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Pursuing a Doha trade deal is a low priority

Written by Adrian Hewitt, Dirk Willem te Velde, Massimiliano Cali, Sheila Page


This Opinion argues that the pursuit of the Doha Trade Round should be a low priority, and that other trade issues are more important. Not only are the returns from a Doha round likely to be low, but the potential costs are high, as a failure or minimal compromise is likely to undermine the credibility of the WTO.
For now, rather than focusing on the Doha Round, it appears to be more sensible to concentrate on six more important trade issues:
• To resist domestic pressures to apply protectionist measures, for example increasing or introducing subsidies (for agriculture, or bailouts for the car industry).
• For EU members openly to oppose protectionist measures taken by other EU member states. The Czech and German governments have, for instance, set a good example by questioning the French support for cars that are produced in France.
• To avoid the introduction of new formal or informal product standards, labelling requirements, and so on, intended to encourage discrimination against imports. 
• To support the surveillance process that the WTO has put in place to track the new protection measures applied by members and encourage it to cover a broad range of potentially distorting measures.
• To monitor and discipline any trade-distorting impact of the various fiscal stimuli aimed at combating the global financial crisis.
• To bring forward Aid for Trade allocations (without reducing other aid commitments) and to address trade finance constraints, in order to mitigate the effects of recession on developing countries.