Jagdish Bhagwati, one of the world's leading economists, offers a fascinating overview of the perils and promise facing the world trading system. That system is now being subjected to powerful centrifugal forces. Concerns with unfair trade are rampant, managed trade is increasingly popular, and regionalism is spreading. The United States, the traditional bulwark of multilateralism, has recently resorted to aggressive, unilateral tactics in trade policy. To a consideration of these developments, Bhagwati brings a unique blend of economic theory, historical scholarship, and familiarity with the institutions of world trade. Bhagwati refutes facile but fashionable criticisms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Warning of the dangers of flouting the GATT's provisions, he shows that its underlying conception of trading by rules will be undermined if we extend accusations of "unfair trade" practices to areas as diverse as retail distribution systems, infrastructure spending, saving rates, and workers' rights. He challenges the economic and cultural stereotypes of Japan that fuel the sentiments supporting managed trade and aggressive unilateralism. In addition, he provides novel suggestions for rebuilding the GATT and with it the world trading system itself--suggestions that should prove useful at the Uruguay Round and beyond.
Originally published in 1991.
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