This essay stresses that the insistence of the US to open markets in the name of “fair trade” poses dangers to the world trading system, “for if everything becomes a question of fair trade, the only outcome will be to remove, altogether, the possibility of ever agreeing to a rule-oriented trading system”. The danger starts itself from imposing conditions of what constitutes free trade and yet, not giving other countries the right to define what fair trade is. “Fairness” is a value-laden concept and more qualitative, rather than say, the concept of efficiency, which is easier to define and can be easily quantified. Moreover, even the American pride in its market openness that it places before the world for emulation by other countries – cannot be absolutely used as standard, as every country is unique in its structural make-up that has bearing on its economy and trade practices.
This report makes a conclusion that the international trading system not only operates under free-market assumptions but more importantly, its very purpose through inception of the WTO is to erect legally binding trade agreements that would apply to every member state. The policy of aggressive unilateralism as practiced by the United States makes use of brute political power that circumvents the legality of the global trading system. In slamming this policy as GATT/WTO-illegal, Bhagwati writes, “honoring a treaty commitment is to reaffirm one’s respects for orderly procedures and the rule of law in dealing with nation states”.