Daniel W. Drezner

What next for world trade?

Your humble blogger is in Brussels recovering from jet lag to discuss Very Important Questions about the future of global trade.  Since I’m thinking about this topic, it’s worth noting that former U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab wrote, by trade policy standards, a rather provocative Foreign Affairs essay on the Doha round.  The first paragraph: It ...

Your humble blogger is in Brussels recovering from jet lag to discuss Very Important Questions about the future of global trade.  Since I’m thinking about this topic, it’s worth noting that former U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab wrote, by trade policy standards, a rather provocative Foreign Affairs essay on the Doha round.  The first paragraph:

It is time for the international community to recognize that the Doha Round is doomed. Started in November 2001 as the ninth multilateral trade negotiation under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the talks have sought to promote economic growth and improve living standards across the globe — especially in developing countries — through trade liberalization and reforms. Yet after countless attempts to achieve a resolution, the talks have dragged on into their tenth year, with no end in sight.

Schwab suggests that negotiatiors admit defeat on Doha, agree on whatever has been agreed, and ditch the bargaining round template that’s governed most GATT/WTO trade talks in favor of more plurilateral approaches. 

I confess to mixed feelings about this argument.  On the one haand, Schwab is correct that Doha is deader than a doornail, and the G-20 loses just a little credibility every time it pledges to finish the round in a communique.  That said, I’m dubious of what plurilateral measures can do on their own, and in the absence of forward momentum at the WTO, more and more trade action will take place outside WTO auspices. 

What do you think?  Should Doha just be declared dead? 

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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