Daniel W. Drezner

The policy trap of “completing the Doha round”

A few months ago I was at a panel on the April G-20 summit, when someone asked why there was a pledge to complete the Doha round when no one expected that to happen?  The answer given by the trade experts in the room was that, as toothless as such a statement might sound, it ...

A few months ago I was at a panel on the April G-20 summit, when someone asked why there was a pledge to complete the Doha round when no one expected that to happen? 

The answer given by the trade experts in the room was that, as toothless as such a statement might sound, it was worse not to say anything.  The signal of not mentioning Doha was ostensibly worse than the cynicism of claiming that two plus two equals five. 

Bear this in mind when reading the following

A few months ago I was at a panel on the April G-20 summit, when someone asked why there was a pledge to complete the Doha round when no one expected that to happen? 

The answer given by the trade experts in the room was that, as toothless as such a statement might sound, it was worse not to say anything.  The signal of not mentioning Doha was ostensibly worse than the cynicism of claiming that two plus two equals five. 

Bear this in mind when reading the following

The world’s biggest economies agreed on Thursday to conclude a comprehensive trade deal in 2010, in the latest attempt to revive the stalled Doha round and give a shot in the arm to the world economy.

Rich countries gathered for the G8 summit agreed with ten other large economies – including India, China and Brazil – that trade talks must resume urgently, with a deadline set for completion next year.

The agreement in the Italian town of L’Aquila will be hailed by world leaders as a decisive moment in reviving the global economy and a statement of intent to conclude a trade round which began in Doha in 2001.

But there will be widespread cynicism over whether such commitments are credible. Every G8 summit – not to mention other international summits – ends with leaders paying lip service to finalising a trade round.

If Obama actually tries a "Nixon goes to China" moment on trade, I might be more optimistic.  But with global warming and health care on the horizon, I have zero confidence that Doha will be completed within the next eighteen months. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.