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Transforming Nations

How the WTO Boosts Economies and Opens Societies

Courtesy Reuters

No visitor to Phnom Penh, Beijing, or Riyadh these days can fail to sense change, optimism, and new economic dynamism. Cambodia, China, and Saudi Arabia are on the move, and mostly for the better. Why? For one thing, because all three countries -- along with Croatia, Georgia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and many others -- have joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the past few years.

The power of the WTO to aid national transformation is easily forgotten. All too often, many developing countries measure their success in the WTO's Doha Round of trade negotiations by the extent to which they avoid obligations to open up their economies. And in polite conversations in Geneva, the potential of WTO disciplines to encourage radical market, institutional, and regulatory reform is a politically incorrect topic. It is the countries that have joined the WTO over the past decade that have drawn the most benefit

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