Explain the purpose behind the WTO’s Doha round of trade negotiations. Why has this round proved so difficult to conclude? What are the likely consequences for the world economy if the Doha round fails?
The World Trade Organization has proven to be the top most successful joint trade institution of the 20th century. In spite of the lack of a central authority, the WTO has sustained trade assistance for the better half of the last five decades. Over which time the influence of the association has increased both in terms of developed and underdeveloped country membership, as well as achieving significant expansion and scope of its original mandate, but not without its problems. Yet despite numerous setbacks the WTO remains an important facilitator of world trade. What other World institution has the ability to settle international trade disputes (for panel and appellate bodies), within a suggested 16 months, (Hohmann, 2008).
The WTO’s Uruguay Round proved to be an historical landmark in the expansion of the international trading structure, as it included development of both textiles and agriculture previously overlooked and left isolated by the GATT ( Hoekman and Mavroidis, 2007), as well as the addition of several new disciplines including, but not limited to intellectual property protection and trade in services. Towards the end of the 1990s global trading institutions remained optimistic that the WTO would broaden its policies to include both trade and investment. Unfortunately these initial efforts were thwarted in Seattle in 1999.
The Doha round, initially set out to be the primary key trade negotiation of the revised WTO (operational January 1st, 1995 as established by the GATT Uruguay Round) has to date has had to traverse an exceptionally complex set of issues. The Doha Rounds primary focus, commonly referred to as ῾DDA’- or the Doha Development Agenda , in their Doha Declaration, according to Hohmann, aimed to address multiple trade issues (e.g. admission to industrial goods and services, agriculture, development of ῾rules,’ with regard to trade facilitation, and competition policy) multiple development interests (e.g. technological transfer and capacity building/ co-operation, and Lesser Developed Countries, differential and special treatment) several non-trade items (e.g. social rights, and the growing concerns of environmental protection) to name but a few.
The December 1999 launch of the round in Seattle failed as a result of the significant influence of altering membership and a revision of the decision building processes of the WTO, (as comparable with the eight trade rounds of the GATT), ( Van Den Bossche, 2008). The 4th WTO Ministerial Conference conducted in Doha, Qatar in November of 2001 made significant progress leaving global leaders and the WTO with a sense of optimism that the round would achieve a successful launch. However the 2003 September conference in Cancun Mexico once again halted progress resulting from, and in fundamental confrontations among groups of members, with regard to a range of complex economic and international policy differences. One of the main outcomes of the Cancun talks according to (Anania, Bureau, Matthews & Swinbank, 2005); suggest developed countries would have to begin to take the concerns of lesser developed countries seriously in order for any future progress to be achieved. Indeed this was in sharp contrast to previous negotiations within the Uruguay Round. Where due to the restricted benefits, if any at all, with regard to the previous agreement on Agricultural affairs, and the generally harmful effects of the TRIPS consensus, LDC’s felt they had little to gain from, and even less influence over, the end product of the negotiations.
December 2005 saw the 6th Ministerial held in Hong Kong, resulting in some success. However an unfortunate recurring negative outcome by the summer of the following year inevitably resulted in the...
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