A Foreign Affairs discussion on the future of international trade and development policy.
Despite the claims of its champions, the fair-trade movement doesn't help alleviate poverty in developing countries. Even worse, it is just another direct farm subsidy of the kind most conscientious consumers despise. In the long term, the world needs free trade, not fair trade.
It is time for the international community to recognize that the Doha Round is doomed. Started in November 2001 as the ninth multilateral trade negotiation under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the talks have sought to promote economic growth and improve living standards across the globe -- especially in developing countries -- through trade liberalization and reforms. Yet after countless attempts to achieve a resolution, the talks have dragged on into their tenth year, with no end in sight.
To be sure, world leaders, negotiators, and commentators have expressed their unanimous support for a successful outcome -- the “balanced” and “ambitious” agreement called for by so many summit statements. But concluding a trade agreement is like pole-vaulting. Everything must come together at once -- after the extensive preparation and the building of momentum, there is that one giant leap -- with the hope that the entire body will sail over the bar. Most trade agreements survive several failed attempts before success is achieved. But the Doha Round keeps crashing into the bar...
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