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Write critiques of these readings and include in each critique a short summary of the argument made by the author. Assess whether the author has been able to accomplish what they set out to do. Essay Example

  • Category:
    Law
  • Document type:
    Assignment
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    5
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    3175

Critique of Three Articles

Article 1: Ann Capling & Richard Higgott’sThe Future of Multilateral Trade System – What Role for the WTO?”

The article by Capling and Higgott1 seeks to identify the role that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will have in the multilateral trade system’s future. The article seems to have been crafted based on the events of the global financial crisis, which started in 2008. The authors seem to partly blame the crisis for the increasing duress that the WTO faces. The paper draws from WTO’s history since its commencement in 1995, and even looks at some of the roles that WTO’s predecessor – the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – played. In an attempt to create an understanding of the subject, the authors have identified the five main challenges that the world trading system faces. The first challenge has been identified as a paradox between economic liberalisation and internationalisation and a reduction in social support in the same economies.2 The second challenge is identified as greater complexities in the formation of trade agendas and the negotiation of the same, something that is blamed on the multi-polar nature of multilateral trade.3 The third challenge according to the authors is the difficulties associated with reconciling competing WTO objectives, while the fourth challenge is identified as the concern that WTO’s decisions are not entirely just or fair.4 The fifth challenge as identified by Capling and Higgott relates to the WTO’s inability to address the discriminatory practices that are made possible by preferential trade agreements, and which a significant number of WTO member states take part in. In the conclusion part of the article, the authors indicate that the WTO has a central role in the multilateral trading system as “an institution for global governance” and as a provider of “global public goods through collective action problem solving”.5

Arguably, the article by Capling and Higgott does well in addressing the challenges that the world trading system faces. Towards the conclusion, the authors also identify the role that the WTO has in the multilateral trading system. If the article was meant to identify the role that the WTO has in the future of international trade (as is suggested in the article’s title), then it appears that the authors failed to substantiate their arguments. In literature, other authors have done arguably better at establishing the role of the WTO in the future of multilateral trade. For instance, Osakwe has argued that going forward, the WTO will be necessary for delivering and enacting non-discriminatory trade rules especially as protectionism, preferential trade agreements and geo-politics continue posing increased risks to multilateral trade.6 It has also been argued that going forward, the WTO will need to be more accommodating to proposals such as the inclusion of plurilateral trade agreements for it to remain relevant in the future global trading system.7 The foregoing argument is supported by the notion that going forward, the trade agenda is likely to change and while the WTO has been proven to be more effective at addressing challenges that have risen in the world trading system in the past, it must remain flexible to accommodate emergent disputes. Due to the changing nature of trade (e.g. electronic commerce and bilateral agreements among others), it has been argued that the WTO has to deal with several challenges going forward.8 Specifically, the institution has to institute reforms in the manner that it handles institutional issues such as decision-making. Moreover, it has been suggested that WTO needs to rethink its negotiating forum; and finally, it has been suggested that the WTO needs to develop an effective strategy of dealing with the changes that occur in world trade.9

Although the WTO does not contain trade laws in the strictest meaning of the word, its scope identifies the institution as a forum for trade negotiations; as an institution that provides a review mechanism for trade policy; as an institution that promotes coherence in economic policies among member countries; and as an institution that provides a framework for the formation and implementation of trade agreements.10 Arguably, therefore, the article under review would have done more justice to the topic under discussion if it had reviewed WTO’s possible future under its initial scope as identified above. In other words, Capling and Higgott could have succeeded more in convincing readers about the future of WTO in the multilateral trading system if their arguments were based on the ability of the institution to work within its initial scope in a fast-changing trade environment. Notably, Capling and Higgott’s article has a title that misleads the reader, and the authors would have been more accurate by using a different title altogether. In the end, the article informs the reader more about the challenges of the current multilateral trading system than it does on the future of the WTO in the same trading system.

Article 2:
Joseph E. Stiglitz’s “Globalism’s Discontents”

In his article, Stiglitz seeks to sort out the diverse meanings of globalisation. The author commences by noting that many countries have experienced the benefits of globalisation, although he faults the distribution of those benefits. In some countries, the author argues, the benefits of globalisation have been experienced by a few; while in other countries, many people have experienced the benefits. The differences in the two categories of countries according to the article, is in the differences in meaning that individual countries have attached to globalisation. The author particularly identifies East Asian countries as having been able to make good use of globalisation to bring benefits to the masses, while arguing that countries that have allowed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to manage their interactions in the global world have not reaped as many benefits.11 In other words, the article commences by laying the responsibility of failure to get benefits from globalisation for some economies, squarely on the IMF.

