Time to Get Back to Business on Doha

The suspension of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks since July is deeply disappointing. While the rhetoric of commitment to the round remains, in practice there has been a surrender to defensive lobbies clinging to the status quo.

But the status quo is unacceptable. In agriculture, it protects the world’s rich farmers by stifling opportunity for the poor, at a cost of some $280 billion a year to taxpayers and consumers. In manufacturing, it deters poor countries from moving up the value chain as tariffs on their exports increase with the degree of processing.

Barriers among developing countries are also especially high, impeding rapid growth in trade between them. In services, trade barriers stand in the way of improved quality and efficiency, slowing the growth of a sector that could make a huge contribution to competitiveness and employment.

Delaying the conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations carries costs and risks for the entire world economy, rich and poor countries alike.