Both China’s and the US are going to shape the future of the WTO in the next
years through words and actions. China has thrived within the global trading
system since joining in 2001 and this year it was president Xi making the case
for free trade in Davos.
To that extent, there is some overlap with the European
approach that continues to emphasize openness and multilateralism.
At the same time, looking beyond the rhetoric, there are issues that remain more
controversial to deal with, e.g. China’s treatment of foreign companies’ in its
domestic market or technology transfer. Looking at the US, seeing actions
following words would prove much more problematic for the global trading
It could easily trigger a slew of legal challenges ‒ both domestic and at
the WTO ‒ and give rise to trade wars causing serious economic damage.