The multilateral trading system, first established formally in 1947 with the goal of bringing about sustainable peace and greater prosperity through increased cross-border commerce underpinned by globally agreed upon rules, has contributed significantly to economic development and reduced poverty. However, as the global trading system enters the 2020s it cannot rely on past success and must adapt to a rapidly changing world, one that requires both more and different kinds of inclusion in order to address new challenges around inequality and global economic and geopolitical shocks. To address these new challenges the World Trade Organization (WTO) must be updated and reformed by its member governments, who must also recognise that many current global challenges have linkages across trade, tax, environment, and health areas which require increased coordination across global bodies. Further, the challenges of growing domestic inequality in many countries, while a domestic policy concern, will have significant impact on the political will to undertake the necessary updating and reform of the multilateral trading system and the required enhanced coordination with other international bodies and agreements. The recent positive outcomes from the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference in June of 2022 show that global cooperation on trade issues is possible. Building on this success, the WTO can reshape itself to be fairer and more resilient and better able to address current global and domestic challenges.
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