Trade and Industry

Cancun: Crisis or Catharsis?

  • Year: 2002
  • Organisation: TIPS
  • Publication Author(s): Bernard Hoekman
  • Countries and Regions: Mercosur (Common Market of the South)
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During September 10-14, 2003, WTO members met in Cancun for a mid-term review of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, launched in November 2001. Trade ministers entered the 5th WTO Ministerial divided on agricultural and non-agricultural negotiating modalities, on whether to launch negotiations on the so-called Singapore issues and their possible scope, on the approach to take towards strengthening existing WTO provisions on special and differential treatment (SDT) for developing countries and how to address implementation problems left over from the Uruguay round. In the period following the Doha Ministerial, most deadlines were missed, sometimes repeatedly. Only one of the major issues of concern to developing countries was settled before Cancun-TRIPS and public health-and then only after long delay and rancorous negotiation. Although much progress had been made in moving towards a formula-based approach to reduce agricultural support and both agricultural and non-agricultural market access barriers-potentially creating a powerful vehicle to significantly reduce the most distorting trade policies (export subsidies, tariff peaks)-Ministers confronted a complex agenda. In the event, they failed to agree on how to move forward.