Courtesy Reuters

Doha and Development


The attacks of September 11, 2001, refocused international attention on the problem of global poverty. In the United States, the Bush administration pledged a 50 percent increase in development assistance and launched the Millennium Challenge Account. Internationally, debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries was extended to include money owed to multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and at the 2005 summit of the G-8 group of industrialized nations in Gleneagles, Scotland, members pledged to increase official development assistance by $50 billion per year by 2010.

The Doha Round of trade talks, launched shortly after September 11, was christened the "development round" in part because of the perception that the need for development was more urgent than ever. This urgency has persisted: multilateral trade negotiations should no longer be viewed as business as usual, but as a high-stakes process with important implications for global development.

One reason for the new emphasis on development is the recognition that the initial results of the Uruguay Round of talks were modest for developing countries. Their most important gain -- elimination of textile and apparel quotas under the Multi-Fiber Arrangement -- was back-loaded and has come into full effect only this year. Agricultural liberalization ended quotas but replaced most of them with tariffs and tariff-rate quotas, resulting in little actual change. Intellectual-property agreements went too far in restricting developing-country access to medicines, a problem finally addressed in a special agreement shortly before the Cancún meeting in September 2003. It is of the utmost importance, then, that Doha provide improved trade opportunities for developing countries.


There is ample evidence that trade opportunities spur growth and a clear correlation across countries between export growth and GDP growth over the past two decades: each additional percentage point in export growth has been associated with an extra 0.15 percent growth in GDP. One reason for this correlation is that a bigger export base helps countries avoid external-debt problems by providing them with a good source of

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