Power and the Governance of Global Trade

Power and the Governance of Global Trade

From the GATT to the WTO
Soo Yeon Kim

In Power and the Governance of Global Trade, Soo Yeon Kim analyzes the design, evolution, and economic impact of the global trade regime, focusing on the power politics that prevailed in the regime and shaped its distributive impact on global trade. Using documents now available from the archives of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Kim examines the institutional origins and critical turning points in the evolution of the GATT, as well as preferences of the lesser powers of the developing world that were the subject of heated debate over the International Trade Organization (ITO), which failed to materialize.

Using quantitative analysis, Kim assesses the impact of the global trade regime on international trade and finds that the rules of trade forged by the great powers resulted in a developmental divide, in which industrialized countries benefited from trade expansion but developing countries reaped far fewer gains. The findings indicate that a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is urgently needed to mitigate the developmental divide by increasing trade between the industrialized and developing worlds.

Kim offers a timely reading of the GATT/WTO system as a way to think about how trade and globalization more broadly may be governed in this post-Cold War century, as the global economy contends with a new geopolitical configuration featuring rising powers from the developing world. Important trading nations such as China, India, and other emergent actors in the G-20 countries, Kim argues, reflect the new power politics that will shape the course of global trade governance in the years to come.