The clamour for replacing the defunct Doha talks is growing. Is the World Trade Organization listening?
How to revive world trade
1. Allow regional level deals with a possibility for everyone else to join
2. Protectionism ought to be done away with
3. Flexibility instead of "All or Nothing" should be approach of WTO
Growth and trade have a strong relation. World trade and growth witnessed sharp fall in the aftermath of global economic crisis of 2008. Though a partial recovery was on the horizon till 2011, both of them have slid again leading to demands of replacing the now dead talks with a Global Recovery Round.
Doha talks, launched in 2001 by the WTO, were extremely ambitious. There were talks of providing poor countries access to rich country markets. These talks covered manufactured goods, agricultural produce, services, intellectual property, anti-trust and so on. It was estimated that global economy could get richer by close to $280 billion if the talks succeeded.
But protectionism by richer countries, perhaps due to prodding by powerful lobby groups, dealt a death blow to the talks. Liberalization of services, agriculture and manufacturing was on the cards. But no agreement could be reached even with extended deadlines and the talks demised in due course of time.
Global Recovery Round
Aiming for a Global Recovery Round makes much more sense than “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” mantra of the WTO. Instead of a multilateral deal which gets nobody's acquiescence, arriving at multiple regional deals would be easier. Doha talks got killed by everything or nothing stance of the WTO and a similar fate for the talks scheduled in Bali, 2013.
Much rests on the shoulders of Pascal Lamy, WTO boss. There ought to be enough flexibility to allow regional deals to take place. Trade barriers can be lowered substantially with regionalism brokered by the WTO. Innovation can help in arriving at a deal which suits everybody.
Agriculture, which was a primary cause for Doha impasse, should not be allowed to hold hostage WTO talks. Russia blocks import of pigs from EU. Similar stands are taken by US and Japan to protect native sugar and fishing industries, respectively.
A lot needs to be done to revive global growth; reviving trade is crucial for it to happen!