Review of International Studies

Is a more multilateral trade policy possible?

Wyn  Grant 

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D.A. Irwin, Free Trade Under Fire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 257 pp.

F. Jawara and A. Kwa, Behind the Scenes at the WTO: The Real World of International Trade Negotiations (London, Zed Books, 2003), 329 pp.

Amrita Narlikar, International Trade and Developing Countries: Bargaining Coalitions in the WTO (London, Routledge, 2003), 238 pp.

American actions since the collapse of the trade talks at Cancún have suggested that trade conflicts can no longer be solved simply by a bilateral bargain with the EU that is then imposed, with a few side payments, on the other members of the WTO. The emergence of the G-21 (with its fluctuating membership) has at least opened up the possibility that trade negotiations may move away from the US–EU duopoly that has characterised them for so long towards a set of bargaining arrangements that are more multilateral. It may be that the real beneficiaries of these changes will be the emerging countries such as Brazil, China and India, all prominent in the leadership of the G-21, rather than the least developed countries. Thus, for example, opening up trade in sugar could benefit Brazil and harm Mauritius.