By Alasdair Charnock
On Thursday the leaders of the G20 will meet in Cannes, France. While proceedings are likely to be dominated by the Eurozone financial crisis, other issues that need addressing will linger in the background. There is talk that leaders will – in private at least – consign Doha to the graveyard, the general consensus being that only parts of the original deal will be agreed upon.
With less than eight weeks to go until the next Ministerial Meeting to advance the Doha agenda, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy is as defiant as ever that the round will be completed in its entirety. He recently said “I sense a readiness to operationalise paragraph 47 of the Doha mandate, it being understood that this would be a step towards delivering on the entire Doha agenda.” This may go contradict consensus among G20 leaders that Doha is dead, but one cannot fault his positivity.
However, a closer look at the detail of the paragraph in question led me to realise that provisions are made for negotiating and agreeing upon smaller aspects of the deal before the more broader agreement is made. This approach has been welcomed by members.
Lamy and other WTO members have stressed the importance of keeping development at the heart of the negotiations, with China commenting that “priority should be given to addressing the concerns of developing (LDC) members.”
TOP welcomes both these approaches: to make the outcome of the next Ministerial positive, and to keep the discussions LDC focused, as all trade talks should be given the power that trade has to lift people and their countries out of poverty.
While the consequences of the Eurozone crisis should not be belittled, it would be refreshing if they were viewed in the context of the plight that others are facing in the poorest countries in the world.
The Eurozone crisis will inevitably take centre stage at the G20 meeting this week, giving leaders the opportunity to downgrade their unrealistic commitment to completing the Doha round of trade talks in the near future.