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Víctor Pou, Professor at IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain

WTO and multilateral agreements

Sat, 23 Nov 2013 10:08:00 +0000 Published in La Vanguardia

The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the rules governing trade between countries. It works in the form of negotiating rounds, the latest being known as the Round for the development, launched in Doha (Qatar) in 2001 and not yet concluded. Its goal was to deal with agriculture and the improvement of trade prospects for countries at development. It was the apple of the eye of the former director general, the Frenchman Pascal Lamy, who has just left office without realizing his dream of completing it. The new director general, the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, has not had an easy task either.

It is not surprising, therefore, that new multilateral trade agreement projects are emerging outside the WTO. association The most relevant are the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area (Tafta) between the USA and the EU.

The TPP aims to create a platform for the economic integration of the world's most dynamic region: Asia-Pacific. For the time being, it is made up of twelve countries that account for 30% of the world's GDP: the USA, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, Australia, Singapore, Chile and Peru. The absence of China, the region's colossus, is a very significant fact.

Failure of the Doha Round means multilateral trade agreements outside the WTO
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The second project, the Tafta, emerged in the nineties of the last century, but gained new impetus in 2007 due to the recession. Obama and Merkel are enthusiastic about this initiative. The European Commission delegation is headed by Spain's García Berceiro. It is estimated that agreement could increase trade by more than $120 billion over five years, in addition to a $180 billion increase in the GDP of each of the negotiating parties.

The United States is the driving force behind both initiatives, whose members account for two-thirds of the world's GDP, core topic . While touring Germany for the Munich Security Summit, Vice President Joe Biden declared that these are indeed two of the Obama Administration's priorities.

At the WTO, they view all these developments with suspicion, just as they do in China, India and Russia. They wonder whether other countries in the Asia-Pacific region will end up joining the TPP and whether Tafta will be extended to Latin America. In any case, it seems that the time has come for major multilateral trade agreements outside the WTO, discredited by the failure of the Doha Round for the development.