chapter  2
15 Pages

Plus ça change?

Business as usual in the governance of global trade
WithRorden Wilkinson

This chapter presents common sense stories about global trade governance. There are two stories that almost all students and practitioners learn when they encounter the World Trade Organization for the first time. The first is a story about the institution's origins. The second is a story about the pursuit of a world of prosperity through uninterrupted commerce and the vision of a truly global market. The chapter provides an outline of the evolution of the multilateral trade institution that focuses on the political purpose for which the institution was created. It focuses on the ideological and discursive underpinnings of that story and their role in the construction of a particular subjective and normative account of how trade should be organized. The chapter highlights the role played by crisis in the governance of global trade, and explores how pressure for forward momentum is created within a discursive arena of what is deemed to be politically possible.