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Presidential race: impact on WTO agreement

With the US presidential election now less than a week away, there are suggestions that a new president could have a positive effect on the stalled Doha Round negotiations of the World Trade Organization.

October 28, 2008  By Delta Farm Press

Oct. 27, 2008

The Nov. 4 presidential elections could do more than determine the path of the United States for the next four years. They could also determine the future of the Doha Round, a former U.S. Trade Representative said.

WTO officials have been meeting with trade ministers around the world to try to restart the Doha Round after it fell apart in July over China and India’s refusal to open their markets. But the future of the negotiations could well hinge on who wins the U.S. presidential race, according to Robert Zoellick.


“It’s possible that we can restart the Doha Round,” said Zoellick, now the president of the World Bank, responding to a reporter’s question after he spoke at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa. “But if the next U.S. president is not pushing for the negotiations to succeed, it won’t happen.”

Zoellick did not mention either candidate, but as a former member of the Reagan and first Bush administrations and US trade representative and deputy secretary of state for President George W. Bush, few would question his political leanings.

Zoellick, who helped start the latest round of trade negotiations in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001, said he remains optimistic about the negotiations, although the recent meltdown of the financial markets and rising food and energy prices have put the WTO in “dangerous waters,” as he put it in another speech earlier in the month.

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