President Obama Needs to Replace Doha Round Agenda with WTO Turnaround Plan

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Division

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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Listening to government statements at this World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial, it is clear that the WTO is seen as a cause of the current financial, food and climate crises rather than a cure and requires significant change, but it also is clear that no country wants to be blamed for ending the Doha Round and demanding a new WTO review-and-repair agenda.
As a result, there has been a schizophrenic theme at this summit of developing countries issuing the required I-am-not-to-blame-for-ending-the-Doha-Round defensive announcement that they, of course, want a quick completion of the Doha Round while then proceeding to announce the deep problems with the current agenda and how it must be fundamentally changed. One of the more dramatic examples of this conflicted approach is represented by the statement of the G-23 bloc of countries – those hardest hit by the world food price crisis.
At this week’s ministerial, the WTO Doha Round was too toxic to be put on the agenda. In other words, this has been a WTO summit at which negotiation is not on the agenda. The WTO boosters knew that one more collapsed WTO summit and the WTO expansion idea would certainly be derailed. However, it’s been too dangerous to get together for four years and this has caused an increasing crisis of legitimacy for the WTO.