Let it go, Pascal

This week, in Gene­va

[WTO Direc­tor-Gen­er­al Pas­cal] Lamy recent­ly out­lined the next steps in the process, spec­i­fy­ing that the chairs of the var­i­ous nego­ti­at­ing groups would table doc­u­ments — which sources indi­cate could be in the form of reports or new text, depend­ing on the top­ic — on 21 April for mem­bers to reflect on dur­ing the four days the WTO breaks for East­er hol­i­days. He would then meet with groups of key mem­bers.” Extract from ICTSD • WTO Nego­tia­tors Eye “Soft Land­ing”

Lamy ‘s efforts to pull a Doha Round result from between the cracks have been increas­ing­ly des­per­ate since they became well-defined chasms.

We are look­ing at what we can sal­vage from the whole thing,” one offi­cial sighed. A “soft land­ing” would involve WTO mem­bers agree­ing that the 2011 dead­line would not be reached, and seek­ing to sal­vage progress achieved to date, anoth­er said. How­ev­er, “it would be pre­ma­ture to enter into a mode of soft land­ing” before the con­fes­sion­als held by Lamy are fin­ished, one offi­cial argued.“No one wants to call it quits,” said anoth­er.Extract from ICTSD

The sky won’t fall-in if Mem­bers give up on a “big bang” from this Round.

Sure, the sand will start run­ning down for WTO when nego­ti­a­tions are aban­doned. The Dis­putes sys­tem will strug­gle to car­ry the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the Orga­ni­za­tion on its own. But there’s time to re-invent, if we put aside this debil­i­tat­ing Round now.

The out­look prob­a­bly depends on the qual­i­ty of the flot­sam saved from the wreck. At a min­i­mum, Mem­bers should try to cling to the 2005 freeze/ban on agri­cul­tur­al export sub­si­dies. It would be good to hold onto the indus­tri­al­ized coun­try cuts in bound duties on agri­cul­ture and NAMA; but I wouldn’t bank on that unless Chi­na and India give some ground uni­lat­er­al­ly. Also, uni­lat­er­al con­fir­ma­tion of the “indica­tive” increas­es in GATS com­mit­ments would be encour­ag­ing.

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