Stiglitz’s first attempt at giving meaning to globalisation is when the author draws a distinction between beneficial and non-beneficial forms of globalisation.12 In beneficial globalisation, the author alludes to the fact that some countries became aware of the larger global export markets and knowledge opportunities, and took advantage of them without submitting to the limitations that were imposed on them by external players such as the ‘Washington Consensus’.13 Non-beneficial globalisation is described as having been characterised by liberal capital and financial markets, much to the disadvantage of developing countries, which fell prey to the tactics of international financial institutions, most notably the IMF.14 Overall, the article does not provide any conventional meanings to globalisation, as one would expect after reading the author’s intention at the beginning of the article. However, Stiglitz succeeds in creating meanings regarding globalisation on matters such as economies in both the developed and developing countries, trade, and around issues of equity and justice. To that end, therefore, the paper is deemed to have succeeded in achieving its objective of sorting out the diverse meanings of globalisation.

The first argument made in the article seems to suggest that nation states have a role to play if globalisation is to have beneficial implications as was the case with East Asian countries. The foregoing argument has support in literature, particularly from a study conducted in several Caribbean states.15 In the study, it was revealed that concentrating on the export markets for both goods and labour would be ideal strategies to benefit from globalisation.16 It was suggested that the Caribbean states had to be proactive in negotiating export agreements with other players in the global environment if they were to benefit from globalisation.17

The article also draws attention to the inequalities that exist in the global environment, and which further complicated the chances of economies to access equity in the globalised world. Using the example of China’s ascension to the WTO, the article documents the negotiations and counter-arguments that ensued.18 In particular, the United States created the impression that China was out to block it (the US) from benefits that it did not have.19 One gets the impression that the author considered US’s negotiations with China as inconsiderate considering the former’s developed status. Powell argues that such absence of consideration by some states can be explained from an absence of moral principles perspective.20 Arguably, the actions by the US further justify Stiglitz‘s sentiments that globalisation means different things to different economies. To some, it is an opportunity to reap economic benefits without being considerate of others, while other economies view it as an unfair platform where the economically weak countries do not stand much chance of getting equitable gains. As the United Nations notes, most inequalities in the globalised world stem from the inequitable distribution of opportunities.21 Without institutions that offer governance on the global environment by considering the different capacities and the equal distribution of opportunities in all countries, it is unlikely that globalisation will ever mean the same thing economically to such countries.

Overall, the article by Stiglitz succeeds in highlighting the discontents of globalism just as its title suggests, and in the end, the reader feels more enlightened about the inequalities that have emerged from the globalised world. The article can, however, be faulted for failing to make succinct suggestions about how the governance institutions can address the discontents and offer solutions that would enhance the opportunities for all economies in the globalised trade environment.

Article 3: James Fallows’ “China Makes, the World Takes”

The article by James Fallows seeks to justify the author’s claim that China makes just about anything that is in circulation today, and as much as some brand owners may try to hide their manufacturing links with the Asian country, it is highly probable that most of their products are manufactured there.22 The article commences by describing the sweatshop conditions in China’s manufacturing industry just as has been documented elsewhere in literature.23,24,25 The article notes how Chinese workers work for long hours, with minimal pay and without some of the excuses made by employees in western-based firms. The article creates an impression that the Chinese workers are a dedicated lot, who are disciplined strictly based on performance. Still, the article creates the impression that the availability of labour is high in China, hence suggesting that workers do not have many options amid the high competition for jobs.

Fallows also claims that China’s manufacturing industries are just as important to the international market as they are to the country’s economy. He justifies this argument by indicating that while many sub-standard products come from China, it is also true that a lot of quality products come from the country’s manufacturing plants. In addition to being dependable, such products are reliable from a pricing perspective. In other words, the author creates the impression that the larger world depends on China for low-priced products, which can also pass the quality mark. Through his arguments, the author justifies his assertion that “China makes, the world takes”26

