Courtesy Reuters

The Stakes of Doha

JUMP-STARTING A STALLED PROCESS

At the UN General Assembly last September, President Bush declared: "The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to the free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same." The Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations aims to do just that. These negotiations hold the promise of raising standards of living worldwide, alleviating global poverty, removing inequities in the trade regime, and enhancing international stability. Yet there is a significant risk that they could collapse or achieve only a fraction of their potential.

Americans should care deeply about the Doha Round and what it means for them and the rest of the world. Yet the lack of concern about these negotiations among members of Congress and the media suggests Americans are unaware of what is at stake. For Americans, a successful conclusion of the trade negotiations would bring higher living standards. For the rest of the world, success would deliver not only higher economic growth but also greater political stability. With the talks barely moving forward, the world needs the United States to lead these negotiations as it has led past trade negotiations.

But anti-trade political pressures at home not only hinder the ability of the U.S. government to lead, they put at risk its ability to secure congressional approval of any agreement it brings home. Only by building a solid base of political support for new trade agreements can the United States capture the very substantial benefits that a Doha agreement could provide. Americans should be better informed about the gains possible from a broad Doha agreement, the status of the negotiations, and the political challenges involved.

WHY DOHA MATTERS

The U.S. experience since World War II proves that increased economic interdependence boosts economic growth and encourages political stability. For more than 50 years, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the United States has led the world in opening markets. To that end, the United States worked

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