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The Fate of the World Trade Organization in the Age of Trump

RESEARCH Policy Brief by Phil Levy and Alexander Hitch
A flag with the letters WTO OMC waves in front of the World Trade Organization headquarters.

There are several reasons to hope, but more reasons for concern now that the World Trade Organization is teetering due to the Trump administration’s multiple attacks.

Key Findings

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is teetering. The Trump Administration has attacked it repeatedly, blocked moves to restock its judicial panels, and looked skeptically on its multilateral decision-making process. For an organization that embodied the results of decades of trade liberalization and emerged triumphantly in the mid-1990s, this has been a remarkable fall from grace.

In this brief, we ask why the WTO is worth saving, consider the complaints lodged against it, and suggest what would be required for a serious rescue attempt. There are several reasons to hope, but more reasons for concern.

About the Authors
Phil Levy
Chief Economist, Flexport
Phil Levy
Phil Levy is a former senior fellow of global economy at the Council. Currently, he's the Chief Economist for Flexport.
Phil Levy
Alexander Hitch
Former Research Associate
Council expert Alexander Hitch
Alexander Hitch is a former research associate for the Global Cities team at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, with expertise in the global economy. In this role, he coordinated various research at the Council, focusing primarily on global economic and trade policy.
Council expert Alexander Hitch