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Non-tariff barriers

Non-tariff barriers

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The WTO has brought a remarkable degree of order to the world economy. While its precise structure to some extent still reflects the odd circumstances of its history, the institution as it is designed makes very good sense. Viewed as a facility for fostering cooperation in trade policy, set in a world where underlying incentives are to use trade policies in beggar-thy-neighbor ways, the WTO appears to succeed admirably in providing the necessary tools for cooperation. It constructs a variety of channels through which countries can communicate. It lays out a detailed set of rules defining cooperative behavior, rules that are well-grounded in either economic theory or history so as to be acceptable to the member countries. It permits an assortment of exceptions to these rules, some of which are regrettable but all of which were probably necessary to make it possible for many countries to participate. And finally it creates a streamlined dispute settlement mechanism that seems well-tailored to encouraging cooperation and adaptation by the participating countries.
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