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There are at least two areas in which the World Trade Organization (WTO) can be seen as either good or bad. The first of these has to do with whether free trade is a good thing for the world as a whole. The second is whether the WTO’s actions that are meant to bring about free trade benefit rich countries more than poorer countries.
The first dispute about the WTO centers on whether its core mission is a good one. Proponents of the WTO say that free trade benefits everyone in the world. They argue, using conventional economic theory, that free trade allows more production to occur in the world as a whole and thereby improves the average standard of living for all people. Opponents argue, however, that free trade is bad for domestic economies. They argue that the globalization of trade creates a more ruthless world in which regular workers suffer.
The second dispute is about the way the WTO works to promote free trade. There are many people who have argued that the WTO’s decisions tend to hurt poorer countries. The argument here is that the richer countries dominate WTO decision-making (which is, in any case, not very transparent at all). These critics allege that the WTO tends to unfairly side with rich countries. (Of course, the US also feels the WTO tends to be biased against the US in its decisions.) Supporters argue that the WTO simply does what is economically best.
Thus, there are a number of debates over whether the WTO is a force for good. It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to accurately and objectively determine if the WTO is, on the whole, truly beneficial.
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