Two basic premises of 'The world trading system' are that economic concerns are central to foreign affairs, and that national economies are growing more interdependent. The author presents the economic principles of international trade policy and then examines how they operate under real-world constraints. In particular, he examines the extremely elaborate system of rules that governs international economic relations. Until now, the bulk of international trade policy has addressed trade in goods; issues inadequately addressed by policy include trade in services, intellectual property rights, certain investment measures, and agriculture.The author highlights the tension between legal rules, designed to create predictability and stability, and the governments need to make exceptions to solve short-term problems. He also looks at weaknesses of international trade policy, especially as it applies to developing countries and economies in transition. He concludes with a look at issues that will shape international trade policy well into the twenty-first century.