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The Global Trade Referee

The WTO has facilitated global trade since the 1990s but is now under threat.

The WTO has facilitated global trade since the 1990s but is now under threat.

Ever since he was elected, US President Donald Trump has been critical of the World Trade Organisation, which he has described as a “catastrophe”. Also known as the WTO, the organisation was set up to facilitate global trade and act as a referee in trade disputes. Its ultimate objective is to avoid the sort of trade war that can lead to a real war.

But as the United States and China threaten each other with new tariffs, fears of a trade war are back with the WTO’s own relevance under question. This comes at a crucial time for the United Kingdom, which after Brexit may have to fall back on the rules and regulations of the WTO.

So could the world survive without the WTO as President Trump suggests? What does the organisation actually do? And how big of a threat is it under? Jonty Bloom goes looking for answers in its long corridors in Geneva.

(Image: WTO Banner, Credit: Getty Images/Fabrice Coffrini)

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27 minutes

Podcast