The Doha Round: An Obituary
European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Global Governance Programme Policy Brief No. 1/2011
8 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2011 Last revised: 16 Feb 2014
Date Written: June 1, 2011
The WTO membership will not be able to conclude stalled multilateral trade talks by the end of 2011 - a blow that spells the doom of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) after 10 years of inconclusive negotiations under the WTO’s ‘Single Undertaking’. It is now time to acknowledge the political realities: the Doha Round is dead. This policy brief outlines the history, causes, and consequences of a failed Doha and lays out the core elements of a necessary ‘Plan B’. The roots of failure are to be found in domestic politics of key WTO members on the core mercantilist items of the Doha agenda - agriculture and manufacturing. While some members - notably the United States - are not able to live with a low-ambition deal, others - notably China, India, and Brazil - cannot commit to elements of a high-ambition deal. In the short term, WTO members need to ‘harvest the organs’ of the Doha Round to deliver benefits to least developed members and as a confidence-building measure to get the WTO back on track. In the long run, the death of Doha poses questions about the role of the WTO as guardian and rule-maker of the international trading system. New thinking is needed on the future role of the WTO as well as new approaches to multilateral trade liberalisation.
Keywords: WTO, Doha Development Round, international trade, multilateral trade negotiations
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