By Andrew Walker, Economics correspondent
Does the World Trade Organization matter anymore?
That is the big question hanging over the WTO as trade ministers from its member countries gather in Nairobi.
They are heading to the Kenyan capital for the WTO's tenth ministerial conference.
The organisation is increasingly at risk of being side-lined as groups of countries do trade and investment deals outside it.
The WTO was established in 1995 to be the main forum for trade rules and for negotiating the removal of barriers to international commerce.
It is conducting a wide-ranging set of negotiations intended to take this process further. It is called the Doha Round, and it was launched in the Qatari capital 14 years ago.
It is still limping along despite the original target for completing the talks being the beginning of 2005.
So far all it really has to show is an agreement on improving customs procedures, known as the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The wider negotiations - to reduce tariffs (taxes on imports), farm subsidies and remove many other trade barriers - have failed to produce results.
Many countries have turned their attention to negotiating in smaller groups. The prime examples are the United States' negotiations with Pacific nations and with the European Union.
Is the Doha Round finished?
It's very unlikely that the Nairobi conference will pronounce it dead. Some countries, including India, Indonesia and Venezuela want a formal reaffirmation of the declaration issued back in Doha.
Others, notably the US and European Union do not. They think it has become clear that this huge exercise - known in WTO-speak as a "single undertaking" - will fail to deliver results.
So it is certainly possible that the Nairobi Conference will mark an important moment in the failure of the Doha Round.
However, there are areas where there could be some agreement.
One is the final agreement among a group of countries on tariff-free trade in a range of technology goods. This would extend an existing deal to a number of additional goods including new-generation semi-conductors, GPS navigation systems, some medical devices and touch screens.
There is also the possibility of a deal to improve export opportunities for the poorest nations, the least developed countries. This is about extending the scope for them to sell their goods without quota restrictions or tariffs.
There are signs that the WTO's members do seem to be willing to agree in these areas, but even so there is no guarantee they will.
It is possible that there will be no formal ministerial declaration at the end. That would be the first such failure since the Seattle Conference in 1999, which ended with acrimonious disagreement between governments and was accompanied by often violent protests in the city's streets.
The WTO and its conference have in the past been a major focus for protests from groups which argue that globalisation has been a business-driven process undermining national sovereignty, environmental protection and labour standards.
More recently some of the trade negotiations outside the WTO have become more of a focus for some of these concerns.
Those other talks have, after all, made more progress. And there is a real possibility that the gap between the WTO's stumbling global agenda and the push towards smaller deals will be wider by the end of the Nairobi conference.
Evan Ottenfeld | Legislative Assistant and Scheduler
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
215 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
Latest from SEATINI Kenya
- Latest EGA Negotiations To Focus On Final List, Phase outs, 'Critical Mass'
- Some ICs plan "modern trade deals" at WTO Published in SUNS #8210 dated 30 March 2016
- 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development
- China, Japan Vie For Permanent Appellate Body Seat At WTO
- Nairobi Rules On Article 9.4 Subsidies, Export Credits May Be Enforceable
RobertdomComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 14:08
viagra 25 mg tabletki
buy generic viagra online
donde comprar viagra online foro
buy generic viagra
can i buy viagra in malaysia
viagra pills 100 mg
how to get viagra in london
buy viagra pharmacy online
SaibreComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 10:58
viagra 100mg canadian pharmacy
generic viagra online
prarekeMComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 06:12
viagra adalah cialis pills
metformin expiration cialis generic pills used
bupsnuffComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 05:17
need cash bad credit
payday loans austin
StyptofComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 03:13
viagra net worth
buy viagra online
who invented viagra albanian
UnsonyComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 02:53
bad credit short term loans
payday loans no debit card
saurgEComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 01:54
direct lenders for payday loans
payday loans online
cash loans austin tx
WilliamrhymnComment Link Monday, 02 April 2018 00:38
how do cialis pills look like
buy generic cialis
where to buy cialis in uk
buy cialis thailand
buy cialis pills
cheap cialis canada
arbivaComment Link Sunday, 01 April 2018 23:24
absoRiComment Link Sunday, 01 April 2018 22:56
australia buy ch eap cialis online
holland cialis pills
buy cialis online