After declaring the at the end of April 2011 that “[Doha round] negotiations were in quicksand”, Pascal Lamy made proposals to focus work around a smaller set of questions centred on development with the objective of reaching a mini-agreement during a ministerial conference in December 2011.
Indeed, from quasi-official sources, “it is highly unlikely that members reach a consensus” by the end of the year on topics such as market access in the agricultural sector, on NAMA and services. Hence the move towards more consensual topics such as trade facilitation for the LDCs.
Yet in the corridors of the WTO, the bets on success of the Ministerial in December are not very high, only 25 against 75. And Pascal Lamy in a recent interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, acknowledged that the WTO had “enormous problems giving birth to just this little baby.”
From a mini-agreement, we would be looking today for a symbolic that would save the cycle which has become increasingly more complicated.
Faced with this deadlock in negotiations, we should be concerned with certain paradoxes:
- World trade is continuing to grow (+13.5% in 2010),
- The dreaded protectionist measures on imports after the 2008 crisis did not occur, however, several countries have imposed an embargo on agricultural exports (Russia, Argentina and Ukraine, for example).
Issues surrounding food security confirm that agricultural markets are specific.
If there is no question of contesting international trade, it is time to recognize that “trade does not necessarily lead to development”. The Doha Round, for “development”, will not reach its target for agricultural production on the present basis, but on a new basis adapted to the challenges of the twenty-first century.