Since the negotiations stalled in July 2006, political and business leaders have acknowledged the considerable costs that would be incurred by a failure to conclude a global-trade pact.
Business groups have voiced their concern about the potential loss of huge economic welfare gains, both for industrialised and developing countries and about the risk of weakening the safety net that the WTO provides against rising protectionist tendencies.
As they meet for five days in Davos, trade ministers from 30 key nations are expected to relaunch the talks, although it is unlikely that negotiations of any substance will take place. "This will be a meeting about process. This will not be a meeting about breakthroughs," WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said as the Forum opened on 24 January.
In a parallel summit, also taking place this week – the World Social Forum, which brings together activists and movements in favour of an 'alternative globalisation' rather than the business and political elite – civil-society groups are more sceptical about reviving the Doha Development talks. They say that the Round has lost sight of what should have been its main priority: helping developing nations to escape from poverty.