Last September, following developing countries rejections of proposals at Cancún Mexico, the Doha Development Round of WTO negotiations looked to be in serious danger of failing. Nevertheless, despite much initial recrimination and the difficult political timing of 2004, there followed an intense programme of international shuttle diplomacy, and the recent resumption of talks at the WTO in Geneva.
While delicately poised, talks are now thought to have some chance of reaching a point this summer where they should have been at Cancún last autumn. Although a successful or speedy outcome can not be guaranteed, recent moves look likely to accelerate progress.
Further dramatic progress was made at a high-level meeting of key officials at the OECD in Paris in May, with the EU now committed in principle to the elimination of its agricultural export subsidies and to softening its demands for controversial new trade rules, thereby paving the way towards finally engaging key developing countries. Ideally, progress must be achieved by this autumn, as trade officials on both sides of the Atlantic will most likely be changing posts, given the US national elections and the arrival of the new EU Commission.
Inlight of this recent and promising convergence of events, CEPS has organised a Task Force, which has attracted high-level speakers, including Pascal Lamy’s chef de cabinet and follows on from a previous CEPS Task Force and CEPS Report in the summer of 2003, in the run up to Cancún. It is aimed at providing a short, focused ‘booster’ addition to the earlier DDA initiative. While considering specific issues of the negotiations, the Task Force will also aim to provide a broad overview of the WTO process, pointing also to issues of longer-run reform.
Hanns R. Glatz, Delegate of the Board of Daimler AG, External Affairs and Public Policy, European Affairs and Former EU Chair of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue
David Kernohan, Senior Fellow, CEPS
1st meeting: 25 November 2005
2nd meeting: 10 February 2006
3rd meeting: 12 May 2006
4th meeting: 5 July 2006
5th meeting: 23 November 2006