Monday, July 5, 2010

Canada a Roadblock in Trade Talks

(Financial Post – Sylvain Charlebois, University of Regina)

We can choose short-term G20 gains, or the vast benefits of freer trade

Because of global economic uncertainties, the World Trade Organization’s latest attempts to liberalize markets through the Doha Round of trade negotiations [have] been jeopardized. Having begun in 2001, the Doha Round has lingered in multilateral purgatory for even longer than its immediate predecessor, the Uruguay Round, which from inception to signing was debated for seven years. The Doha round continues to be stalled as nations disagree about the fairness of the negotiations, especially in relation to trade barriers, despite the WTO’s track record as a beneficial agent to world economies.

For maybe the first time in history, a significant number of economists and the public are criticizing protectionist reactions to large-scale economic crises. Still, most political leaders are leery about the commitments required by sustainable trade promises. After U.S. President Barrack Obama’s arrival in the White House more than 18 months ago, many believed that the Doha Round would live on. During his campaign, the current President pledged to dump former president George W. Bush’s unilateral approach to foreign-trade policy. But certain inconsistencies in the economic practices of many countries, the United States and Canada included, have led to clashes that threaten to scuttle the negotiations. Read more here.