(Michael Nienaber – Reuters)
The frustration of Roberto Azevedo was evident when, as director general of the World Trade Organization, he summed up the results of a three-day ministerial conference in Buenos Aires in the past week. There were simply none.
The delegates of more than 160 countries from around the globe failed to reach any new agreements in the face of stinging U.S. criticism of the WTO and vetoes from other countries. At the end, they were not even able to agree on a joint communique.
And a further blow could strike in the coming week when Republican U.S. lawmakers aim to pass sweeping changes to the tax code which may introduce protectionist measures critics say are at odds with WTO rules.
“In retrospect, 2017 could mark the beginning of the end of the rules-based free trade order and the system unraveling,” said Andre Sapir, senior fellow at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. He called it a “big worry”. Click here to read more.