– VITA Newsletter, September 2008
Reviving Doha Global Trade Agreements
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. The Doha Development talks is the current trade negotiation of WTO which started in 2001, in Doha, Qatar and it’s objective is to lower trade barriers around the world to increase trade globally.
Despite the recent collapse of the Doha round of trade talks on July 29, 08 due to China and India insisting on imposing tariffs on key farm imports. Sixteen Southeast Asian nations were able to reach free trade agreements with India, Australia and New Zealand. This agreement is aimed at free flow of goods and services in the region and projecting to boost the annual trade volume to $50 billion by 2010 from $30 billion.
Since the end of World War II, the United States Government has become the consistent proponent of free trade, having helped establish the GATT (General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade) and later the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since the 1970s the United States government has negotiated numerous trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s, the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2006 and a number of bilateral agreements (such as Jordan, Israel, Chile and Bahrain).
Free trade is largely responsible for economic recovery both in Europe and Japan after the Second World War and contributed to the growth of overall world GDP by 15% between 1990 and 2004.
Free trade is an effective tool to avoid wars between nations as well. Cordell Hull, America’s most well-known and longest Secretary of State (1933-1944) wrote: “If we could get a freer flow of trade, freer in the sense of fewer discriminations and obstructions, so that one country would not be deadly jealous of another, the living standards might rise, thereby eliminating the economic dissatisfaction that breeds war, we might have a reasonable chance for lasting peace.”
We need to see Doha’s failure as a temporary challenge and focus more on reviving the free spirit of trade through creative agreements that are instrumental in bringing global growth.