World Trade: Putting Doha Back on Track

The failure of the Doha round of trade negotiations threatens to encourage separate deals between countries or defensive regional arrangements. As ministers meet to map a way forward, they may reflect on the damage this could cause in Europe and America and how the Asia-Pacific could provide a way out.

The World Today Updated 21 October 2020 Published 1 December 2003 3 minute READ

Ross Garnaut

Professor of Economics, Australian National University

Professor David Vines

Emeritus Professor of Economics and Emeritus Fellow, Balliol College, Oxford University

The growing weakness of the world trading system is a serious threat to global prosperity. In the 1990s, strong expansion of international trade supported sustained world economic growth. This was helped by the liberalisation of the Uruguay trade round, by considerable expansion of most-favoured-nation arrangements in all western Pacific economies, and by preparations for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, this process has come to an end.

The emphatic launching of the new Doha round for WTO liberalisation in the months after September 11 2001 was welcome. Its wide agenda included high ambitions for agricultural trade and other issues important to developing countries.

Inadequate fix

The Cancún negotiation breakdown in September came about because of problems with agriculture. Of central importance was agricultural protectionism in the European Union, the United States, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

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