The Problem with Global Trade 2. The World Trade Organization (In conversation with Alexandra Strickner)

Season 3, Episode 4,   Apr 29, 2022, 08:30 AM

Many countries that are considered “poor”, upon closer inspection, turn out to be not so poor. It’s just that there’s something about the rules of global trade that make it so these countries remain where they are, stuck in the production of primary goods with few avenues for proper industrialization. What role does the WTO play?

For a while now, the mantra “trade not aid” has dictated how the overdeveloped countries of the Global North engage with their less wealthy counterparts. The logic being that trade is more dignified than aid, and leads to longer lasting change.

However, to anyone who has been paying attention, the way global trade is set up may actually be one of the reasons these countries remain poor. The playing field is far from level, and there are multiple mechanisms that work in concert to ensure it remains that way. To try and understand how the global trade system works, and to find out what can be changed, we had a series of conversations with some experts.  In all these conversations, we aimed to understand how the current global trade system came to be, how it works, and how we can make it more equitable, just, and fair. 

In this episode, we wanted to understand exactly what the WTO is, where did it come from in the first place, and why does it have the influence it has?  

Our guest, Alexandra Strickner, studied economics in Vienna and is co-founder of ATTAC Austria. Alexandra has decades of experience working in Civil Society around issues of globalization,   EU trade policy and Economic alternatives.

Image source: B.S. Halpern (T. Hengl; D. Groll) / Wikimedia Commons