Notably, the article communicates more about law-related issues in what it does not articulate in words. For example, by highlighting the sweatshop conditions that characterise manufacturing industries in China, the author makes the reader question about the legal rights of workers. Still, it appears that not much regard is paid to workers’ rights because even accidents that happen in the workplace reportedly do not receive much publicity, hence creating the impression that unfair work practices have been normalised and accepted in the Asian country. Different authors have contributed to the workers’ right debate in China and have argued that the problem in the country cannot be resolved using western-oriented labour laws.27 The 8-hour work day for example may be the legally accepted norm in western democracies, but in China, it is reported that workers yearn for an 80-hour work week, pushed by their economic needs.28,29

Interestingly, Wen claims that instead of living up to its desire to become a “factory for the world”, China has slowly allowed itself to become a “factory owned by the world”.30 While the foregoing assertion by Wen does not support the premise of the paper under critique, it serves to support the author’s argument that indeed China is a major manufacturing company and the larger world depends on it for different products. Western corporations are the main beneficiaries of the sweatshop conditions in China, meaning that if indeed they had a desire to enforce labour rights among their suppliers, they would do so, because after all, their bargaining powers with the suppliers are relatively high.31 Governments where such multinationals are headquartered can also persuade them to uphold legally acceptable human rights practices. However, China still has the largest responsibility to ensure that its citizenry are treated appropriately and when it neglects its mandate, nothing much can be done by other parties to rectify the situation.32

Overall, the article by Fallows makes a good point of proving that China is a large manufacturing country and that the rest of the world depends on it for fast, cheap and quality products. Although the author compares manufacturing and labour practices in the US and China, no other country has been included in the review. Arguably, therefore, it would appear that the author equates the ‘world’ with the US. The foregoing conclusion is particularly true if one considers that even the international companies that the author cites are all American. Notwithstanding this observation, the article does well in highlighting the manufacturing powerhouse that China is. It also brings to the fore some of the pertinent labour issues that organisations ordering goods from China need to consider, if indeed they care about the legal rights of workers. As past cases have proven,33, 34 monitoring of manufacturing practices even in countries that have a poor labour rights record like China plays an important role in improving workers’ conditions.

References

Books and Book Chapters

Capling, Ann and Richard Higgott, ‘The Future of the Multilateral Trade System – What Role for The World Trade Organisation?’, 277-282, In Boli, John and Frank J Lechner, The Globalization Reader, Wiley, London, 2014.

Stiglitz, Joseph E, ‘Globalism’s discontents’, In John Boli and Frank J Lechner, The Globalization Reader (Wiley, 4th edition 2014), 218, 218.

Van den Bossche, Peter, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organisation – Text, Cases and Materials, (Cambridge University Press, 2008) 169

Fallows, James, ‘China Makes, the World Takes’, In Frank J Lechner and John Boli, The Globalisation Reader (John Wiley & Sons, fifth edition, 2015) 169, 171.

Websites

Ozimek, Adam, Why Do Some Chinese Workers Have Such Long Work Weeks? (2012) <http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2012/12/27/why-do-some-chinese-workers-have-such-long-work-weeks/#5163d9f7181d>

China Labour Watch, Tragedies of Globalisation: The Truth Behind Electronics Sweatshops (2014) <http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2104&context=globaldocs>.

Quan, Katie, China and the American Anti-Sweatshop Movement (2014) <http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/pdf/2003/china_american.pdf>.

Journal Articles

Osakwe, Chiedu, ‘Future of The Multilateral Trading System: Why the WTO Remains Indispensable’ (2015) 10.1 AJWH 3.

Jolly, Curtis, Budry Bayard, Carel Bayard, & Alison Keefe, ‘Globalization Equity and Justice in Small Nation States’, (2007) 7.1 Farm & Business: The Journal of the Caribbean Agro-Economic Society, 35.

Braunstein, Elissa & Gerald Epstein, ‘Bargaining Power and Foreign Direct Investment in China: Can 1.3 Billion Consumers Tame Multinationals?’ (2002) 45 UMASS Working Paper Series 19.

Powell, Jason L, ‘Governing Globalisation and justice’, (2015) International Letter of Social and Humanistic Sciences, 48, 53.

