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How do they occupy this political field, and what ideological and sociological aspects affect this process? Lars Dittmer. Trade barriers in the triad communities. Jens Hillebrand. The European Union: Is Europe a superpower? Will Europe ever be a superpower? We envisage its having five main functions: settling trade disputes, overseeing the international trading system and ensuring it functions smoothly; supporting capacity-building by providing technical assistance, training and Aid for Trade for developing countries; performing a research function and acting as a think-tank on trade; and acting as the key forum for discussions and reflections on all topics related to international trade.

Also, climbing the Mont Blanc can only be achieved as a team endeavour. We must help and understand each other all along the climb. The only way to reach the top is understanding each others' interests and limitations.

From GATT to WTO to what?

After three failed attempts to conclude the Doha Development Round DDR in , and , has been seen as the last window of opportunity for an early, successful conclusion and, figuratively speaking, for reaching the top of Mont Blanc. His hopes of seeing the WTO members agree on the modalities for multilateral trade liberalisation were dashed when, after eight long days of negotiation, it became evident that the differences on a few remaining issues between the USA on the one hand and India and China on the other could not be bridged. Pascal Lamy therefore decided to end the negotiations. Even though they resumed after and Lamy pushed members hard to close a deal, it became clear in early that the plan for a successful conclusion to the Doha Round in would again fail.

The gaps dividing a number of large countries remained too wide, and the political will to achieve consensus on all issues was quickly fading. Pascal Lamy was confronted with a difficult choice. He could either continue with the trade negotiations as if nothing had happened and so jeopardise the credibility not only of the DDR but also of the entire WTO as an institution. The other option was to aim for an early harvest, a tangible initial outcome of the trade negotiations.

This might trigger a positive dynamic for all outstanding issues and restore confidence in the negotiations and the multilateral trading system. In June , Pascal Lamy had proposed that the goal of a comprehensive multilateral accord should be deferred and that members should develop a small package that would include a sub-set of issues on which agreement could be reached during the Ministerial Conference in December Although many members welcomed the idea of resorting to a Plan B, their views differed substantially when it came to the composition of the small package. In late July , WTO members acknowledged that the small package no longer seemed a realistic goal for the December ministerial meeting.

Thus, before the tenth anniversary of the launch of the Doha Round, members are beset with a substantive fatigue. More fundamental questions than ever remain unanswered: will the DDR negotia- tions continue next year? In the end, the successful completion of eight rounds of multilateral trade negotia- tions has led to a substantial liberalisation of international trade.

Why does completing the Doha Round appear to be so exceptionally difficult? The first part of this paper attempts to find an answer to this question. Our line of reasoning is as fol- lows: first, consensus decision-making, coupled with universal rules and strict enforce- ment, poses a strong challenge to the parties seeking agreement around the table. Sec- ond, the heterogeneity among and within WTO members is stronger than ever. Third, the multiplicity of possible coalitions further exacerbates the complexity of the negotiations.

Fourth, one reason for this heterogeneity is the lack of an overriding, common ideology among WTO members. Fifth, the slow decline of the USA as an economic superpower is also hampering the current negotiations: as US hegemonial power runs out of steam, less leadership is to be seen in the negotiations, while the newly emerging superpowers still lack the will to take on new responsibilities. Sixth, while many technical questions have already been resolved during the present Round, the issues on which agreement has still be reached are especially tricky and cumbersome.

Elaborating on these arguments, we come to the conclusion that the DDR will mark the end of the history of multilateral trade negotiations as we know them. The second part of this paper explores the future of the post-Doha WTO and argues that there is a need to reflect on new designs for future multilateral trade talks and agreements.

We suggest that the post-Doha WTO should perform five main functions: first, settling trade disputes; second, overseeing the international trading system; third, supporting trade- related capacity-building; fourth, conducting research; and, last but not least, acting as the key forum for the discussion of international trade issues. The paper is structured as follows: Section II briefly reviews the current state of play at the Doha negotiations and then analyses the reasons for the absence of a breakthrough so far.

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Section IV outlines the future of the WTO and options for the re- form of the multilateral trading system. Section IV draws a number of conclusions. The Hong Kong Ministe- rial Conference in December saw some progress made, and it was hoped that the negotiations would be completed by the end of and hence in good time before US President George W. In the autumn of , the WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy, saw no other solution for ending the deadlock than to sus- pend the negotiations for an unspecified period.

The suspension raised serious concerns among participants and observers about the DDR ever being concluded. And the negotiations in fact resumed in February However, little progress was made that year. In the meantime, the economic outlook for several important WTO members began to deteriorate. The US economy showed signs of a considerable slowdown, triggered by the bursting of the housing bubble. The repercussions of the credit crunch were also felt in Europe and raised severe doubts about the viability of the international banking system.

It was hoped that in this situation of economic uncertainty, a successful conclusion of the DDR would send a positive signal to world markets.