Conclude Doha Round to Block Rampant Protectionism – CUTS International

March 30, 2009
“The forthcoming London meeting of G-20 on April 2, 2009 is an appropriate forum to announce concrete steps to conclude the Doha round promptly starting with a reaffirmation of the commitments made by WTO members in November 2008. …….. To enable a speedy resolution of the differences on modalities G-20 leaders should announce specific shifts in their negotiating positions towards middle of their current differences and also instruct their trade ministers to resume negotiations with the changed negotiating positions as starting points.”

These are the opinions and recommendations voiced through a paper written for CUTS International by T.N Srinivasan, Samuel C. Park, Jr. Professor of Economics, Yale University and one of the world’s foremost authorities on the economics of international trade.

Srinivasan’s comments convey an urgency for concluding the Doha Round, originally meant to mainstream the development interests of the developing countries into the work programme and functioning of the WTO. Srinivasan’s paper also points out that though disagreement among developed and prominent emerging economies has whittled down the agenda of the Doha Development Round, consensus on even this abbreviated agenda has not been achieved.

Yet according to him, the bridging of differences leading to the conclusion of this round is necessary to quell protectionist tendencies which are putting further brakes on an already decelerating world economy plagued by a punctured financial system.

Srinivasan’s views are echoed and further clarified by Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International:

“Ideas of protectionism cannot work in a world which has now been integrated in many ways — prominent among these being multinationals, financial markets and specialisation in production nurtured carefully over long periods of time. The global economy represents a mosaic of intertwined fortunes – knee jerk severing of links can only prompt its further collapse and should never be viewed as a sensible strategy.

“In this hour of crisis, self pitying developed countries should spare a thought for those which not only have far less than what the former do but are in many cases sliding deeper and deeper into abject poverty. Protectionist steps resemble last ditch measures to abandon a sinking ship (the global economy) without lifejackets. A much better solution would be to put in collective efforts to make the ship seaworthy.

“Developed countries would themselves reap great benefits if they spent a tiny proportion of their own humongous bail-out packages in improving the fortunes of the developing world as the reaction in terms of increased demand for years to come would stabilise their own economies.

“The swift conclusion of the Doha Round is therefore imperative for evolving consensus in a world threatened through discordant economic policies, unmindful of the commonness in economic destiny that has been nurtured since the 1980s”.

Thus, Srinivasan and Mehta in their own inimitable styles call for a swift conclusion to the Doha Round, the abandonment of new protectionist measures and cooperation between the developed and the developing world to lift us out of the crisis that we find ourselves mired in.
For more information, please contact:
Siddhartha Mitra, Director (Research), CUTS, +919783398920;
Niru Yadav, Senior Research Associate, CUTS, +919680437903;