BY the looks of it, the
Certainly, it’s so easy to blame members of the European Union, particularly France, for their reluctance to reduce agricultural trade barriers and subsidies that are hurting lots of farm exports from the developing world. They actually offered to cut farm tariffs by 40 percent, but with the caveat that they be allowed to put at least 160 products into the sensitive list, thereby making these products beyond reform. The Americans also share the blame for not showing leadership in the trade negotiations at a crucial time when the rest of the developed world is having problems with the recent successes of
But certainly, the blame really should be equally shared also by the major players like
One should note that
Where does that leave the
That’s a pity because the collapse of the
One might ask that if indeed “free trade” is a win-win situation, as its advocates would say, why are these countries that are supposed to benefit most, the ones that won’t budge to make way for the successful conclusion of the Doha round?
Simple: it’s politics. All countries joined the WTO with a clear understanding of the economic benefits of trade liberalization and globalization but they do come to the negotiating table behaving like 18th century beggar-thy-neighbor mercantilists. Negotiations are like theaters where negotiators play to a gallery of lobbyists and interest groups at home. Their performances are judged by the concessions they gain and not the compromises they made to make the entire process succeed.
But ultimately, those talks are likely to revive again once the new crop of political leaders with fresher mandates and less political trauma rises in a year or two after new rounds of elections. The $300-billion rise in global exports is just too huge an economic benefit for global trade to miss. That means the Philippines should look at the lull as a period to strengthen the country’s competitiveness by building economic infrastructure like irrigation, road, bridges; introducing more competition in inter-island shipping to reduce cost and enhance efficiency in the economy; and reviving the education system. Yes, the failure of the