The twilight of the WTO: The trading system’s referee is about to leave the field

One way of thinking about the world’s trading system is as a sports match featuring a sprawling, brawling international cast of players, each with their own tactics and tricks. The game works best when there is a referee, and for nearly 25 years a group of seven judges at the World Trade Organisation (wto) has done the job. But on December 11th this body will cease to function, because America is blocking new appointments to it. The referee’s departure will make cross-border commerce unrulier and, in the long run, invite an anarchy that would make the world poorer.

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