Doha round

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As the Doha Round or Doha Development Agenda ( Engl. : Doha Development Agenda , DDA) is called a package of orders, the economic and trade ministers of the WTO member states in 2001, at its fourth meeting in Doha process and should complete by 2005. The work program included both formal negotiations and assignments to analyze specific individual topics.

However, the negotiations have not yet been concluded due to the differing views of the WTO members. After the Ministerial Conference in Cancun in 2003 failed to bring any rapprochement, negotiations were interrupted and initially resumed in July 2004. At the end of July 2006, the negotiations were suspended on the proposal of WTO Director General Pascal Lamy , as the negotiating partners could not agree on the liberalization of agricultural trade. The negotiations that were restarted in February 2007 failed. The fourth attempt in July 2008 also failed after an agreement was reached on 18 of the 20 negotiation points on incompatible positions on one remaining point of agricultural policy. Government and business representatives around the world regretted the failure of the negotiations. The WTO states had to reach a deal in this world trade round one up to 100 billion US dollars higher volume of world trade promised, one of which would largely benefit developing countries.

In view of the global financial crisis , the world financial summit in Washington in November 2008 decided to accelerate the resumption of world trade talks. This was supported by the APEC summit that took place shortly afterwards .

In 2016, the attempt was considered a failure.

Central negotiation problems

The aim of the Doha Round was given to take into account the problems of developing countries , which (as of 2001) account for 29% of world exports.

In particular, the following topics are on the agenda:

In the agricultural sector, the developing countries are demanding better market access for their products in the industrialized countries by reducing import quotas and tariffs as well as reducing subsidies in the agricultural sector of the industrialized countries.

Various questions of intellectual property are also to be renegotiated. Patent law is particularly controversial when it comes to drugs : While the proponents underline its incentive function for research and development, the critics focus on the drug prices that are often prohibitively high for developing countries. The industrialized countries, in particular the USA, are therefore calling for a very limited patent protection opening, while some developing countries want to manufacture and sell necessary drugs without considering patent protection. In addition, they try to prevent the patenting of traditional knowledge of their population by corporations of the industrialized countries.

Various special regulations for developing countries are being discussed: New obligations should only come into effect when the old ones have been fulfilled. Special regulations for the step-by-step integration of weaker states are to be created. The following areas are still problematic:

Institutional requirements

The problem is that there are only a few active members: On the one hand, the quad group (USA, EU, Japan, Canada) is involved. In addition to these industrialized countries , only about 30 countries are involved, including the emerging countries Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Egypt, India, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand.

The majority of members cannot participate in the work due to financial and capacity problems.

Since the support of these members is necessary, the Global Trust Fund was set up by the WTO . This fund is intended to offer developing countries technical assistance so that they can actively participate in world trade. The Doha Development Agenda was drawn up at the Doha Round . They are intended to liberalize areas such as agriculture, services and market access in favor of developing countries by January 2005.

People's Republic of China

According to former Chinese Trade Minister Bo Xilai , the Doha Round should be strengthened as China will actively support developing countries. The tasks of the Doha Round provided for an advance payment by the People's Republic of China. These include a reduction in import tariffs from 50% (1990) to 15.3% (2001), the removal of export barriers and enormous capital investments.

The advantages for world trade lie in the low level of wage costs and at the same time a wide range of know-how-intensive goods (licensing).

China is thus an example of the advantages of the WTO in contrast to bilateral agreements.

Reform of the WTO

Reforms are necessary, otherwise regionalism and bilateralism will be strengthened. The aim of the reforms is therefore to strengthen the authority of international rules (principles, agreements). The special problem lies in the dispute settlement.

The initiative comes from the members, but the process is complicated. Many members need support due to a lack of experts and money.

In 1948 the General Agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT) was launched (a holdover from the planned International Trade Organization (ITO)). What was left was an economic agreement that never became an institution because the US refused to ratify the treaty for the ITO.

Only the GATT came into force in 1948 with the aim of establishing free trade worldwide. At that time only in the field of goods trading (with the exception of textile goods). Since after 1948 various other important trade sectors pushed onto the world market, the GATT had to be reformed according to the will of its members.

The Uruguay Round (1986-94) was the last GATT round, which at the same time heralded the age of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Only now did it become an organization. The WTO has a Council of Ministers, a General Council and various bodies, committees, councils, etc., a permanent secretariat in Geneva and, above all, an arbitration board where complaints and claims from member countries that arise from unauthorized trade barriers of others are negotiated See member countries severely disadvantaged.

Industrialized countries have strong lobby groups and sufficient financial resources to be able to master the extensive and constantly changing regulations of the WTO at the points of interest. Economically weak countries often do not have the necessary resources to work adequately with the WTO regulations at the level of litigation. In addition, it is like on a small scale: You have to be able to afford legal action. Industrialized countries have the potential to sit out legal action and also to accept targeted penalties because, for example, the profit of exceeding certain trade rules may exceed the punitive tariffs many times over.


