Sprinting during a Marathon: Why the WTO Ministerial Failed in July 2008

Journal of World Trade, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 81-126, February 2010

47 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2009 Last revised: 27 Jul 2010

See all articles by Robert Wolfe

Robert Wolfe

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies

Date Written: April 29, 2009

Abstract

The WTO’s nine day sprint in July 2008 was an attempt to break the logjam on “modalities” for agriculture and NAMA in the marathon Doha Round negotiations. All that observers can know for certain is that the parties did not agree, but understanding the failure is an essential prelude to any attempt to relaunch the Round. This paper is a counterfactual analysis of the various explanations that have been offered for the failure. I consider factors exogenous to the negotiation process, such as the macroeconomic context; and factors endogenous to the process such as the timing and level of participation in the meeting, and the nature of the issues under discussion. I conclude that sprinting during a marathon is unwise. The London G-20 Summit commitment to a balanced outcome is achievable, but assembling a package with so many issues involving 153 members takes time and patience.

Keywords: WTO, negotiations, trade, agriculture

Suggested Citation

Wolfe, Robert, Sprinting during a Marathon: Why the WTO Ministerial Failed in July 2008 (April 29, 2009). Journal of World Trade, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 81-126, February 2010 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1396582

Robert Wolfe (Contact Author)

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies ( email )

Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

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