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Working Paper 08-8

Multilateralism beyond Doha

by Aaditya Mattoo, The World Bank
and Arvind Subramanian, Peterson Institute for International Economics

October 2008

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A fundamental shift is taking place in the world economy to which the multilateral trading system has failed to adapt. The Doha process focused on issues of limited significance while the burning issues of the day were not even on the negotiating agenda. This paper advances five propositions: (1) the traditional negotiating dynamic, driven by private-sector interests largely in the rich countries, is running out of steam; (2) the world economy is moving broadly from conditions of relative abundance to relative scarcity, and so economic security has become a paramount concern for consumers, workers, and ordinary citizens; (3) international economic integration can contribute to enhanced security; (4) addressing these new concerns—relating to food, energy, and economic security—requires a wider agenda of multilateral cooperation, involving not just the World Trade Organization but other multilateral institutions as well; and (5) despite shifts in economic power across countries, the commonality of interests and scope for give-and-take on these new issues make multilateral cooperation worth attempting.


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