ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Doha Failure Once More

Another illusion of reaching an agreement by end 2008 on the Doha round of trade talks goes up in smoke.

The World Trade Organisation (wTo)and its indefatigable director general, Pascal Lamy, are left once more to pick up the broken pieces of the seven-year-old Doha round of trade negotiations, their grand dream (illusion?) of reaching an agreement on trade liberalisation in agriculture and industrial goods having crashed once again. Few were surprised when Lamy announced on 12 December that he was abandoning plans to hold a ministerial meeting this month to reach an agreement.

Major political changes have taken place in recent months in the United States (US) and elsewhere. But Lamy and his friends – in the developed world and among a couple of developing coun-tries – turned a blind eye to these events. First, they worked hard to convince the world that a deal on modalities that would lay out reduction commitments in farm tariffs and subsidies in agriulture and tariff cuts for industrial products was still doable atthis stage. Second, despite a hostile US Congress that refused to accept the Bush administration’s bilateral trade deals and the cat-astrophic failure of the WTO July 2008 ministerial meeting on these very issues, an orchestrated campaign was launched that if the political leadership gave a green signal, a deal on modalities could be sewn up. Third, the director general and his worthies constantly cited the financial crisis to argue thatthis was the right time to conclude a modalities agreement since it would provide a boost to the troubled global economy.

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