Free Lunches? WTO as Public Good, and the WTO's View of Public Goods
The WTO can be viewed as a public good in that it provides a forum for negotiations which also produces the necessary legal framework to act as a support for agreed liberalization. To avoid any misunderstandings, in this article the discussion focuses on the WTO as a forum and a set of agreements, not on free trade. Since the legal agreements coming under its aegis are for good reasons incomplete, the WTO provides an additional public good by ‘completing’ the original contract through case law. The importance of this feature increases over time as tariffs are driven towards irrelevance. In turn, the WTO has no particular attitude towards public goods provided by its Members.