Thursday, April 13, 2006

Trying to Keep Doha Alive

African Union Nations Must Speak Up at WTO: US
April 12, 2006

AU Ministers in Nairobi for WTO Talks
Kenya Times
April 12, 2006

In an effort to keep the WTO Doha trade talks moving, in light of a looming 2007 deadline, the U.S. Trade Representative has appealed to African countries to unite and more aggressively lobby for their preferred trade outcome. Negotiations between the U.S., E.U., and Brazil over agricultural and manufacturing trade provisions have led to a stalemate. This tactic may be an attempt to revitalize the discussion.

"[Deputy U.S.T.R.] Bhatia said African nations needed to appreciate what they stood to gain from a successful conclusion to the Doha round -- greater market access, greater security of access to the developed country market and most importantly, greater access between developing country markets, where tariffs are highest."

African Union members are in Nairobi discussing numerous trade related issues, including a bilateral agreement with China, the progress of WTO negotiations, and pending aid agreements.

Some critics argue that the bilateral agreements, like the one referenced above, will continue to be utilized even if the Doha negotiations successfully lead to a global trade agreement. To force an outcome would be unnecessary or counterproductive.

"[I]t does not follow that the U.S. appetite for bilaterals will be appeased if developing countries hasten to capitulate to terms of a Doha round from which only very few are expected to benefit, once the costs of tariff revenue loss and market entry facilitation are taken into account. The U.S. has negotiated and will continue to negotiate bilaterals with or without the conclusion of the Doha round. . . . Doha is in the doldrums because the Doha agenda is too large for WTO members to agree on in a way that can be implemented fairly, thoroughly and transparently."

Refer to "Forced Conclusion of Doha Agenda Is No Way to Go" for the full critique.

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