Trade Talks in the News

Article excerpt

WTO members suspended the Doha round of trade talks in July 2006. Trade Forum reviewed 50 media sources for their reactions.

Most opinion-makers were seriously concerned about the future of world trade. There were also those who welcomed the breakdown in negotiations. Many voices called for restarting the talks, but few provided concrete solutions on how to do so.

Alternatives to a Doha deal point to bilateral and regional agreements. The widespread opinion is that this solution is far less effective than multilateral agreements.

Commentators also debate the future of the WTO. Should it help manage and monitor bilateral trade deals or only enforce existing WTO rules? Can it assume more flexibility, so that countries that do not wish to participate in specific negotiations and sign related agreements would not be obliged to do so?

ITC is listening to many voices as it helps developing countries identify their interests and position them appropriately in the trade debate.

A sample of recent commentary:

YALE GLOBAL ONLINE

All Fall Down

"Doha agreement or not, trade among the big countries is booming, their growth rates rising, with unemployment lines shortened. The wealthy nations can live with a stalemate.

"The real losers are cotton farmers in West Africa, tex tile workers in low-income Asian and Muslim states, and low-income shoppers in the poorest quarters of America and Europe. The Doha Round was supposed to help the world's poor, by lowering subsidies that keep Mali's cotton out of textile mills, tariffs that limit the flow of Cambodian T-shirts and other clothes to shelves."

Edward Gresser, Yale Global, 27 July 2006

Plan B for world trade

"The indefinite suspension of the Doha round [...] creates big risks for the world economy. A new explosion of discriminatory bilateral and regional agreements is likely to substitute for global liberalization. This will inevitably erode the multilateral rules-based system of the WTO. The backlash against globalization will generate more protectionism in the vacuum left as momentum toward wide-ranging reduction of barriers ceases, especially as the world economy slows and global trade imbalances continue to rise. Financial markets will become more unstable as international economic cooperation breaks down further."

C. Fred Bergsten, Institute for International Economics, Financial Times, 15 August 2006

The wrecking of the world trade talks was senseless and short-sighted

"This disaster, born of complacency and neglect, signals a defeat of the common good by special-interest politics. If the wreck is terminal - and after a five-year stalemate, that seems likely - everyone will be poorer, perhaps gravely so."

The Economist, 29 July 2006

Africa: Failure of Doha Talks Bad for Africa

"Failure for the US and other countries to cut cotton subsidies is fatal for the cotton industry in Africa. Continual dumping of cheap cotton products on world markets lowers returns for African cotton farmers, and leads to continual loss of household employment and earnings [...]

"Implementation of the deal on access to essential drugs such as anti-retroviral and anti-malarial drugs in public health crises in developing countries is uncertain. This rolls back healthcare efforts on the continent with the largest number of AIDS and malaria patients in the world [...]

"Implementation of duty free, quota free market access, aid for trade for LDCs [least developed countries], is in balance under the Development Agenda. These preferences risk being eroded as a result of bilateral trade deals that will be negotiated by granting countries after the failure of the multilateral trading system.

New Vision (Kampala, Uganda), 6 September 2006

The Collapse of the Doha Round - Broader Implications

"The Multilateral Trading System is based on the principle of non-discrimination. …