Doha down for the count

From Econbrowser—the Doha round of WTO trade talks has been suspended indefinitely:

The Doha trade round has collapsed in a welter of acrimony with much finger-pointing between the world’s two richest trading blocs, the US and the EU.

The stumbling block was farm subsidies, with the Europeans and the Americans accusing each other of not going far enough in cutting back support for their respective farmer communities. So western farmers will be one group that will be pleased that Doha has gone off the rails.

What is so extraordinary about the whole affair is the disproportionate influence that agriculture holds politically in the west despite its minuscule economic importance.

I think that’s a tremendous over-simplification. The developed countries are, indeed, subsidizing their agricultural sectors to a fare-thee-well. But China and India are operating semi-permeable autarkies and the U. S.’s main interest—intellectual property—didn’t even make it onto the agenda.

So the talks to expand free trade have collapsed through a combination of diplomatic incompetence, bullheadedness, and, probably, the reality that the tremendous changes of the last decade or so will take a while to assimilate.

And, of course, there’s always the realization that globalization is great as long as it means that your own country is raking in the dough.

My previous posts on this subject:

A thought on trade for Independence Day
Trade talks founder on farm subsidies
The Lexus, The Olive Tree, and the Manure Fork
The sound of coins

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