When the World Trade Organization (WTO) was founded ten years ago on January 1, 1995, commentators hailed it as a major transformation of the world trading system. The new, more juristic and permanent World Trade Organization replaced the previous, more pragmatic and ad hoc General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The industrial countries, led by the United States, the EU, and Japan, brought about this change to consolidate and deepen their own and the world’s commitment to an open trading system. Their support for the change was crucial because they dominated the GATT, and they continue to dominate the WTO. The world of trade is changing, however, in another way. Developing countries, led by China, India, and Brazil, are playing an increasingly important role and are having a dramatic impact on the WTO’s agenda. The earliest signs of this second transformation were visible in the Uruguay Round negotiations that led up to the WTO’s founding. In another context I have referred to this shift as a transition from a “Trade as Aid” to a “Trade as Trade” regime for developing countries—a transition that is still unfolding
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