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If not dead, the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations are almost certainly going into extended hibernation after talks among the four key players, the United States, European Union, India, and Brazil, collapsed on Thursday in Potsdam. Time was already running desperately short for completing the round this year because the authority that allows the president to negotiate trade agreements and submit them to Congress for an up or down vote expires at the end of the month. Now they are unlikely to be concluded, if at all, before 2010-11, after the next US president is inaugurated. The US and EU are blaming India and Brazil for being unwilling to open their markets to manufactured products, while Brazil and India charged that the Americans and Europeans were offering too little on agriculture. Whoever is right, and there is plenty of blame to go around, these "big boys" will do ok. But smaller, poorer countries could face mounting discrimination against their exports and cotton farmers in West Africa will continue to suffer the effects of low world prices suppressed by billions of dollars in American farm subsidies (see this New York Times summary of a recent Oxfam report on this topic). Playing the blame game won't help them at all.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.