2 Law & Dev. Rev. 1 (2009)

handle is hein.journals/ldevr2 and id is 1 raw text is: 





Karmakar: New Contours of India's Multilateral Engagement


I. INTRODUCTION

Notwithstanding  the repeated demonstrated  willingness of WTO   Members   to
engage concertedly for a rapid conclusion of the Doha Round, from the numerous
setbacks and temporary suspensions of dialogue it appears that the current Round
of the  Multilateral Trade Negotiation (MTN)   is not  destined for a speedy
conclusion. The breakdown  of Ministerial talks in Geneva at the end of July 2008
revealed the continued presence of some stark political constraints on agricultural
and manufactured  goods trade liberalisation; these limitations are unlikely to go
away  soon. This failure being third in a row (since the launch of the Round in
November   2001)  of such  meetings  aimed  at concluding the  ongoing WTO
negotiations has  generated  predictable lamentations from   analysts on  the
impending  death of Doha  and even  the demise of multilateralism as the most
favoured global trade liberalisation tool.
     The  entrenched positions of India and China in the agriculture negotiations
on  issues of  developing  country flexibilities under the Special Safeguard
Mechanism   (SSM)  which  countered offers of the industrialised country players
like the US have been cited as the central reason for this most recent dissolution
of  the Ministerial talks. While  agriculture negotiations are central to the
conclusion of the Round  and have proved  a difficult beast to control since the
days  of the Uruguay  Round,  it seems  that such simplistic explanations and
apportioning of  blame  are counter-productive insofar as  they distract from
dispassionate evaluation of the core causes of the continued deadlock. Will a
resolution of the current impasse herald a smooth transition back to the earlier
days when  the world  trade order seemingly had  little problems in concluding
MTNs?   Or are we in an era when troubled Rounds are the order of the day? What
are the underlying reasons for this observed difficulty by WTO Members to come
to mutually acceptable compromises to conclude MTNs  these days?
     While  trade ministers of key WTO  trading Members   continue to meet in
formal and informal locations to work out compromises, there is perhaps greater
need  now,  from  both WTO analysts and senior functionaries in the WTO
Secretariat in Geneva, to introspect on the most proximate causes for the present
day problems  and to try to find workable solutions. While discussions on what
ails the WTO   negotiation process began in the aftermath of the failure of the
Seattle Ministerial in 1999 to launch a Round, and there is by now a healthy body
of literature on the need and conditions for reform in the WTO that have proposed
reforms of the institution and of the processes of WTO  negotiations,1 what is
perhaps  missing from  the  literature is a view and understanding  from  the

I The most notable among these have been the Sutherland Report and the Warwick Commission
Report.


1

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