72 The Global SouthThe WTO and Deglobalization

Walden Bello

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How would you summarize your own critique of the WTO?

The WTO is an opaque, unrepresentative and undemocratic organization driven by a free-trade ideology which, wherever its recipes – liberalization, privatization, deregulation – have been applied over the past twenty years to re-engineer Third World economies, has generated only greater poverty and inequality. That's the first point: implementation of neoliberal dogmas leads to great suffering. Secondly, the WTO is not an independent body but a representative of American state and corporate interests. Its development has been closely linked to the changing needs of the United States, which has moved from supporting a weak GATT to promoting a muscular WTO as a nominally multilateral order with strong enforcement rules. Neither the EU nor Japan were particular partisans of the WTO when it was founded, at the behest of the Clinton administration. The American state is very flexible in how it pursues its ends – it can be multilateral when it wants to, and unilateral at the same time. The Achilles' heel of the WTO is its secretive, undemocratic, oligarchic decision-making structure. This is where we should take aim.

What would you propose as a positive alternative to the WTO regime?

What we call for is deglobalization – hopefully, the term won't contribute to the confusion; I still think it's a useful one. If you have a centralized institution imposing a ...

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