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25 Sep 2006

The fall of Doha and the rise of regionalism?

David Kernohan / T. Huw Edwards

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The indefinite prorogation of the WTO’s Doha trade talks in July suggests that the global appetite for multilateralism may now be seriously weakened. In this new Policy Brief, CEPS Senior Research Fellow David Kernohan and T. Huw Edwards of Loughborough University look at how a failed or significantly delayed Doha round (say till 2009 at the earliest) could affect the scope and structure of any eventual WTO deal. In particular, if a rise in regionalism in the interim is inevitable, they ask whether the EU should reassess its regional trade policy objectives? A move from a multilateral focus to a twinned regional-multilateral trade policy stance will have consequences, both for practical reasons of EC ‘institutional capacity’ and for strategic reasons, in terms of choice of partner/s. Either way, tough decisions will have to be made. Wherever possible, the authors argue that these tactical choices should be preceded by careful technical analysis of the choice of regional partners and trading groups, as well as on traditional ‘diplomatic’ methods of trade partner selection.