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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


Long read

From COVID-19 into 2021
Lessons for WTO work on agricultural trade and support

1. ‘WTO rules are not prescriptions’
2. What’s happened
3. Prospects
(Plus References)
December 31, 2020

WTO reform: how wide should the window be set?

Thoughts on WTO reform and transparency. With Robert Wolfe
Photos by Jay Louvion April 26, 2021
Short: Summary. Long: 1 Transparency | 2 External transparency | 3 Negotiations | 4 Does transparency help or hinder?
Also: The World Trade Organization is regularly in crisis, but this time could be different, Cosmopolitan Globalist, September 28, 2021

Down a rabbit hole in search of the Wensleydale deal with Norway
June 8, 2021

‘Without transparency, trade agreements are just words on paper.’

‘Countries do not negotiate in meetings of the full membership, even behind closed doors’

‘Our focus here is only on the tension between external and internal transparency’

Dispute 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

… much more than disputes

Law of the jungle? Far from it

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

‘WTO terms’ will apply in all future UK-EU trade. But how much?

A sliding scale of trade barriers
Summary | Part 1: WTO terms | Part 2: goods | Part 3: services and more
May 27, 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
September 9, 2018
GATT Article 24

‘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

Types of agreement

Types of a possible future UK-EU trade deal. By Alan Swinbank, Reading University
January 10, 2017

In a nutshell: Brexit and the UK’s trading relations with the EU. 5 graphics summarising the 4 main options September 19, 2016

‘No deal’ on UK-EU trade is worse than ‘Australia-style’
November 30, 2020

See also archived posts on Brexit, everything on Brexit

On Switzerland


What have the UK and Switzerland agreed on trade post-Brexit?
February 5, 2019; completely overhauled January 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 Does 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

Negotiations and rule-making


New draft suggests nervousness in divided WTO Revised Aug 6, 2021
The text Aug 3, 2021
Strange atmosphere Jul 22, 2021

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

Behind the rhetoric


‘Public stockholding for food security’ Aug 24, 2020
New G33 proposal Sep 18, 2021

Is another ‘safeguard’ needed?
Aug 30, 2020

Fisheries subsidies

Optimism after WTO ministers meet on fisheries subsidies, despite splits July 15, 2021
Updated links | More on the talks

More agriculture

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

History: the 20-year saga Mar 23, 2020

> All on the agriculture negotiations

Dispute settlement

It’s working

How the WTO deals with problem trade measures—it’s not just dispute settlement
The Appellate Body is in a deep freeze, but those who think it will drag trade into the law of the jungle are in for a surprise
December 11, 2019; updated

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

VIDEO: The WTO and the global trading system (Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, YouTube, 54 mins)
— Adam Posen, Vince Cable, Stuart Harbinson, Peter Ungphakorn, David Tinline
June 10, 2020

Authorised retaliation

Spot the difference: US tariffs on Scotch are not part of a tariff war
BBC Question Time was wrong about tariffs. It matters.
February 15, 2020

More on the crisis

Yes, the WTO needs fixing—but not the way this NY Times piece imagines
December 27, 2020

See also: archived posts on the WTO; everything on: agriculture, trade negotiations (category, tagged), trade facilitation, G20

Header photo: Norway reflections by David Mark from Pixabay, CC0