March 2007 - Monthly Trade Commentary
Well March has come and gone without any serious breakthroughs in the ongoing Doha Round negotiations. Trade officials at the WTO argued that the end of March was the deadline needed for any Doha Round agreement to get passage through the United States Congress, due to their Fast Track legislation on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The rationale was that this would be the amount of time needed to get the proper legislation in place to let policy makers vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the trade agreement. Thus, the existing TPA legislation will expire in July of this year and likely without a Doha Round agreement under its belt.
Now this might seem like the Doha Round is over, but I would argue that this is just the beginning of more intensive talks. As long as there is a will, there is a way… thus a new ‘unofficial’ deadline is now born! The new deadline hinted at by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, is the end of the summer (before the WTO summer break). This would technically give the EU and U.S. enough time to try to pass this agreement through their respective political systems for approval before the end of this year. The only wrench that is thrown into the mess is that it is a highly political topic right now and there may be limited willingness on the part of law makers to vote one way or another. This is particularly sensitive given the presidential race south of the border where presidential primary elections will begin in January of next year. Negotiators will be busy over the next few months trying to hammer something out, but as they do the clock will keep on ticking and slowly narrow in on the ‘unofficial’ deadline.
Enjoy your first full month of spring!