World Trade Organization (WTO)

Trade Matters

Episode 5: Why is there a Crisis at the WTO? | November 4, 2019 | 26 minutes

Guest: Bruce Hirsh, founder of Tailwind Global Strategies and former Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the WTO
Bruce Hirsh explains why the WTO’s appeals court—the Appellate Body—may cease to function as of December 11, 2019, and why it matters. He discusses why the Appellate Body was created, the critiques about its performance, and the dynamics that led to this crisis point. He also weighs in on whether the crisis was inevitable and what he sees as the greatest risk posed by a collapse of the Appellate Body.

Episode 20: Revitalizing the WTO | October 29, 2020 | 35 minutes

Guest: Clete Willems, Partner, Akin Gump and former White House trade advisor
The world trading system is at a turning point, and the role of the WTO is at the center of the discussion. Clete Willems makes the case for reforming the WTO across all three of its pillars: negotiations; implementation and monitoring; and dispute settlement. He points to a critical alliance to move the system forward: the United States and the European Union.

Related Reading:

  • Clete Willems, “Revitalizing the WTO,” Atlantic Council, October 15, 2020.

Episode 22: The WTO and Domestic Politics | November 29, 2020 | 35 minutes

Guest: Renee Bowen, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at the University of California San Diego
When the United States loses a trade dispute at the WTO, how does that decision impact U.S. domestic politics and electoral outcomes? Economists and political scientists are teaming up to propose a new research agenda to examine risks facing international economic institutions and connections to domestic politics. Renee Bowen discusses what she and colleagues have learned so far and where they believe there are still gaps in the research.

Related Reading:

  • Renee Bowen, J. Lawrence Broz, “Designing an International Economic Order: A Research Agenda,” NBER Working Papers 27914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., October 2020.


WTO Dispute Settlement: Is There a Future for the Appellate Body? | October 9, 2020 | 60 minutes

For 25 years, the WTO’s Appellate Body served as a “last resort” for member countries to seek binding resolutions to trade disputes. The United States continues to block the appointment of new members to the Appellate Body because of concerns about overreach. As a result, the Appellate Body ceased to function in December 2019 when the terms of two of its remaining three members expired, leaving it unable to hear appeals. Panelists discuss the U.S. position, how it differs from the perspectives of other member countries, the risk the Appellate Body collapse poses to the international trading system, proposals for reform of the system, and possible ways to restore binding dispute settlement either temporarily or more permanently. Featuring Kathleen Claussen, University of Miami School of Law professor and former associate general counsel at USTR; Richard Steinberg, University of California Los Angeles law professor and former trade negotiator; and Matthew Schaefer, Yeutter Institute faculty chair and Nebraska College of Law professor.