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How developing countries can negotiate

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Sheila Page

WTO negotiations should have begun in 1999, but no agreement was possible between the US and EU or between the developed and developing countries. In 2001, at Doha, a compromise was reached, partly because of the security crisis, and partly by leaving key issues unsettled. A meeting to review progress at
Cancún in 2003, however, broke down. A framework for negotiation was fi nally agreed in Geneva in 2004 (see paper Principal issues in the Doha negotiations).

If the Doha Development round is to contribute both to reducing economic poverty (see paper Trade liberalisation and poverty) and to increasing the power of by developing countries, the process of negotiation is important, as well as the outcome. The short period initially allowed for the Doha Round (three years) put severe pressure on countries with few resources. The extension and removal of the target date for completion have improved their prospects. The history of the first three years of negotiations shows that they have used the time effectively. The proposal at Doha to add four new issues, the ‘Singapore’ issues (because
they were first raised at the Singapore Ministerial meeting in 1996) of investment, transparency in government procurement, competition policy, and trade facilitation, both risked adverse economic impacts and brought further negotiating pressure.

Sheila Page