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Global RivalriesStandards Wars and the Transnational Cotton Trade$
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Amy A. Quark

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226050539

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226050706.001.0001

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The World Trade Organization and the New Competing Kings of Cotton

The World Trade Organization and the New Competing Kings of Cotton

(p.119) Chapter Four The World Trade Organization and the New Competing Kings of Cotton
Global Rivalries

Amy A. Quark

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 4 focuses on a critical turning point in the contemporary struggle over quality standards and dispute settlement mechanisms: the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO transformed the dynamics of struggle in the cotton trade in three key ways. First, it intensified the creative and destructive dynamics of the US liberal market project. Perhaps most decisively, this created the conditions for China to ascend to a dominant position in the cotton trade. Three kings of cotton became rivals for rule-making power: the Chinese state, the US state, and transnational merchants. Second, these shifting competitive positions crystallized both a redirection strategy on the part of the Chinese state to reconstitute the rules of the game in its favor and a protection strategy by marginalized cotton producers against the power of the US state, cotton producers, and transnational merchants. These actors saw US quality standards and merchants’ dispute settlement mechanisms as globalized localisms that privileged U.S. interests. Finally, the creation of the WTO shifted the logic of decision making over standards and dispute settlement, privileging discourses of scientism and private governance forms.

Keywords:   World Trade Organization, China, United States, Merchants, Redirection strategy, Protection strategy, Globalized localism, Private governance, Scientism

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