The World Trade Organization, or WTO as it has come to be called, was originally created in order to promote free trade among the developed and developing countries as a means of generating international economic prosperity. However, the effectiveness of the WTO has come into question in many instances as it enters its second decade of existence, and more specifically, whether the WTO actually promotes free trade, and does this benefit developing countries.
Does the WTO Promote Free Trade In the largest sense, the WTO does promote free trade in several specific ways. When any nation joins the WTO, they are granted preferred nation status, which allows them to export products more rapidly than those that do not belong to the WTO, thereby making it possible for more goods to be sent to market more rapidly, which in theory will generate more economic activity much quicker.
What this does is allow the nation to have a fairer trade system when doing business with other nations, which can help to erase the trade deficits that nations like the United States have been plagued with for decades, given the entrance of nations like Japan into the international markets, flooding those markets with low priced goods which win out when compared to the higher priced American goods (Grigg, 2005).
Secondly, and just as important, membership in the WTO gives the member nations lowered tariffs on the goods that they export, making their goods more favorable in international markets, which should result in higher sales for those products, once again benefiting WTO member nations in many ways. Does the WTO Benefit Developing Countries Keeping in mind that the WTO does show evidence of promoting free trade, the consideration of whether or not the WTO benefits developing countries is also important to discuss.
First, it is valuable information to realize that 75% of the members of the WTO are in fact developing nations (Grigg, 2005). Knowing that the bulk of the members of the WTO are developing nations, and the aforementioned effectiveness of the WTO, it would be a logical assumption that the WTO is benefiting developing countries. However, there are other key pieces of information that make a compelling case for the benefits that the WTO gives to developing countries.
Developing countries often lack the resources that other developed nations have, such as advanced manufacturing equipment and techniques, access to top technology, and educated engineers and the like to rapidly produce products of the volume that one would think is needed to keep up with nations that have the ability to output tremendous amounts of product. How this happens is that developing nations, through WTO membership, is granted preferred nation status, helping the developing nation to avoid a great deal of the exporting red tape that prevents product from being circulated and sold internationally.
This, combined with reduced tariffs and other relaxed trade regulations, allow a developing nation like Vietnam to compete with industrial giants like China, for example. In closing, what can be seen is that not only does the WTO promote free trade, but it also provides advantages that allow developing nations to realize their economic potential. Ultimately, this can lead to a more prosperous and peaceful world.
Grigg, W. N. (2005, January 10). The WTO Trap: The World Trade Organization, a Geneva-Based Body Composed of Foreign Bureaucrats, Will Control Our Nation's Economic Destiny Unless We Get Out-Now!. The New American, 21, 10+.