Don’t Cry for Doha

The latest failure of global trade talks has alarmed many, but the collapse of the negotiations was both inevitable and inconsequential. The Doha Round was constructed on a myth, namely that an agenda focused on agriculture would constitute a “development round,” and that its success was crucial to lifting tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people out of poverty.

CAMBRIDGE – Will they or won’t they? Will the world’s trade ministers eventually sign a new multilateral trade agreement that reduces agricultural subsidies and industrial tariffs, or will they walk away empty-handed? The saga has been ongoing since November 2001, when the current round of negotiations was launched in Doha, Qatar, with numerous subsequent ups and downs, near-collapses, and extensions.

The latest round of talks in Geneva has once again failed to produce an agreement.  Judging by what the financial press and some economists say, the stakes could not be higher.

Conclude this so-called “development round” successfully, and you will lift hundreds of millions of farmers in poor countries out of poverty and ensure that globalization remains alive. Fail, and you will deal the world trading system a near-fatal blow, fostering disillusionment in the South and protectionism in the North. And, as the editorialists hasten to remind us, the downside is especially large at a time when the world’s financial system is reeling under the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the United States is entering a recession.  

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

http://prosyn.org/lw2Kc9i;
  1. haass102_ATTAKENAREAFPGettyImages_iranianleaderimagebehindmissiles Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

    Taking on Tehran

    Richard N. Haass

    Forty years after the revolution that ousted the Shah, Iran’s unique political-religious system and government appears strong enough to withstand US pressure and to ride out the country's current economic difficulties. So how should the US minimize the risks to the region posed by the regime?

  2. frankel100_SpencerPlattGettyImages_mansitswithumbrellawallstreet Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    The US Recovery Turns Ten

    Jeffrey Frankel

    The best explanation for the current ten-year US economic expansion – tied for the longest since 1854 – is disappointingly simple: the Great Recession was the worst downturn since the 1930s. And if the dates of American business cycles were determined by the rule that most other countries apply, the current expansion would be far from beating the record.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.