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Is the Doha Round No Longer Relevant?

A short commentary on the Doha Round of WTO negotiations:

The talks being held at this time in Geneva are not making enough progress. The latest compromise text that had been drawn up by Pascal Lamy is opposed by India, and the U.S. is also blaming China for going back on earlier promises, as the Associated Press reports.

[Tuesday Update: The talks have now collapsed in what the Telegraph calls a 'blow to globalisation']

One fascinating element of the talks is the emergence of a core group of 7 WTO members who consulted closely on the new deal. Here's an excerpt from the Bridges daily updates:
Seven of the world's largest trading powers emerged front and centre in the struggling talks at the WTO on Wednesday, meeting all afternoon and late into the night in an attempt to find a way out of the impasse in governments' push for breakthrough deals on agricultural and industrial goods trade. [...]

Australia, Brazil, China, the EU, India, Japan, and the US were discussing non-agricultural market access (NAMA), agricultural market access, and trade-distorting farm subsidies, a source said.
This provides a useful mirror for the current balance of power in the world in the trade arena. The absence of Canada is notable. Keep in mind that Russia is not (yet) a WTO member.

Incidentally, the WTO talks don't seem to arouse much interest in the west. Daniel Drezner has a post on the lack of excitement, the conclusion of which could be paraphrased as 'wake me up when the protestors return'. On the other hand, the negotiations still seem to be big news in India.

As the talks were being held in a smaller circle, many ministers had little to do, and so the 'smarter ones' went shopping last week. Reuters reports today that this was a wise choice, too, as many found themselves without enough clean shirts after the talks were extended.

One would almost wonder what the reporters themselves are doing in Geneva. I hear the weather is nice, and Geneva has a wonderful lake.

The seeming lightness of the current negotiations might be caused by the impossibility of actually reaching an agreement. But it could also be a reflection of the fact that either way, the talks themselves will have little effect on the actual current of globalisation, which is being undercut by shifting fundamentals.


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E.J on :

It's obvious Doha Round will not accomplish its anticipated goals. The monster and freak (called by Sarkozy) will make no compromise on EU subsidy policy. That make me withdrawal my sympathy on him. He should know EU 's subsidy policy make those farmers in developing country desperate . How can these peasants compete with almighty EU machine. EU dodges its obligation and criticize others. I'll say Sarkozy 's selfish position and the cunning "monster" Peter Mandelson are all responsible for the Doha deadlock.

Nanne on :

There's no love lost on Mandelson from my part, but he is going much further than Sarkozy is willing to accept. The French have even combined with eight other EU Member States to call Mandelson's mandate into question. However, these states do not form a majority. As long as they don't, Sarkozy can protest all he wants. The conflict in the WTO no longer revolves around EU subsidies. It has become one of many different issues. And the EU and U.S. are not fighting as much as they used to. The conflict is more between the EU and U.S. on the one hand and India/China on the other hand.

E.J on :

Doha round negotiation face the problem of multual trust, and the problem of effective protection mechanism on emergency. US ,the largest debtor in history make advantages of its currency (US$ the international currency) so barbarously. It devaluate its currency on purpose to plunder other country's wealth. Trade officers from different countries doubt on WTO's objects in DOHA round. How can we trust US government and US Federal Reserve will not going on with its dirty trick once again and again. how can they trust those Wall street crocodiles will show their sympathy and let them tide over the current food and energy crisis. WTO mechanism show its powerlessness here. Tracing back the history, For decades the raw materials (like coal, oil ,metal) was manipulated to the lowest price by Wall street tycoons and their EU Alliances.( It's unfair to those material suppliers.) Now they manipulate it in the opposite way. Because US subsidy policy had destroy so many developing countries agriculture, it's time for Wall street speculators to decide how much money they will raise. I don't think a country like India will based its strategic security on US goodness. as to other raw materials ,no matter in food , petroleum oil , Metal market , most of the profits stay in Wall street bank's balance sheets instead of raw material suppliers. Without improving the mechanism of world trade and finance , WTO ideal will not make many progess.

franchie on : Ok the PAC is unfair now, I didn't see that the biggest industrialised states hadn't protectionnism subventions either, or rules at all (reevaluation of a money, ie China) Is it because France says it, just a question ? The EU communauty is a melting pot of contradictions

Joe Noory on :

Special interests in France [url=]worked their magic[/url] with the Elysee, but that might have brought about a quick response from Lamy's cluster to remove those issues for later negotiation as a way to keep it from scuppering the rest of the agreement, something that has been in the works for almost SEVEN years. No, what that did was [url=]signal to others[/url], to a handful of developing countries' representatives that there wasn't much to lose in rejecting it themselves for their own reasons at the last moment - where they really weren't prepared to kill it 24 hours earlier. The only solution to this is to have another set of short-term bilateral agreements or by groups in smaller numbers to buy some time to figure out just what it is the dissenting parties want. Basically, if the EU, US, India, China, Brazil, Japan, and Korea, all with a few exclusions over the points of disagreement - got stop-gap deals in place, the dissenters' stinkbomb can be bypassed for now. Alternately, they might realize that there might be consequences to obstruction that will see a WTO without them where they will just have to go back to coming to however many bilateral agreements that they need to, but lose the benefit of any of the work already puit into getting the WTO agreement this far. The US, by the way, stuck it's neck out and made last minute concessions just to keep India and China on board, whereas the self-stated polyamorous fans of treaties and saccharin, generic, global kumbaya didn't seem to do that much for it at all. Oddly enough there's this to be hopeful about: [i]Delegates said talks were faltering on the issue of the so-called special safeguard mechanism (SSM), which allows countries to protect poor farmers by imposing special tariffs on certain agricultural goods in case of an import surge or price fall. Some developing countries such as India want that mechanism to kick in at a lower import-surge level than has been proposed, in order to protect their millions of poor farmers from starvation. Others want it to take effect at a higher rate.[/i] What's hopeful about it? It says that there are smart people (unless it's just risky behaiviour for the sake of populism) who don't think that the commodities problem right now is permanent, otherwise they wouldn't stick to their guns on the protectionism that in the long run sharpens the effect of rising commodities cost on the poorest people.

franchie on :

in your link : "in a reference to such issues as the labelling of wine, and 'the defence of our European industrial interests in the face of emerging countries' " uh, funny, do these emerging countries are called California, South Africa, Australia ? or Boeing, or... or the appellations Champagne or Cognac are from California ?

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