David Miliband

Foreign Secretary

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Thursday 24 July, 2008

The Doha Round is About More than Trade

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.

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Basically, every aspect of trade now hinges on energy security. No amount of behind the scenes high level talks can go forward without redefining the way the globe operates regarding energy. You can see it all for yourself..UK energy bills set to rise by 40 ? Its similar across the globe.. Incidentally, I sent you an email regarding a NEW alternate energy method, regarding high output of clean electricity into national grids, which is really a global solution to many things as I mentioned the concept implementation outstrips the combined outputs of wind,solar and will make biofuels unnecessary , as that eats up a high of food sources. The age of progressive trade talks is definitely at an end though, until 'energy' , instead of just being prioritised,and talked about at length, actually powers forward in a totally new way.

Posted by Nevi on July 28, 2008 at 11:04 PM BST #

Dear Mr.David, we wrote our suggestions and recommendations to your FCO office last week on a revised International Governance Strategy to find a lasting solution on CO2 emission cuts amongst the P3 Countries we in OGECO call China, India and USA as the P3 countries as they're the major polluters of the planet with a combined CO2 emmissions of around 60, for a "Green Summit" in London with Britain's mediation of the issues to be addressed. Well the same situation, back to square one on the WTO talks in Doha and Geneva where it collapsed on agreement on lower trade barriers and free trade. Once again the same scenario China and India defying the West and USA on the other side accusing China and India for not accepting any Intl Trade Pacts. Our suggestion addresses these issues clearly and had sought to prepare draft proposals for the Green Summit. VENKATRAGAVAN M SANTHANAM, CEO, OGECO Ozone Global Environment Org.

Posted by VENKATRAGAVAN M SANTHANAM on July 30, 2008 at 12:27 AM BST #

There is some confusion about the WTO negotiations and its impact on issues like UN reforms. The fact is that all countries who join the WTO agree to obey the WTO Agreement, which overrides their domestic national legislation. That is why the pace of their liberalization/non-liberalization policies/commitments is so slow. We have seen in 1998 and 2003 the UN Security Council being set aside by NATO, i.e. the UN Charter is not subservient to NATO and subsequently even US or UK laws/policies e.g. Balkans, Iraq. Comparing the two international institutions is like comparing apples and oranges. Politicians should understand this clearly.

Posted by Mike on August 02, 2008 at 08:40 PM BST #

True, and yet missing the point. I think India and China would sign up in an instant to a trade deal that delivered them some benefits in exchange for not too much pain. The EU and the US are the ones who struggle with this.

Posted by Eliot Whittington on August 06, 2008 at 11:46 PM BST #

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