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Doha: Much Ado About Nothing? An explanation of the reason why central countries should give in to conclude the Round

Publication date: 
Friday 31 October 2014
Federico Lavopa y Francisco Mango

Twelve years after it was launched, the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization finally managed to conclude an agreement, known as the “Bali Package”. Nevertheless, this package’s pillars simply represent a marginal aspect of the agenda of negotiations of said Round and the length of time expected for its implementation was not accomplished by July 2014. For that reason, the present Round of negotiations at the WTO remains stagnant where it was started in 2001, and, what is worse, there is no clear likelihood of its serious conclusion yet. 

The stagnation of the Doha Round strongly contrasts with the eight Rounds concluded in almost fifty years (1947-1994) of the GATT’s existence. It is worth wondering then what has changed in recent years that prevented the WTO from repeating the successful experiences of the past. 

There are many interpretations collected from the literature to respond to this question. They range from the most orthodox concepts regarding the reconfiguration of trade and world production in Global Value Chains, to the most holistic ones that stress aspects such as the countries’ ability to negotiate and establish partnerships, or the role of information and communication technologies in negotiations. This article is another proposal to interpret these aspects from a different perspective, putting an emphasis on the changes in the world structure of the economic power.

Following with the line of investigation started in RAEI No 1 (“Changes in the global economic power structure: towards a multipolar world?”), the following pages will present a model that seeks to illustrate the way in which the global dissemination of economic power altered the usual progress of multilateral negotiations –historically concluded only to favour a handful of central countries– but which is now facing the veto of emerging countries.

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