WTO GATS rounds of talks are really stalled for many reasons on issues of agriculture and food, water, attempts to get developing countries to ‘liberalize’ areas of their concern that we refuse to do in areas of our concern.
The potential failure of the sixth Ministerial will actually throw the WTO into a deep crisis. After failing to launch the so-called Millennium Round in 1999 in Seattle, this current round of negotiations was launched in Doha, Qatar in 2001. A second ministerial collapsed amidst massive civil society protests in September 2003. Negotiations were supposed to have been wrapped up by January 2005, yet are still stalled on the basic framework.
If the framework (modalities, in WTO-speak) is not completed by March, it will be extremely difficult for negotiators to wrap up the technical negotiations in time to send the final agreements to the US Congress before the expiration of Fast Track negotiating authority in July 2007.
The sixth Ministerial of the WTO follows on the heels of another failed Ministerial, the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The Bush administration attempted to use the meeting to jump-start the stalled FTAA talks, but the meeting ended without even a declaration…
Is this a finale? Will the form of GATS continue in regional trade treaties? Will nation-states be players again as internal markets develop and give them more clout?
Will a world wide slow down affect responses?