International Trade Observatory (ITO): Trade Roundtable
Title: International Trade Observatory (ITO): Trade Roundtable
Editor(s): MAVROIDIS, Petros C.
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS PP; 2011/02; Global Governance Programme
The Doha round is going through tough times and at this stage it is impossible to predict its outcome. This is the central message coming from the meeting held on February 4, 2011 at EUI (RSCAS). For reasons having to do with domestic political economy, but also the inability to adjust to the emerging multi-polar reality, negotiators find it hard to come to grips with whatever is required to conclude the round. The most problematic feature is the absence of a Plan B: what do in case current design of talks fails to deliver? Maybe it is time to rethink ambitions and strategies, while accepting that an imminent conclusion has become a remote possibility.
Table of Contents:
Introductory Remarks, Petros C. MAVROIDIS 1 Some Thoughts on the DSU Negotiations, Henrik Horn and Petros C. MAVROIDIS 3 From the 'Old Agenda' of the Doha Round to a long-lasting relevance of the WTO, Patrick MESSERLIN 7 Can WTO Members implement future Doha Round Agreements as a ‘Single Undertaking’?, Ernst-Ulrich PETERSMANN 17 The Future of the WTO: Learning from the Past, André SAPIR 21
On February 4, 2011, the first roundtable of the ITO took place under the auspices of the RSC at EUI in Fiesole, Florence. Participants critically discussed the current observed deadlocks in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, and advanced some preliminary thoughts on the way out. The group discussions were presided by Josep Borrell, the President of EUI, and led in the morning by Rufus Yerxa (Deputy Director General at the WTO), who provided an overall assessment of the issues that emerge as ‘ground-stoppers’ at this stage. In the follow up, the discussion was divided equally between four speakers: Michael Punke, the Ambassador of the United States to the WTO, gave the US perspective on the round; Lu Xiankun, the First Secretary in the Permanent Delegation of the Peoples’ Republic of China, explained the position of its country on what needs to be done to wrap up the round; Signe Ratso, Director for WTO Affairs at the European Commission, gave the European Union (EU) perspective, and finally, Vital Moreira, Head of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament provided the reaction of the European citizenry on what is being discussed in Geneva. The discussions during the morning session concentrated on the current agenda of the Doha Round. Miguel Maduro, Director of the Global Governance Programme, acted as overall discussant. In the afternoon, there were presentations by five academics and the focus was equally distributed to the current- as well as a more ‘normative’ agenda that should eventually occupy the minds of trade negotiators: André Sapir (ULB) focused on the institutional design of the WTO and asked whether, in its current form, it can do justice to the new emerging issues; he drew a parallel between the multilateral- and the preferential agenda (as evidenced in the many preferential trade agreements that have recently seen the light of the day) and, noting the discrepancy, he asked whether it is time for the WTO to rethink its mandate if it is to continue to be policy relevant for its membership. Patrick Messerlin (Sciences Po) discussed the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ agenda as is, and as it should have been negotiated in the current round. He observed that key issues in the old agenda have largely remained outside the realm of current negotiations, whereas the progress in new issues does not even match de facto practiced liberalization: he used practice and offers in the services sector to illustrate this last point. He went on to state that one should not attach too many hopes on negotiating topics that have been hailed as innovative and meeting the aspirations of developing countries (such as the Aid for Trade initiative) for, in all likelihood, they will fall short of addressing actual needs. Henrik Horn (IFN), and Petros C. Mavroidis (Columbia & Neuchâtel) presented a short paper on the negotiations regarding dispute settlement. In their view, some of the issues currently on the agenda are quite important and deserve their inclusion in the talks. They remarked nonetheless, that progress has been made on peripheral issues, while discussion on key issues has so far been confined to little if any progress. They further regret that, the mounting criticism regarding the quality and internal consistency of reports (judgments) notwithstanding, negotiators did not find it opportune to include agency design in their discussions. Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann (EUI) asked the question whether the single undertaking-approach, whereby WTO Members accept to be party to (almost) all agreements concluded during a trade round should continue to be practiced in the future. He advanced both conceptual- and Realpolitik considerations to cast doubt to this perspective. He goes as far as to argue that even in the approach is followed at the end of the current round, there are reasons to believe that implementing efforts will not do justice to a similar commitment. This is the first of our Trade Policy Briefs that we will be circulating at the end of Chatham House rules-inspired conferences at the premises of RSC at EUI. Our aim is to bring together on regular basis a group of academics and policy makers to discuss the multilateral trade agenda as it emerges and evolves.
Type of Access: openAccess