World Trade Negotiations: Sorry Spectacle

The Doha development round rapidly degenerated into protectionist brinkmanship. With the ink still wet on the November 2001 Doha declaration, President George Bush dramatically increased US farm subsidies and imposed punitive tariffs on steel imports. More recently, Washington has failed to meet the commitments it made in Doha on patent rights for medicines in poor countries. And the European Union remains aggressively inflexible in agriculture. Prospects for progress at the Cancún ministerial meeting in September are dismal.

The World Today
5 minute READ

Jean-Pierre Lehmann

Professor Emeritus of International Political Economy, IMD; Founder, The Evian Group

As things stand, with every deadline missed, the Mexico meeting is likely to achieve nothing positive and concrete, but will once again provide a sorry spectacle of the global ‘indecision-making process’.

The pathetic morass into which the negotiations have fallen represents another milestone in the general deterioration of global governance. Witness the recent G8 summit in Evian-les-Bains, France, as a vivid illustration of its eerie vacuity.

The road to Cancún, therefore, may well be the road that leads to the oblivion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the breakdown of the global economic order. This was founded on the letter and spirit of the post-war Bretton Woods agreements, which enshrined principles of rules-based multilateralism. Why is it happening?

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