Doha Development Agenda: The Time is Now

Webster’s defines the Doha Development Agenda as a “round of trade talks aimed at helping developing countries whose exportable goods are heavily concentrated among agricultural products develop their international trade.” The Doha Development Agenda is a trade agreement that could revolutionize the way the world works as we know it. The Doha round or DDA is a trade liberalization agreement that once passed will provide an open and free market for the agricultural products of developing nations. The Doha Development Agenda (DDA) is a complex trade agreement that needs to be passed because it will allow for developing countries to trade with not only each other, but developed countries as well in a free trade zone. The DDA is a trade liberalization round that if passed will allow for freer trade throughout the WTO. The Doha Development Agenda is beneficial for the countries involved, and the world as well. The WTO is comprised of 150 different countries across 6 continents. The United States and emerging markets such as China have benefited from WTO membership.

NAFTA came into effect in January of 1994 bringing freer trade throughout the region. And Mexican and American relations have improved since the inception of NAFTA. U.S. annual incomes are $1 trillion higher, or $9,000 per household, due to trade liberalization since 1945 The World Trade Organization was founded in 1947.Today with its 150 members the WTO covers all regions of the world looking to expand by two dozen other countries as they seek to join. NAFTA is an increasingly powerful trading bloc. NAFTA has contributed proportionally to the per capita GDP’s of the trade bloc members as well as the GDP’s of the countries that they trade with. According to the WTO website “U.S. exports of services have doubled over the past 12 years, generating a $72 billion surplus in 2006 on exports of $414 billion.” Together the NAFTA countries are the largest trading bloc in the entire world.

Free Market reforms affect the world throughout not just the participating countries.  World trade fell by 70 percent in the early 1930s; throwing tens of millions out of work, deepening the Great Depression, and fuelling the political tensions that helped give rise to World War II. Before the WTO high tariff laws were passed like the Smoot-Hawley which restricted trade and led to the polarized world of World War II. Today one in three acres in the U.S. is planted for export. Since the 1990s, freer trade has helped raise U.S. national economic output by nearly 50 percent, and, over the same period, the U.S. economy added nearly 20 million jobs

Trade barriers in the developing world are substantial so removing them could have a cumulative effect.  This is why Doha needs to be ratified immediately. According to the WTO website “Dismantling government barriers to trade allows individuals access to the world’s supermarket for food, clothing, and other manufactured goods…”, And furthermore, “Empirically, expanded trade has been essential to economic growth and wealth for both developed and developing countries.” This is especially true for African countries, as well as South East Asian countries. By allowing these countries to trade without tariffs inhibiting their growth between one another, this will allow for the reestablishment of the Silk Road. With no tariffs and a high volume of durable goods and commodities being traded that means that critical issues like Africa’s lack of affordable and consistent power would become moot points. While at the same time allowing for more money to flow freely between the two continents giving much needed development assistance to Africa (which happens to be the least developed inhabitable continent in the world). In fact Tony Blair’s Blair Commission on Africa says that “Raising Africa’s share of world trade from 2% to 3% would provide export revenues of $70 billion, nearly three times the amount that sub-Saharan Africa receives from global aid donors.” By convincing African countries to remove their tariffs, there would be a boom in much needed export revenue in Africa on a scale that no aid program has provided thus far.

At issue for the majority of the African countries in question is the fact that their income is mostly derived from tariffs. This makes a economic as well as psychological barrier to preventing these countries from agreeing to the DDA. This is probably the most crucial issue that hasn’t been addressed by the western countries like the U.S. that are adamant about the DDA becoming a reality. One solution is that perhaps by partially subsidizing the sub-Saharan African countries that use these tariffs for revenue, with aid, we would be able to convince them to perhaps adopt the DDA protocols fully without exception.

By allowing for trade barriers such as tariffs to be abolished in the countries that need it the most is what Doha is all about Doha is a trade agreement that once ratified will allow for greater opportunities to those countries that have the greatest to gain. African, Middle Eastern, and South East Asian countries are all regions that would benefit from the Doha Development Agenda to become international law and I urge them to sign onto the agreement immediately.

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