The Multilateral Trading System (MTS) has faced challenges in streamlining the flow of goods and services around the world. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has aimed, as had its forerunner, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), to create a rules-based forum that oversees global trade. The WTO governance structure, which is based on some basic principles and rules, including the adoption of decisions by consensus (capacity of any Member to veto a deal), the rule of “One Nation, One Voice” (although voting has never been resorted to in the WTO), the fact of being a member-driven organization, the use of the variable geometry, the concept of single undertaking, have been considered. The objectives of this article are twofold: first, to understand the strategies developed and implemented by WTO members to achieve their trade policy objectives; second, to analyze the participation of the Sub-Saharan African countries in WTO negotiations and in general in the MTS. In that regard, a distinction was drawn between WTO Open Diplomacy and the WTO Hidden Diplomacy with a view to identifying tools used by countries in trade negotiations. Given the absence of any coherent diplomatic approach to the WTO negotiations and the lack of information on the models developed by countries and groups, a model of assessment and audit of the economic diplomacy. The conclusions drawn have enabled empirical work to be undertaken. For any country, the strategies of negotiation developed in the WTO are the reflections of the nature of its external trade and the level of its Economic Diplomacy. Thus, countries advocate their interests and build negotiating systems composed of at least 2 structures: a Back Office Negotiation (BON, in their Capital) and a Front Office Negotiation (FON that leads the negotiations in Geneva). The organization functioning and communication between these 2 structures have direct impacts in WTO negotiations. However, the range of the products and the size of a country's market could also have a bearing on WTO negotiations.
Key words: Negotiation, economic diplomacy, WTO, GATT, GATS, game theory, strategy, variable geometry, single undertaking, Africa, trade.