeals in deep freeze since December 2019

Short: Why isn’t the WTO dead?
Long: Explanation Aug 21, 2019; May 3, 2020
Stop-gap: Arbitration, alternative appeals Aug 3, 2020
Another: Türkiye-EU arbitration Aug 30, 2022

… much more than disputes

Law of the jungle? Far from it

Rules-based trade is not just about disputes
Dec 11, 2019; Nov 14, 2021
The ‘dead’ WTO is surprisingly busy
Jan 17, 2020


The WTO and implications for the UK, EU, Brexit
and international trade policy

These posts explain the WTO, how it works, its member-driven structure, and the UK’s and EU’s relationship with it.

How the WTO works graphic
Key functions: all handled by the WTO’s membership

Real beginners’ guides

Tariffs and the WTO July 28, 2018

Tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) and the WTO Updated May 22, 2023

GATT Article 24 June XXIV, MMXIX

The 17 WTO plurilaterals and ‘joint-statement initiatives’ Jan 3, 2022

‘WTO terms’

They apply in any future UK-EU trade relationship. But how much?

Part 1 ‘WTO terms’
Part 2 goods
Part3 services and more
May 27, 2020

More on the WTO below. See also archived primers, all primers

On Brexit

Brexit and WTO commitments, WTO rules, free trade agreements,
Brexit more generally, presentations and evidence

Brexit and WTO commitments

Brexit and WTO rules

Free trade agreements, UK and EU relations

See also archived posts on Brexit, everything on Brexit

On Switzerland

Geographical indications

If Americans are confused about Gruyère cheese, blame the French
Or how to start a war among trade geeks Jan 13, 2022


What have the UK and Switzerland agreed on trade post-Brexit?
Feb 5, 2019; completely overhauled Jan 15, 2021

See also archived posts on Switzerland, everything on Switzerland


Policy and reform, negotiations and rule-making,
dispute settlement

Policy and reform

How wide should the WTO window be set?

With Robert Wolfe. Thoughts on WTO reform and transparency April 26, 2020
Short: Summary
Long: 1 Transparency | 2 External transparency | 3 Negotiations | 4 Performes transparency help or hinder?
(Photos by Jay Louvion)

Dire first meeting shows size of Okonjo-Iweala’s task
If this was an indication of members’ willingness to listen to the new director-general they had picked, then she must be disappointed
Mar 5, 2021

Agreements’ structure: the Trade Facilitation Agreement is an amendment to Annex 1A (goods). A fisheries subsidies agreement would be too
Agreements’ structure: How the WTO’s trade rules are organised

Negotiations and rule-making

All articles on WTO negotiations, and decisions, consensus and voting


Field under cloudy sky

Long read: From COVID-19 into 2021
1. ‘WTO rules are not prescriptions’ 2. What’s happened 3. Prospects
4. References Dec 31, 2020

History: the 20-year saga Mar 23, 2020

With Note on new approaches to domestic support Feb 4, 2021 and OECD support figures Jun 27, 2021

Argue settlement

It’s working

How the WTO deals with problem trade measures — it’s not just dispute settlement Those who think the Appellate Body crisis will drag trade into the law of the jungle are in for a surprise Dec 11, 2019; updated

The WTO is surprisingly busy — considering it’s supposed to be dead
Jan 17, 2020


The WTO and the global trading system, YouTube, 54 mins.
With Adam Posen, Vince Cable, Stuart Harbinson, Peter Ungphakorn, David Tinline, Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, Jun 10, 2020

See also: archived posts on the WTO; everything on: agriculture, trade negotiations (category, tagged), decisions, consensus and voting, trade facilitation, dispute settlement, G20

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Header photo: Norway reflections by David Mark, Pixabay licence