Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Doha Round and Round

(The Jakarta Globe)

When it comes to the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round of trade negotiations, the resolution of the G-20 meeting in Toronto can be characterized as vapid. The best the G-20 could do was reiterate its support for achieving an agreement and direct negotiators to “report on progress at our next meeting in Seoul where we will discuss the way forward.” In other words, nothing is expected to happen.

Originally scheduled to end in 2005, the Doha negotiations have dragged into their ninth year. The centrality of the WTO in the trading system is disappearing as its members increasingly pursue their trade interests through bilateral agreements.

While an agreement on the round would offer substantial economic benefits by reducing farm subsidies and opening up new markets, political obstacles inhibit its conclusion.

Many observers assign blame to the complexity of 153 members reaching consensus on an agenda with dozens of issues, but the heart of the matter is far simpler.

If the United States and China stepped up to the plate with new offers, the momentum for a speedy agreement would be unstoppable.
Read more here.