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

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Narratives and Myths in the WTO Doha Round

The Way Forward?

The World Trade Organisation's Doha round of negotiations has been at an impasse since December 2008. Several academics and opinion-makers have recently argued that the Doha round is "dead". This article discusses the US narrative on the reasons for the impasse and the way forward. It contrasts this narrative with that of the major developing country alliances in the wto and considers some underlying causes for the current impasse. The us narrative that the Doha round is dead is not supported by the majority of the WTO's members and whilst a settlement is not likely in the near future, there is no viable alternative to concluding the Doha round on its current development mandate.

This article is based on a working paper (No 167) published by the Brooks World Poverty Institute and the University of Manchester (May 2012). The author is indebted to James Scott, Rorden Wilkinson, Brendon Vickers and Chris Stevens for comments on earlier drafts.

1 Introduction

The continuing impasse in the Doha round since the collapse of the 2008 World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meetings has led some commentators to argue that the round is dead. On 18 April 2011, the Finan­cial Times editorial carried a provocative headline: “Life after Doha. Time to Give the Decade-old Trade Round a Dignified Burial”.1 The current impasse in the Doha round is attributed by some writers, such as Jagdish Bhagwati, to the stalemate in the United States (US) over trade policy. In Geneva the US negotiators have argued that there is “not eno­ugh on the table” to appease the export interests of their main business lobbies.

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