Chapter 4: The Fifth Ministerial Conference: The Wheels Come Off at Cancún
Never walk away from failure. On the contrary, study it carefully – and imaginatively – for its hidden assets. (Michael Korda) INTRODUCTION During the Doha Ministerial Conference, the 142 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) had agreed to make growth and development the principal focus of the Doha Round of MTNs. However, divergence in positions of developing and industrial economies existed on several significant issues, and the gap was not bridged even during the fifth biennial Ministerial Conference, held in Cancún, Mexico, from 10–14 September 2003.1 The number of participating economies in this Conference was 146. The principal bones of contention were agricultural trade reforms, an age-old chestnut, and the so-called Singapore issues.2 Due to serious, albeit avoidable, errors of judgment, the dissension in negotiating stands taken by the large-trading WTO members and poor conference management, wheels did come off the cart of the multilateral trading system. This chapter delves into the mechanics of comprehensive failure in Cancún. The developing economies were active participants in the Doha Round and their negotiating preparation in the Cancún Ministerial Conference was of superior order compared to the past. Also, as a group they coordinated better among themselves and there was far less division in the negotiating positions taken by them. This chapter details the negotiations between the four principal negotiating blocs, namely, the European Union, the United States, the so-called Group-of-Twenty (G-20)3 developing nations and the Group-of-Ninety (G-90)4 of small and least-developed countries (LDCs)5. It also identifies...
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