From Doha to the Next Bretton Woods

A New Multilateral Trade Agenda

Courtesy Reuters

When the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations was launched, in 2001, the price of oil was $25 a barrel, a ton of rice cost $170, China's current account surplus was two percent of the country's GDP, U.S. financial institutions were at the vanguard of globalization, and the term "sovereign wealth fund" could have been mistakenly thought to refer to the retirement kitty of an aging monarch.

As of November 10, 2008, oil was going for $65 a barrel, and rice for $515 a ton. China and the oil-producing states have trillions of dollars at their disposal. The U.S. financial system, in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, is teetering between socialization and oblivion. As all these changes have unfolded, the governments involved in the Doha talks have, Nero-like, spent too much time dwelling on minor issues while ignoring the burning questions. After the failure of the recent round of

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