Two days following the Cancún trade ministers’ gathering, trade experts are investigating the causes of failure and future prospects for the world trade body.
On the US side, the failure has been generally attributed to next year’s presidential election. The agricultural states gave big support to Bush’s 2000 election and agribusiness has been a significant campaign contributor to the Republican Party. The outcome of Cancún left US farm groups, as well as their EU counterparts, satisfied.
The European Union will equally experience important challenges in 2004 as it is to welcome 10 new members next May. The current Commission will change at the end of next year, and with it will leave some of the EU’s trade negotiators.
Following the failure at Cancún the US was quick to signal that it would move forward with bilateral negotiations. The EU has traditionally been a strong multilateralist but speaking on 16 September, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said this policy should probably be reconsidered.
Even though developing countries rejoice over their success in finding a collective voice in the negotiations, analysts have said that the delay now caused in the Doha round of talks, would mainly cause the poorest small countries to suffer.
Concerns have emerged regarding the decision-making processes of the WTO after Pascal Lamy referred to it as a “medieval institution”.