Monthly Archives: September 2009

Will the G-20 save Doha?

Prob­a­bly not. The dis­count on this, the lastest of their promis­es, is deserved­ly steep accord­ing to the Glob­al Trade Alert web­site.

It’s not a prob­lem of men­dac­i­ty or lack of ‘polit­i­cal courage’. There is sim­ply no con­sen­sus on the lib­er­al­iz­ing man­date of Doha among this group; we’ve test­ed that propo­si­tion to exhaus­tion in the past eight years. The G20 is effec­tive­ly the same group that has been man­ag­ing the WTO nego­ti­a­tions since ear­ly 2004, when the nego­ti­a­tions resumed after the Can­cún col­lapse. To believe that these 20 Chefs could now con­fect a ban­quet from the ‘trash pile’ of the Agri­cul­ture and NAMA nego­ti­at­ing texts would be to believe that heads of gov­ern­ment have been ‘hold­ing out’ on their trade min­is­ters all this time.

Although I doubt this Group can progress Doha, oth­er groups or coali­tions will very like­ly be the basis of future mul­ti­lat­er­al frame­works to open mar­kets for goods and ser­vices. Future agree­ments will encour­age dif­fer­ent sub-sets of the WTO’s mem­ber­ship to pur­sue their own objec­tives with­out the con­straint of WTO’s one-rule-for-all.