Comment in FT on Froman's Doha by Sophia Murphy

US needs to take a long hard look at the world it has helped to create

Sir, In his strongly worded op-ed “Doha has failed; we need a new type of global trade deal”

(December 14), US Trade Representative Michael Froman calls for “pragmatism”, and to “look, think and act beyond Doha”. Disappointingly, he is silent on the responsibility the US bears for the World Trade Organisation’s failure as well as on the opportunities for the US to show real leadership.

Any trade negotiating agenda for “beyond Doha” requires governments to consider how the current paralysis arose. The US has not fulfilled important aspects of the mandate it accepted 20 years ago when it signed and ratified the Uruguay Round agreements. Its trade-distorting support of agriculture remains vast and destabilises international commodity markets. Its cotton programme violates WTO rules and undermines the economies of some of the world’s poorest countries. It will not even make concessions on those aspects of its food aid that disrupt markets, though it has begun on a process of reform at home.

Mr Froman suggests the world might sign on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the TPP exists because the US trade agenda had no appeal to the vast majority of countries. Moreover, while his explanation is that too few developing countries would engage at the WTO, forcing it to launch the TPP elsewhere, the reality is that the emergence of new negotiating powers from among developing countries created real pressure on the US to negotiate cuts to its agriculture programmes that disrupt international markets. At the same time, the US will not concede that the exigencies of agriculture and food, including the difficult politics of food security and the rising risks associated with climate change, require that all countries need room for domestic adjustment, not just the US and Europe.

Mr Froman, please do think and act beyond Doha. But also take a long hard look at the world we are in, which your government has done so much to create. The TPP is a 19th-century echo of big

powers trying to control international markets for themselves. International markets need multilateralism to address 21st-century challenges. Governments showed what is possible in Paris this past week. Now it is time to see some of that committed and shared leadership for trade.

Sophia Murphy

Senior Advisor, Trade and Global Governance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN, US

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/988662a6-a27b-11e5-bc70-7ff6d4fd203a.html

Last modified onFriday, 18 December 2015 14:54
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