Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies major in Asian Studies

Subject Categories

Asian Studies


College of Liberal Arts


International Studies

Thesis Adviser

Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby

Defense Panel Chair

Dennis Trinidad

Defense Panel Member

Elaine C. Tolentino
Alejandro Christian D. Soler


The norm of multilateralism, as espoused by the World Trade Organization (WTO), has been cascaded, internalized, and institutionalized by its members over the years. As an international actor, the WTO is the principal organization actively promoting and safeguarding the trade multilateralism norm. Despite the overall increase in global trade and internalization of the WTO multilateralism norm, the WTO appears to encounter difficulties in passing agreements that would further promote a multilateral trade system. Such dilemma is made evident by the repeated failure of the Doha Round and the continued stalemate during WTO ministerial conferences post-Doha Round. This merits further investigation on the reason behind the difficulty of WTO in passing agreements that would further promote trade multilateralism. To answer this question, this study will use Ryder McKeown’s norm regress framework in examining the behavior of WTO members. Analysis will focus on two of the most pressing issue-areas in the WTO: farm subsidies and public stockholding. The former was a dominant issue during the Doha Round associated with developed countries which had contributed significantly to a deadlock during negotiations, while the latter is a more recent issue advanced by developing countries. Results from document analysis illustrate that, indeed, the behavior of WTO members, such as enacting national policies in contrast to WTO espoused principles on farm subsidies and public stockholding, and reframing the application of the norm contributed to the difficulty of the WTO to pass multilateral trade agreements, and members’ behaviors may be symptomatic of norm regress. The norm contestation arising from the two issues evidently posed a challenge to WTO’s ability to pass additional agreements.

Abstract Format






Accession Number



Commercial treaties; Agricultural subsidies; International trade; Food security; World Trade Organization

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