GATT Membership in a Changing World Order: Taiwan, China, and the Former Soviet Republics

Wednesday, January 1st, 1992 at 12:00 am by Lori Fisler Damrosch
Lori Fisler Damrosch, GATT Membership in a Changing World Order: Taiwan, China, and the Former Soviet Republics, 1992 Colum. Bus. L. Rev. 19

I would like to focus on a set of problems suggested by the China-Taiwan-GATT problem, but which also cut across a number of other relationships. These are the problems of inclusion in the multilateral trading structure (GATT-based) of entities (not just “states,” but a broader set of political units) that are basically market-oriented or striving to be market-oriented, but which stand in an unresolved political relationship with a giant non-market economy (“NME”). Taiwan is of course the principal example for purposes of today’s conference, but we could also include Hong Kong and Macao in the shadow of China, and any number of entities in the shadow of the Soviet Union—the three Baltic republics, other former Soviet republics struggling to sort out their political and economic future, and the East European states which were formerly integrated into the COMECON trading bloc and which are now trying to figure out how to privatize their economies without suffering a complete rupture of longstanding relationships within the former bloc. This set of problems can illuminate a more basic issue that the world community will have to face increasingly in the next few years—the question of reconceptualizing participation in international organizations in a changing world. International organizations were created by “states” to serve the needs of “states,” but pressures are mounting on the state system as we have known it, and new solutions to novel questions will have to be found.

In the first two parts of this paper I isolate the questions of “Taiwan and the GATT” and “non-market economies and the GATT.” Then in the third part I take up the complications that arise when the place in the GATT system of a market-oriented entity, such as Taiwan, cannot be isolated from that entity’s political relationship with a major non-market economy.

Author Information

Professor of Law, Columbia University