Doha goes round and around [REGION]

As the 'mini-ministerial' negotiations broke down on 29 July, the future of both the World Trade Organisation (WTO)'s Doha Round of trade negotiations and the multilateral system of trade in general look more uncertain than ever. Meanwhile, elections in the US this fall and India next year seem set to prolong the negotiations even further. Conceived in November 2001 at the fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Qatar, the Doha Round has thus far been marked by minor breakthroughs and major breakdowns. The developments of late July, however, marked the most significant setback yet.

In the politically charged atmosphere of the Cold War, most countries in Southasia, like developing countries the world over, were split between the East and the West in their political alliances, while attempting to achieve rapid economic development and global redistribution of wealth. Moreover, during the 1960s, the challenges in international trade – economic integration with the rest of the world, and assistance in addressing their 'developmental concerns' – led them to seek justice under the shade of 'rules-based' multilateral institutions. But the WTO, established in 1995 (as the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) to provide the legal basis for such rules of trade, has thus far failed to provide economic justice to its less-powerful member states.

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Himal Southasian