It is assumed that soon 50% of the goods trade will be exchanged according to regional agreements. The trend towards bilateral (bilateral) agreements is expanding in particular . The USA, South Korea, Australia, Japan and the EU are particularly active.

The disadvantages for the WTO are clear: regulations are possible for which there is no majority in the WTO (e.g. Chile). The conditions of strong partners are given priority. Personnel in developing countries are used more for contracts than for the WTO. There may be cost increases at customs. The reason is that the origin of goods for tariff reduction must be determined according to the commercial contract.


The goals for expanding the cooperation include making progress on controversial issues. For example, the Singapore issues, which would mean an immense expansion of the WTO's competence to include investment, competition policy, public procurement and trade facilitation, contributed to the failure of the Cancun Conference.

Further goals are agreements on investment protection abroad, on questions of intellectual property , and on public procurement. In addition, developing countries should be more closely involved in decision-making processes.


The cost-benefit ratio of the desired agreements was assessed in the Copenhagen Consensus , a 4-year conference of leading economists, last in 2008 and came in second place (out of 30) in comparison with other solutions to global problems. According to a study from 2011, the agreement could generate an additional trade volume of 360 billion dollars per year.

Current status

WTO ministerial conferences
No place time
1 Singapore 9-13 Dec 1996
2 Geneva May 18 and 20, 1998
3 Seattle Nov. 30th – 3rd Dec 1999
4th Doha 9-14 Nov 2001
5 Cancun 10-14 Sept 2003
6th Hong Kong 13-18 Dec 2005

The Doha Round was suspended after the Ministerial Conference in Cancun (September 2003). In July 2004 negotiations were resumed in Geneva . The Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong followed from December 13-18, 2005. Negotiations at the ministerial conference came to a standstill and therefore WTO Director General Pascal Lamy recommended in July 2006 that the negotiations be suspended until further notice.

Negotiations were resumed in February 2007. In April 2007, the chairman of the agricultural negotiation group presented a new discussion paper on the particularly controversial agricultural trade. The trade ministers of the most important negotiating partners, the so-called G6 (EU, USA, Brazil, India, Japan, Australia), agreed on April 12, 2007 in New Delhi on the common goal of concluding the Doha Round by the end of 2007 bring to.

Since this had not happened, another meeting was arranged in Geneva in July 2008. With this meeting the trade round should be revived and brought to a possible result. According to WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, the main objective was to achieve a reduction in tariffs and agricultural subsidies . According to media reports, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson also called for the emerging markets to open up for industrial goods. After nine days, on July 29, 2008, the talks in Geneva were broken off without any results.

To date (as of June 2016) the negotiations have not been concluded because the basic conflict could not be resolved: “The USA continues to insist on significantly improved market access in Brazil, China and India in the agricultural and industrial goods sector beyond the level agreed in 2008 ; the emerging countries, on the other hand, are not prepared to make further concessions without substantial additional consideration from the USA. ”In May 2012, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy reported to the WTO General Council that the Doha Process should be continued.

After the WTO Ministerial Conference in 2013 and 2015 failed to reach an agreement on the Doha question, the developed countries are striving to break off the Doha Round so that the WTO can address current climate and raw materials issues.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. WTO NEWS - DDA JULY 2008 PACKAGE: SUMMARY 29 JULY. In: WTO. July 29, 2008, accessed September 4, 2008 .
  2. G20 mandate releases hectic rush at the WTO Handelsblatt, November 19, 2008
  3. Principle of Hope at the APEC Summit , Deutsche Welle, November 23, 2008
  4. Guest contribution by Harold James: International Trading System: Anti-globalization means controls and retaliation . In: . August 26, 2016, ISSN  0174-4917 ( [accessed September 15, 2016]).
  5. : This is how the experts decided ( Memento of October 13, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  6. ^ Unusual alliance in Davos. Tagesspiegel, January 28, 2011
  7. ^ The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference. WTO, accessed December 20, 2018 .
  8. The July 2004 package. WTO, accessed December 20, 2018 .
  9. ^ The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference. WTO, accessed December 20, 2018 .
  10. Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology: Status of the WTO World Trade Round (Doha Development Agenda - DDA) ( Memento of December 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 196 kB), status: February 2012, p. 1.
  11. Lamy: Members continue to explore opportunities for Doha progress
  12. ^ Trade conference abolishes export subsidies for food , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, December 19, 2015
  13. The decarbonization of the world economy: How things must continue after the UN Climate Change Conference , by Brandi, Clara, Dominique Bruhn, Nannette Lindenberg, German Development Institute (DIE), 23 November 2015
  14. ^ Doha remains the royal road , by Claudia Schmucker, Zeitschrift Internationale Politik (IP), February 28, 2014
  15. World trade round is history , by Jan Dirk Herbermann, Handelsblatt, 20. Handelsblatt 2015


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