WTO “in crisis” as summit ends without agreement on Doha Round

19 December 2015 - 3:15pm
Press release

The 10th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ended in failure, as delegates could only ‘agree to disagree’ on how to take forward the Doha Round of negotiations.

Despite extending the conference for an extra day, the final declaration of the Nairobi ministerial admits that while “many members reaffirm the Doha Development Agenda” that was launched in 2001, others “do not”.

On the controversial US and EU proposal to expand the WTO agenda into new issues, the Nairobi declaration states simply: “some wish to identify and discuss other issues for negotiation; others do not”.

As to the issue of a special safeguard mechanism to protect food security in countries of the global South, a separate half-page statement admits that the WTO has failed to make any progress beyond what was agreed at its Hong Kong summit in 2005.

And on the public stockholding of food in order to protect food security, a parallel statement notes simply that more work is needed.

War on Want’s Executive Director John Hilary, who was present at the launch of the Doha Round in 2001, said: “No amount of spin can cover up the failure of the WTO’s Nairobi summit to make progress on any of the most important issues on the agenda. Despite months of planning and last-minute extensions to the conference, all the key items that were on the table have been left unresolved. The WTO is clearly not fit for purpose if the best that its members can do is agree to disagree.”

Hilary continued: “The WTO has been mired in crisis ever since the first collapse of the Doha Round back in 2003, and it is clearly incapable of finding a way out. There now needs to be a full review as to whether the WTO should be allowed to continue as a forum for global trade negotiations into the future. The world has moved on, but the WTO has proved itself unable to move with it.”


John Hilary is available for interview in London on +44 7983 550727.

The WTO’s Nairobi declaration and other documents from the summit are available here

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