By Annabel Palmer
In an entry for the World Bank’s Growth and Crisis blog, Otaviano Canuto – Vice President and Head of Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) – writes that there is much that the Doha Round and the WTO can do to improve trade conditions around the world.
With Doha deadlocked due to continued disagreement on a wide range of measures, we should look to certain measures that can help deliver welfare generating effects, and stop looking to market access as the only measure of success. Indeed, the WTO is not just a marketplace in which countries exchange liberalisation commitments, it is a vehicle through which governments agree on the rules of the game for policies.
So what measures can help deliver welfare generating effects?
In the absence of a speedy conclusion to the negotiations, certain measures can help deliver welfare generating effects. Hoekman rightly argues that greater emphasis could be put on leveraging existing WTO bodies to enhance the transparency of nontariff measures, to address regulatory concerns that impede liberalization of trade in services, and to launch a dialogue on domestic economic policies that can create negative spillover effects for trading partners.
In the recent Cannes Summit Communique, G-20 leaders affirmed the need to pursue fresh approaches to create confidence and avoid protectionism. Moreover, the G-20 rightly signaled their support for a more effective, rules-based trading system—at the heart of which is the WTO. Indeed, as the risk of a potential double-dip looms, it is essential to ensure that the global trade agenda has strong footing—only by standing on two legs can it best support the poor and vulnerable.