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The Future of the Global Trading System: Doha Round, Cancun Ministerial, and Beyond

Nov 2003
Stanford King Center on Global Development Working Paper
By  T. N. Srinivasan

The fifth ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization was held at Cancún, Mexico during September 10-14, 2003. It was expected to review the status of multilateral negotiations launched at the fourth meeting in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. In particular, it was to set the negotiations back on track after the setbacks of having missed several crucial deadlines set at Doha, and deciding on negotiation targets by explicit consensus of members for certain areas, such as, for example, the so-called “Singapore issues” of investment, competition policy, government procurement and trade facilitation. The meeting ended with no agreement on any of these. In this paper, I discuss the history of the world trading system, and assess the future of the global trading system post-Cancún. I conclude that the collapse at Cancún need not be fatal as long as the right lessons are learned from it and appropriate actions taken.