The Transformation of World Trade

This Article contests the traditional view of the evolution of the world trade system. Rather than a unidirectional process of legalization focused exclusively on the system’s normative structure, Part I of the Article, “The Explosion of the GATT Club,” recounts the transformation from GATT to WTO as a bidirectional interaction between law and politics; in particular, between the system’s legal-normative structure and its political, decision making branch Part II of this Article, “The Threat of a WTO Fortress,” challenges the view that a choice must be made between politics and law or, put differently, between, on the one hand, democratic representation, participation, contestation, and the inherent flexibility that comes with it and, on the other hand, discipline, pre-commitment, and some degree of government by experts or export driven interests shielded from capture and popular ignorance. On the contrary, my claim is that a legitimate and efficient trading system requires both politics and law, or more particularly, appropriate balances between participation and discipline, flexibility and pre-commitment, accountability and insulation, popular support and expertise, and input and output legitimacy.