I have often heard it said that non-discrimination is a fundamental principle of the WTO. Yet I have never believed that for a moment. The WTO is enamored with discrimination. This can be seen in the way that the WTO encourages governments to discriminate between countries with antidumping duties and countervailing duties, and the way that the WTO permits preferential trade agreements without imposing any real disciplines. Another example of discrimination, which has gotten much worse under the WTO than it was under the GATT, is discrimination against countries seeking to join the WTO by requiring applicant WTO-plus provisions in Accession agreements and by requiring applicants to accept incumbent WTO-minus provisions.
The latest example of the fact that the WTO is hard wired for discrimination is the recent posting on the WTO website about the architectural competition that the WTO is organizing for the building extension of the Centre William Rappard. According to the WTO website, “The competition is open to any qualified architect from any WTO Member country.” The WTO website does not explain why it is discriminating against architects from non-WTO member countries. One wonders whether the WTO thinks such individuals to be incompetent. Or perhaps the WTO doesn’t want a building design tainted by intellectual input from outside the WTO mainstream. Or perhaps the WTO doesn’t want to help the economy of a non-member country by using one of its architectural firms.
Whatever the reason, it is shameful.