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Will the World Trade Organization Enjoy a Bright Future?


  • Gary Clyde Hufbauer

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

  • Jeffrey J. Schott

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)


The Doha Round is not the first multilateral negotiation to collapse under the weight of substantive disputes and tactical blunders, but revival this time requires a greater miracle than in the darkest days of the Tokyo or Uruguay Rounds. After near-death moments, those talks concluded with a big red bow tied around a comprehensive package. Ministers went home comforted that the next big negotiation would commence well after they left office. This time is different. There will be no red bow unless the Doha package is firmly joined to an immediate follow up round of talks—conducted under entirely different rules—both on old subjects that were badly neglected in the round and urgent new subjects that have surfaced since the round was launched in 2001. Hufbauer and Schott propose a "grand bargain" that couples a significant harvest from the Doha agenda with the future negotiation of plurilateral agreements among WTO members willing to take rewarding, yet challenging, steps forward. The harvest should start—but not stop—with agreements that create minimal commercial pain for any member but deliver widespread gains: trade facilitation, duty-free, quota-free treatment of imports from least developed countries, phaseout of agricultural subsidies, discipline of farm export controls, and reforms to dispute settlement. The harvest should then move to harder parts of the Doha Round—agreements that deliver significant benefits to some members but cause noticeable pain in others. The other side of the grand bargain is approval from the WTO membership for like-minded countries to negotiate deals between themselves. Five topics should be served up for plurilateral talks, as part of a grand bargain commencing in 2013: services liberalization, currency undervaluation, climate and energy, zero-for-zero tariffs coupled with disciplines on nontariff barriers, and state-owned enterprises.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Jeffrey J. Schott, 2012. "Will the World Trade Organization Enjoy a Bright Future?," Policy Briefs PB12-11, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:iie:pbrief:pb12-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bouët Antoine & Laborde-Debucquet David & Dienesch Elisa & Elliott Kimberly, 2012. "The Costs and Benefits of Duty-Free, Quota-Free Market Access for Poor Countries: Who and What Matters," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-27, June.
    2. Yvan Decreux & Lionel Fontagné, 2011. "Economic Impact of Potential Outcome of the DDA," Working Papers 2011-23, CEPII research center.
    3. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Yee Wong & Ketki Sheth, 2006. "US-China Trade Disputes: Rising Tides Rising Stakes," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa78.
    4. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Steve Charnovitz & Jisun Kim, 2009. "Global Warming and the World Trading System," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 4280.
    5. Anders Aslund & Gary Clyde Hufbauer, 2012. "The United States Should Establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 6208.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yvan Decreux & Lionel Fontagné, 2014. "What next for the DDA? Quantifying the role of negotiation modalities," RSCAS Working Papers 2014/61, European University Institute.
    2. Hoekman, Bernard M. & Mavroidis, Petros C., 2015. "Embracing Diversity: Plurilateral Agreements and the Trading System," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(01), pages 101-116, January.
    3. Plummer, Michael G., 2012. "The Emerging “Post-Doha” Agenda and the New Regionalism in the Asia-Pacific," ADBI Working Papers 384, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    4. Joseph E. Gagnon, 2012. "Combating Widespread Currency Manipulation," Policy Briefs PB12-19, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    5. Bernard Hoekman, 2014. "Supply Chains, Mega-Regionals and Multilateralism: A Road Map for the WTO," RSCAS Working Papers 2014/27, European University Institute.
    6. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-01299828 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Bernard Hoekman, 2014. "Sustaining multilateral trade cooperation in a multipolar world economy," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 241-260, June.
    8. C. Fred Bergsten, 2014. "Addressing Currency Manipulation Through Trade Agreements," Policy Briefs PB14-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    9. Bernard M. Hoekman & Petros C. Mavroidis, 2013. "WTO 'à la carte' or WTO 'menu du jour'? Assessing the case for Plurilateral Agreements," RSCAS Working Papers 2013/58, European University Institute.

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