Dysfunction and division darken the WTO’s 30-year dream of free trade

Source: theguardian.com theguardian.com

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When trade ministers gathered in the Moroccan city of Marrakech 30 years ago this month to sign the agreement creating the World Trade Organization (WTO), the mood was celebratory. The Berlin Wall had come down only recently, communism had collapsed, and there was optimistic talk of how the body would prise open new markets and act as the arbiter when disputes broke out between countries. The atmosphere today is much darker than it was in April 1994. Any enthusiasm for groundbreaking trade liberalisation deals disappeared decades ago and has been replaced by covert – and often overt – protectionism. Relations...