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Eduardo Porter

Death of the WTO Is No ‘Glass Onion’ Mystery

In slowly killing off the World Trade Organization, the US is abandoning not only an institution that it helped build but its own long-held belief that increasing trade and removing trade barriers promotes global peace.  

Don’t forget to turn off the lights. 

Don’t forget to turn off the lights. 

Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

I was present at the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Marrakech, in 1994. I witnessed the runup in Geneva, where representatives of 123 countries finally nailed the deal after seven years of talking.

In 1999, at the Battle of Seattle, when the WTO hoped to launch a new trade round, I walked past pepper-sprayed foes of globalization, the glass from shattered storefronts crunching underfoot. A besuited diplomat with a vaguely Scandinavian English tried to convince a dude in a ski mask that small, poor countries needed an arbiter of global trade to protect them from bullying by the big guys.