May 25, 2008

Realistic Assessment On WTO From PM Clark

We have been doing some work around the PM's post-budget speech in Auckland on Friday and have just read her speech. It contains a refreshingly accurate assessment of prospects for the Doha Round. We quote in full:

Of course the biggest game in town for agricultural market access and trade policy is still the WTO’s Doha Round. But after 6½ years, it’s struggling. Our government has made the judgement that we need to get on with direct negotiations for market access with others, while also driving hard at the WTO Round.
There had been hopes of progress in the Round this month – to the point where a ministerial meeting could have been held to crunch a deal.
I am now told that that is unlikely.
A ministerial meeting is still possible by mid-late July, but if one is not held by then, the general view would be that it will not be possible to finish negotiations this year. By the time a new Administration of either party gets settled in the United States in the course of next year, the Round would have a lot of catch up to do.