Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Raj Patel, "The WTO and Other Trade Tales," Center for International Policy, December 3, 2008

Just when the WTO's Doha Round had faded into the back pages of specialized trade publications, the G-20 has given it the kiss of life, heralding it as the way out of the current global economic crisis. Talks that had been given the last rites in July are today alive and rosy-cheeked and, if some of the rumors from Geneva are to be believed, close to completion. It sounds improbable that July's diplomatic failure, reported as an unmitigated disaster, should so quickly have been mitigated. Yet it appears to be true.

  The G-20 declaration signals that the world's richest governments are keener to support their big industries as we head into a global recession, than to think terribly hard about their poorest citizens.

To get beneath appearances, it's worth having a look at a chronicle of a previous WTO round collapse. Stuart Townsend's recently released film, Battle in Seattle, tells the tale of the glorious week at the end of November 1999 when the World Trade Organization held its ministerial summit in the United States, and offers some helpful, if unintended, lessons.

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