In This Review

The American Nightmare: Politics and the Fragile World Trade Organization
The American Nightmare: Politics and the Fragile World Trade Organization
By Thomas A. Hockin
Lexington Books, 2003, 242 pp

The World Trade Organization has become a whipping boy for opponents of globalization. It has been thrown into prominence by the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, targeted for completion by 2005 (but likely, as with past trade rounds, to fall behind schedule). Proponents and opponents of the WTO alike can learn something from Hockin's analysis, particularly about one of the organization's key features: its mechanism for settling trade disputes among member countries, which now number 146. Hockin, a former trade minister of Canada with experience negotiating both the Uruguay Round and the North American Free Trade Agreement, combines law and politics with anecdotes of his own that suggest Canada, contrary to the general impression in that country, often held its own against American negotiators. He argues that NAFTA's unique dispute-settlement arrangements have been remarkably successful. Indeed, he suggests that other free trade areas among similarly situated countries might also be successful in resolving disputes without involving the WTO, which he doubts can resolve disputes over fundamental cultural, developmental, or political differences and might instead be overwhelmed and lose its all-important credibility. Two interesting chapters discuss the complexities -- and possible gains -- introduced by China's membership in the WTO.