Can Australia revive the Doha Development Agenda?

AUTHOR: Neelesh Gounder (PhD Scholar at Griffith University)

Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson is committed to pursuing a free trade agenda at the Doha Development Round. But will other countries follow suit?

His opinion piece in The Weekend Australian, titled “Doha is no dodo as it takes off on new flight path”, brings new enthusiasm and life to the Doha Development Agenda. He argues that an Australian initiative would “…build confidence that the old Doha bird has found a new flight path and has plenty of life in it yet”.

Emerson’s refusal to bow to demands from protectionist pressure groups has strengthened Australia’s moral position and this latest enthusiasm by Dr Emerson should be welcome news for the world trading system.

Australia can use its close ties with the US and other large nations such as China and India to instigate a revival of the stalled Doha Development Round – a successful conclusion to which is likely to provide welfare gains of at least US$120 billion to the world economy. This type of benefit has the potential to lift 100 million people out of poverty.

The European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, visited Australia in 2011 to hold talks with Dr Emerson on ways to kick start the stalled Doha talks. It is apparent that Karel, a Doha optimist, believes that Australia has the political will and capacity to play a decisive role at the negotiations table.

Australia must also remind the EU and other developed countries to be willing to offer concessions by not including trade-unrelated issues into trade negotiations. It is well known what happened when the EU demanded human rights be put into the proposed India-EU trade agreement. With so much at stake, we cannot let issues peripheral to trade jeopardise further opening of trade between developing and developed nations.

Developing countries have a reason to look to Australia for the political will required to resurrect the Doha Round and progressively reduce the most favoured nation (MFN) tariffs. If MFN tariffs go down to zero, there will be no need for preferential trading agreements to free up trade.

The Australian initiative involves breaking the Doha Round into its constituent parts and negotiations on each part brought to a conclusion on an individual basis. One of the parts that the initiative argues should be easy to achieve is trade facilitation.

Trade facilitation reforms will require slashing unnecessary documentation requirements will improve moving goods through customs faster and more efficiently. According US economists Gary Hufbauer, Jeffrey Schott, and Woan Wong, this will deliver gains of at least $130 billion annually, with a disproportionate share going to developing countries.

Free trade cannot be made accidental. It must be made to happen. It is in the overall interest of all nations, developed and emerging, large and small, to engage in multilateral negotiations towards a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda. The political leaders of our time owe this to the world.

The full original article can be found here

 

summary

Australia can use its close ties with the US and other large nations such as China and India to instigate a revival of the stalled Doha Development Round – a successful conclusion to which is likely to provide welfare gains of at least US$120 billion to the world economy. This type of benefit has the potential to lift 100 million people out of poverty.

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By | 2017-10-08T11:56:23+00:00 December 6th, 2012|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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