Doha, Dohalf, or Dohaha? The WTO Licks Its Wounds

Mavroidis, Petros C.

The most flattering statement regarding the Doha Round is that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding its fate. The Doha Round, as originally designed and understood, is not an option anymore. Although a formula has been found to keep the ball rolling, at this stage it is impossible to predict what direction it will take. There exists a lack of leadership to conclude the round and it suffers from inherent birth defects. This absence of a conclusion might send the wrong message at a moment when the WTO is emerging as the only genuine forum of multilateral cooperation. Though this is not the first trade round in the history of the multilateral trading system and definitely not the only one that is taking longer than planned to complete, it is the first time that the round risks being ditched altogether. In all previous rounds, which were essentially ‘business’ deals, trading nations managed to come up with an agreement in the end. This is the first time that they have announced ‘we do it for development’, and they now risk delivering nothing. Something has got to give at this stage, and we are running out of time as far as options regarding ‘deliverables’ are concerned. The accent has correctly been placed on priority issues for the bottom billion. The WTO, even if this effort succeeds, will have to face some tough tests in the near future arising from issues which were not at all addressed during the Doha Round.


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December 15, 2015