No Surprises and No Momentum out of WTO Meeting

December 20, 2011
“Many Ministers expressed deep regret at the impasse currently facing the Doha Round. They nevertheless reaffirmed their commitment to delivering on the Doha mandate.” Closing statement of the WTO ministerial conference chair, December 17, 2011 So the zombie that began as the Doha Development Agenda in 2001 continues to loom over the international trade system: neither dead nor alive and with no one willing to drive a stake through its heart. Two-thirds of those who took our little poll last week thought that ministers should bury Doha and move on. Indeed, the ministerial generated so little attention and such low expectations that two-thirds were not even aware that it was happening. An even larger majority—almost 90 percent—did not see the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional negotiations as a good alternative, and I agree. What was on the table when the Doha Round stalled would have locked in reductions in agricultural subsidies in rich countries and tariffs on industrial goods in developing countries. It would not have done much on services or in some other crucial areas, but it would have been a positive step forward. The process, however, is clearly broken, the agenda is increasingly outmoded, and a fresh start is needed. Here’s hoping for that in 2012!


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.