“Grand bargain” needed to restore centrality of WTO. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has unveiled findings of a new report on the future of multilateral trade liberalization.
The Peterson Institute Report “From Drift to Deals: Advancing the WTO Agenda”, sets out a roadmap for a “grand bargain” to bring the long-stalled Doha Round of trade talks to a conclusion and restore the centrality of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a forum for trade liberalization.
After seven years of stagnation, the World Trade Organization (WTO) received a burst of inspiration at the 9th Ministerial Conference held in Bali in December 2013, with the completion of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and several other accords. It now remains to be discovered whether WTO members will apply the momentum gained in Bali to a broader agenda, launched at the 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10) to be held in Nairobi in December 2015.
To restore itself as a central negotiating forum, the WTO needs a Grand Bargain. The advanced countries should concede the priority demands of developing countries with respect to the Doha Development Agenda – on agriculture and non-agriculture market access (NAMA). In return, developing countries should agree that subsets of WTO members can enter into plurilateral agreements within the WTO framework, provided the agreements are binding only on the signatories. The Grand Bargain would enable the WTO to pursue 21st Century pacts that keep policymakers, business leaders, and the broader public engaged, while answering the legitimate demands of developing members to reduce longstanding distortions to farm trade and manufactures.
This report outlines a work program to carry out the Grand Bargain. While most of the program deals with newer issues, the starting point is agreement on the “traditional” issues of greatest interest to developing countries.