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PacNet #33 – A ‘Plan B’ for the WTO: how to rescue the Doha Round

On May 30, Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), set a deadline of June 30, 2006 for a long-delayed deal to conclude the Doha Round of global trade negotiations. This means members of the WTO would have to reach a broad-based agreement to cut farm subsidies and tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods before United States trade negotiating authority expires in mid-2007. The deadlock in global trade talks has been accompanied by frenzied negotiations for bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs), which proponents claim serve as building blocks for overarching multilateral deals. But there is a risk that bilateralism and regionalism are becoming a stumbling block for the WTO – especially after the June 30 deadline was not met.