Doha or bust at MC8?

Ahead of the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC8), ICC UK is calling on the European Union to take a lead in championing pragmatic steps to counter trade protectionism and strengthen the multilateral trading system.

The latest reports from Geneva suggest the chances of securing a wide range of trade-enhancing decisions later this month are pretty slim. One of the problems is that many countries are focused on the now divisive issue of what could (or should) happen with the Doha Round negotiations in 2012. Whilst Doha is, to be sure, an important part of the WTO’s agenda; our view is that it should not be the beginning, middle and end of the story at MC8.

That’s why we are calling on the EU to press for measures to strengthen the WTO—particularly in terms of its ability to monitor national trade policies—and kick-off a new set of talks on “21st Century” issues outside the scope of Doha Round. Following Karel de Gucht’s Doha-centric comments earlier this week at the EU – US Summit, our Senior Policy Advisor, Dorothée Heinze, has a letter in today’s Financial Times advocating a proactive EU approach to MC8.

Even if a broad range of decisions can’t be agreed later this month, it is vital that that the Ministerial provides a footing to craft a new agenda for the WTO in 2012.