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Doha - The Last Mile

Authors: Jagdish N. Bhagwati, Senior Fellow for International Economics, and Arvind Panagariya, Professor, Indian Economics, Columbia University
August 21, 2008
New York Sun

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The director general of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, minding the Doha Round negotiations that collapsed in Geneva on July 29, was in India last week and is in Washington this week.

A marathon runner who goes the distance in a 26-mile run, Mr. Lamy is not giving up when he is at the last mile. There are good reasons to predict that he will cross the finishing line.

At the outset, remember that every round has taken more to finish in recent memory than the previous one. The longest to date was the Uruguay Round, the last round of multilateral trade negotiations under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

The Doha Round still has not exceeded significantly the Uruguay Round’s duration; and we have more countries negotiating and face thorny issues that remain after eight rounds of trade liberalization.

Nor should we forget that no round has ever failed. They often break down, are often thought to be in intensive care where the pessimists predict that they will expire, and they come back like the proverbial cat and are concluded. Doha will be no exception.

When the Doha talks broke down at the Cancun Ministerial meeting of the WTO, the principal players from the European Union and America publicly broke into acrimony. The post-collapse atmospherics this time in Geneva were altogether more amiable.

 

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