The Balance of Trade
Keeler, Dan, Global Finance
As the East Coast of the United States basked in unseasonably warm weather in early January, some shoots of hope sprouted from the frozen earth of the Doha round of trade talks (see our cover story, page 16). After only a gentle nudge from European negotiators, US president George W Bush threw his weight behind a renewed push from Europe to get the stalled talks moving again. At the same time, officials on both sides of the Atlantic expressed cautious optimism that the talks, put on ice last summer by World Trade Organization director-general Pascal Lamy, might yet recommence and produce some positive results.
Supporters of the process can only hope that the talks' glacial progress will yield some kind of agreement-and soon. While the WTO struggles to find a way to move forward, trading partners around the world are setting up smaller bilateral and regional agreements that could eventually render any global deal practically meaningless. China, for example, has just inked a deal with the Philippines that will boost trade between the two nations, and as we find out in our cover story, there are plenty of other pacts in the pipeline that will muddy the waters for the WTO negotiators.
Part of the impetus behind the scramble to establish trade agreements comes from the growth in the global economy and the surge in global trade. …