Doha Dies Well-Deserved Death?
By Staff News & Analysis - May 04, 2011

The Doha round Dead man talking … Ten years of trade talks have sharpened divisions, not smoothed them … It was meant to be the beginning of the end. For months, insiders at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva have argued that the release of a revised set of negotiating texts in the Doha round of trade talks was a necessary condition for a deal by the end of 2011. Necessary, perhaps, but hardly sufficient. The documents came out on April 21st but in a blunt assessment of the state of affairs, Pascal Lamy (left), the head of the WTO, pointed to "a clear political gap" which "is not bridgeable." A deal this year is in "serious doubt," he suggested. – Economist

Dominant Social Theme: More effort is necessary.

Free-Market Analysis: One of the big myths about Western capitalism is that the powers-that-be have negotiated and honored free-trade agreements. In fact, the West functions with managed trade agreements, which are a good deal different that free-trade agreements.

The so-called Doha talks are part of the managed-trade process and watching them wither and die is a gratifying prospect for anyone concerned with real trade freedom. It is in fact a dominant social theme that only governments can negotiate proper free markets.

The Western powers that be continue to push Doha because global government demands global trade. Global trade is very important to global government. The Economist points out that the last big push to complete the "round" failed in 2008, and renewed efforts have not brought success either. Good.

The problems continue, basically, between the BRICS and the West. More effort is necessary. Enter Michael Punke, America's ambassador to the WTO in March 2010. Additional jaw-jaw ensued but instead of bringing participants closer, the new talks only emphasized the areas of difference.

The Economist charts how the arguments between the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and sometimes South Africa) and the West have evolved. In 2008 the discussions focused on agricultural imports. Now the West is more focused on cuts in duties on goods. The Anglo-American-led contingent wants more access to China and India, which have kept tariffs defensively high. Parity is not in the works, according to the Economist, though that is what is sought. The BRICS insist that Doha is not the place for such discussions.

Pascal Lamy in his statement notes that further failure at Doha would result in "throwing away ten years of solid multilateral work." In fact, the Economist article notes that in ten years the world has changed considerably and that the BRICS and the developing world in general continue to expand their share of world markets. "Less than half of global GDP growth came from outside the rich world between 1998 and 2001, but the IMF reckons that almost 75% of the addition to world GDP between 2011 and 2014 will do so."

Today, the issue is access. Rich countries feel left out of big emerging market economies. And emerging countries are worried and angered over rising food prices, which they lay especially at the feet of the US and its ongoing quantitative easing. The BRICS are also apparently worried about competition from one of their own; India and Brazil worry about China aggressively exporting goods and services to their economies. This is another reason why concessions regarding tariffs are hard to come by. The shadow of China looms.

According to the Economist, there are those who wish to find something in the latest failed attempts that can be cobbled together so that Doha can be proclaimed a success or at least "not-a-failure." But such a solution to a process that is ten years old is not optimal, though it may be necessary. It is in keeping with what we have already observed, that the Anglo-American power elite is in a position now where even small defeats are magnified.

With its dominant social themes in disarray thanks to continue Internet exposure, the elites have turned to force to continue the momentum toward world government. But in using force the Anglosphere elite has raised the stakes. Now even small setbacks are magnified. The momentum needs to be seen as unstoppable or people (and especially national leaders) will be cease to be afraid of elite Money Power. Nonetheless, it is hard to bully the BRICS, especially when they are negotiating as a group.

We would bet that the elites do try to salvage something from Doha just so they can proclaim victory. But nothing is working very well for the Western powers-that-be at this point. Even something like the death of Osama bin Laden, much in the news today, turns into an Internet firestorm that casts even more doubt on the very memes that the elites are trying to promote.

The European Union is on the way to breaking up in our view; the Afghan Pashtuns have proven as unmovable as they were 100 years ago despite a ten-year war; global warming is in disarray and the Internet continues to expose the push toward global government at every level. Now Doha too is failing. No wonder war is breaking out. That's the old fall back. When nothing good is happening, start to break things.

Managed trade is not free trade. Free trade is negotiated between businesses and individuals. These huge trade deals mostly benefit the largest players and give governments and multinational corporations inordinate clout. Much better to let small businesspeople try to negotiate the best deals they can on their own or create markets that are not dependent on overly punitive tariffs and duties.

After Thoughts

Most importantly the continued failure at Doha marks the ongoing impotence of the world's largest governments – and those who stand behind them – when it comes to trade. The more failures at such levels the better for those who believe in free-markets and individual human action.

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