The Doha Round: agreement or new postponement?

May, 2008
Néstor Stancanelli

The Doha Round is undergoing yet another uncertainty phase, which has been characteristic since the failure of the 2003 Cancun Ministerial Conference. What remains to be seen is whether it will be feasible to approve the negotiation modalities, which would make it possible to enter the final stage of exchange of concessions, preparation of new disciplines, and drafting of the legal texts. The WTO Director-General intends to hold a horizontal discussion at the level of high officials in the next few weeks, so as to address all issues, particularly Agriculture, Non-Agricultural Goods and Services. The purpose is to bridge some differences so as to summon a ministerial meeting that can agree upon modalities. This approach to the process does not accurately tally with the political and economic reality of major trading countries, where the absence of negotiation mandates, resistance to structural adjustment, and leadership issues create uncertainty.