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Trade liberalization: Doha is recognized as dead

Though not part of LIRNEasia’s funded research, we have kept an eye on, and engaged with, issues related to services trade liberalization, partly because ICTs form a critical element of international services trade and the success of telecom reform exemplifies what can be achieved by liberalization of Mode 3 trade in services. In debates around the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Sri Lanka, I recall someone raising the question as to why I was not advocated the optimal solution of multilateral agreements to liberalize trade. I answered “Doha is dead and SAARC is comatose, this is the best we got.” Now finally it appears that the death of Doha is being officially recognized.

Contrary to the declarations made at the G20 summit meetings in earlier years, the world leaders seem to have finally given up on the possibility of concluding the trade talks within the parameters on which they had launched them as a single undertaking. At the G20 Summit meeting held in Cannes on November 3-4, 2011, the leaders had recognised that ‘it is clear that we will not complete the DDA if we continue to conduct negotiations as we have in the past’. At the APEC Meeting on November 12-13, 2011, while expressing deep concerns at the impasse confronting the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), the leaders similarly came to the joint assessment that ‘the reality is that a conclusion of all elements of the Doha agenda is unlikely in the near future’. Likewise, at the MC8, there was consensus that ‘it is unlikely that all elements of the Doha Development Round could be concluded simultaneously in the near future’. On the way forward, both the G20 and APEC meetings have called for fresh, credible approaches for furthering negotiations.

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