AN EXAMINATION OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES FOR NIGERIA
The WTO and its predecessor GATT have formed rules and discipline for ensuring multilateral trade among nations. Its overriding objective is to ensure that trade flows smoothly, freely, fairly and predictably. At the heart of the system are the WTO’s Agreements which are the legal rules for international commerce. This appears to be the greatest supranational, international economic institutional structure established to promote international trade and globalization. However, these global trade rules formulated by the WTO are fraught with many inadequacies and hence pose serious challenges to developing member countries such as Nigeria. The immediate objective of this research was examine the propriety of developing countries like Nigeria signing these international trade agreements hoping that by doing so, they will reap huge economic benefits. However, the benefits and costs of trade liberalization (the driving force of globalization championed by the WTO) for developing countries constitutes an increasingly controversial issue. Thus, the central question for this dissertation is whether strict adherence to the obligations and commitments made by Nigeria to WTO’s GATs and TRIPs will not pose serious challenges to Nigeria’s economic development objectives as a third world country. And if it does, how can these challenges be addressed. Despite the inherent unbalanced nature (as it seems to favour only developed countries) of the terms of these international trade agreements, governments especially in developing countries are still vulnerably and helplessly opening up their local economies to the global markets with all the attendant dislocation in economic growth projection. Therefore, the main objective of this research was examine the WTO’s General Agreement on trade in services (GATs) and Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs) with a view to identifying the issues and challenges underlying the application of these trade agreements and make recommendations as viii appropriate. Finally, this study increases our understanding of the need to have sound national development policies and laws that must be properly implemented and pursued consistently and well coordinated in Nigeria to achieve economic growth. Added to this is a clarion call for a drastic reform of the WTO to address the marginalization of developing countries.