WTO's Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancún Collapsed
Except for Newfound Unity Among Third World Nations, There Were no Surprises
The World Trade Organization's Fifth Ministerial summit in Cancun, Mexico collapsed when rich nations attempted to impose their agenda by seeking to negotiate the "Singapore issues" for a new investment framework before negotiating the long-disputed agricultural subsidies and other agricultural protectionist barriers that they maintain. The WTO's summit was supposed to fulfil the spirit of the Doha Trade Round, which was labelled the "Round of Development" by establishing the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), which was in turn supposed to be completed at the end of 2004 during the next ministerial meeting possibly in Hong Kong. Thus, Doha -in contrast with the Uruguay Round where the South agreed to major concessions, opening its markets to manufactured goods and accepting a whole set of intellectual property rules- is supposed to be the South's round.
Yet, the North continued with its old abusive ways. As a result, if there was any honest interest in the North to support true development in the South and a sustainable trade system, the fact is that its intransigence polarized trade negotiations as never before, since the creation of the so-called trade system in the late 1940s. In this way, the Fifth Ministerial collapsed and puts the viability of the Doha Round and of the WTO itself in doubt.
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