Misadventures of the Most Favored Nations: Clashing Egos, Inflated Ambitions, and the Great Shambles of the World Trade System

Trade negotiations are usually tedious affairs, full of picky details of intense interest only to those most directly affected by their outcome. Hours, even days, can be spent in disagreement over the exact wording of clauses. The still unfinished Doha Round of international trade negotiations, which began in late 2001 after a failed attempt in Seattle two years earlier, has been plagued by such disagreements since the beginning. Blustein, a journalist, captures both the broad thrust for trade liberalization and the numerous minidramas during Doha Round negotiations up through the failed ministerial meeting of July 2008. It is a sad tale of the triumph, so far, of particularistic interests and anxieties over a broad vision that almost all the parties have insisted they desire. Blustein concludes with a well-deserved swipe at the recent proliferation of bilateral preferential trade agreements, which have diverted attention from multilateral liberalization.

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