The World Trade Organisation is the main governing body in world trade. With 153 member countries it represents over 95% of trade. It became the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1995 and is currently headed by Pascal Lamy. The main undertakings of the W.T.O are as follows:
- Administering W.T.O trade agreements
- The forum for trade negotiations
- Handling trade disputes
- Monitoring national trade policies
- Provides technical assistance and training for developed countries - Co-operation with other international organisations
Decisions in these areas are made by consensus among the entire membership.
The Doha Development Agenda was the latest trade negotiating talks round of the W.T.O. These began in Doha Qatar, in 2001 and were ongoing until earlier this year. The key priority of these talks was to aid both developed and developing countries by further liberalising trade globally. To achieve this, the W.T.O planned to revise their existing policies in certain aspects of trade. Some of these areas included: -Agriculture market access: this was to be increased by reducing trade distortion through means of export subsidies and tariff reductions. -Trade Facilitation
-Industrial market access
-Services: this proposed to liberalise trade in services
-W.T.O rules: aimed at abolishing anti-dumping in developing countries and drawing up new terms of approval for regional trade agreements (RTAs). However these changes will not be introduced as the most recent round of the Doha talks collapsed in July of this year due to disagreements on agricultural import rules.
The major players were namely Brazil and India; who represented the G20 group of developing countries, the E.U, the U.S, and Australia on behalf of the Cairns group and Japan for the G10. The primary agenda of these members appeared to be agreement of all W.T.O members on a new trade development agenda.
Based on my research and understanding of the Doha Development Agenda I have formed the following opinions: -The Doha Agreement was not the beneficial trade liberalisation deal the W.T.O made it out to be. The proposals to open up the trade in services market look good on paper but only seem to encourage multi-nationals and large corporations to enter the markets of the low developing countries. As a result of this their domestic productivity would be destroyed, their unemployment rate would rise and poverty would increase rather than stop. This proposals prompted developed countries to demand too much of developing countries in return for market access. There is no way the economy of developing countries, like those of sub Saharan Africa, could withstand more multinationals setting up business. They need more time to strengthen their economy before this can happen.
-I also have to argue that the Doha agenda was not favourable towards agriculture, although it claimed to be. This lack of consideration applies to all trading blocs but essentially developing countries. Although agriculture only accounts for a small percentage of world trade, it is the main source of income, and the only occupation, for roughly 2.5 billion people in the developing world. Even if the U.S and the E.U had agreed upon proposed reductions in their farm subsidies I doubt it would have enhanced the trade of developing countries at all! If E.U subsidies were reduced by more than half the amount they would still be substantial enough to give agriculture produce, originating from the E.U, a distinct advantage over produce from less developed countries in the global markets. It would not have a positive impact on anti-dumping policies either, rendering the Doha’s proposed subsidy cuts pointless and ineffective in achieving global trade liberalisation.
-From what I can see the failure of the Doha talks exposed the E.U and the United States as the two main culprits in trade protectionism and...