Cover of Breaking the WTO by Kristen Hopewell
Breaking the WTO
How Emerging Powers Disrupted the Neoliberal Project
Kristen Hopewell

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August 2016
288 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804798662
Paper ISBN: 9781503600591

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2017 Best Book Award Honorable Mention, sponsored by the American Sociological Association (ASA) - Global and Transnational Sociology Section.

The world economic order has been upended by the rise of the BRIC nations and the attendant decline of the United States' international influence. In Breaking the WTO, Kristen Hopewell provides a groundbreaking analysis of how these power shifts have played out in one of the most important theaters of global governance: the World Trade Organization.

Hopewell argues that the collapse of the Doha Round negotiations in 2008 signals a crisis in the American-led project of neoliberal globalization. Historically, the U.S. has pressured other countries to open their markets while maintaining its own protectionist policies. Over the course of the Doha negotiations, however, China, India, and Brazil challenged America's hypocrisy. They did so not because they rejected the multilateral trading system, but because they embraced neoliberal rhetoric and sought to lay claim to its benefits. By demanding that all members of the WTO live up to the principles of "free trade," these developing states caused the negotiations to collapse under their own contradictions. Breaking the WTO probes the tensions between the WTO's liberal principles and the underlying reality of power politics, exploring what the Doha conflict tells us about the current and coming balance of power in the global economy.

About the author

Kristen Hopewell is Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at the University of Edinburgh.

Hopewell offers a novel account of international negotiations at a time when the U.S. is no longer able to force other countries into compliance. Her explanation of how BRIC nations are using 'the master's tools' to disrupt the world order makes for a fascinating read."

—Nitsan Chorev, Brown University and author of Remaking U.S. Trade Policy

"Hopewell's book provides much rich detail on the efforts of Brazil, India, and China to challenge the unbalanced nature of WTO rules and to liberalize foreign markets for their growing exports. The analysis provides an important perspective on shifting power in trade politics and the paralysis of the Doha Round."

—Eric Helleiner, University of Waterloo

"In this intriguing study, Kristen Hopewell uncovers a central paradox in the World Trade Organization. Brazil, India, and China exposed market liberalization as a pretense even as they embraced it, disabling an unequal trade regime from within. This is a well-researched and wonderfully nuanced lens through which to view geopolitical power dynamics in a multi-centric age."

—Philip McMichael, Cornell University

"Hopewell's analysis is invaluable to understanding one of global neoliberalism's key institutions. Her lucid dissection of interstate politics within the WTO shows how China, India, and Brazil have learned to use arguments for free trade to pursue their own interests, just as the U.S. and Europe have always done, resulting in a deadlock that has left the WTO floundering."

—Peter Evans, University of California, Berkeley