Does the WTO treat the U.S. “very badly”?

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of True Economics. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.

Yesterday, President Trump has suggested that the WTO is treating the U.S. “very badly”

In reality, the U.S. leads WTO in terms of dispute resolutions wins and in terms of intransigence to WTO functioning and reforms. Here is a slide from my lecture on international institutions frameworks highlighting this fact:

In the previous post, I also shown that the U.S. contributes disproportionately less than the EU and China to WTO budget: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2018/07/3718-china-eu-and-us-arch-stantons-grave.html.

In fact, back in October 2017, President Trump claimed that: Trump, Oct. 25: “The WTO, World Trade Organization, was set up for the benefit for everybody but us. They have taken advantage of this country like you wouldn’t believe. And I say to my people, you tell them, like as an example, we lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO — within the WTO. Because we have fewer judges than other countries. It’s set up as you can’t win. In other words, the panels are set up so that we don’t have majorities. It was set up for the benefit of taking advantage of the United States.”

WTO dispute resolution rules require that none of the panelists on each 3-person panel hearing disputes cases can be from the country involved in a dispute (per Article 8: https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/28-dsu_e.htm). In other words, the number of experts from any particular country that are available to serve on dispute resolution panels is immaterial to the experts service in the U.S. dispute cases.

In reality, thus, the U.S. loses slightly fewer cases brought against it, than it wins cases brought against other nations by it. The high rates of U.S. losses and wins are fully comparable with those of other advanced economies and reflect, in fact, not some WTO bias against any given nation, but rather the simple fact that majority of nations, including the U.S. tend to bring to the WTO arbitration only such cases where concerns raised are well-founded and researched. Which, in effect, means that the WTO dispute resolutions system (slow as it might be) is effective at restricting the number of frivolous cases being brought to resolution, aka, a good thing.

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