Doha Round lamentations

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Yesterday in the Guardian, Bjorn Lomborg, the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, lamented the failure of the latest round of Doha negotiations. Lomborg had this to say: 

Establishing significantly freer trade would help the world combat almost all of its biggest problems. For an astonishingly low cost, we could improve education and health conditions, make the poorest people richer, and help everybody become better able to tackle the future...Global fear about free trade leaves the planet at risk of missing out on the extraordinary benefits that it offers. Free trade is good not only for big corporations, or for job growth. It is simply good.

While I generally agree with the thrust of his argument - free trade is good, both because of the static benefits of comparative advantage and the dynamic benefits of increased competition - I think Lomborg's concerns are misplaced. He cites self-serving corporations and lobbyists as prime obstacles to further liberalization. Yet he points out the following:

[A] recent Financial Times/Harris poll in the US, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain found people nearly three times more likely to say that globalisation is negative than positive.

It seems to me ill-advised to push trade liberalization further at any cost when the general mood is not ready for it. I suspect the end result would be further backlash. Ironically, the failure of the Doha talks this time around may be beneficial for the World Trade Organization in the long run. Waiting for a more propitious moment when anti-trade sentiment is dampened may help make any agreements more sustainable in the long run.


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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