Doha Round of WTO and International Economy

  • 23 March 2006

The April 30 deadline for reaching an agreement over the “Doha Round of Talks” for the liberalization of world trade is little more than a month away. Such a framework will be important to reach a final agreement by the end of this year. However, most experts do not expect any progress in this regard so far. The disagreements between developing and advanced countries have two sides to it. On the one hand, there is disagreement over the  customs duties levied by developing countries on the industrial goods and services coming into their markets. On the other hand, there is the problem of “commercial obstacles” placed by the advanced countries on the flow of agricultural goods and services from developing countries into their markets, in addition to issue of agricultural subsidies. Both issues have not been resolved yet. The Doha Round of Talks is still threatened by failure, after all efforts were made to revive it and create the smooth and free flow of goods and services regardless of their place of origin.

Moreover, the risk of well-entrenched disagreement that is threatening Doha Rounds targets is not only limited to hindering trade liberalization, but goes beyond that. It might motivate the world to rescind from all of its trade liberalization efforts that began at the end of World War II, and peaked with the establishment of World Trade Organization in the middle of the last decade. Perhaps the first signs of regression have started to appear with an emphasis on protectionism and the proliferation of bilateral trade agreements at the expense of global trade liberalization.

It is an established fact that the smooth flow of trade ensures global economic prosperity. The collapse of this trade will not only hurt the global economy, but will cause a rise in international tensions and conflicts. It is not a coincidence that the openness in global trade is a result of the relative atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the international arena. The imposition of trade restrictions, disagreements, and price wars are always accompanied with manifestations of political tensions and conflicts. Countries that desire the success of Doha Round of Talks should realize that global trade liberalization is to the benefit of all people as it promotes global economic prosperity. By merely focusing on short-term profit and loss considerations and by appeasing pressure groups, countries will be deprived of global trade benefits to their economies and their people’s welfare. They will have to make the necessary concessions to conclude an international agreement without which the world will be left to suffer.

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