Once again the world's trade negotiators are trying for a decisive breakthrough. "Last chance" meetings have come and gone. It is not easy to be optimistic after seven years of negotiation. No multilateral trade negotiation has ever failed. Many commentators now suggest that Doha will be the first.
The cost of failure would be huge. New trade from the deal would be worth tens - even hundreds - of billions of Euros annually. A shot in the arm the global economy desperately needs. At a time of global economic uncertainty Doha would lock in new economic opportunities around the world, for developed and developing countries alike.
If Doha fails these benefits will be lost. But the effects will go wider.
Doha is the first world-wide negotiation to reflect the new global economic order. Brazil, India, China and other emerging economies are equal players in the WTO, as central to its success as the EU, US and Japan. It is right, therefore, as Peter Mandelson has done, to demand that they make a fair, proportionate contribution to a world system from which they greatly benefit.
If Doha slips away, a unique opportunity to strengthen the multilateral, rules-based system will be lost - that would be a big knock to international confidence. If we cannot reach a trade agreement after seven years, can we really expect to succeed next year on a truly global successor to Kyoto? How will we generate a global commitment needed to shift to low carbon growth?
We need international institutions that accommodate the shifts of power and influence in the world and can deal more effectively with both familiar and new challenges. We still need to manage international disputes and resolve conflicts. But we also need collectively to address climate change, global economic shocks, food and energy insecurity and terrorism. The old institutions, created in the aftermath of the second world war, are insufficiently geared to meet these challenges. India, China, Brazil and others must take a proportionate but bigger share of responsibility for world problems in return for a bigger say in world institutions. In the WTO they already have that bigger say. So Doha is, therefore, a test case. It if fails, sceptics will see little chance of improving the UN's ability to respond to post conflict situations. Or reforming the IMF to give better early warning of global economic shocks. Or turning the World Bank into a bank for the environment as well as development.
The EU should lead by example. We should negotiate hard for our interests, but with an eye on the bigger picture. Our grand-children will not blame us for making the small concessions needed to achieve a trade deal. They will blame us, and rightly, if we miss the opportunity in the Doha Round to build a platform for managing the complicated and uncertain world they will inherit.