The Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has sparked controversy, anger and even suicide from its commencement. This paper seeks to explore what is this Doha Round that has ignited such passionate displays from delegates and the common man alike, what are the issues at stake given the Round’s success or failure and finally, given the events that have marred its history to date and based on the many other factors in play, could the Doha Round come to a successful conclusion?
The WTO conducts negotiations through what they call ‘rounds’. The November 2001 declaration of the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, known as the Doha Development Round, provides the mandate ...view middle of the document...
The Round was set to be concluded in December 2006, four years from its commencement and after two more Ministerial Conferences had produced a final draft declaration. The WTO pushed back its self-imposed deadline to slightly precede the expiration of the United States President’s Congressional Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This Authority prevents Congress from amending the draft, as without this, any declaration by the WTO must ultimately be confirmed by the US Congress. The TPA has since expired on June 30, 2007 and there still remains no final agreement. The US Congress, now led by a Democrat majority House and Senate, has indicated its unwillingness to renew this authority for the current US President. The US Congress having amending power over the agreement makes it less attractive for other WTO members to participate in a deal, as they are unsure of obtaining any real commitments from the US. With the US Presidential elections scheduled for November 2008, if a global agreement is not concluded by early 2008, it is likely to cause further setbacks to the timeline.
Who are these WTO members participating in the Doha Round? The key players in the negotiation, known as the G6, are Brazil and India (representing the G20 group of developing countries), the European Union, the United States and Australia (representing the Cairns group of agricultural exporters) and Japan (representing the G10 group of net agricultural importers).
There have been several key ministerial meetings since the Doha Round began in 2001. The first of these meetings took place in Cancun, Mexico in 2003, which collapsed after four days of disagreement on farm subsidies and access to markets. Unlike Seattle, the collapse of the talks in Cancun did not prevent the commencement of the second round of negotiations, this occurred in Geneva in 2004. The August Geneva talks achieved a framework agreement on opening global trade. At the Paris talks of 2005, negotiators wanted to make tangible progress before the December 2005 Hong Kong meeting. However, the talks were left hanging over a few issues which were viewed as small technical issues, making trade negotiators fear that agreement on large politically risky issues would be substantially harder.
December 13th - 18th 2005 marked the ministerial meeting which took place in Hong Kong. At this meeting representatives reached a deal that sets a deadline for eliminating subsidies of agricultural exports by 2013. July 2006 talks in Geneva once again set the DDA off-track as negotiators failed to reach an agreement about reducing farm subsidies and lowering import taxes. Negotiations were suspended on the 24th July 2006. At a conference at Potsdam in July 2007, a major impasse occurred between the US, the EU, India and Brazil. The major disagreement was over opening up agricultural and industrial markets in various countries and also how to cut rich nation farm subsidies.
Of the twenty-one mandates adopted...