WTO: not dead yet
Will this be the end of the Doha Round? I doubt it. Deadlines come and go but negotiations still manage to go on. The Uruguay Round that led to the creation of the WTO went for eight years. The Doha Round (originally framed as the Doha Development Agenda, but that has long been forgotten) seemed dead after the Cancun Ministerial in 2003 but then came back to life.
The deadline that is hanging over the talks is the Bush Administration’s Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, aka “fast track”) which expires mid-2007. This allows the administration to put a trade package to Congress on a straight yes/no vote rather than having Congress pick over the bones like a bunch of . . . well, you know. The latter would mean countries effectively having to negotiate twice with the US, once with the administration and again with Congress.
But TPA can be renewed, as it has in the past. There is no reason to think that talks cannot continue for years to come. They were originally supposed to end by January 1 2005.
Time is running out for trading nations that are trying to revive the Doha round negotiations on tearing down barriers to commerce, after WTO talks failed to break an enduring deadlock.
Three days of meetings at the 149-nation World Trade Organization left it no closer to sealing a treaty by the end of this year.
Ahead of the talks, which ran from Thursday to Saturday, WTO chief Pascal Lamy had pressed governments, saying that they could no longer afford to duck an agreement.
But WTO heavyweights — notably Brazil, the European Union, India and the United States — failed to settle bitter arguments over the trade concessions required.