Mishra, Vinod & Russell Smyth, ‘Work House in Chinese Enterprises: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data’, (2012) 10 Monash University Discussion Paper 13

Sung, Yun-Wing, ‘Made in China: From World Sweatshop to a Global Manufacturing Centre?’ (2007) 6.3 MIT Press Journals 44

Jing, Li, ‘China’s New Labour Contract Law and Protection of Workers’, (2008) 32.3 Fordham International Law Journal, 1091

Locke, Richard M, ‘The Promise and Perils of Globalisation: The Case of Nike’, (2002) Massachusetts Institute of Technology Working Papers, 7

Locke, Richard, Fei Qin, & Alberto Brause, “Does Monitoring Improve Labour Standards? Lessons from Nike” (2006) 24 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Working Paper, 16

Other Sources

Abbott, Roderick, ‘The Future of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO’, (2012) The Future and the WTO: Confronting Challenges- A Collection of Essays, 10

United Nations, “Social Justice in an Open World”, (2006) International Forum for Social Development, 17

Bacchus, James, ‘A Way Forward for the WTO’, (2012) The Future and the WTO: Confronting Challenges- A Collection of Essays, 9.

Wen, Dale, ‘China Copes with Globalisation’, (2014) International Forum on Globalisation, San Francisco, 19

1 Ann Capling and Richard Higgott, ‘The Future of the Multilateral Trade System – What Role for The World Trade Organisation?’, 277-282, In Boli, John and Frank J Lechner, The Globalization Reader, Wiley, London, 2014.

2 Ibid, 280

4 Ibid, 281

5 Ibid, 282

6 Chiedu Osakwe, ‘Future of The Multilateral Trading System: Why the WTO Remains Indispensable’ (2015) 10.1 AJWH 3.

7 James Bacchus, ‘A Way Forward for the WTO’, (2012) The Future and the WTO: Confronting Challenges- A Collection of Essays, 9.

8 Roderick Abbott, ‘The Future of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO’, (2012) The Future and the WTO: Confronting Challenges- A Collection of Essays, 10

10 Peter Van den Bossche, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organisation – Text, Cases and Materials, (Cambridge University Press, 2008) 169

11 Joseph E Stiglitz, ‘Globalism’s discontents’, In John Boli and Frank J Lechner, The Globalization reader, (Wiley, 4th edition 2014), 218, 218.

12 Ibid 219-220

13 Ibid 219

14 Ibid 220

15 Curtis Jolly, Budry Bayard, Carel Bayard, & Alison Keefe, ‘Globalization Equity and Justice in Small Nation States’, (2007) 7.1 Farm & Business: The Journal of the Caribbean Agro-Economic Society, 35.

18 Stiglitz (op. cited) 224

20 Jason L Powell, ‘Governing Globalisation and Justice’, (2015) International Letter of Social and Humanistic Sciences, 48, 53.

21 United Nations, ‘Social Justice in an Open World’, (2006) International Forum for Social Development, 17

22 James Fallows, ‘China Makes, the World Takes’, In Frank J Lechner and John Boli, The Globalisation Reader (John Wiley & Sons, fifth edition, 2015) 169, 171.

23 China Labour Watch, Tragedies of Globalisation: The Truth Behind Electronics Sweatshops (2014) <http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2104&context=globaldocs>.

24 Katie Quan, China and the American Anti-Sweatshop Movement (2014) <http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/pdf/2003/china_american.pdf>.

25 Yun-Wing Sung, ‘Made in China: From World Sweatshop to a Global Manufacturing Centre?’ (2007) 6.3 MIT Press Journals 44

26 Fallows (op. cited) 169

27 Dale Wen China ‘Copes with Globalisation’, (2014) International Forum on Globalisation, San Francisco, 19

28 Adam Ozimek, Why Do Some Chinese Workers Have Such Long Work Weeks? (2012) <http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2012/12/27/why-do-some-chinese-workers-have-such-long-work-weeks/#5163d9f7181d>

29 Vinod Mishra & Russell Smyth, ‘Work House in Chinese Enterprises: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data’, (2012) 10 Monash University Discussion Paper 13

30 Wen (op cited) 19.

31 Elissa Braunstein & Gerald Epstein, Bargaining Power and Foreign Direct Investment in China: Can 1.3 Billion Consumers Tame Multinationals? (2002) 45UMASS Working Paper Series 19.

32 Li Jing, ‘China’s New Labour Contract Law and Protection of Workers’, (2008) 32.3 Fordham International Law Journal, 1091

33 Richard M Locke The Promise and Perils of Globalisation: The Case of Nike’, (2002) Massachusetts Institute of Technology Working Papers, 7

34 Richard Locke, Fei Qin, & Alberto Brause, ‘Does Monitoring Improve Labour Standards? Lessons from Nike’ (2006) 24 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Working Paper, 16