Is the Doha Round dead? How can you tell?
Reports of gridlock seem to be correct, and if prolonged we could quietly be ignoring a high-water mark for trade liberalization for a while. It seems most of the players are concerned with being able to allocate blame for the failure, not salvage what hope remains for freer trade:
However, Europeans and Americans are sniping at each other on who should move first.
The US is demanding further cuts in EU farm tariffs while the EU says Washington must slash its costly domestic farm subsidy programme.
Both the EU and the US are insisting that rapidly-developing Asian and Latin American states must lower import tariffs in the industrial sector.
The current administration is in danger of replacing Herbert Hoover's as the worst record on trade. [Bonus points: What did the Smoot-Hawley tariffs do?]
While many Big 8 subsidy farmers will breathe a sigh of relief, thinking their payments safe, the fallout from a WTO round failure could be immense:
The most likely scenario, said Jean- Pierre Lehmann, the director of the pro-free trade Evian Group in Switzerland, would be a failure to reach an accord this year, with efforts postponed until at least 2009.Lehmann warned that such a result would be a blow to global trade, leaving the system "impotent and irrelevant."More anon.