Posted by: bklunk | May 3, 2007

When is a (Commercial) Liberal, Not a Liberal?

When it’s his ox getting gored.

Delivering On The Doha Round’s Development Promise Now « Les Relations Internationales

Global Development

The World Trade Organization holds ’rounds of negotiations’ every few years among most of the countries of the world. The Doha Round, in Doha, Qatar began in 2001 and based its agenda on lowering trade barriers around the world. Participants include the developed countries as well as the LDCs. Currently, countries cannot reach a unanimous agreement to lower certain barriers. The basis was that the developed nations instill “the objective of duty-free, quota-free market access for products originating from LDCs [least-developed countries].”

However, the United States, whose imports of LDCs goods account for about 1 percent of U.S. total imports, is refusing to abide by the rule. U.S. trade representatives pushed for an exemption of 3 percent of products, which may not seem like a whole lot, but it does make a difference to those states who are struggling to develop economically. The 3 percent will most likely include products that are popular exports from the LDCs, such as agricultural goods, textiles, and footwear. Such barriers, especially those in the agricultural industry, will only hinder world trade and stall development. Efforts are being made to urge the United States to agree to 100% to the “duty-free, quota-free market access for the LDCs.”

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  1. While I understand the US needs to look out for their own interests, it’s seems wrong to not allow for LCD’s to be 100% duty free. It’s seems unreasonable to not help these countries as they are trying to establish their own markets. The United States at times has imposed their own restrictions on certain markets in order to help their own markets. Understandably, this was in their own interest, but the point is they understand sometimes economies need help. The amount the US is purchasing from these develoing nations is so small, that if they raised the product exemption to 3% it could significantly hurt the LCD’s markets. Especailly becuase they aren’t exporting a plethora of goods, so the few markets that do produce and export products will be hurt.

  2. The United States will always weigh the costs and benefits of the arrangements they agree to, as they should. However, I tend to find it ironic how we always try to play the humanitarian hand until things get sticky for us. Once we think a decision, even one that will significantly improve the economies of less developed countries, is impeding on our best interests, even by a little bit, we stop. We have the ability to do a lot of good here. No matter where we live in the world we all deserve a certain level of wellbeing, and I think sometimes the U.S. needs to stop thinking with such harsh-line economics and simply realize the human cost for some of these decisions which won’t have as much of an impact on U.S., if we allow them to pass, as they will have on all of those LCDs, if we don’t allow them to pass.

  3. Not to sound negative but this seems like pretty run of the mill stuff for the US… I mean not agreeing to something the rest of the world is on board with, well most of the world anyway. The World Bank discourages a protectionist economic policy on the part of member states, but it seems like that is just what the US is doing, at least in this case. The US feels it needs to protect its economy/industry in some way so it is insisting on not allowing these poor and lowly (no offense intended) countries to try and peddle their wares in a more economically sound region. I do not personally agree with some of the policies of the WB but at the same time I can not help but feel in some way they are trying to make it possible for the rest of the world to develop, and in this case the policy is not all together that bad of one, I mean we can buy duty free goods in an airport, from a company that hardly needs the added push to their products, but we won’t let a economically underdeveloped country sell their shoes duty free? Some times when I think about the decisions the US makes I am just plain stumped.

  4. I had a similar reaction to this blog as the other commentors. I think it’s ridiculous to pretend that we have honest intentions in everything we do around the world and then refuse to help when the opportunity arises, and then still wonder why we’re not trusted and seen as a bully around the world. It really just seems like we’re being stubborn about something that doesn’t even affect us that much, seeing as the goods we get from LDC’s only make up about 1% of our total imports. If we want to see these countries reach a more developed state, it’s important to help them in every way we can. Obviously, trying to force them to follow some “path to development” hasn’t been successful. Therefore, why not try something like this that seems to have potential to help them out?

  5. I agree with the other responses to this blog, and find it absolutely amazing how the typical American’s mind works. They hate the idea of losing money for a good being bought from a LDC, because it inconveniences the businesses and purchasers. But because American’s are humanitarians, they’re always willing to give several dollars to a charity. It makes them feel good to donate that money. While donations are always helpful (don’t get me wrong), by buying products from the LDC, it puts money back into their economy, creating a permanent shift in that countries economy. In the long run, by having the LDC finally develop on a permanent level, it helps the world economy by becoming a self-sustaining and contributing member of the world. Most consumers (and even many policy makers) do not view their purchasing decisions that far into the future, caring only for the here and now. By having the US implement a policy that forces a higher percentage of imports be from LDC, I feel that would contribute immensely to those developing economies, while barely affecting our own.

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