November 29, 2003

Bush Wastes an Opportunity

Jeffrey Schott on what we have to lose from the Bush administration's disgraceful trade policy:

Article: Unlocking the Benefits of World Trade: The collapse of the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in September has impeded global trade talks and made their conclusion increasingly difficult and uncertain. Even without the breakdown in Cancun, Mexico, the complexity of the agenda and American and European calendars for rewriting their farm policies led many analysts to expect protracted negotiations. Some ministers left Cancun hoping that the delay was not significant, and that talks would pick up within a year or two.

Such complacency is a mistake. Launched in the Qatari capital, Doha, in November 2001, it will require extensive political effort to put the talks back on the rails. Trade ministers probably will have to engage in a new round of "mini-ministerials". Whether America's trade representative, Robert Zoellick, and the European Commissioner responsible for trade, Pascal Lamy, are willing to devote time to such a task is at best uncertain.

The window for reviving the Doha round of negotiations is small. By spring 2004, the major trading powers will be busy with pressing domestic matters. The 2004 presidential election in America will colour trade politics; protectionist rhetoric already pervades the halls of Congress. Enlargement of the European Union (EU) will further complicate its decision-making process, especially on agricultural reform. If WTO talks are not resumed by then, they are likely to drift rudderless until well after the new American administration and EU Commission take office in 2005....

Posted by DeLong at November 29, 2003 01:38 PM | TrackBack

Comments

It's utterly consistent with the isolationism of this administration. It is also consistent with a policy of controlling international trade through a combination of military force and theats of embargo instead of negoatiated agreements. Are they that crazy? Um, well,...

Just maybe.

I think my tinfoil hat needs polishing.

Posted by: Randolph Fritz on November 29, 2003 02:34 PM

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The Bush Administration and the E.U. may soon be dragged to the negotiating table or to trade court over their farm subsidies. The reason is that the "Peace Clause," which allowed agricultural subsidies to be treated differently from other protectionist policies, expires this January. Unless the U.S. and E.U. make commitments to changing their policies, developing countries in the Cairns Group will likely seek World Court intervention on the matter to allow them to punish the U.S. and the E.U. When and if that happens, things will get very interesting. While the increased trade litigation and punishments might bring more stresses to the system, it could be the blow that gets rid of the dreadful agricultural program of the developed world.

See:
http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/agric_e/negs_bkgrnd18_peace_e.htm

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=413883

Posted by: Sean023 on November 30, 2003 04:22 PM

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My philosophy on globalism is that I should be able to order stuff from Astrakhan as easily as from Akron, and the only government red tape I should have to deal with is calculating the (modest) sales tax and/or tariff. In other words, trade policy should be set by individuals regarding their own commerce, not by governments or non-governmental organizations (except in rare cases such as weapons of mass destruction and their critical components). Yes to globalism, no to the WTO.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on December 1, 2003 10:40 PM

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