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First Diagnose, Then Treat: What Ails the Doha Round?


The commonplace tendency is to blame the difficulties of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations on the World Trade Organization (WTO) itself. In contrast, I suggest in the first section of this article that exogenous structural factors, especially changing commodity prices and trade flows, fatally undermined the Round. In the second section, I discount the significance of endogenous institutional factors such as the number of participants, the size of the agenda, or the Single Undertaking, although design failures, notably in the ‘modalities’ for negotiation, did hurt. But what hurt even more was the way the WTO, in common with most multilateral organizations, has not caught up with the shifting centre of gravity in global governance. The trading system is no longer a transatlantic bargain. The regulatory issues on the twenty-first century trade policy agenda will inevitably be negotiated in Geneva, but only after a new trans-Pacific accommodation recognizes China's central role.

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World Trade Review
  • ISSN: 1474-7456
  • EISSN: 1475-3138
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