chapter  1
20 Pages

The Poverty of the Doha Round and the Least Developed Countries

ByJAMES SCOTT, RORDEN WILKINSON

The November 2010 meeting of the G-20 in Seoul concluded with a familiar “must do harder” refrain on the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round (DDA-the Doha Development Agenda). Couched in terms of a belief that “trade can be an effective tool for reducing poverty and enhancing growth in developing countries [and] LICs [low income countries] in particular”2 and of “recognizing the concerns of the most vulnerable,” the leaders of the G-20 countries publicly stated their commitment to a “successful, ambitious, comprehensive, and balanced conclusion” consistent with the original Doha mandate, encouraging WTOmembers to build on “the progress already achieved”with aview to reaching a conclusion to the round in 2011.3 Few commentators took this aspect of the Seoul Declaration seriously, taking it to be a well meaning, but nonetheless overly optimistic, attempt to paper over the deep divisions that had emerged among member states over key aspects of the negotiations. Just 12 months later, at the G-20’s November 2011 meeting in Cannes,

attempts to paper over the cracks were conspicuous by their absence. The Final Declaration put it bluntly: “It is clear that we will not complete the DDA if we continue to conduct negotiations as we have in the past… we need to pursue in 2012 fresh, credible approaches to furthering negotiations, including the issues of concern for Least Developed Countries and, where they can bear fruit, the remaining elements of the DDA mandate.”4