The political economy of the World Trade Organization Agenda

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The aim of this article is to present the World Trade Organization within the perspective of the political economy of trade. The article highlights the transformation in trade regulation caused by the Uruguay Round negotiations and agreements. Today, this trade regulation concerns both beyond-the-border and regulatory measures that affect the functioning and the organization of domestic markets. From the analysis of the nature of the WTO, which is simultaneously : an international economic organization, a set of juridical and multilateral agreements and a member-driven organization, the article develops a functional analysis of the institution. It stresses four functions taken on by the WTO in managing the multilateral trade system : the supervision of international economic interdependencies, the diffusion of international influences, the regulation of trade conflicts and the managing of openness. – Summary AFRI-2002