News story

2011 is 'make or break year for Doha deal'

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the interim findings of an expert group set up to consider the actions needed to combat protectionism and to boost global trade.

The report The Doha Round: Setting a deadline, defining a final deal, published today, argues that for the Doha agreement to be a success the negotiations need to be concluded by the end of 2011.

The document makes the case for action to be taken now, arguing that substantive agreements need to be concluded by the summer to achieve the 2011 deadline. The experts’ report sets out 4 arguments for completing the Doha Round which it believes will benefit all countries:

  • an agreement would provide an insurance policy against future protectionism by consolidating the large amount of unilateral liberalisation that has occurred since the Uruguay Round in the 1990s
  • an agreement would results in reforms of farm trade by binding subsidy levels in the developed world and eliminating export subsidies
  • an agreement would present the most ambitious package of trade liberalisation and trade facilitation ever negotiated multilaterally, bring economic benefits of at least $360 billion
  • the failure to reach an agreement would undermine the credibility of the World Trade Organisation and that of multilateralism more generally as a mechanism to address trade

Speaking on why trade matters, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Trade is the biggest wealth creator we’ve ever known. And it’s the biggest stimulus we can give our economies right now. A completed trade round could add $170 billion dollars to the world economy.

And yet too many people still seem to believe that trade is some sort of zero sum game. They talk about it quite literally as if one country’s success is another country’s failure. That if one country’s exports grow then someone else’s will shrink. That somehow if say we import low cost goods from China, that’s a sign of our failure. As if all the benefits of China’s exports go to China alone. When actually we benefit too from choice, competition, low prices in our shops.

Fighting protectionism is a vital part of security, growth and prosperity for us all.

On 2011 as the make or break year for Doha, the Prime Minister said:

We’ve been at this Doha round for far too long. It’s frankly ridiculous that it has taken 10 years to do this deal. We simply cannot spend another 10 years going round in circles.

If we don’t get the deal done this year it is hard to see how the Doha process can have any further credibility. If we enter 2012 still stuck on this, real leadership will mean a radical rethink of how we get this done.

So I want to be the first leader to support your call for urgent action now to agree the key elements of the Doha deal this year. And I call on every world leader to join me. We’ve got one last chance to get this right. 2011 is the make or break year. So let’s agree that this is the year we will make the break-through. No-one should hold anything back for later. There is no later. And I believe this report can be the foundation for success.

Notes to editors

  1. In November 2010 the heads of government of Germany, Great Britain, Indonesia and Turkey created an Experts Group to report on the priority actions that have to be taken to combat protectionism and to boost global trade.
  2. The Trade Experts Group interim report was launched in Davos on January 28, 1800 GMT.
  3. The final report will be published in spring 2011 and will provide analysis and specific recommendations for boosting global trade in the short and medium-term through tackling tariff, regulatory, administrative and physical barriers to trade.
  4. The members of the panel have been drawn from a range of advanced and developing countries and, while all are experts on trade and economics, each brings a different set of skills and experience.
  5. The two co-chairs are Pr Jagdish Bhagwati and Peter Sutherland KCMG. The other members are Pr Richard Baldwin, Dr KY Amoako, Dr Muhammad Chatib Basri, Dr Eckart Guth, Dr Jaime Serra, Pr Subidey Togan and Pr Jurgen Von Hagen.

Experts’ Group Terms of Reference

To assess the current environment for trade and to recommend the priority political and regulatory steps needed to increase global trade flows in the short and medium term, in particular:

  • to present an analysis of the global welfare potential at stake in the various options for the conclusion of the Doha Round, in support of the WTO negotiations as they approach their final stage
  • to define a longer term approach to trade liberalisation and regional integration in support of the multilateral trading system, including steps to tackle regulatory, administrative and physical barriers to trade

Read more: The DOHA Round: Setting a deadline, defining a final deal: Interim report - January 2011