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The World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva.

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Viewpoint: US reversal on e-commerce rules will hurt global consumers

Last month’s surprise decision by the Office of the US Trade Representative to withdraw e-commerce proposals under discussion at the World Trade Organization is a new sign of growing US skepticism of free trade and the influence of big tech. The proposals, introduced by the US in 2019, aimed to establish rules protecting cross-border data flows and prohibiting national-level data localization requirements. We asked Xiaomeng Lu, a director of Eurasia Group’s geo-technology practice, to explain the consequences of the USTR’s reversal.
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Crisis at the WTO: Fixing a broken dispute system
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Crisis at the WTO: Fixing a broken dispute system

The appeals body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is like the Supreme Court for global trade. But it’s fundamentally broken: it hasn’t been able to hear any cases or issue decisions since 2019.

The US has blocked new appointments of WTO appeals judges under the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, complaining that the organization’s rules have hurt US jobs and industry while it lets China protect its massive domestic market from foreign competition. Until WTO reform happens, the US says, it will block any new judges from sitting on the appeals bench.

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Africa's economy could rival China or India, says WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Africa's economy could rival China or India, says WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | GZERO Media

Africa's economy could rival China or India, says WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The African continent has a population of 1.4 billion people, but it imports more than 90% of its medicines and 90% of its vaccines. WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says the time has come to open up the continent to globalization and encourage businesses to invest in African countries.

On GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Okonjo-Iweala makes the case for decentralizing and diversifying global trade to open up new markets, bring Global South countries into the mainstream of the world economy, and reduce reliance on any one country for crucial goods and services.

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World trade at risk without globalization, warns WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
World trade at risk without globalization, warns WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | GZERO Media

World trade at risk without globalization, warns WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer sits down with WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to talk about world trade, the complicated business of moving goods and services across borders around the world.

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Ian Explains: What is the World Trade Organization?
Ian Explains: What is the World Trade Organization? | GZERO Media

Ian Explains: What is the World Trade Organization?

You probably don’t spend a ton of time thinking about the World Trade Organization (WTO), but it has a huge role in almost every aspect of your daily life—from your morning Brazil-roasted coffee to the Chinese-made smartphone you’re probably using to watch this video.

The WTO is an international organization that deals with the complicated business of moving goods and services across borders. It’s kind of like the referee for global trade, setting the rules and providing a forum for countries to negotiate agreements and resolve disputes. It’s why you can buy avocados from Mexico, clothes from Vietnam, or cars from Korea in the United States without a second thought.

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What We're Watching: Australia-China row escalates, COVAX falling behind, Mexico's crackdown on "foreign agents"

Australia takes China to the WTO: Amid a deepening diplomatic and trade dispute with China, Australia has upped the ante by taking its case to the World Trade Organization to probe what it calls China's "discriminatory [trade] actions." The complaint relates to Beijing's decision to slap an 80 percent tariff on Australian barley, which has been pummeling Australian growers and producers. (China accuses Australia of "dumping" barley at a discounted rate; Australia says that's nonsense.) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sparred with Beijing over a range of issues, such as human rights, national security, and telecommunications. But what irked the Chinese the most was when Australia led the charge in calling for a global investigation into China's handling of the pandemic earlier this year, which prompted Beijing to slap tariffs on a host of Australian goods including wine, beef, barley, and coal that threaten about $20 billion worth of Australian exports. While the WTO filing is mostly symbolic, and the dispute could take years to adjudicate, the move is a significant escalation — and a risky one for Australia, which relies on China for 30 percent of its annual exports.

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No, don’t abolish the WTO. Reform it.
No, Don’t Abolish the WTO. Reform it. | The Red Pen on Senator Josh Hawley's NYT Op-Ed | GZERO Media

No, don’t abolish the WTO. Reform it.

Have you ever read a major op-Ed and thought to yourself, "no! no! no! That's just not right!" Us too. That's why we're launching a new series called The Red Pen, where Ian Bremmer and the crew at Eurasia Group will pick apart the argument in a major opinion piece. Right, left, Republican, Democrat, American, Global — we aren't particular. We just want to keep writers honest. This week, we take the red pen to Senator Josh Hawley's Times op-ed calling for the end of the WTO. No, Josh, killing the WTO isn't a good idea — but reforming it is. Watch the video here, and stay in the red with us!

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