Developing Countries at Doha: A Political Economy Analysis
This paper offers a political economy analysis of the Doha Ministerial Conference with special reference to developing countries. One of my key objectives is to understand the politics underlying the negotiations with a view to assessing the influence developing countries exerted on the outcome and the success they achieved in relation to the Uruguay Round Agreement, which is widely perceived as favouring mainly if not exclusively the developed countries. The main conclusions of the paper may be summarised as follows. First, with trade liberalisation as its central focus, the Doha negotiating agenda is to be welcomed from the viewpoint of developing countries. Second, the opposition by developing countries to the inclusion of at least some of the Singapore issues at Doha is defensible. Among other things, the countries lack the necessary negotiating and implementation capacity. Third, while the UR Agreement benefited both developing and developed countries, on balance, it benefited the latter more. The Doha outcome offers a better balance when taken by itself but does not go so far as to significantly correct the imbalance in the UR Agreement. Fourth, despite this better balance, the Doha negotiations offer little evidence of a shift in the relative bargaining powers of developing and developed countries. Nor can the superficially development friendly language of the Doha Declaration be viewed as signalling the softening of the tough negotiating stance developed countries took during the UR Round. Fifth, much of the negotiating power continues to reside with developed countries. Relatively equal levels of incomes gives greater coherence to interests of developed countries on issues that divide along North-South lines. Moreover, the presence of three large players - the USA, EU and Japan - allows them to exploit their bargaining power more effectively. Finally, to negotiate more effectively in the future, developing countries must improve their research capacity, think strategically and forge coalitions with other influential WTO members - whether developed or developing. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2002.
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Volume (Year): 25 (2002)
Issue (Month): 9 (09)
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