Political pressure at all levels are increasing to revive the Doha Round negotiations. Already, in its proposals for an exit strategy to the current crisis, the G-20 Summit of November 15 called for an agreement on the broad lines (“modalities”) of the Doha Round before year’s end.
A few days later, on November 22, the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC)1 that met in Lima, Peru, committed to “reaching an agreement on the modalities of the Doha Round during the next [December] month” and asked their respective ministers to convene in Geneva to reach this objective.
On another side, trade ministers of the least developed countries, gathered in Siem Reap, Cambodia2 on November 20, declared that “a rapid conclusion” of the Doha Round would open up “new opportunities to access markets” for the least developed countries. They also underscored “the importance of reaching an agreement on modalities regarding access to markets for agricultural and non-agricultural products before the end of the year”.
Lastly, George W. Bush, the departing American president, has often reiterated his commitment to refuse protectionism in the 21st century, while the European Commission confirmed in Brussels its determination to be flexible regarding a next ministerial meeting of the WTO.
If, in the midst of this major economic crisis, we must acknowledge the unanimous refusal to return to protectionism displayed by nations, these must not surrender to Pascal Lamy’s siren calls, which maintain that the conclusion of the Doha Round would cure most of the world’s ills. Stimulating international cooperation is one thing, embarking on an irreversible course leading to an uncertain outcome is another thing. And we must not decide on resolutions that, because of rash decisions made to face up to the crisis, could produce a second food crisis on top of the current economic crisis.
1 APEC, an organization that promotes free trade, accounts for 41% of the world population and represents 61% of GNP and 47% of global trade.
2 « Aid for Trade Assistance: An Industrial Agenda for the Least Developed Countries”