According to the Financial Times, negotiators in Qatar are apparently close to a deal to launch a new trade liberalisation round. The deal will bridge some of the gap between the rich countries and the developing world on intellectual property rules.
I should have pointed yesterday to Larry Elliott’s column on the WTO. There have been many times in the past where I thought Elliott was a rock-solid indicator: if he said something, the opposite must be true. But I agree with him on the key issue for the WTO:
“Well now it is time for the west to put up or shut up. The altered state of the world since September 11 provides not just a golden opportunity but a prime motivation for the US, the European Union and the rest of the developed world to end their nauseating hypocrisy and take the concrete steps that are needed to make good their solemn promises. If the multilateral trading system is now facing a crisis of legitimacy it is not because of anti-globalisation protests but because the developed nations have said one thing and done another.”
I think Elliott also does a valuable job in pointing out, from a left-wing perspective, the crucial value of true trade liberalisation.
“The US has passed a $1,600 billion tax cut and is planning a huge fiscal stimulus package. The money is there, it is just a question of will power and priorities.” Jeff Sachs points out that the US government has so far pledged ony $300 million to the United Nations fund for diseases in poor countries.