Chapter 7: The Doha Round: A Disenchanting Evolutionary Process
If we are facing in the right direction, all we need to do is to keep on walking. A Buddhist Proverb INTRODUCTION If one observes the developments and events of the preceding three decades, it is easy to comprehend how the evolutionary process of the multilateral trade regime has become progressively challenging. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations (MTNs) has thus far proved to be egregiously problem-prone. Deep dissensions among members, distant negotiating positions on crucial issues and inordinate delays in coming to a rare agreement – if and when they did come to one – on the material issues of process and substance, have brought the Doha Round to a crisis point. The factors contributing to this unacceptable, if not melancholy, state of affairs go beyond the mercantilist mindset of the negotiators (pp. 164–7) from the principal trading economies and the country groups that wield significant negotiating weight in the multilateral trading system. Contretemps and mishaps continued even after the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference. The crucial deadline of 30 June was missed (Chapter 6; pp. 152–5) and miniMinisterials of January 2006 and July 2006 failed to achieve anything, causing a great deal of gloom and disillusionment in the community of multilateral traders and trade policy mandarins. In this chapter we examine inter alia the causal factors behind the slow and sluggish progress in the Doha Round, both before and after the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference. In July 2006, the MTNs were...
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