The creation of a global competition regime. Where exactly do the obstacles lie - Practical co-operation or ideological differences

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    There has been considerable interest in the creation of a global competition regime in the WTO since its conception. It is an issue that has always emerged in the forum's agenda, and yet, more than ten years later, the international trading system has been unable to agree on a global competition framework. Notwithstanding the current agreement to hold any framework negotiations in abeyance to enable the Doha Round negotiations to proceed, two interesting conclusions can be drawn. First of all, that the agreement pertains only to negotiation related discussions and not discussions per-se on the issue of competition. This would mean that the work of the working group on competition will continue. Secondly, it demonstrates the importance of competition to both developing and developed members in the WTO, in that it has become a deciding factor on the furtherance of trade liberalization in the WTO. There are suggestions that the reasons for the lack of unanimous support in the WTO for its inclusion could be due to one of two reasons: practical co-operation or ideological differences. This article will establish that it is the disparity in development between member economies in the WTO that is the root of this failure. The paper will examine the various competition related issues that manifest as a result of this disparity in the context of suggestions by academics, regarding cooperation, ideological differences and harmonization of competition laws. This article will also examine work undertaken at various international fora and will demonstrate that the disparity in development is a common issue that cuts across the various suggestions offered in this regard, submitting that for reasons relating to membership and workability, the WTO has been the most successful in narrowing this gap. This article will discuss the possibility of a WTO competition framework based on elements identified by members in the Doha Ministerial Declaration and analyze submissions of members to the WTO Working Group. Notwithstanding the agreement on elements, the development disparity makes consensus on the scope of such elements difficult. This article will conclude that it is possible that most developing and some developed countries may not at the moment be prepared to take on a commitment on global competition, which would entail sacrificing autonomy over strategic trade policy and a degree of sovereignty respectively.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalRichmond Journal of Global Law and Business
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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