Doha Development Round: Closure, Revival, and Replace

Doha Development Round: Closure, Revival, and Replace

Badar Iqbal (Aligarh Muslim University, India) and Munir Hasan (Kuwait Maastricht Business School, Kuwait)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4639-1.ch006
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More than 11 years have passed and Doha Development Round (DDR) has been in the doldrums, having full uncertainties that may result in closure. Trade negotiations are at a standstill, resulting in revivalism of trade protectionism in the name of “new regionalism” or preferential agreements (India-Japan, India-EU). This would lead to dismantling multilateral trading system for which World Trade Organization was created in January 1995. It is vital to protect and preserve the gains of the WTO in a variety of related areas. Therefore, the success of a multilateral trading system is imperative, and this could only be possible when DDR is successful and revivalism takes place. If impasse is continued, the concept and practices of free trade would be transformed into trade protectionism in the name of new regionalism. If it happens, then the future of global trade is uncertain and there would be enormous loss of potential and opportunities of creation of trade, and no country could afford it. Doha is stuck. Where do we go from here? The present chapter analyses the issues relating to the closure vs. success of the DDR. Every effort must be made to keep it alive both in the interest of mankind and the globe. If in 12th round, nothing concrete comes up, then the member countries are thinking and planning to replace it by Global Recovery Round (GRR), which is becoming more significant to deal with. Hence, this chapter attempts to examine the three options, namely closure, revival, and replace.
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After the Second World War, the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was formed in 1947 as a regulator of global trade. From 1948 to 1966 six rounds of trade talks were concluded successfully. This had been because the United States of America extended liberally in terms of tariff access to its markets. But the seventh round that held at Tokyo was not in the same spirit. Under Tokyo round the developing economies got few concessions. This was also due to the fact that oil price had left the developed world in disarray. As the oil weapon faded its importance, the US came back as a major player in global trade negotiations.

At Uruguay round, different newly emerging areas namely-agriculture, services, international patents were taken into consideration while making trade negotiations. Non-reciprocity was replaced by a reviewable S and DT system of giving concession to developing economies wherein most developed nation tariffs on labor-intensive goods like clothing and leather products were efficiently and effectively pushed back to the end of the Uruguay round i.e. 1995. Again it was US need to win over friends in the war on terror that resulted into Doha Development Round interrupting the Uruguay round and initiation of ‘development round negotiations’. [Pant 2011]

Leaving a side the issue in regard to dominating role of US in trade negotiations, the most vital thing was the US role as a driving force in ministerial negotiations. On the other side, the most strategic trend that had come up was the declining significance of the US in world trade. This was because, after 1995 for a decade, trade of non-OECD nations had registered more trade than the global trade by an increased margin of 50 per cent. Similarly, for much of the developing countries, the US market was no longer significant as compared to mid of the decade of 90s. Instead of US market Chinese market had emerged out as an alternative option.

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